Yesterday at dinner we had a conversation with our guest, a volunteer who is currently here, helping us with the website. We talked about the way how people live together in family here in India which is always something that visitors, guests and tourists from the west notice when they travel here.
I know it is not the first time that I write about it but there are again and again new aspects that I find positive and pleasant about living together in a big family. And the advantages are really so nice that we mention them again and again as something that we enjoy.
One aspect that we have realized once more in the last months, especially because of our little baby daughter Apra, is how great it is for children to grow up in a big family. I have big respect for every small family where the mother is either single or alone throughout the day while her husband is at work and she has to take care of the child or children on her own. While it is wonderful to be with your children, I have heard many women wish that her parents or parents-in-law were living close-by or her relatives could come by and help her from time to time. When you live together in a big family, everybody, all grand-parents, uncles, aunts and cousins like to play with the baby or small child and can take some of the responsibility so that the woman is not on her own.
Not only parents are supported however, everybody has the advantage of the love of a family when living together, including the help in difficult situations and the sharing of food, of space, of belongings and of money.
It actually saves a lot of money to live together. You only need to pay for one house, not for four. We only need one car and not four or five separate cars. We can buy and cook food in bigger amounts – and spend less per kilo. And there is always someone to finish any food that would otherwise go bad. We share everything with each other and so do many Indian families.
People in the west often don’t really know this concept of sharing. They have of course the knowledge of the word but often have difficulties really implementing this knowledge in real life – because they are taught to be individualistic. It is normal and not a judgement or blame that I am voicing here. Obviously it is also not true for every family but in general, people like to separate in ‘mine’ and ‘yours’. Again, not only in one aspect, not only about sharing money but also about sharing feelings.
Unfortunately however families are breaking apart here, too, and even brothers cannot live together with each other anymore. Ego is getting bigger and everyone wants his own. People name the influence of the west and of course that may well be a reason but I think one cannot just blame the west for this development. You can make your conscious decision to be with your family and to think of ‘ours’ rather than ‘mine’. It is up to each and every of us and we cannot blame any culture or tradition for ruling over our lives. If we are unhappy with something, we can make a change, at least for us and in our family.