In Indian urban centers one often sees random men standing on a corner or sidewalk outside cafes, restaurants, bus stations and shops. They are usually in groups of two or three and sometimes they are slowly loping along the sidewalk or chatting or at other times just looking around.
Contrast that to China and the United States, where one almost NEVER sees a group of men standing idly about.
When I first noticed this I thought it reflected poorly on Indians. In fact, I felt this single phenomenon summed up the differences between India and China and could explain the differences in the trajectories of these two emerging superpowers. All over Chinese cities, people move about in an orderly, hurried and intent way.
But as I thought about it more, my opinion changed. I believe this is actually a deeply ingrained, well though out cultural trait of India. It is built on the philosophical foundations of one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Indians are not as keen as Westerners in looking like they're getting something done, because they don't necessarily want to get something done. They are not about getting something done, they are about being.
The highly westernized behavior pattern of constantly doing and moving doesn't meld well with the Indian sensibility of moving slowly (or not moving at all) and just existing. Idly standing around is also a kind of passive resistance to the world moving "forward" around them. Standing around and doing nothing is doing something: it is being in the moment. It is also the average Indian saying, "Maybe I don't want to participate in your so-called progress." It is another example of how a style of capitalism that works seeming well for one country may not work for another.
To the Westerner, this brand of idleness will be looked at negatively whereas to many Indians it will seem perfectly natural. The concepts of constant unrelenting economic advancement, growth, earning, saving, accumulating, buying, spending and working are extremely Western concepts and many Indians many not readily accept them.
When they are standing on the corner, they are rejecting the imposition of these foreign ideals. So in the big picture, I wonder who is really "advancing", India or China?
My son, like most young children, runs everywhere. He runs to get a glass of juice, runs to his room because he forgot his socks, runs up the driveway of his grandmother's house, runs in the park and runs to fetch the ball he just hit in a toss up to himself.
Running is a child's purest expression of taking life head on. They run to whatever is front of them because they can't wait for what's next. They can't wait for life and they don't because they move towards life instead of letting life come to them.
My son's favorite sports mostly revolve around running such as soccer, tennis and flag football. Most recess and playground activities are based on running and skating and biking are basically mutations of running. Golf is tough for my kids.
Watch most kids getting off a school bus and if they're alone, they'll run to their front door. Sometimes the weight of their backpack slows them down or discourages them from running, both literally and metaphorically.
"Walk, don't run!" is an admonishment most adults deliver to their kids, often with more vigor than is needed. It comes gutturally from their heart and not in a good way because it's them saying, "Be careful about running, life can burn you." A child running in a parking lot is most parent's worst nightmare.
Is it really that important to call doctors "doctors"?
It is one of the few professions where we regularly address the person by a formal title, outside of various religious and governmental posts (which are equally ridiculous, in my opinion). We don't call someone Lawyer Bernstein or Accountant O'flanagan.
Sometimes we try saying Nurse So-and-So, but somehow even that never really caught on, not since that nurse on the original Star Trek, Nurse...what's her name. See? Even that didn't really catch on. BTW, "Bones"-now that's a real doctor's name!
This is a form of propping up the self esteem of physicians. Physicians like to and need to believe they are special and society also wants to believe they're special. Our health and bodies are sacred and arguably our most valuable possessions so its comforting to think someone special is taking care of them, someone with a magical title.
What I'm wondering is does the average American see the hypocrisy in our government's protest of Mr. Putin's recent encroachment upon Ukrainian affairs or do they actually not realize it. In other words, is Joe Six Pack cognizant of America's similarly tenuous invasions of Iraq, Iraq the Sequel, Grenada, Somalia, etc. or does he actually not know or not remember they happened. We won't even mention our forefather's invasion and annexation of the New World and Manifest Destiny.
Its probably a combination of both but I have a feeling many actually don't see the irony. This type of myopia is scary myopia and the way the past is so easily forgotten is also scary as well as sad. But I guess that's what seeing the world through the lens of tribalism does.
Of course, Europe and America has to condemn Putin's actions to contain him (what else are they going to say), but the shriller they protest the more glaring the hypocrisy, to me at least.
I think it would be interesting the next time the US invades a country for the American media to give front and center attention to sanctimonious condemnations issued by the other world powers. Just for fun.