Three Americans in the world

28

My parents are disappointing. This seems like a horrible thing to say, as I sit in an amazing resort with them on a beautiful spice plantation in the verdant Indian state of Kerala, but they are. I had all these plans for this last post to be them reflecting on the American things I experienced while in India, but they keep crushing that dream by placing this experience in the context of their other world travels.

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My disappointing parents, taking me on a tour of a beautiful nature preserve in Kerala.

Source: Ben Poor

When I asked my dad about the advertisements around Hyderabad, he replied, “In many places, like China, Argentina, Mexico City, advertisements tend to feature Caucasian looking models. It’s all over the world.”

When I pushed my mom to say something about a Sprite sign at a restaurant our houseboat motored past in the back waters of Kerala, she mumbled, “I guess Sprite is universal,” before returning to her own journaling.

They didn’t have anything to say about coffee shops or T-shirts. My mom wouldn’t even consider stepping into a McDonald’s. Say something about India, parents! It’s almost like globalization is a global concept or something!

Finally, with enough direction, my parents gave me some good thoughts on organic farming. While they wouldn’t say it was a polluted concept, they did find it elitist in its current incarnation.

“It seems the right direction for world sustainability, particularly in a country that is soon to have has the world’s largest population,” my dad said.

Thinking about our walled resort and the restaurant where all food served being acquired within 50 miles, though, he said, “I certainly don’t like the economic elitism that’s implied in it. It shouldn’t be only for the wealthiest; it should be teaching people outside the walls.”

In closing, I looked back at my very first blog post. I set out to learn about America, India and globalization — and in doing so, I think I only got more confused about all of them. But I suppose that’s what study abroad is supposed to do — give you more context, more questions, more ways of wondering about the world. Globalization has obviously facilitated the spread of ideas from the West to the East — be through coffee shops, Angry Birds or organic farming — but it’s interesting to see how the spread has gone the other way as well. Organic farming used to be a way of life for the majority the entire world, from Indians to Native Americans. Is organic farming really any idea that’s transported from America, through YouTube videos and fancy fertilizers; or is it a recapturing of an way of life that other ideas about modernization replaced? How can that be understood?

After getting tired of being asked about India exclusively, my dad said, “I can only think about this in a world context.”

I want to thank them for giving me this opportunity to broaden my world context, and hope my blog posts have to some extent given other people the same opportunity. If you have the means, I highly encourage you to get to India — the McAloo Tikka Sandwich is truly delicious.

Ben Poor is a junior American Studies major studying abroad in Hyderabad, India during the Spring 2014 Semester. He can be reached at benpoor1@gmail.com or on Twitter @WklyBPoor.