The richness of the country is truly its people. I’ve only realised this after moving to the Caribbean. I’ve lived in three countries now. In India, in England and now in St. Lucia. India, where I grew up, my homeland is supposed to be a country of warm people. We launch ourself in everybody’s business headlong and then then proudly proclaim that “we are like this only”, we are warm people. Nope. We are not. We like to know things about others. We like to get involved. We like to smile and make acquaintances but we are not as warm as we think we are. We are more prone to smile, talk great talks, dispel advices at the drop of a hat and then when it comes to things that matter, take a step back. We are very warm people until you need something from us, something material, or something that could impact us in any little way and then we turn superbly cold.
Again, I said ‘we’ and not ‘you’ so I am counting myself in that, so hold those cudgels you are aiming at me. And dont get offended. You know its the truth. I know I tend to generalise and that there are will be exceptions to it but for most part we like to be involved without getting our hands dirty. We are not the kind to offer to change a kid’s diaper cause the Mum had her hands full, neither are we the type to sponsor someone’s train ticket cause he or she lost her wallet and is stranded without money. We are just not that warm. But yes, should the ‘Mum’ be yelled at by someone for the stinky smell or should someone misbehave with the stranded person, we, in all our mob glory will rise and attack the attacker. Yes we will. As a gang we dispel warmth, as an individual not so much.
Cut to England, the land of literature and language where sometimes the rain and cold does permeate to the people as well. Come on now, don’t give me those raised eyebrow or that stiff upper lip, you know you are not the most warm people. In fact, you don’t even claim to be. Living in England I learned the art of looking busy. Of looking like you have to be elsewhere all the time. Even the floundering teenagers at the city centre looks busy and that is a hard feat to pull off. Except for the “You ok?” or “Cheers Mate” that punctuates every sentence, everyone might just as well be in their own little bubble.
And then I move to St. Lucia. Perhaps I felt what I feel so strongly cause Lucia came right after England. There are so many things wrong with this place and I kid you not when I say this. The roads may lack pavements, which means you either go through a few strollers trying to push it through the rocks and grass or you risk your and kid’s life by getting on the road. Little things you took for granted like a good library or a kid’s community park are absent but somehow, all that does not matter or pales in comparison to the genuineness and warmth the people have. If I have Z sniffing and sneezing when I go out with him, I have random people stopping me on the road and telling me home remedies to try. Some even quickly mix together their home potions and thrusts it in my hand. Its like he belongs to the community more than me. Or say, I take Z out for a walk and the clouds suddenly darken announcing an impending shower, you can take it for granted that I will have a dozen or more cars stopping and offering to drop us home ahead of the rain. Its just these little things that takes me by surprise. It makes me smile from inside every time it happens. What prompts a random person to chase me half way across town to return a book my toddler threw out a book from the car or the airport security to find a pillow for my son, who was asleep on the stroller and had his neck in an awkward position. They get nothing from me. They are not paid to and they are not some resort staff for whom ‘being warm’ is a part of their job description. The ‘Good Days’ ‘Enjoy your Weekends’ ‘Enjoys’ everything feels like they mean it and is not just good manners.
This is what warmth really feels like. And for that, I’ll always wanna be part Lucian.