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Culture Shock

With the flood of holidays since last week, I was suddenly struck with the urge to watch Argo at the cinema. Checking the timing in the local daily, I found that the motion picture was not playing at my regular haunts, but was showing instead at a theatre that was five kilometres from home in a shopping precinct I hadn’t quite ventured into anytime before. Quite on my insistence, Rahul, my adopted brother and I, decided to visit the venue. Upon reaching, I found myself colliding rather head-on with nothing less than what I’d term a clear culture shock. Some might consider me a bigot for writing this, but the truth is that the people smelt different, sorry, they smelt! They were wrapped in fabric, not attired in art. They addressed each other relatively loudly: a sure sign of a lack of any social grace. Studying me intently, my brother dissolved into a knowing smile and suggested, “We could leave.” Since we were already there, I wanted to see what further surprise was in store, and was thankful in a way that the tickets were all sold. On the way out of the shopping centre, I become conscious about how we take everything around us for granted: and what a journey taking a slight detour from the road that you drove everyday can make in letting you see so much more different than what you are used to seeing.

By nature we humans like to learn and expand our metal faculties, but are we actually that vulnerable to resist our comfort zones and indulge in a dialogue with people of different kinds in order to aid that growth? As magnificent as it sounds in theory, I don’t think it is a plausible reality.

Seldom is our world turned upside down over an experience such as this, or any other. Learning, on the contrary happens little by little, drop by drop, brick by brick, and years of absorbing results in the assimilation in the library of knowledge via which we form and arrive at a worldview which leads me to ask the inherent question – what kind of experiences or people finally do end up leading us to that iterative, treasured insight that makes us interpret the world as we want it? The answer, unfortunately and blatantly I thought was to be found in the experiences and people with whom you agree nearly ninety-nine per cent.

It is obvious, much to the opinion of some, that I am not judging the world that other people inhabit; each to each, and even if I am, so be it, and now returning to the crux, perhaps all of culture, even knowledge, advance little baby steps at a time. And when I think of what has left an impression on my mind intellectually or individually, my mind retrieves most conveniently from the instances or conversations with people who have agreed with me on almost everything but not quite literally everything.  

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