He introduced us to the crazy traffic of India. We were completely amazed and yes, a little bit freaked out by the amount of cows on the road, the honking and overall chaos. He stayed quiet and friendly for the entire time that we were adjusting to this new way of transportation. After the first week we moved and did not need him to drive us around in his van anymore, but we kept in touch and he was the one I would call when I needed a cab to Pondicherry. He became less quiet and even a good friend. A friend that even took me home from Pondi in a Riksja or on the back of his motorcycle. By that time my fear on the road was almost completely gone! When I told him I was feeling sick he invited me to his house where his mother made me iglys and dosai. We even had drinks on a rooftop and talked about his life in Kullampalayam, the village where we stayed and where he grew up. When he told a friend and me about his love life, I realized, again, how privileged I am. I wanted to relate to him, but I couldn’t. He told a Romeo and Juliet love story. He showed us pictures of this girl that he was so deeply in love with. She looked a bit shy at us from the picture on his mobile phone. They couldn’t be together he told us. At first, we refused to believe that. ‘Why not? Just run away with her!’ We told him. His father said that he would kill himself if he would marry this girl, and he believes it. To marry a girl here, first, the families must get along and love comes second.
He told us he could only be friends with this girls now. The families hated each other. Whenever he calls her, her mother would pick up the phone. He tried to smile, but we could tell he was sad just talking about her. He called her and when he finally reached her Jamie talked to her briefly. She was just as shy as him and talking to her made us realize how painful the situation is. In our world ‘love’ is something that is a right, that is there, something that just happens and we go with it. It is seen as a setback when the families dislike each other, but if people really love each other, those problems can be overcome. It became clear that this isn’t the case here and the contrast between our two worlds seemed bigger then ever.
The fact that there is this problem without a solution, while it could be so easily solved in my country makes it almost impossible for me to relate to him. It is a different country with a different culture and everyday life and its structures are not like ours. For a moment I hated it, but afterwards I realized that somehow, I do love this place.
May be that is how my friend Naga Raj feels about the situation.
He hates the situation but he sincerely loves and respects his family and the traditions that are attached to the place where he grew up.
I just hope that, in the end, he gets what he wants.