India

Surviving ‘Here’

My last post here was almost a year ago. In this time, I have kept myself plenty busy with a lot of things but mostly with trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m here. Seriously. It’s been two of the longest years of my life and I’m still settling in. It’s true what that dude said in the movie ‘Outsourced’. The more you resist it, the harder it is. You gotta go with the flow.  And that is something I haven’t been able to do.  I must admit, I came here with a closed mind, looking forward to the day we would leave even before I had set foot here.  And the past couple of years have been a struggle.  But, now that I can see the light at the end of this very dark , long, winding tunnel, I can look back and see all the things that this phase of my life has taught me:

  1. As some wise man once said, when in Rome…well, you know the drill!  Just look around you and blindly do what everybody else is doing.  Quit waiting in queues.  Learn to push and shove at train stations and sometimes even on domestic flights.  Quit being on time everywhere all the time.  You get the idea.  When in Rome…that’s right!!!
  2. Drive like a maniac.  You’ll live longer.  When you drive like a sane human being, you confuse the hell out of all the other drivers and things start to go very…very wrong.  I am a very safe driver (despite being a woman).  Every scratch, dent and bump on our car is there thanks to yours sincerely (and believe me we have enough of those to prove my point here).  Hubby darling drives like he’s in a perennial Hollywood car chase and he’s never hit or been hit.  Other drivers respect him.  They keep their distance.  When he drives, you do not want to sit in the front seat unless you either want to puke your guts out or die of a cardiac arrest.
  3. Do yourself a favour and never ever read the newspaper.  Don’t go anywhere near it.  In fact, avoid it like the plague.  Avoid friends who read the papers.  Avoid talking to spouses who read the papers.  Avoid talking to literate domestic help.  You will sleep better at night.  Especially if you have a daughter/(s).  I started off with reading the paper, moved on to skimming, then just glancing at it, then just transporting it from the doorstep to the dining table.  Now I just leave it be.  Whoever wants to read it can pick it up themselves.  My eyes see the worst things and I don’t want to even accidentally look at the front page.  I have a box in the dining room (where hubby reads the paper) where it gets dumped soon after being read.
  4. Do not expect people – carpenters, electricians, drivers, maids, friends, family, colleagues, bank guy who will pick up your cheque from your home, plumber…you get the idea, to come on time.  They will always be late.  For two simple reasons: 1) They don’t care about being on time, 2) They can’t be on time even if they want to.  Indians in India, for the most part, are disorganized, careless, casual and extremely emotional about pretty much everything.  As a result life can be quite unpredictable.  I can leave home as early as I like for my class, but there is no guarantee that I will reach on time.
  5. No gap is too narrow to squeeze in a car (or any vehicle for that matter).  You just have to put your mind to it, get over your fears and give it your best.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  No gap is too narrow for you to park your vehicle either.  So what if the guy parked there already can’t open his door?  That’s none of your business.  That’s his problem, not yours.  You really mustn’t take on everybody else’s problems onto your shoulders!!
  6. If I can leave India, still happily married, after 3 years of living here nothing in the world can take us down.   You must know that people (family, friends, sometimes even acquaintances) can and will be meddlesome  and it is up to you how you deal with them.  Now, to tell you all the truth, Mr. M is an expert at dealing with unwanted advice.  He just ignores it.  Doesn’t even bother to dignify it with so much as a nod of the head.  But I!  Now, I am something else altogether.  A real piece of work!  I am a fighter who doesn’t didn’t know to pick her fights.  If someone said something to me and I thought it unfair, I felt this compulsion to respond and argue and fight back.  I’ve learnt now that that’s not worth it.  Some people just aren’t worth it.  Some people just don’t deserve that much of my time or attention.  Yes!  I am that much smarter now.  So, now I feel a lot less angry.  I react a lot less to what random and sometimes not-so-random people say.  And so there is that much less anger and frustration to take out on my very own personalized punching bag a.k.a the husband 😉
  7. I am a much better parent now.  I now know exactly what I don’t want to be.  I know what I don’t want to do with and/or to my daughter and I’m on my way to being a half-decent parent.  I don’t think it is possible to be perfect.  And perfect is boring anyway.  So, I look around me and instead of taking note of what I want to do, I take note of the things I definitely don’t want to be doing.  So, I yell a lot less, say yes a lot more, don’t enforce bedtime as strictly as I used to, don’t care about homework getting done, don’t worry about lost pencils and erasers too much, don’t lose sleep over misplaced skipping ropes or water bottles, don’t fret about unkempt hair or stain ridden clothes.  Basically, I’ve learnt to let go.  I see too many over-competitive, pushy parents on a daily basis and I could easily be them.  I am a disciplinarian at heart, a perfectionist.  So it is my belief that left unchecked, I could in no time turn into a tiger mom.   So I have got to be careful.   Parenting doesn’t come naturally to me and I have to work bloody hard at it to be a good parent.  So I have armed myself with a pretty good list of Don’t Dos and can now go forward from there.
  8. India is a great place to visit, not live.  We have done a lot of traveling and have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.  There is lots to see.  We’ve been to Uttaranchal, Ladakh, Rajasthan, Agra & Fatehpur Sikri, Goa, and we still have so much more to see.   We have planned a trip to Spiti in end of September and I can’t wait.  India is a beautiful country with lots and lots of amazing places.   Every trip we’ve been on has been a memorable one with some great experiences and unforgettable moments.  We’ve met some very sincere, beautiful, honest, hardworking people.   There have been great times and some not so great times but for the most part, it was fun.

So, that’s that.  Here’s made me wiser.  Here’s made me smarter.  Here’s made me a better parent and wife.  And once I leave here, I hope I never come back here to live 🙂

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