As I recalled my childhood, especially the wonder and horror of visiting the big city of Bombay, I never imagined I would be coming back as an adult working with international banks. The trips to the city in those days always seemed to end with someone struggling from getting sick. If everyone stayed healthy, we had some kind of car wreck.
As I return, I sit in a hotel that would be 5 stars anywhere. The service is impeccable. The furnishings are first class. The food is excellent. Everything stands in stark contrast to my childhood.
The bright surprise in the hotel triggered a fresh awareness of the new India. I feel like I am a stranger in the land of my youth. Awakenings challenge one to take a fresh look at everything you have assumed to be true. In an old story, a bright light stunned a man, opening him up to hearing “a voice in Hebrew: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?’” (Acts 26.14)
In my case, old assumptions and long held views are being challenged within.
In the old days, people did not seem to care beyond their immediate community. While the problems are overwhelming, you can see people reaching out to others, even ones who are different.
In the days past, the core infrastructure was the same as it had always been. The rule of that thumb was that changed had ended when the British left in 1948. Everywhere I look I see change. Roads, parking structures, shopping centers, bridges, and high-rise buildings are under construction. New construction comes with investments in greenery and environmental awareness.
In the old days, there were no traffic rules. Today there are signs reminding you of the rules. Policemen enforce wearing seatbelts. Chaos remains, yet somehow there is more order.
People believe the impossible is possible. People act in ways that recognizes and respect others, including the poor and powerless. Service is recognized and common courtesies extended.
This is a different world. Am I?