Sunday, 21 May 2017

What I've learnt about five months living in India....

Firstly, where the hell has all the time gone and secondly wow five months!  For some time now, living in India has been the norm, the everyday experience that in some ways I almost forget how life was like in the UK as I continue to live in the here and now, only focusing on that and never reminiscing about my old life in the UK.  I knew from the very start when I set off on this adventure that I would not miss the UK, not because there is anything wrong with it but because a person's home should not be defined by the country they are born in but the place their heart belongs to and the place they make home.....

Image result for home is in your heart

However after a rather random journey to my friend's house last night that should have taken 20 minutes and resulted in the Uber moto getting lost, wanting me to speak on the phone to half his family and making numerous comments that bordered on creepy or just plain stupid, it reminds me that India has so much still to offer and I have so much still to understand!  It did make for good entertainment when I got to my friend's house and having had to speak Hindi on the phone to the driver to explain her location, she had also come to the same conclusion as me!  On the other hand, I am loving the Uber moto's!  The chance to be on the back of a bike, which is where I prefer to be.  My brother had a bike when I was younger and I used to love being on the back and riding on the back of a motorbike is always more interesting in India!

What I've learnt after five months in India;

  • I made the right decision!  Sat with my friend last night, keeping her awake for several hours putting the world to rights, I realised how settled and at peace I am here and how fortunate I am to have amazing people around me.  I sat there happy as we discussed plans for the future and I realised despite some of the battles I have experienced here, I don't regret my decision.
  • There are some random people out there who can be difficult and have absolutely no common sense.....and then you meet some amazing people that you are fortunate to call friends.  Whether it's the guys I work with at the hostel that show me that there are young men here with innovation and business minds who have a different way of thinking and kind hearts to my female friends that I laugh and joke with and find cultural barriers broken with and friendships that define social and cultural norms.  Some of my friends are people who speak almost no English and I speak little Hindi and yet there are connections there. 

  • That having an Indian brother is the best!  Not only do they have to take all your joking and messing about, they have to be there for you and solve your problems!  As my Indian brother said at the beginning of our relationship, 'I'm not sure I want a sister, it's a big responsibility and it means I always have to be there for her and help with anything she needs'.  Fortunately for me, he takes his role seriously and is one of my biggest helps and my dearest friends and I really am honoured to call him my brother, I would have struggled without him.

  • Street food is amazing and thanks to the guys I work with I am finding so much about the different street foods and getting to sample them.  Yesterday we had Dal ki Kachori and I am so going back for more of that!  I am going to be a street food connoisseur in no time!
Image result for dal ki kachori
  • Things really do take time to happen.....for someone who struggles with time and patience, it's been a big lesson!  After five months of being here and trying so hard to explore work opportunities it has only been this last month where work situations have really begun to open up.  Not just work opportunities but life is becoming more full thanks to the connections I am making and the people coming in to my life.    Since I got here I have been trying hard to set up some kind of work and especially my massage work as that's what I love but this last month has seen so much change.  From getting a content writing job for a hostel blog, to a new volunteer partnership scheme that we are in the process of creating to other possible work opportunities and finally some responses from hotels in the area to the possibility of massage work.  We shall see where it leads but it feels like someone has hit the accelerator pedal and life has become super busy and full of opportunities.  It comes at a good time as my ultimate goal is to become self sufficient in India.
  • I still have so much to learn about Jaipur and the culture here never mind the rest of India.  India truly is so big and each state is like another country and whilst I become aware of my city and state, I have no awareness of the other states.  I try to understand and comprehend the social, cultural and gender situations but there are many times I am told things that I just struggle to comprehend or get my head around.  I struggle with the fact that people pass so many judgements, whether it's the fact you have too many cups of tea or how you have your hair to every decision you make in life.  I try and fail to comprehend some of the choices people feel they have to make or the line that someone can not do something because it is not acceptable in society, I guess because I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where my mum did not imprint her values on us and allowed us the freedom to be our own person.  Thank you mum!
Image result for freedom to be you

  • People like to do things last minute, I have got to learn to go with the flow.  It is very common for someone to get in touch with you and say 'We're going out in an hour' or 'let's meet in a few hours' or 'I'm just coming round'.  Planning is less likely and you've got to be prepared for any possibilities and that whilst in the morning you may not have had plans, by the evening that may have changed!
  • I've learnt to be late!!  I used to love being on time but for some reason I have learnt to adapt very well to the Indian way of keeping time and suddenly meeting someone dead on 2pm seems very difficult as i turn up 20 or 30 minutes later than planned!   It's great though, you end up with more time than you used to and you don't have to stress about being late as everyone else is anyway:-)
Image result for pocket watch clipart
  • Don't be afraid to approach people!  Due to still having a long way to go with my Hindi I have no problem with going up to complete strangers and asking them to speak to Uber for me as I thrust my phone in their face.  I've also learnt Uber prefers it if you phone them in order to make them come! That's not going to happen for me anytime soon, especially when Uber drivers can not work out which language I am speaking in as I mash Hindi and English together in some garbled tone!
  • I'm tight, even in comparison to Indians!  Now I have always been a saver and if you ask my family they will tell you I have always been tight! I like to see it as being careful with money!  I prefer to buy all my clothes from either charity shops or on Ebay rather than ever paying ridiculous full prices.  I would prefer to use coupons or offers and experience a bargain and spend only when I felt it was needed.  Now I would always pay for my massages or osteopathy treatments as I have always believed it's important to look after the body, but I was never interested in eating in that expensive restaurant or going to the five star hotel.  I'll try and save money where I can and that works great here and I'm getting as bad as some of my Indian friends when I start shrieking and asking them how much they paid or congratulating them on a good bargain.  I love being around bargain conscious people!
  • Asking for help.  When I first moved to India, I tried to do everything for myself especially when  it comes to buying things or finding out where to get things from.  This was not only time consuming but as many people point out to me, not everything can be found on google.  As time has gone on I have loosened my grip on Google and Amazon and turned to friends for help instead and found out life is easier that way.  In the UK I was used to being completely independent but India has taught me it's not about losing your independence but realising what  a wonderful support network you have with people happy to help.

Image result for helping hand clipart
  • Lastly, India has a love of bureaucratic paperwork, as I continue my hair pulling experience of getting my visa extended.  My bhai and I have spent almost two months working on the visa process and my visa is due to expire in a week and we are hopefully, finally, almost there!  It's taken the creation of so many documents, that were checked and then checked again only for faults that were fine the first time to suddenly be found.  Once the visa is finally extended and my biggest stress completed, next up is sorting out my sim card for my phone and my internet, both of which are due to be cut off due to my visa expiring and we will have numerous bits of paper work to sort as a result of that.

As my friend said, with all the dramas over the visa, difficulties at the charity and then the phone and internet to sort out, do I not think about going back to the UK.  However you can see these difficulties as obstacles or opportunities that challenge you and prepare you.  I always believe in life that you should have the strength to stand up for what you believe in and to live the life you desire even if  it goes against society and those around you than to deny whatever it is that is important to you. Plus this time round, maybe I'm getting used to the Indian way of things and I'm not half as frustrated by it as I once would of be.  India definitely leaves it's mark, but it also leaves enough scope for me to continue being me, defiant and feisty to the end! 
Image result for feisty

No comments:

Post a Comment