It was the summer of 2014. I went back to my college for the third semester and was greeted by my new roommate, Delanmi, at a dinky hostel accommodation on the fifth floor.
After spending a three-month summer break in Shillong, a beautiful hill station in northeast India and capital of the state of Meghalaya, I could feel he had become obstreperous during a hot day in August.
That particular night, after peddling gossip about a few acquaintances (we proffered extra love for some), we had trouble falling asleep. The reasons were different for both.
I couldn’t sleep because of the dry heat. And I dreaded the idea of getting fried in my own fat. But Delan couldn’t take the whirring of the fan.
Half an hour into our half-baked sleep, he muttered, “Hey, could you turn off the fan, please?”
I resisted an involuntary “No.” In a grimacing tone, I exclaimed, “What! Why?”
Delan had to break it down to me how he was not used to the humming noise back home in Shillong, and that temperature difference is a thing, duh! It was difficult for him to sleep with that fan on. I realized, what’s normal for me, isn’t the same for others.
When visiting reality, and not just our own, you realize that generalizing from what is “normal” in your home environment can be useless or even insensitive. This generalization instinct influences what “we” think of “them.” The same instinct governs how we intake news, construct realities, develop stereotypes, and filter worldviews.
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