Culture At Large

Forced To Be Someone You're Not

Jerod Clark

A few weeks ago, I spent a week traveling in India.  My wife and I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy trip.  Friends of ours who went there before us warned us that transportation is tough, scams are everywhere, there’s lots of pollution and there are areas of extreme poverty.  Their best advice to us was to embrace the word no – a tough proposition for a yes man like me.

The first night, the scams came early.  I ended up buying three bottles of water at the airport when I only really wanted one and our taxi didn’t take us where we wanted to go, probably because the driver wasn’t getting a commission from the hotel where we were going.   This left us on the streets on Delhi, two westerners toting backpacks, in the middle of the night.  I’m not sure I’d prayed for so many things to happen instantly in my entire life.  But the main thing I was looking for was God’s protection.

Soon after walking the streets, looking for our hotel we became bombarded by all sorts of people.  Many were auto rickshaw drivers (basically a dude driving a motorcycle with a cab on the back) and others were just asking for various other things.  No quickly became the most common word of the night.

After a couple of uncomfortable, and frankly scary, hours we finally found a different hotel to stay at.  We had found where we were supposed to be, but couldn’t actually get there thanks to walls and closed gates.  God did indeed show His protection on us.

As the trip went on, we became better at handling the constant bombardment from people. Every shop owner tried to lure us in, every taxi driver tried to rip us off and every touristy place we went was complete swarm of people trying to sell us something.  Again no, was our answer.

It can be defeating to become so rude.  I actually started feeling bad at how mean I had to become.  A simple no or no thanks didn’t work.  Only angry no’s did.  As a Christian, I struggled with who I had been forced to become.  I’ve always believed Christians should act differently to show how God changes us when we believe, yet I had to resort to meanness on this trip.  I still haven’t fully figured out how I could have acted differently.

How about you?  Are there times where you find you have to stray from who you really are to survive something like a trip to a foreign country?  If so, how do you deal with it?

(As a side note, I’m not completely down on India. Our trip had some highlights as well, which I’ll write about next week.)

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Faith, News & Politics, World, Justice