Each one of you, who thinks that living abroad is glamorous, let me put it out there. Living in a foreign country is certainly not easy. It sure has its own perks, mainly depending on which country you live in, but it also has many downs. It really brings out those hibernating aspects of your personality that you thought didn’t exist. It tests your endurance and it tests your willingness to change and adapt.
Means that you find yourself to be in a socially awkward place very often.
Means you don’t get their local jokes and you have to take cue of other people’s laughter and laugh along in order to not look like a fool.
Means struggling with their accents. Here in NZ, for example, ‘a’ is pronounced like ‘e’ and ‘e’ like ‘i’. ‘Later’ sounds like ‘Laiter’, ‘ladies’ sounds like ‘laidies’, ‘Jenna’ is ‘Jinna’ and ‘yes’ sounds like ‘yis’. Dear Lord, it’s difficult. These are the things you only begin to understand after a while.
Means dreading phone calls because you just don’t get their accents right. It means having to use phonetics even to get their names right. It means asking them to repeat more than a couple of times and imagining their sighing faces on the other end. It means losing out the main bits of the conversations.
Means trying too hard to make new friends only to realise that it’s too much of an effort to actually start developing a bond with them. You realise too soon that finding like-minded people is not easy. And you soon start preferring staying at home than making forced attempts at friendships with people you share little in common with. It takes a loooonng while before you really can find company that you would like to keep.
Means sleeping on ultra-soft beds that give you a sore body each morning. You start missing your bed back home terribly.
Once the novelty dies down, the sudden realization one fine morning that your parents are miles away hits you hard. You miss them. You miss your dad’s constant nagging. You miss you ma’s dal chawaal.
Means missing your friends, their weddings and feeling helpless and miserable.
Means missing the general buzz around the city you grew up in.
It means fighting the sudden craving for a samosa or a wada pav, and making do with a sad burger.
It means missing out on Bollywood movies.
It means not being able to watch ‘Comedy nights with Kapil’ in real time.
It means *sob, sob* missing alphanso mangoes.
It means having to answer all your new acquaintances in the foreign land questions like:
Is India really how it is shown in Slumdog millionaire?
Are there camels and elephants on the roads?
Does everyone in India practice Yoga?
Have you met all the Bollywood stars?
Do they really have arranged marriages in India?
Do you have internet in India? Seriously??!
Do you have wifi then?
Do you use curry powder in all your dishes? Can someone please tell them there is no such thing as curry powder. Who invented this term curry powder? What they know as ‘Curry Powder’ is essentially just a mix of all the spices. That people don’t use curry powder in India. Can someone please also tell them that every Indian dish they eat is not called a curry? And while we are on the topic, can someone please tell them that there really is a world beyond chicken curry. They might not believe you, but still try you can!
And the clichéd:
It obviously means doing your own cooking. There is no mom to pack your lunchbox or to make your meals or to run behind you with your handkerchief and your wallet and your socks and your water bottle. I know many adults who are guilty of this. And I also know that many moms usually don’t mind this, no matter what your age. It’s a very Indian way for moms to show their love. REGARDLESS of your age.
You obviously know about doing your own dishes, cleaning, your laundry, and the dreadfully boring task of ironing on a regular basis.
Grass is always greener on the other side, my friend!