Before moving to India, we told so many people that we wanted to live with an Indian family for the first month in our city. We dreamed about what it would be like and prayed that God would give us the opportunity to have insight into Indian life in this way. After about a week of asking anyone who would talk to us on the street about living with a family, we met a sweet high school girl who invited us to come meet her family. We met them and after about an hour of drinking chai together and eating snacks they invited us to stay with them.
They are a family of 9, a mother and father, 6 daughters and one son. Their home consisted of two large bedrooms, a kitchen, 2 latrines, a shower, and an awesome terrace. We were given one room and they all stayed in the room next to ours, separated by a curtain.
There are so many things we learned by being with them. So many cultural insights that we saw, but still don’t completely understand. I have been challenged recently to not prematurely to jump to the “why” of cultural observations. It is so easy to observe something then in my mind try to figure out why it happened, but the truth is I am such a baby in this culture and it will take a lot of time to understand the deeper meanings of the things I experience everyday, so I will abstain from trying to explain too many things now and try to grow into understanding as I spend more time here and learn more language. So those blog posts will come later J
There is one thing that we experienced that was unmistakably different about the culture here.
Social life revolves around FAMILY.
For the month that we lived there (granted we weren’t there every second of the day), I can think of 2 adults (a mullah and a man who distributes the Quran in Urdu) who visited that were not family. There were many different visitors who came, but they were all related in some way. The family network is so large and extensive. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and on and on. Instead of calling their first cousin “cousin”, they will call each other brother and sister because they are that close. More like brothers and sisters than cousins, usually living in the same house or building. Many times, it is hard to keep track of who is related and how.
It is such a shift from western life. I don’t even know many of my cousins, I have no idea where they live or what they are doing.(thanks to facebook that doesn’t happen as much as it used to J ).
There is something really beautiful about the proximal closeness of family here. It makes me long for my family and Ryan’s family to be close…..which makes me long for God’s kingdom to come quickly where we will all live together in a beautiful, perfect redeemed city. In that city, we may need some tips from our Indian friends on how to live life so close to our families, haha.