Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Out of my comfort zone in India

Three weeks ago, I arrived in Mumbai, India to do a PhD Exchange Research Fellowship at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. I must confess that I suffered from culture shock and still feel that I am totally out of my comfort zone. I decided to write a reflective portfolio in order to document this Incredible Indian adventure and also share it with you.

I have always wished to have the chance to visit at least one country that is in the process of development; a country which is said to face bigger challenges than Romania. I am so fed up to hear people complaining about my country and the problems we have. It seems so hard to see our positive aspects and Romanians always compare their ways to the lifestyles of the rich countries; which represent a role model for us. I have so many things to say about this, but I will stop here and promise to talk about the topic in a future post.

I have always wondered if I will come to appreciate more who I am and what I have when I will see how other people live and what opportunities they have in comparison to the chances I had being born in an East-European country. What I have discovered in India is that we need so little to be happy, we just need to value more the relationships we have with each other. Talk more to the people around us and listen to what one has to say. We do not need to spend huge amounts of money to buy stuff in order to fill in our empty and lonely hearts. 
Here, I realized that I need so little money to live a comfortable life. I do not need to pay extra to eat a well designed dish or wear fancy clothes and make-up in order to feel beautiful. It is a very strange feeling... to be free of being judged by others...

In the last years, I was lucky to have the chance to live abroad and it is so curious to find out that the happiest people live in developing countries. I saw many people who felt free to dance in the streets, who were laughing loudly and were open to foreigners. 

I spent lots of days asking myself why people in developing countries seem happier than people in the rich countries? In India, I discovered people living in modest or very modest conditions, who find the power to be happy and overlook the problems they face. 

Indians are so kind to me; some say that it is because of the color of my skin. I would say it is because I am so curious and fascinated about them and their culture. They look into your eyes and without being able to understand your language, they know what to 'say' to you without using any words to express themselves. 

My very nice Sri Lankan roommate, Sri told me that to be open-minded is a gift from God. Sri was impressed by the fact that I accepted a gift from her God in a Hindu temple that we visited together. I wonder who would not accept a white lotus flower as a gift from a Hindu priest? But maybe she is right, I should appreciate myself more for the open mind, I was gifted with.

I came to understand that we do not need more; what we have is just enough. We should start enjoying the qualities and defects we were born with and learn to find our happiness in the comfort that we already have.

There are moments when I cannot put into words the experiences I lived here - Let's just say it is not called Incredible India for nothing!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Pills that improve morality: Julian Savulescu at TEDxBarcelona

Here you have a very nice academic who talks about ethics at TEDx.

I found his speech very interesting mainly because he argues that our technological progress doesn't guarantee us that our morality will develop further. On the contrary, it seems that our moral values need also to evolve and adapt to the reality we live in. How are we to achieve this?

In my opinion, one solution could be moral education.