I really wish I could trust people, particularly strangers, more.
Last night, we were in a cab, headed for the temple. The taxi driver was Muslim, and he seemed to be Indian (he was), so my Dad started off the conversation by telling him where we were from, what we’re doing here etc. I was suffering silent agonies in the back seat, and was secretly pleased that the driver was, at first, curt and professional.
But as time went by, he opened up too, telling my Dad about his life and family here, how he graduated from IIT Kanpur (the Indian equivalent of an Ivy League). They traded stories of their experiences in engineering school in India, and by the time we got to our destination, the driver didn’t want us to pay him, but my Dad insisted. The driver turned back to Suppi, who’d also been conversing with him, and laid his hand on her head and told her (with a sincerity that made me tear up) that she would get well soon, and blessed her.
Once inside, I started berating my Dad as usual for exposing us to many potential dangers. I was like, “he knows where we live!” As always, my parents just laughed me off. I can’t really blame them; they make friends so easily, and it’s not uncommon for them to exchange contact information with people they meet at the supermarket or in an airport. In Indian culture, people are far more outgoing and the threats of things like stalking and serial killers (my biggest fears) are virtually unheard of. Indians think nothing of divulging their personal information in India, trusting total strangers in a way I could never comprehend. All my friends and family members have made countless casual friendships during fleeting encounters and conversations.
I’ve always been far more reserved with people I don’t know, but it wasn’t until I lived in America that I became downright paranoid. I still am. Maybe in that sense, I’m more American than Indian now. And I envy my family their casual, easygoing faith in the inherent goodness of people. It makes me feel like such a jaded cynic.