We are about to enter the last 2 weeks of my 6 months in India and overall it has been an unforgettable experience.
I remember when I first decided to move to Bangalore, I did think that 6 months was a really long time to be away from home. Not only that, many people at home said “India?! Really?! India!?” with a look of shock and surprise. Yes, there were times when time seemed to go slowly however there were just as many times when time just flew by. Yes, there were times when I wondered why I decided to come to India. And yes, there were times that I just wanted to go home. Coming here with 14 other fellows and sharing the common experience has certainly helped the adjustment/transition. I had an instant group of friends navigating what was initially a strange, contradictory and confusing place.
One of the biggest things highlighted to me during my time here is that though there are so many differences to home at the base of it all, everyone is the same. We all strive to do and be good, provide for ourselves and family and connect with each other.
Another realization I had was during my trip to Delhi with friends from home. This was about 3 months in, and they were so excited when they first spotted cows interrupting the flow of traffic. To me it was such a daily occurrence that I stopped noticing it. It made me pause and realize that I had adjusted to everyday life in India more than I realized.
I am really proud that I took the leap to come to India. To anyone considering a move from what they know I certainly say do it. I feel that unless and until you challenge yourself and do what you fear you don’t really give yourself a chance to learn, grow and really know who you are. It is in those times of worries and insecurity we realize just what is most important to us.
Furthermore I have made lifelong friends and am proud to call them my adopted family. We’ve gone through both positive and challenging times together that will forever bond us together. I look forward to seeing where each of my talented, inspiring and generous adopted siblings will go onto.
I leave you with my top 10 tips for India
Download Ola and Uber as particularly after 9pm getting home is much easier and cheaper compared to an auto.
Know where you are going including major landmarks- download Maps.Me with the India maps as it works offline as well.
Have patience, it may take you several calls, passing your phone to some random stranger and trying to run across a busy road to catch your Ola/Uber.
Be alert even when walking on a footpath, as there may be gaping holes, rubbish, cow dung, dog poo and vehicles commonly driving the wrong way including in reverse.
If you see a person (particularly a man) facing a wall look away as they are likely to be publicly urinating.
Expect masala flavour in everything- this includes cola, lime soda/lemonade and even your burger at a Western establishment when it is not described as such.
If you can, get an Airtel mobile connection as it is best network in India.
Take water with you when you go out as the heat and the pollution makes you thirsty fairly quickly.
Be assertive whilst at restaurants and in lines as you will quickly realize that there are no order or queues.
Accept uncomfortable staring. It is unavoidable and there is nothing one can do about it. Several of my non-Indian male friends have commented how they finally understand how it feels to be on the other end.