It’s hard to adjust to a foreign land and start a new life amidst different culture, new language and unfamiliar rules and social norms and you often miss the convenience and warmth of home, the familiar roads, the warm smiles and the comfort of knowing nothing could go wrong now.
But it is especially difficult if you are an Indian trying to settle abroad because there is so much more to miss and long for coming for a family oriented, socially strong and culturally rich country like India. You might want to give it a read if you too are planning to move away from India in foreign land. Here are the top things you will miss about your’ Desh’ (country), the moment you step outside:
1. The People:
Yes the people (1, 2 Billion to be exact), the one you had been running away from and calling ‘crowd’. You will be surprised at how much you miss this ‘lost in the crowd’ feeling once you are out. And God forbid, if you happen to be in Europe, you might be tempted to think on your first day of your visit that there is some sort of curfew going on which is why no one is out on the streets. After a while (when you do realize that there is no curfew), you would get tired of cars zooming past you and die to see some actual faces and real people.
2. The sounds of Life (you misconstrued as noise back home):
You will remember the once irritating( but now seemingly musical!) calling of the vegetable seller, the occasional trash collector, the numerous vendors (who know perfectly well the time you sink into deep afternoon nap), the maids zooming in and out of the house , vehicles hooting, screeching, stopping on the adjacent street, current popular songs playing on ear deafening loudspeaker cum music system in passing cars, the distant and yet so audible temple bells…..yes the sounds of life you once thought was noise.
3. The ease of breaking ice and making friends:
Coming from a country where you can make lifelong friends with the perfect stranger you bumped into while boarding your morning local or the sweet restaurant owner who gives you discounted food, special offers and occasional free sweet delicacies or your regular barber who knows your likes and dislikes like the back of his hand… making friends comes easy in India.
Not so much outside though where everyone would greet you with the most happy greeting (coming right out of a morning radio show!) and then end the conversation there leaving you asking yourself why they even bother to ask ‘how are you’, if they don’t care to know!
4. The fun festivals:
No matter how many get together you may attend on your favorite Indian festivals, there is no way you can have the same fun and frolic as you did in India and you will always remember your favorite sweets , the decorated markets, the preparations and shopping at home and of course the day off you got officially. Celebrating ‘Holi‘ on the same weekend since it fell on a weekday just never feels the same.
5. The flexibility of making mistakes:
You not only learn to live by a rule book but also end up paying huge penalties even for seemingly small and harmless neglects if you break it even once(and no getting away for first timers also!).
A wrong U-turn , a wrapper thrown unknowingly, talking in loud noise or smoking in a wrong place ostensibly innocent mistakes can lead you to severe punishments and major financial losses and yes there is no way you can get away with it with a little ‘chai-pani’ (read bribe)!
6. Magical Maids:
No matter how much your cursed your maid for her uninformed holidays and dirt marks she left un-cleansed on the floor, you will miss her dearly now (second only to mom!) while you dust, wash, clean, dry, shop, chop, cook all on your own day in and day out every day….phew!
7. The awesome rickshaws and autos (local transport):
Yes, no matter how much they irritated you back home with their forever broken meters and the extra ten bucks they always demanded above the fixed rate, now you just wish and pray that somehow they would move to your part of the world.
For foreign lands no matter how well connected with their ultra-fast metros and Bang-on-time buses still call for loads of walking and unless you have been a trained runner or sports person, you will end up loathing it.
8. Help at the corner:
In India it is not uncommon to seek help from your neighbor’s. Being a neighbor automatically endows you with the right to ask for sugar, tea, milk, curd, water , salt or any other grocery item you have fallen short of , you can extend the offer to include making and receiving phone calls, self-inviting yourself for lunch or dinner or borrowing the usual extra gas cylinder .
Do not even think about ringing the doorbell of your neighbor and demanding any such favors. You can be termed, lunatic or threatening and can even invite complaint letters from the building owner.
9. Home cooked food:
You may note down and memorize by heart your favorite ‘dal tadka‘ (lentil curry) recipe and measure in closest units possible the ingredients but still there is something about mom’s magical hands that gives that distinctive taste and aromatic fragrance to her meals, something you can never replicate by following a recipe or find at even the top five star restaurants.
10. Home-cooked food:
You may note down and memorize by heart your favorite ‘dal tadka’ (lentil curry) recipe and measure in closest units possible the ingredients but still there is something about mom’s magical hands that gives that distinctive taste and aromatic fragrance to her meals, something you can never replicate by following a recipe or find at even top five-star restaurants.
11. The unplanned days:
Life outside buzzes’ around a single word: Planning. You need to plan your work, your vacations, your weekdays, your holidays, your grocery shopping, your appointments, housework so much so that your life starts looking like one long planning calendar where every activity is meticulously thought of, plotted and scheduled way ahead.
You will miss the spontaneity of dropping in at friends place and inviting yourself for a cup of tea, the ease of making weekend getaway plans in a flash second after sending a text message to your best buddy asking him to join you for a movie show in the next 30 minutes (or sometimes even less).
12. The fun of cracking great deals:
It doesn’t matter if you are buying a car or vegetables there is almost no room when it comes to negotiation when you are living abroad. Everything has a fixed displayed rate and all you can get if you ask for a discount are disapproving glances or sympathetic smiles unlike India where you can end up getting half prices deals if you are really good at the bargain game.
Apart from saving money, the satisfaction you get out of a successfully negotiated deal is pure joy and something to boast in front of your friends.
13. Everyday adventures of daily life:
Life in India may be chaotic with so much happening around us all the time but we have to admit it is also fun and colorful. With rules and regulations left more or less at the understanding and cooperation of the citizens, there is a lot of fun stuff happening around all the time leaving no room for dull moments.
But with all the rules and norms set in place and religiously followed (under the fear of heavy penalties) there is little to distract the eye and steal your attention outside. You almost go through your day in complete monotonous robotic routine and so do the others. And that’s …yawn… quite boring!
14. Watching an India Pakistan Match:
You don’t have to be in the cricket stadium to feel the adrenaline rush of the last nail biting overs of such a match. It is one of those moments when the entire nation stops to pray for the victory of their country.
The moment that instills more patriotism in you than your country’s Independence day. And not to forget the enticing celebrations with crowds dancing on roads, beating drums and sitting on car roof tops and shouting slogans.
Any ‘matches’ (pun unintended!) for this experience outside your own country….not by any chance!
15. Medical aids:
Medical system in some European countries is such that getting to meet a doctor is an occasion you can note down in your diary for remembrance for it is such a rare occasion. In Sweden for instance, a pregnant women never gets to meet a gynecologist or any other doctor for that matter during her entire pregnancy and even during child birth. She is handled by specially trained nurses all this while. It is very difficult to fathom for an Indian, where we are rushed to get checked by an ENT specialist after sneezing two times in a row.
The reassurance of calling your family doctor in the middle of the night complaining of a sore throat and he prescribing you to do gargles (which you knew already but felt better after hearing from his mouth) is a facility you would never get outside.