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My Two Worlds – East and West

By August 8, 2023Articles
kallianpurdotcom: 08/08/23
By Hilda D’Silva, Milagres B.

On my walk in Chessington, UK, with the cool breeze caressing my face, enjoying the greenery and flowers of British summer, my mind started to reflect on the varied culture of my two worlds, my home country and the West – UK and USA. For the past two decades I have been lucky enough to travel, which is a joy and pleasure, very educational in itself. Every year after the scorching heat in Kallianpur, I plan to escape the monsoon season to enjoy the summers of Chessington and New York. These travels have taught many lessons, both positive and negative, which have enriched my life, the positives to incorporate in daily life, the negatives to let go. I enjoy my holidays in UK and US but I also love returning home to the place of my birth, undoubtedly very close to my heart always. The purpose of this article is to share some impressions of mine about the West and how life here compares to home.

Family: We in India always blame Western culture – how parents are not affectionate and allow children to leave home at the tender age of eighteen. I asked a lady here how it feels to leave home so young. She told me that it is scary because true responsibility begins then. At the same time, it is a feeling of freedom, she said. People in the West are very independent and value the concept of freedom. I mix with many senior citizens at the church here in Chessington. They express their sincere opinion that the house is theirs, property is theirs, children have to lead their own lives without expecting wealth from parents.

When children go to university, they avail a loan for themselves. Even if they borrow from parents, they promise to return the money at a later date when they have the means to do so. It doesn’t mean that parents don’t love their children. Isn’t it good to be tough and make the children independent? We in our society develop guilty conscience and encourage our children to be dependent and lazy, expecting parents to provide well into adulthood. Time to reflect on this and change our attitudes. Haven’t we heard stories of parents transferring property and wealth to their children and then suffering at their hands? We sacrifice our lives, never enjoying life ourselves, in order to save for our children. Instead, let us encourage them to have good education. Stand on their own two feet and build their future. 

Proactive People: Joining a walking club of 21 senior citizens, where I am the youngest (the rest are all in their eighties and nineties), I have learnt many valuable lessons. These senior citizens live alone or with their spouses in their beautiful homes. They enjoy life, groom themselves well, walk every week on a specific day, and have lunch together. I was surprised how with their aches and pains and ongoing medical conditions – ranging from bad hips and dodgy knees to brain tumors and cancers – they never have self pity, nor complain about their children not visiting them frequently. According to them, children are busy and have limited time so the parents try to be independent, taking their aches and pains in their stride. A lesson which I am trying to emulate in my life. 

Library – Activities and Clubs:  A very progressive feature of Western society is public libraries in every town and village with sitting rooms and cafe and community center for people to spend quality time. No wonder young and old are so fond of reading because books are freely available. Libraries are centers of a variety of activities and clubs. They are the meeting place of mums with babies and toddlers where children are entertained with singing and storytelling. There are clubs for music, oration, quiz, story writing, drama and theater, embroidery and knitting, physical fitness, counseling and citizens’ advice, yoga, martial arts and indoor games, providing ample opportunities for people to keep physically and mentally fit. The result is an active life to overcome loneliness and depression.

Approach to Life: Of course with my limited observation, without any bias, the policy in the West is to live and let live. Respect to human beings and not to wealth, power and position. Dignity of labor is the Sutra – no job is superior or inferior. The policy of non-interference or least interference allows people to live their lives without worrying about the opinions of others. 

Funerals are so solemn; the impression created is not of sorrow but of the celebration of life of the deceased. It is an occasion to thank the Lord for the life of the dear one who lived a full and happy life. I am referring to the funerals I attended of senior citizens.

Education, Skill Formation and Opportunities: Children and youth in Western countries are fortunate to have education bringing out creativity rather than just rote learning. So many opportunities and choices are available to the youth to educate themselves. Employment is not a problem if there are no high expectations for the less educated. For highly skilled workers opportunities await. Of course, hard work should be the mantra in any occupation.

However, there are some negatives which as an Indian senior citizen I just cannot digest.

  • Too much freedom in the family is the cause of many social evils. Children leave the house at 18 without parental control or supervision. The resultant evils are drinks, drugs, live-in relationships, frustration, depression, suicide, killings, gang culture at a much higher degree as compared to India. 
  • There are many broken families and traumatized, neglected children as a result. Naturally these children turn into social liabilities. 
  • Too much loneliness does affect senior citizens when they are unable to carry on. There are instances where they breathe their last in their homes without children and neighbors being aware.  
  • Because of social security and incentives from the government, youth, in many instances, tend to be lazy to seek employment, happily availing of benefits and handouts instead. 
  • Another adverse tend is the lack of initiative on the part of many parents to encourage their children to study. With all the pressure from Indian parents for studies, the end result is positive. In Western countries, I am sure without proper aim, youth waste their potential.

All said and done, what is really praiseworthy is the cleanliness and civic consciousness of citizens. We in India are insensitive towards the environment and keeping our surroundings clean. With all the material progress and education, civic consciousness is minimum.

Again, being happy and thankful for travel and varied experiences, I put a full stop to this narrative.

Thank you.


  • Rovena Fernandes says:

    Very well written, western culture has a lot of positivity to embrace, and the fact of teaching children to be independent is true and we have to adapt.

  • Irita says:

    Wonderful thoughts penned down…..I am indeed lucky to be your child, as you try to imbibe western culture in your outlook.

  • Annette Fernandes says:

    Extremely thought provoking reflections dear Hilda Madam! Very explicit and unbiased. It was a pleasure reading your article.

  • Joseph Disa says:

    Very well portrayal of two opposite worlds in your own versatile way dear Hilda Madam.

    Thank you madam for this thought provoking write up.

  • Augustine K A says:

    Such contrasting worlds! Your writing takes me on a delightful journey alongside you. Wishing you a wonderful trip, madam.

  • Pradeep Kallianpur says:

    Having born and brought up in East and now living in West I can very well understand the points you have noted. For first generation it is a great challenge to balance the expectations of the West against values and culture of the East. Thanks Hilda madam.

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