This article is an after effect of my recent trip to colder countries and my reflection on what I read in a book written by a visitor to India a few years back! The writer mentioned that in India, it takes longer time to do simple day to day activities like bathing, cooking etc. I did not mind that statement given the kind of sophistication the kitchens and bathrooms in the western world have. However, during my recent trip, I realised that I took longer time to do the same things in the western countries in spite of the sophistication! It does not seem to be correlated with the technology!
In India I get ready - starting from brushing my teeth to being fully dressed (some times it is a saree too) - in about 20 minutes. But in these colder places, I took close to about an hour and I did not dare to wear a saree outdoors! This surprised me! When I observed more, I realised that every single activity took longer time and I had to do additional activities that I never do back in India!
"Moisturiser" is the first key differentiator! In Chennai I (most of us) do not need to apply moisturiser; but in colder places one definitely needs it! It takes more than 5 minutes to apply on every inch of the skin! I guess, those do it daily would have learnt techniques to do it in seconds! For someone like me, who does not use any cosmetics whatsoever, it is a big pain! bathing took twice as long a time to get rid of the sticky lotion hmm….. Not only that, it made me take bath twice a day - I did not like the stickiness of the lotion on the skin; The next day I realised that I had to apply this sticky lotion even before sleeping! So, I bathed twice and applied the lotion twice! Time required to bathe quadrupled and apply moisturiser doubled!
The first couple of days were warm and sunny. So the extra time was limited to only bathroom! But then, the following days were colder and I had to wear winter clothing though the locals were saying it is still warm and nice :-) :-)! Locals also warned me to wear as many layers as I need to and not to compare my clothing with what others are wearing! To wear that many layers under the outfit, it took quite an amount of extra time! More annoyingly, some of my clothes did not fit me because of these extra layers! It was as if I gained weight and went out of shape just in a couple of days! Aha!
I walked slowly - slower than how I walk in Chennai - because of the additional heavy clothing over the outfits! I had two more layers - a fleece and a jacket most of the time! They weighed about 5 kilos together - more than 10% of my weight! As a person, I do not like to carry anything heavy! You can imagine the frustration!
My fingers went numb and dysfunctional! I was not able to open water bottles even; I was not able to carry my handbag without dropping it multiple times! I dropped my mobile and did not even realise that I have dropped it! Holding a tissue too had to be done with a lot of pressure; I almost crushed the tissues before wiping my face or lips! I appeared weak, clumsy and careless! Not only that, all these wasted time! Others had to open the bottles for me, pick up my bag or mobile when I dropped them ( sometimes, after I tried doing myself and wasted a good deal of time :-) :-)!!!)
Just an edge of a paper could cut my skin; you could imagine the tenderness it developed because of the weather! Back in Chennai, I am used to soft cotton and silk clothes; I never wore synthetic clothes at all. but in North America, I had to wear synthetic and woolen thermal wear in spite of my extra tender skin. I could feel them bruise my skin! With all these, I had to smile and laugh! As a result of my tender skin, I did not want shake hands with anyone but the culture expected handshakes more often! Wow!
Now I am thinking of the writer's statement and the examples he quoted. Is it India / Indian culture that made him take longer time to do simple things or made him believe that Indians waste a lot of time in simple day to day things? I can put the same blame on the countries I visited and say that people there waste a lot of time in simple activities. But it will be a gross inaccurate, incorrect and rude statement. What made me spend more time is my inexperience to handle a different climate and different environment. If I had been there for longer period or visited them more often, I would have learnt techniques to better manage these things and will definitely take shorter time! It is just a matter of practice!!
How quickly and easily, people can blame a country or culture without even thinking!