Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adapting to Change: A Perspective Abroad

Bobbie Shrivastav is the latest addition to the Wake Forest student-run blog. Shrivastav, an Evening MBA student, recently returned from a Winter Break trip to Nepal.
Over Christmas Break, I had an opportunity to go to my husband’s homeland, Nepal, for 25 days. As a first generation Indian, there is still a wide gap of knowledge, although my parents taught me about our culture and roots. My parents worked most of my life, so aside from cooking and understanding the major concepts such as the caste system or our family history, I hate to admit that I learned a lot about the Indian culture by watching Bollywood movies.
I’ve lived in India during my childhood and have gone for some visits, mainly to do shopping. The goal of our trip this time was to meet Soven’s relatives, who were throwing a party to honor our marriage, since we got married in the states. A lot of the ways I reacted to the changes I faced reminded me of the book, “Who Moved My Cheese,” in which you have four characters: Hem, Haw, Sniff, and Scurry. Hem is the character that never changed and got frustrated and angry. Haw was resistant to change initially, but when he accepted the change, he went on to find cheese. Sniff and Scurry were two mice who were mentally prepared that one day their cheese supply would dwindle, and when they found no cheese, they went to look for new cheese.
When we first came to Nepal, we found out that our “cheese” (the transportation system) was closed due to a curfew. Nepal is having a lot of political issues and there are times when the Maoist party would decide to close Nepal, which means all the transportation systems, grocery stores, and major department stores close. I first had the attitude of Hem. I thought that there is no way a car would not operate and I was willing not to walk or find other alternatives. I may have thrown a tantrum fit like Hem, when he stated “Who moved my cheese ... who moved my cheese?”
There were some buses for tourists but we did not know if they would go to our area, since it was a residential community rather than a tourist stop. We waited approximately two hours and we found a bus, but it would only take us halfway. I knew I had to adapt to the situation or I was going to waste precious time and never get to our destination. At the half-way point, we decided to walk to our destination with our luggage (4 large bags and 2 carry-ons). In 10 minutes, we saw a group of people, who were Soven’s relatives, whom walked a long distance to see us and to help carry our luggage. We walked for another 45 minutes, but those precious minutes laid the foundation for my relationship with Soven’s relatives. If I had been Hem, I would have had a bitter attitude and still had been at the half-way point, waiting for some transportation mechanism to arrive.
Once I got over the initial hump of adapting to change, I quickly found two relatives who assisted me with understanding the culture norms. Coming from America has some disadvantages, as people have some negative biases about us. They feel that we are disrespectful and we don’t take care of our elders. They also think that we minimize the traditional culture. My relatives helped me understand how I should present myself in front of other relatives, what I should wear on a daily basis, and what I should or shouldn’t say in front of family. I was amazed that doing small things would make such a huge difference. For example, just going first thing in the morning and getting blessings from the grandpas of the group made such a lasting impression. Wearing a sari also came as a pleasant surprise for most of the relatives. Sometimes, having the attitude of Sniff and Scurry makes the adaptation of change easier. You can just go with the flow to find your next “cheese.”
Having moments like Haw, when he had the epiphany that he should move on to find cheese, can be a liberating experience. “When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.” It is normal to feel apprehensive when a change occurs. Everyone enjoys their comfort zone. How you deal with change is important. Procrastinating or having a negative attitude will never allow you to experience new adventures but having a quick response and recovery time can help you adapt quickly to change and help us realize the following principles that Haw wrote:
“Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.

1 comment:

  1. is very well articulated...i had read "who moved my cheese" long was good to see how well it has been referred in this article..

    moreover being a witness of all the above happenings(dragging the bags, feeding grandma from your hand, the dress selection, showing care and attention to everybody) makes it even more interesting for me: you really integrated well with the culture and tradition...