Exactly one year ago I left India. It might seem silly (what's the big deal of leaving a country in which you've only lived for just one year?), but for me it was quite tough.
I left the little adventures that filled every day.
I left a new routine which made me feel comfortable. I had finally got used to the Indian set of values (the complete lack of personal intimacy, the flexibility of truth, the sheer volume of life and their totally bizarre concept of taste included). I simply learnt to roll with it.
I left the freedom of not having to worry about things. Having a look at the problems some people there have, your bills, your divorce, your... seem trivial.
I left the fact of being busy (which I love and need). Either helping in the boarding school kitchen or listening to the children's crazy stories, I constantly had something to do.
But above all I left some friends. I feel brokenhearted as day by day it's clearer that things will never be the same. With some of them I can barely speak, since they don't speak much English and I've forgotten the little Telugu I picked up. There the non-verbal communication replaced our language barriers. But on the phone (apart from being extremely expensive) it's a horse of a different colour. And the people I can speak English with are so busy they don't have time to share with me. (It's not a complaint). I just feel I miss them more than they miss me, which, on the other hand, is completely acceptable. But I can't help feeling stranded. I miss spending my time with them. Last night, for example, I slept on the floor and that reminded me of the times my friend and I did there. Again it might seem silly, but... I feel I was part of their lives and now I'm part of their past. I'm only some 'nice' fellow they met. Everybody seems to be moving on but me.
What I feared would happen has happened! But I guess it's the same as what Paulo Coelho wrote about love: It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Living in India was worth it!
The tone of my blog conveys that I'm feeling quite down, so to cheer myself up I've written a list of all things I won't miss about India:
-The lack of toilet paper
-The lack of Western manners ('please' and 'thank you' for instance)
-Practices such as shoving, poking, spitting, littering, and public urination and defecation
-Overly persistent salespeople who descend on foreigners like vultures on a fresh carcass
-Bureaucracy and snappy, unhelpful, corrupt authority figures
-Illogical and inefficient ways of getting things done
-Painful slow internet connections
-Cramped trains and buses
-Small, bumpy, and crowded roads
-Hearing the same Bollywood, Tollywood or similar songs over and over again
-Not being able to understand most conversations and not being understood
-The fact that people rarely explain what's going on (even if it affects me directly)
-The lack of clear, useful information when it is needed most
-Streets filled with garbage, excrement, and every other type of filth imaginable
-The prevalence of firmly entrenched, old-fashioned gender roles
-Living in a country where women are often restricted from everything
-Being asked when I intend to get married and why I am not
-The cast system
And maybe you're wondering: with that long list, how is it possible that she misses chaotic India?
Well, I do!