Outsourcing Yourself

by MW Cook

Last week Ruth and I watched Outsourced.  Ever heard of it?  Probably not.  I think it’s an Indie film.  Which is funny, because it’s about India (Indie Indian?).   Blockbuster only had one copy.  I picked it up on a whim, because of the cover.  I read the back and found out that the protagonist was a guy named Todd Anderson.  I have a good friend named Todd Anderson, so I took it as a sign and got the movie.

We were not disappointed.

I swear, the people who made the film must have been stuck in India or Pakistan at some point because they were able to perfectly capture the feelings and struggles of a white guy in a small town in India.  Todd’s struggles as he tries to stay American are marvelous.  Get the movie.  It’s great (especially you, Todd.  You’ll love it).

About half-way through the movie Todd, who is stuck in India, gets so fed up with the culture and food that he takes a five-hour taxi ride to the main city so he can get a cheeseburger at McDonald’s.  When he fails at this he almost snaps.  But then another American steps in and gives him some advice.  He tells Todd to stop fighting.  Stop struggling and just give up.  Stop resisting India and India will stop resisting you.  If you can’t be an American in India, stop trying so hard to be American.  Give in.

And so Todd does.  And, suddenly, he’s happy.

That’s great advice for travelers.  It reminds me of a great ad I saw: Don’t be a tourist.  Be a traveler.  You will hate any country you visit if you try to make that country into the one you came from.  You will hate it if you continually compare it to your own.  Instead, give up.  Don’t fight India (how could you?  You’re in India, for crying out loud).  Instead, accept it, and it will accept you in return.

The same thing happened to us in Pakistan.  While I was at war with Pakistani custom and climate, I was miserable.  But as soon as I gave up, grew a beard and tried to enjoy the unique things that Pakistan had to offer (without comparing it to my beloved Canada), I began to love it.  So much, in fact, that I sit here longing to be back there.

If you’re going to travel, consider it like an arranged marriage.  You won’t fall in love immediately.  Rather, you’ll need to learn to love.  And you’ll never learn to love your new wife if you are always comparing her to your mother.

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