Monday, July 16, 2012

The Simple Life - Who Fares Better?

One of hubby's favorite things to say is how he wants a "simple" life. By that he always says he doesn't want to be in debt and he wants to have a good life. He's young so he doesn't realize you're not handed those things, you have to work your way up to them. But the line makes me think. Simple is a word I heard a lot in India. It's used to refer to a person's personality, what kind of person they want to marry, etc. But how simple is anything really?

There were several things in India that were simple for me. I got up, worked when I wanted, ate when I wanted and went to bed when I wanted. But that's just me. Not everyone lives that way there and my overall life was far from simple. Let me compare a few of my thoughts on both countries and why I believe the US allows for a more simple life.

Customs
In India you're expected to adhere to a plethora of customs and not even the Indians know all of them. Wives have a set of customs to follow when interacting with in-laws or when in their in-laws home. They have even more customs related to how they interact with their own family, how they interact with guests, etc. Additionally, as they age those customs change as they move from one phase of life (childhood, marriage, retirement) to the next.

In the US, you are who you are and you're not different for anyone. Now, obviously there's small exceptions like how I would never use foul language in front of my mother. But, that's me. Not everyone has these customs. But, when a guest comes to my home or I visit my in-laws there are no set of expectations for me to follow. In this aspect, US life is much simpler.

And just a note for those who don't know. Traditional male/female roles are still very much present in the US. Yes, feminism changed how women are viewed and treated but a significant portion of our population (US) still follow at least some traditional gender roles.

Money - Because somehow things always seem to come back to money!
In India, families tend to save money any way they can. From the lawyer's wife that argues down the price of produce by 1 INR per kilo to the maid who barely gets by on her earnings. A lot of families go without things that could make their daily lives better or easier so they can save a few rupees toward their kids education, marriage, etc. This isn't wrong, it just tends to make their lives harder every day. It causes them to spend more money than they realize on some things and makes many of their daily tasks harder.

In the US we are more likely to spend money to have a good life now. We don't fret over spending an extra $1 to buy good quality produce. We are more likely to factor in the lack of doctor's bills we will have in our old age if we spend that extra $1. Of course, each of us has something different we're willing to spend that extra $1 on but the principle is the same. We will spend a little more if we feel it is worth it or that we can ease some of our daily suffering.

Corruption
Of course, then money leads into more illegal activities and more corruption. There's a major undertaking going on by Punjab Power that started earlier this year to replace power meters and take them out of the homes because power theft had gotten so bad. People steal power, they steal cable services (don't believe me - ask the cable provider who's the one actually stealing the channels and then sending them out to homes who then pay him for them).

Corruption I don't even have to write about. It's a well known problem in India. This costs people a lot of money and affects their daily lives. They're constantly wary of corrupt police officers or fighting corrupt politicians, etc. We have corruption here in the US but most of us don't have to face it on a daily basis. Honest citizens don't have to fear driving past a police officer because our system have protection from false allegations if they stop us wrongfully.

......

I'm sure there's more I could add to the list like how much trouble it is to accomplish even simple tasks in some parts of India. Both countries have similar daily stresses and generally our lives are the same. We all get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to bed. That's basic in any culture.

Of course, each person can choose how much of these differences they tolerate or adhere to. Not everyone will fear the corruption nor will every wife follow the local customs. But these issues are widespread and many people can't ignore them. 

What are some things you think are simple and in which country are they easier?
What are some complicated aspects you found about life in India?

*disclaimer - I'm not the only one who thinks life in the US is easier. However, there are also quite a few girls I know who find life in India simpler. This is normal because we're all different and we all handle issues differently.

9 comments:

  1. I completely agree with you...life is much simpler in the US! And, I'm an Indian saying this!

    ReplyDelete
  2.  I found out that in India if you want a "simple life" as defined in Switzerland it cost a lot more money than it does back home.
    DH and i live a fairly westernized lifestyle free from the obligations coming with living in a joint families, and we aren't the one to bicker on the price of fruits and vegetables, we pretty much understand that the quality of what is on our plate has a price, and that price is what keeps us healthy and medical bill free.
    But I know that my in-laws regards fruits as a luxury, aside from mangoes during the mango season they don't have any lying around, and a breakfast of a fresh fruit salad and porridge is just not thinkable for them. In comparison to them we live anything but a simple life, our lifestyle is extravagant to them. The probably could afford fruits, it's just not part of their mindset to consider them a staple in their diet.

    In many aspects life would be simpler in Switzerland too, but in other aspects it would be far more complicated too, so I stopped comparing it. I'm just happy we can live our life on our own terms or almost in India, I know not all have that luxury.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lol, yeah it's mainly because we have so much convenience for everything here. We find ways to make everything easier - to the point of sometimes being ridiculously silly. Laziness is all around us here. :P

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's great you found that balance. My life in India didn't afford me the opportunity to live simple. Social restrictions, geographic restrictions, language barriers and several other things prevented simplicity. I did pay extra for good food and that part of my life wasn't unbearable. Paying more kept me from getting sick as often just like you mentioned. It's worth my extra rupees to avoid taking all those pills all the time. I hate medicine!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well its so easy and selfish to blame India for various reasons cited above.US and its citizens have worked through decades to make the country what it is today.Agree things are easy in US coz they have the infrastrcture in place and all others amenitiesBut this should not give any reason to criticize India which is out motherland.I am also staying currently in USA. But despite odds in my country  i want to settle in INdia itself and will continue to strive an struggle to make things easy for all.
    I have lot to say would like to mention my blogpost .Do read if you have time --> Why I prefer India over USA http://ravsworld.com/why-i-prefer-india-over-usa/

    ReplyDelete
  6. So far my experience is about half and half. In the U.S. I am a very independent person, I manage a household and family and I rarely have to rely on help to do so because everything is so convenient. In India I am totally out of my element so everything is different and more complicated, from the seven easy steps to paying for your groceries or any other product if you can in fact find it to paying a telephone bill are daunting tasks for me. Crossing the street is scary and I can't imagine learning to drive or navigate there on my own. On the other hand there is no hurry to do any of those things so I could easily take my sweet time figuring it out. I suppose that's why the concept of time is so fluid there. I will have to make it a personal goal to embrace that this time rather than be affronted by it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've been wondering for a while now what exactly "the simple life" really is. My hubs is in Pakistan and he often says, "Leave the USA, move here, and we will have a simple life." See to him that would be easy but to me, that would be the most difficult task for me. Especially since he and his family constantly say that I'm "delicate". Oh and by the way, his "simple life" just got me 12 days of e.coli infection. Simply horrible, I say.

    While waiting on immigration is hard its really the only choice, I don't think I could endure what you have. So, I'll take the USA even if it is more complicated! 

    ReplyDelete
  8. I didn't criticize India this time. I have before and I will again. I'm free to do so just as you're free to criticize the US. No country is perfect and admitting that is the first step toward making it better. Many of your own countrymen recognize this and are fighting to make India better. It's great that you are going back to make the country better. More people should be like you and it can even be seen that more and more Indians are working hard to make the country better. I applaud all of them.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think the simple life (for me anyway) is not junking up your life with frivolous things. Avoid drama as much as you can and do what you know is right. It seems like simple also implies living the way you know how. You're good at it and it seems natural. I don't think a westerner can move to some countries (like India and Pakistan) and feel like they are living a simple life. Just trying to sort out the social obligations makes it difficult for us since here in the US they are not as serious to us. Then of course there are the hardships of living that are difficult for us to adjust to as well. An easterner coming to the US simply does not have to face the same level of hardship that you and I would have to face moving east.

    ReplyDelete