Zindagi achii hai (Life is good)

I don’t know if it’s possible to be happier than I am right now.

Why? See, happiness can usually be attributed to individual events, such as doing well on an exam or seeing your favorite team win a sporting event. These moments of elation always fade away as time goes on – not because we want to forget them, but because life is just too crowded. Even the best movies eventually come to an end, and when you leave the movie theater, life resumes just as it did before. It’s the same way with things that make us happy. The memories fade.

Sometime Tuesday night, I was standing alone with nothing to do, a day of memories complete.

And after some serious thought, I realized I had absolutely no reason to be unhappy.

The best moments of the day had passed. I’d gone with my host family in the early afternoon on a day trip to a farm 20 kilometers outside Nagpur, where a breathtaking panorama greeted us atop a pudgy little yellow hill. I’d spent the evening with friends – not all of them – but enough to make me smile on several occasions. Hindi class, as it so often is, was informative, interesting and fun. I watched as Sachin Tendulkar and the Mumbai Indians won their IPL match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore that evening. Not only was my dinner satisfying and filling, but I had a box of Easter candy from my mom awaiting me upstairs, should the craving arise. (It did.)

Perhaps it’s just because I’ve spent so much of my life procrastinating, but my life has always been filled with a perpetual nagging tension to get things done. During the school year it’s normally an assignment or test for which I’ve yet to prepare. During the breaks, too, there’s always some form to fill out, some place to visit, or some person to talk to. In India, I’ve had no legitimate tests or homework to worry about, but for various reasons, there’s always been some reason to take tension.

About two months after arriving in India, I stopped writing this blog, and the most difficult part of my exchange began. Between mid-September and the beginning of the South Tour, I had little to do, but everyday life was confusing, stressful and filled with uncertainty. Instead of taking tension from the predictable stress of having too much to do, now there was the tension of having too little. Spontaneity was maddening; either everything was happening at once, or nothing was happening at all.

Though I temporarily stopped writing blogs, I didn’t stop writing. In half-complete notes to myself or emails I never sent, I mulled happiness and the means by which it could be achieved. I’d open Microsoft Word or TextEdit and type half a sentence, half a paragraph, half a blog…but never finish.

They were always incomplete, see, because I didn’t know how to finish them.

In retrospect, this was the period of culture shock that every exchange student goes through. My problems, however trivial, weren’t about to go away if I just ignored them. My dirty clothes weren’t going to wash themselves. The broken internet on my computer wasn’t about to fix itself. Hindi and Marathi (one, the other, or both?) weren’t going to sponge into my brain overnight. Leave enough small problems untreated, and they don’t seem nearly as insignificant as they do on their own.

Sometime today, about five months after that period of my life ended, I realized I have precisely zero problems in my life.

I gave it some thought. Navigating everyday life no longer takes the effort it took months ago. The weight on my shoulders, steadily decreasing for months, now felt feather-light. I eat great food every day, and I know how to eat it. I have great people in my life every day, and I get along well with all of them. My bed is comfortable. The music on my laptop sounds great on my new headphones. And heck, just days ago my country won the Cricket World Cup!

At home, too, I know all is well – even without regular internet access. Many of the things that made me worry about my return are taken care of or on the verge of completion. With about a month and a half until returning to Illinois, the anticipation of seeing people I care about finally outweighs the sadness of their absence. And the internet-wallah came yesterday. My computer is back to full health!

Even the weather is cooperating. It’s rained about five times in the last week – almost like springtime in Champaign. The 100 degree (F) temperatures are about ten below normal for Nagpur this time of year. Even without rain, there’s often plenty of cloud cover.

Jojo the dog is quenching his thirst by loudly gulping water from a pot outside. It could be rainwater or tap water, I don’t know. The sound makes me smile.

Really, what reason is there to do anything else?

Life is too good, na?



Much more to come!


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2 Responses to “Zindagi achii hai (Life is good)”

  1. Ganesh Dhamodkar Says:

    Hey Chris, a little update, not life “achchha” hai, but life “achchhi” hai. Life i.e. zindagi in Hindi/Urdu is a feminine noun and it should be achchhi… not masculine achchha… e.g. Chris is an “achchha” boy. Christy is an “achchhi” girl 🙂 Ask your Hindi teacher about further details!

    Ganesh 🙂

    • cyoder Says:

      Thanks for the correction! I know about masculine and feminine words in Hindi, but I don’t always use them correctly. I changed the title of the post accordingly.

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