Today, at the UPS store, as I mailed my passport to get renewed, I talked with my Indian friend there. I asked her how her family is in India and I told her how I recently returned from South Asia. We shared some stories of life there. She asked where I had been. We started talking about how the city I was in most recently has become so crowded in the past few years. Then she said, ‘Yeah, that city is just like here (meaning Orlando), FL.”
I hesitated, unsure how to respond. She kept typing in my address into the computer as she prepared my traceable package. She didn’t realize I was off in my own world for the moment.
As I left the store, I said ‘Namaste’ (“Goodbye”- and also “hello” in Hindi), and I kept thinking about what she said at various points during the day.
That city in South Asia is just like here? Really? In what way? What is similar, what is the same, what could possibly be called comparable?
Technically, my friend at the UPS store is an outsider. She has come from another country and moved into this one. Things for her in this country may never truly be ‘home.’ Yet, she has found enough of a ‘home’ here, or at least a stable view of life here, that she finds it similar to where she has come from.
Of course, in my mind, America and South Asia are so incredibly different, and overall unable to be compared.
I love both places (South Asia & America) for their uniqueness… but they are exactly that – Unique. Different. Unable to be compared, unable to be filtered through the same lens. And that’s okay – it’s easier to understand the two vastly different places to just accept them as unique in and of themselves.
But even as I refuse to entertain the idea of life over there being ‘just like here’… there is something that is undeniably quite similar in both places…
I don’t mean the personality, or general nature of people, or the outward appearance. Those things are quite different.
But, the deeper part of human beings… People here, and people there have needs, desires, struggles, interests, passions, frustrations, heartaches, dreams, realities. Most of these things are on different scales, for different durations, and supporting a different purpose, but the deepest parts of people are essentially the same no matter where they live.
No matter how much the rest of the culture and country are completely incomparable.