Lessons Learned from a Trip to Starbucks

Walked a few blocks to Starbucks (yes, there's a Starbucks!) so I could hang out, read, and relax in a "familiar" environment. (Thanks for the idea, @adriarayyoga!) Starbucks is apparently in a fancy part of the city because I saw lots of new things.

Men wearing shorts. Women wearing jeans. And high heels. Tattoos. Lots of Chinese people. Lots of people speaking very good English.

And not related to it being a fancy part of town, I also saw my first fender bender. It happened directly in front of me (I was standing on a sidewalk out of harm's way). It was very minor, in fact I didn't see any damage at all, and the only injury was a slightly irritated thumb joint on the motorcycle driver, but everyone was worked up. They were moving all the involved vehicles off the road and that backed up traffic, so I walked further down the road to a crosswalk (gasp!) and crossed the street in one fell swoop.

It was really nice to spend a couple of hours in a familiar environment, but it brought up lots of thoughts. The disparity between classes is very clear here. People who have money are more westernized and people who don't are more traditional.

Me, here as a foreigner, I kind of feel like part of both groups. I can afford Rs. 205 ($3) for a Starbucks tea. I speak good English. I was wearing jeans with an Indian top. But on the other hand, my main mode of transportation is walking, I washed my laundry by hand in a bucket today, and I'm currently soaking my feet in that same bucket so I can wash off all the dirtiness from walking (in flip flops) and make my feet presentable for class tomorrow.

I guess it's like I was telling my friend Terri about food. For years I tried to find analogies between Indian foods and "American" foods (dosa is like tortilla, sambhar is like salsa), but the comparisons never quite worked. The American foods are not analogous to the Indian foods, so it's better to just accept and appreciate the Indian food as it is, on its own merits.

Same for the class systems. I'm neither like the Indian wealthy upper-middle class nor the Indian lower class. I'm just me, making my way around, trying to be conscious of my privilege, and trying to being kind to the people I meet.

You can't just go around trying to put people or things in a box. You have to accept it for what it is on its own merits. 💜