An insight into the Indian psyche

An early-morning sight-seeing trip to cooling pond #1 of Bokaro steel plant gave me a direct channel into a part of the Indian psyche. The cooling pond is a raised, artificial pond constructed to provide clean, cooling water for the steel plant. It is surrounded by a large raised wall and wetlands, as well as green areas. The pond is huge, somewhere on the scale of 22 km around, and has a number of planted fish living inside it (which you can fish at a fee per hook). 

As we traveled along the sides of the pond, we soon found ourselves surrounded by no-one, an event that so far been quite uncommon in my (limited, yes) Indian experience. We took the motorcycle all the way out to the edge of a small ridge jutting out into the lake. As we reached the end and got off the motorcycle to take some pictures, one of my colleagues proclaims "Not much people come here often, it's very, very lonely here" in a voice indicating this being a place that gave him the shudders (like an abandoned house or such).

His short statement left me thinking, "This would be exactly the place your average Swede would describe peaceful, beautiful, serene and, yes, even lonely". However, in the case of the average Swede standing there, lonely would indicate something positive, it would indicate a place where you could be left in peace with your thoughts. For my Indian friend there was nothing positive about his usage of the word lonel, rather he was clearly uncomfortable about not being surrounded by throngs of people.

When I explained that in Sweden, most places were like this (indeed, Sweden has a third as many inhabitants as small Jharkhand province and a tenth as many as neighboring Bihar), he shrugged and said Sweden must be a very lonely and sad place. 

In a country as crowded in India, his attitude is quite appropriate, and has undoubtedly developed through living life surrounded by a massive amount of people at all times. Thinking of it, it seems quite obvious, but it reminds me of how very subtle the differences in how we perceive the world can be and how markedly they are shaped by our surroundings.

The failure of “developed” societies (and Japan: A Story of Love and Hate)


I found myself the other day in front of this documentary about a story of rise and fall in a rich society – and it touched me!

The challenge of being different in a society (like many “modern” societies) that almost completely lack strong social bonds between people creates a loneliness that is undeniable strong. Further curiosity lead me to a Forbes study of happiness and well-being around the world, and then more material about suicide rates.

Interestingly – in many rich countries people are overall thriving and feel they have strong future prospect. However, day to day life experience is affected more by how well our psychological and social needs are filled – something that rich countries seemed much less adept at providing.

The failure of the “developed” societies to provide the adequate social community to take part not only in the successes but also the failures of the members of the society. It seems to me that true community building (not only that which connects us around a sports club…) is a skill that we need re-learning in many societies.