Sometimes you may just need someone far away to talk to – 8 Sep 15

I was talking to a friend on the phone recently. He lives in Austria and we met when I was giving workshops there about six years ago. We have been loosely in touch over the course of years and updated each other on what was happening in our lives. Last week he called me, not for just asking about the weather but to ask for the help of a friend.

Everyone always says friends are there for you when you need them. There are situations however when you cannot show your close friends this need, where you hesitate to share with those who are nearest. In those times, it is good to have a friend who is a bit further away and can see the situation from a distance. This was the case with my Austrian friend.

When I got to know him, he had just moved into his own house in his home village with his wife and two small sons. They were happy to start a new chapter in life, their elder son was about to start school and everything was good.

On phone, he told me that the situation had changed drastically. He had found out that his wife had cheated on him, over years, with a common friend. He thus wanted to separate and get a divorce. It was something he was heartbroken about but he had already taken his decision: he could not forgive her, he needed to break this relationship.

In order to understand why he could not speak about this with his friends, you need to know two more details: my friend lives in a small village where literally everybody knows each other. Any such news as a breakup or even problems in a marriage make the rounds in the marketplace and everyone immediately knows about it.

The second detail is that his wife has an alcohol problem and has had that for a while. My friend has tried to help her but has always actually made every effort to cover it up, to avoid letting the whole village know. He wanted to protect his wife, their reputation as a family and their sons as well.

And he was still doing that now. He did not want to share his heartache with his friends, he didn't want to talk about his relationship problems, simply because the whole village would know right away. The next problem however was that he didn't want to leave his sons with his wife due to her alcohol problems! This again he could not tell anybody without harming her, at least from what he thought! Everyone would know – something which he had been trying to avoid for so long!

That's how he called me to ask me what to do.

First of all I told him to stop worrying about what everyone else would think about him and his soon-to-be ex-wife! It didn't matter. What mattered was his heart and feelings and his children! It didn't matter what everyone else said or thought, his children had to be safe! So while stopping to worry about that, I suggested him to go find a good lawyer and first of all talk to him.

After that, he should go and talk to his best friend. You have to share what is inside you! His wife needed help for her alcohol problem and that would not happen by hiding it any further. So it would not be a favour to try and keep it quiet – and his sons need him now!

I explained him how it would not be a big issue to move to another town either, to start over new and just get out of the gossip for some time. Everything would cool down one day and those who are his real friends will stay with him!

He was happy, most of all that he had been able to share with someone. And I am happy that I have friends who call me when they really need someone!

Monika’s alcoholic and violent Father – something you have to accept as Fate? – 18 Dec 14

When we got to know about Monika's accident, we immediate decided we would take her to the hospital. Of course, we wanted to talk with her parents before and so her mother came to school the next day. Having talked to her, I even wrote a blog entry on her, without revealing her identity. She told me that she didn't mind though, and that’s how I am now writing the whole story here. Yesterday I already told you about the financial situation at their home – but money is not the only problem!

The biggest problem for Monika's mother is her husband. It is not only that he doesn't work. No, no day goes by without him getting drunk. This is something that his wife told us when she came to school, his daughter told us at school and both of them told us when we were at their home. He didn't want to admit but had to when these two ladies insisted.

Somehow he always finds money for his addiction. If he doesn't earn the few rupees on his own, he searches the house for his wife’s earnings and steals them to buy cigarettes and alcohol.

That not being enough, he drunkenly starts fights with his brothers, neighbors and complete strangers. And of course with his wife and children. The insults that Monika tells us he uses for her are nothing that a 12-year-old should have heard! He comes home in night, wakes up everyone, although his wife has to get up for work at 5 in the morning, and starts fighting.

When the fighting is not enough, he gets violent as well. Against his wife and children. Against his daughter who, just some months ago, burnt her whole face, chest and arms! He hits her – on the back. Considerate of him, isn't it?

That is where the big question came from that we again asked Monika’s mother when we went to the hospital: why don't you leave? Take the kids and go, don't let them grow up in such an environment!

She told that she had given her little daughter to her parents for that reason: she doesn't want to leave her with her husband when she goes to work! When the kids were all small, she would go to her parents for months at a time but now, with school holidays being limited and her going to work, she cannot.

Why don't you just go? You don't get anything from this family who doesn't speak to you, your parents are the ones who give you pots and clothes when you don't have the money to buy them and you yourself earn the money with which you raise your children! The only thing you have there is a room to sleep in – and that you could rent in a tenth of your income!

She said she actually had thought of it and even told her parents about it. But with their reply she lost all courage to do such a thing: “Daughter, this is your destiny, you cannot fight against your fate.”

So better to earn money for your drunkard husband and accept that you and your children get beaten! You can imagine our emotions when hearing these words! There is more to the story of this family – that I will tell you about tomorrow!

We will concentrate on our work, on helping Monika and you can be assured that not one rupee of our and your support will go to her father! We will be the ones directly paying any bills and also our support for the family will be direct, so that no money can be used for anything else than its purpose!

You can help us supporting Monika and her treatment! Here you can read again about her accident and here how you can donate!

A drunk Father beats his Wife and doesn’t send his 9-year-old to School – Our School Children – 24 Oct 14

It is Friday again, the day for introducing you to one of our school’s children. Once more, it is going to be a child that is in our lowest class although already old enough to be in fourth class! Today it is Shalini, nine years.

Shalini is the eldest of four siblings and lives with her mother, father, two brothers and one sister in the middle of the old town of Vrindavan. The six of them live in one room of four of a small house which is so in between the walls of others that there is hardly any light down to the ground floor where they live. The other three rooms of the house are occupied by Shalini’s uncles and their families.

That’s how they distributed their inheritance, also making clear that every brother now earns on his own and feeds his family on his own. Unfortunately, Shalini’s father is not really able to provide for his wife and children very well.

He does embroidery, creating clothes for deities. When we ask Shalini’s mother, she tells us that he earns only 50 Rupees a day – not even one US-Dollar! We cannot believe it: we know of labourers that earn six times as much! The neighbour tells us loudly from behind: He drinks lots of alcohol! Shalini’s mother confirms this. Most of the money he earns is spent for alcohol. And then? In the evening, after drinking, does he hit you? Yes. And the kids? No, he doesn’t touch the kids.

That’s it, the story of this house, told soberly and without much passion by the neighbour and the victim of domestic abuse herself. The addiction to alcohol is the reason for her pain, the reason for the children not wearing proper clothes and the reason she has to ask her husband’s brothers for help when there is not enough money for food. They feed the children or give them flour, lentils and rice.

They don’t have enough to pay school fees though! They cannot afford sending their brother’s children to school as well as their own. That’s how Shalini with her nine years has never been to school.

On her first day of school, she was excited. Now, after nearly four months of school, she loves it! It is fun, she has made friends and she learns happily. We hope it will give her a future with a loving husband, not a violent one. A future where she doesn’t have to beg others for food.

You can help us supporting children like her! Sponsor a child or the food for a day – thank you!

Alcohol – making poor People poorer – Our School Children – 6 Jun 14

Today I would like to introduce you to Anjali, a girl of our school who is 14 years old and studies in the third class. She lives in a big family and there is one big problem which keeps them from getting past their poverty: alcohol.

Anjali is the youngest of four children. Her older sister got married last year, so that now there are five of them left to sleep in their one room. On the property however, there are many more people living: his father has seven further brothers. Of these eight, three live together on this property with their wives and children.

Once we got the present family members together, we asked Anjali’s father with what the family earned their living. He is a mason and Anjali’s eldest brother stitches the clothes of deities. Together they earn about 160 US-Dollar, says the father. At that point, his wife starts protesting with a laugh: he has not been working for a while and is mostly ill! What illness, we ask. The liver.

Of course this is an indication for us that he has an alcohol problem. Upon our question, he tries to avoid a straight answer, saying that he momentarily doesn’t drink. So we probe a bit further: so you did drink. How much? Anjali’s father answer ‘Seven or eight days in a month’ – which earns him another laugh of his wife. She corrects the number to ’15 to 20 days in a month!’

The good thing for the family is that he does not get violent or in a bad mood – he simply falls asleep. The other consequences however are hard: he does not only spend money on alcohol, the next day he cannot get up early enough for work, so he stays at home and obviously does not earn anything. Additionally, he now has a liver problem and they need money for his medicine. It is thus the work of the eldest son that supports the family at this time.

The only other support that they have is the buffalo cow that gives four to five liters of milk in a day – apart from feeding the home, the cow thus also brings some income, even if it is just a bit.

The fields that they had some years ago and which helped them pay their expenses have been flooded by the river Yamuna in the big flood of 2010. The Yamuna then changed its flow a bit and what was formerly their field is now the river bed.

That’s how Anjali has been studying at our school for the past four years. When talking to the teachers, you can hear their approval not only of her dedication to her studies but also of her happy nature. She smiles a lot, is helpful and also follows the lessons well.

If you would like to support children like Anjali for free education and food in our charity school, we would be happy about a child sponsorship or the sponsorship of the food for a day.

Gambling and Alcohol leaves no Money for the Family – Our School Children – 7 Mar 14

It is Friday once more and thus the day for you to get to know another of our school children. Today it is Shelly, a jolly girl of eight years who is in our lowest class, a preschool class in which the children learn the alphabet and many songs, rhymes and poems.

Shelly sometimes introduces herself as ‘Selly’ and you will mostly find her running around, laughing and playing. That’s how we met her when we were in a boy’s home close to hers. She was still in her school dress, several hours after coming home – she could not be bothered with changing.

We asked her to take us to her home where we met her mother and family and got to know a bit more about the background of this girl. Her father is a mason and earns about 50 US-Dollar per month but his mother tells that there is not always much left of it for home: he gambles, plays cards for money. Sometimes he wins, more often he loses. And if he wins, he spends his money on alcohol.

There is not much left for his wife, his two daughters and his two sons. That’s how they are still living in their old house with two rooms simply made of bricks, without any toilet. Showering is done out in the courtyard and their restroom is the gutter out on the road.

Shelly has an older sister but both brothers are younger than her. As it looks like however, she will soon be the most educated girl in their home. Her sister has been to a government school for a few years but has not even properly learnt reading and writing. She doesn’t go there anymore. When we asked her mother how old the girl was, she answered ‘18 or 19’ although she is clearly only about 13 or 14 years old. Maybe the family is preparing for marrying her and already start telling that she is of legal age for marriage. We have right away told the girl and her mother that we would be happy to teach the girl in our school next year.

It was a visit that made us thoughtful once more, as the situation of this simple family is so in contrast to the happy and jolly nature of Shelly. The teachers praise her for working quickly and thoroughly – and of course mention how lively she is.

We hope that we will be able to teach not only Shelly but Shelly’s sister as well in the next year!

If you would like to support our projects, you can sponsor a child, sponsor the food for a day or give a donation of any amount.

Thank you!

Why this 16-Year-old Teenager parties too much – 2 Feb 14

To one of the many individual sessions that I had when I was in Australia in 2006, a woman came together with her sixteen-year-old daughter. She wanted counselling for her daughter, not for herself. The daughter however saw things a bit differently. This is how the whole story evolved:

They came in, actually looking more like sisters than mother and daughter. Both wore make-up but with opposite effects: while the teenager of sixteen years looked more like nineteen or twenty, her mother, who must have been in her late forties, looked like she had just turned 35. Their clothing had a similar effect: fashionable and accentuating their figure. Their facial expressions and gestures however left no doubt about their relation to each other: the mother was eager to get her reluctant daughter to this talk.

They entered the room and I already knew that I would first let the mother talk and then ask the daughter whether she would like to talk to me alone – an overpowering mother in a counselling session does not really help a person to open up, especially a teenager!

The girl’s mother described the problem: her daughter went out to parties far too often. On those parties she drank too much alcohol and she then came home late in the night or in the early morning hours! She didn’t always come home alone though: she also brought boys back home who then stayed overnight! According to her mother, this was no behavior fitting to a sixteen-year-old! She had had serious talks with her, shouted at her, tried to forbid her but the daughter basically just did what she wanted to do and didn’t listen to any of her mother’s words.

I had seen such problems with teenagers especially in the west, had seen their lifestyle and the difficulties that parents faced with that. Just as I had planned, I asked the mother to leave her daughter and me alone for a while. She did and I could finally hear her daughter’s version of the story.

It was very simple: “My mum does all these things herself, too! When she does it, it is fine, so when I do the same, what’s wrong with me?”

Well, yes, I saw her point and that’s when I decided that this young lady was not the one in the need of counselling but her mother.

I will tell you next week what I told her mother.

Child Marriage, Child Labour and Alcohol Problems – Our School Children – 24 Jan 14

Today I would like to write about a boy, Rajendra, whom I have already once introduced to you before. Unfortunately, while we were very positive about his family’s future in that time, we cannot say the same now and we just hope that we will have the chance to educate Rajendra as many of the coming years as possible.

When I wrote about his family in 2010, the family had come to Vrindavan some months before and Rajendra’s father was looking for work. Not only for him but also for his father-in-law, his sister-in-law, his daughter and two sons. They told a heartbreaking story of how the children’s mother died of kidney failure because they could not afford the treatment, how the father’s brother committed suicide and how they were now just desperately looking for work.

We employed the three adults and sent the children to our school, wishing to thus make a difference in their lives. While the children’s grandfather and aunt soon left the Ashram to move back to the village, their father, a rickshaw-driver, picked up the school-children with his rickshaw and dropped them back home every day. The regular income that we provided him however soon didn’t seem to be enough. He asked for a higher, came by often to request some extra money and soon asked for that much money that it became too expensive for us to afford him. On top of it we had the suspicion that he spent a big part of his salary on alcohol. Nevertheless, we carried on teaching his children for free.

Until his daughter Rajbai didn’t come to school anymore one day. We went to ask why she didn’t come and got to know she had gone to visit her aunt in their village. No, she wouldn’t be back for a while. We explained how bad it would be for her schooling if she was absent for a month or even longer. Yes, he would send her back to school as soon as possible. He didn’t. We got to know later that she had come back to Vrindavan and was working as a maid in people’s homes. Then a bit more than a year ago, we heard that she got married. She was thirteen in 2010, when we wrote about her. She was thus fifteen when she married.

When you talk about this with her father, he insists she was eighteen and he married her only a few months ago. He even tries to convince us that he had no other chance, not having enough money to feed her and raise her further. The moment you ask her younger brother Rajendra, he will repeat a sentence he has learned well: ‘She was eighteen years old!’ There is no birth certificate to prove anything else.

When the new school session started last year, the elder brother Narendra didn’t come back to school. Now fourteen years old, he had started working in a shop in town, selling chai, Indian tea. He didn’t have interest in learning more, we were told, and the boy himself didn’t reply anything. All efforts to convince them to send him back to school failed.

When we arrived at their home this time during the winter holidays, it was a sad scene to see. Rajendra ran to wake up his father – at eleven o’clock in the morning. He came out, disheveled and definitely hung over, stinking of alcohol. He was lying in bed while his elder son was out working, earning money, and his younger son playing outside. Rajendra told him to put on a jacket, to try and make his hair look better, urging him to make a good impression.

It broke our hearts to see this boy’s effort to make his father presentable. We had our talk, getting to know that he earned very little with the rickshaw these days, blaming the weather and what not. The rent of about 20 US-Dollar is paid by his son’s salary, approximately 40 US-Dollar in a month. He obviously doesn’t see a need to do much effort in his own work – if it is enough for his alcohol, he doesn’t have to worry anymore, as his son is now earning enough for all other expenses.

We left after pleading once more with him to consider his children’s future. We urged him not to even think of taking his last son out of school, explaining him once more the benefits of solid education.

It is sad but this is what we are constantly working against: Parents who want to take their children out of school, child marriage, child labour, a small salary now valued higher than a good job in future. We will continue our efforts and instead of getting discouraged by situations like Rajbai’s and Narendra’s, we want to focus on our success, the progress of Rajendra.

He is a smart boy and he learns well. He is jolly and always respectful. It is never a child’s fault and that’s how we will do everything we can for Rajendra’s future.

If you want to support our efforts, you can sponsor a child or the food for a day. Thank you!

User Guide for Swami Balendu, Chapter Two: Meat, Alcohol and Cigarettes – 27 Oct 13

Last week I told you how my friend was joking around about having to write a guide on how to deal with me. We had much fun talking about the little differences in between my lifestyle and the normal western one but when I thought about it seriously, there were of course some things which people were not sure about before they really met me and got to know my attitude, ideas and way of living.

It didn’t matter for example how many years I had spent in the west, I had not – and still haven’t – swayed from being a convinced vegetarian. I believed and still believe that it is the best for your body if you don’t eat meat and I also thought and think that it is the natural food for humans. It is not necessary to kill animals for us to survive and I feel it is cruel of humans to slaughter all different kinds of animals for meat, not to mention the horrible circumstances they are being kept in, the environmental consequences and how many hungry people we could feed with the food that is used for those animals.

I grew up in a vegetarian town and also with my later work, I was always surrounded by vegetarians. In these circumstances I actually had a very bad opinion of meat-eaters when I was younger. I thought them to be cruel and I actually didn’t think that any good person could be eating meat. This changed when I came to the west.

After a short time I realized that this was a difference of culture and growing up and that there were a whole lot of lovely people who were meat-eaters! Once thing could not change however: I still cannot eat at the same table where meat is being eaten. I feel physically unwell when someone eats meat in front of me. I cannot eat my normal food – I just don’t have any appetite when there is this dead flesh lying in front of me! I cannot stand the smell either, it makes me feel sick! I have several times eaten after someone or at a different table just to be able to eat my food in peace. Mostly however the other party values our common meal more and we eat something vegetarian together – after all, mostly I cook a delicious and wholesome Indian meal that doesn’t give room for missing anything!

I tell about my eating habits when anybody asks or I am at a place that is new for me where people don’t know me yet. After hearing this, many people assume that I would not like to sit at a table with them when they drink alcohol. That however is a different story! I would obviously not like watching anybody get drunk – and I have very rarely actually met someone I knew in a state of real drunkenness. If someone has a glass of wine or a beer with dinner or afterwards, when we are sitting together, I really don’t mind. I have never tried alcohol in my life and I have no intention of ever doing so but I realize that you don’t get drunk from one glass and that you are most probably not addicted to it either! It doesn’t make me think you are an alcoholic and while I won’t join you or serve alcohol to you in my home, I will enjoy an evening at your home also if you decide to open a bottle of champagne.

In order to complete this topic, there should be another aspect mentioned: what about smoking? Well, I would not like to sit in a room where the smoke is hanging under the ceiling and where my clothes will smell horrible once I come out. I would prefer not to stand next to you when you are smoking because when you blow the smoke in my direction, it irritates my nose. But no, while I think it is bad for your health and you should quit smoking, I don’t think you are a bad person. You have an addiction, that’s all.

So these were the main aspects – but apart from that I was and am quite easy to be with!

The Irish and the Alcohol – seeing a common Stereotype confirmed – 19 May 13

I told you that on my trips to Ireland, for example in summer 2005, I found the Irish in general to be very jolly, happy and absolutely not shy. I did notice something though, which you could call the confirmation of a prejudice. A stereotype image of the Irish man is that he drinks. A lot.

I had lots of individual sessions when I was there and many people, as usual, came to tell me about their problems. These were usually really spread very widely about everything that is going on in life. People had relationship issues, troubles with their emotions, pains and illnesses, mental difficulties, sadness or restlessness, were looking for inner peace, strength or were trying to leave an addiction. In my sessions in Ireland it was a noticeably big amount of people whose problems were related in one way or the other to alcohol.

There was a man who had fallen into deep depression. He told me that it all started when his girlfriend left him. He was sad and decided to have a glass with a friend. He felt better, be that through the alcohol or the company of his friend. Whatever helped him once, he tried the next day, too. The alcohol seemed to reduce the pain and let him think of other things – or nothing at all. He slowly started drinking more and more and at some point it obviously stopped giving him good feelings but made him moody and feel bad. He underwent an addiction therapy and left the alcohol – but was still not stable in his mood.

A woman told me that she had been drinking regularly for such a long time that she had serious health problems. She had gained a lot of weight, which she told me was only due to alcohol, and doctors had told her to stop immediately if she wanted to save her liver. She was addicted though and had big problems finding the strength to quit.

Another man told me in tears how much grief alcohol has caused in his life and it was horrible to listen to the pain in his voice. One of his best friends had been at a party with him and the whole group of friends were drinking, as usual. He stayed overnight, knocked out on the sofa but his friends decided to drive home. It was raining, there was a turn and they could not keep the car on the slippery road. Two of them died. Years later, his wife is on her way home from work. A drunk driver hits her car. She never made it back home.

Nevertheless, people kept telling me, young people seemed to drink even more than the generations before them. Binge drinking, pouring alcohol into their bodies until they wake up in the hospitals. Alcohol the biggest danger out on the road and the reason for most people’s illnesses and grief.

I had not been aware that this image of the Irish was so true. Of course, there are also people who don’t drink and I guess that I met a lot of them, working in the spiritual scene where people are more aware of their bodies and the bad effects of such drugs. Still however I heard a lot, really a lot of stories and it made me sad.

I hope not only the Irish but people all over the world will understand some day that alcohol is dangerous.

Western Culture is not responsible for Sex, Alcohol and Gambling Problems in India – 16 Jan 13

Yesterday I explained that many people blame the influence of western culture for all the sexual crimes happening in India. The west has become a scapegoat not only for everything that goes wrong related to sexuality here but for so many other problems, too! People curse the west whenever they see people gambling, people blame the west if their family members have alcohol problems and yes, most of all they are angry with the west when there are sex scenes on TV, when children ask about sex or when horrible sexual crimes happen. Let me explain you why it is totally unreasonable to blame the west for all these problems.

Let’s begin with the problem of gambling. In India, gambling is illegal. The only casinos that you can find in this country are in Goa – nowhere else can you legally participate in games of luck. Nevertheless thousands, if not millions of people regularly get their rush of adrenaline by putting their money in card games and bets. Sometimes they win but mostly they lose. They get addicted to it, to the excitement in that moment but also to the hope, the possibility that they could someday hit the jackpot, win millions and be super-rich. Instead, they usually go out of such games as the losers. Some of them lose big-time, ruining their lives in the course, bringing grief to their family members. Many religious people claim that it is the west that brought this vice to India.

The same is being said about drinking and alcohol. The problems that liquor, beer and wine bring with them are known to everyone. People get drunk, behave as though they have no control over themselves and even become violent, damaging other people’s property, beating their families or committing crimes. In India, only licensed shops can sell alcohol and there are no TV advertisements promoting alcohol or cigarettes, it is not allowed.

I agree that all these things are bad. I agree that people should neither gamble nor should they drink. I cannot however agree to the blame on western culture. It is not the modern western culture that brought alcohol to India, nor did westerners teach gambling here! Gambling is nothing new and not such an invention that it cannot have been made in different places of the world! People were gambling and drinking already in the time when the Hindu scriptures were written! In the Mahabharat time gambling existed and is mentioned there. Other scriptures describe 64 arts in which human can excel – and one of them is gambling! Similarly, the Vedas describe that alcohol is given to Gods at the altar as an offering!

When it comes to the question of sex, I have basically a very different opinion from all those religious people who blame the west for the degeneration of values in India, who blame sexual crimes on the sexual openness of the west. I believe you should not be suppressing your instincts and generally treat sex in a more natural way. I still oppose the idea though that this all is only a western concept! Who were the engineers and architects of the erotic sculptures in temples all over India? Who imagined and depicted the scenes on the temple walls of Khajuraho, Konark and so many other places? They had not come from the west, they were Indians! Vatsyayana, the writer of the Kamasutra, probably the oldest and most popular erotic text, had not travelled to India from America or Europe!

Gambling and alcohol have had a very bad effect in our culture. Sex is not a problem in itself but insofar as there is lots of sexual harassment and sexual crime. The root of these problems however is not in the west! In fact, the problems that we see today in India are much worse than they are in the west! You blame the west that people gamble there openly and they even build casinos for that. In reality however, much less people lose all their money in casinos there. Many more just go there, take a certain amount and if they lose it, they go home. Alcohol, too, is used in a very different way. You see people who regularly drink a glass of wine or a bottle of beer – but don’t get out of control and start behaving like animals! Sex is treated much more openly but men don’t start randomly touching women in busses or crowds.

Don’t get me wrong, I am neither promoting alcohol or gambling here, nor do I want to copy western culture. I am not admiring the culture in the west, as I clearly see the drawbacks and all the problems that people have there. I just want to oppose the idea and opinion that the west has brought problem with alcohol, gambling and sexual crimes to India. It is just not true.

You are cursing western culture, you are cursing whatever comes from there, saying it ruins your culture and your country. If you are of this opinion, please properly think about what you say and act accordingly. First of all, throw away your pants and shirts and put on a dhoti. What you are wearing is western clothing, not Indian. Get off facebook and sell your iPhone – that is definitely not Indian! You are living in a modern world – if you condemn everything that comes from the west, you will have to give up a lot. See what modern science has given to you, see what is medically possible now, just because of research done in the west! Of course, there were researchers, scientists and geniuses in India, too, but most people were too busy in their ceremonies and rituals to participate. And those who did help in making this world more modern will certainly not condemn western contribution!

Open your eyes and you hearts and accept that there are faults and drawbacks in every country. Concentrate on the positive sides and try to make a change.