I’ve been in Delhi for about a month now. As I write this, a stray ant crawls across the floor of my bedroom. I barely notice them anymore; they are now a part of my daily existence. Two or three grace my shower every morning. I try not to kill them but there is no way to warn an ant that they are about to be drowned, so I’ve had my share of casualties (sorry).
Speaking of showers, I know we are lucky to have water through my mother’s very persistent pursuit of the water company. We got water just in time to not move out of our house for a few days.
The power will go off between three and five times each day, but this is also okay. The generators are much better than they were when I was a kid and now run air-conditioning. Back then, the outages were longer, and in June when it was 42 degrees Celsius outside, the only thing we could do was lie still because moving just made you hotter.
On the other hand, back in Toronto I find myself less than okay with circumstances that are arguably much more comfortable than this. I get annoyed when the grocery store is out of my favourite yogurt flavour, and absolutely incensed if the mall is too crowded or there is a concert at Massey Hall and it takes me 20 minutes to walk down that first block on Shuter street.
In Toronto I’m a brat.
I am more aware of this tendency thanks to my exchange program in Florence, Italy. It had it’s own share of “creative” living solutions: a washing machine that drained into the toilet, a maximum of a few hours of hot water per day and learning to hang our laundry to dry carefully lest it fall into the courtyard below. In spite of this, I find myself slipping every so often.
I know I am not the only one. North American society tells us we should have everything we want, when we want it and how we want it. As a society, we send food back at restaurants, we treat sales associates as less than human, and we lodge complaints about the numerous tragedies in our mundane everyday activities. Basically we expect the world to put our needs first.
Having such high standards for daily life just sets us up for disappointment. Life is not perfect no matter where you go, and more importantly: people aren’t perfect. It’s not to say that a complaint or getting upset isn’t justified once in a while, but more to say that it couldn’t hurt to pick our battles.
What if we didn’t get so bent out of shape for every small obstacle? Could we be happier if we were okay with a little inconvenience? Personally, I think it’s worth finding out.