I had a most odd experience. I shot a note to a bunch of old friends, some in India, some not, but all from India about my decision to take a break from work for a few months. The idea was that for the ones in the US, I’d try and visit them during the initial part of my break and the rest, if I actually made my tentative trip to India. Replies I got were generally congratulatory with a couple of folks wondering if this was the best time, considering the severe economic downturn and what not.
The oddest reaction I got was from one guy I hadn’t really been in touch with for about 5 years or so. His rather colorful reply was something like this:
Your email is a relay of you screwing up your life and the sadistic pleasure you get out of it.
Hmmm. Not quite the response I was expecting. I was floored to say the least, flabbergasted is probably more like it. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It certainly didn’t sound like a joke even though there were a couple of smilies appended to the remark. It sounded rather ill spirited, but maybe I was mistaken. Since it’s difficult to judge tone from email, I decided to seek clarification and clarification is what I got. Taking time off to photograph birds, flowers, mountains and lake and play video games is his idea of screwing up life. Another chimed in that my lack of understanding was typical of Americans being technically smart, but dumb in life – talk about sweeping generalities.
So, enjoying life is not quite acceptable in their world? I must admit I was sorely tempted to broad brush this as typical of Indians (or brownies as I refer to them 🙂 ). Then again, I’d be no better, would I? I certainly have a few Indian friends that have done what I’m doing or get what I’m doing. At the very least, while they may not do it, they’re fairly broadminded and leave others to make their own decisions. So, the issue was less of being Indian. Thinking about it a bit more, people are prone to influence by their environment. The rat race culture that exists in India is still very strong and the one-upmanship game can’t be far behind a rat race. And this guy had lived in India all his life – with little or no exposure to other cultures or lifestyles. This lack of exposure, compounded by his inability to think through the differences in the specifics of my situation (no dependents and completely unattached 🙂 ), most likely caused him to spew forth in the fashion he did.
Still, I’m sure this is the not sort of greeting anyone ought to provide to a (former?) friend that gets in touch with you after several years.
Another day, another experience.