Sunday, October 23, 2011

Return to India - Its been a year

Diwali celebrations are in full swing all around. This reminds me that its been one year that I have returned to India for good.

Today when I look back to this year it has been, I can clearly visualise my journey back home and my takes on different phases of it. 

I was never in two minds for returning back to India after seeing and living in other countries while getting education and going through first phases of work life. When the opportunity to return actually arrived, it did put me in several minds. While living in Europe I have seen life of total independence, complete organisation, extremely selected social life and material high. Also that life was devoid of family members, festivals or just an overall feeling of living in my own country. After returning back I immediately realised that from now on life will be more threaded with relationships, less independent (social, economic and physical), less in comfort in terms of organisation or material but at the end of the day, with a cup of tea in my hand I found telling myself, yes this is India - this is the country which has given me a nationality and this is the country where we will not need any visa to live. This is the country where my family is rooted and this is the country where my daughter is trying to find a root. It was not an easy situation for me, and I guess for anyone who goes through similar changes in life.

First 3-6 months of my homecoming, my status was unemployed, I spent time in extreme relaxation, dipped myself into the warm weather, season changes and colourful festivals of India, I spent lots of family time, read lots of books and I brought myself out of the comfort zone of reading only fictions to read biographies and travelogues (some of them are about people on the move When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit My Life in France (Movie Tie-In Edition)The Scent Trail: How One Woman's Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World ), I learnt the feel of wheels though still not confident on it, learnt to cross traffic packed roads of a buzzing city of India (Yes, the roads were not so wild 10 years ago and I really needed to learn it), tried to figure out ways to teach Hindi-another new language for 'J'. I also took time to settle her down in a new school with much more academic pressure as she had  in her previous school.  For the first time in life I directly got involved with several kids in our neighbourhood and baked cakes and breads with them in weekends, this was extreme fun. This step helped 'J' to interact with others and also learn the art of sharing. Also 'J' was very prompt to figure out her own path of adjustments and adaptation in India.

We travelled a lot this year in Europe and India.  'J' has started enjoying travelling, short term stays at hotels and trying new kinds of food. She has also overcome the fear of a new place and has started showing signs of an enthusiastic traveller. Good for us! This year also brought several guests in our place. Many for the first time, and they could visit us just because we have shifted to India.

During these months I deliberately reached out to people who have gone through the experiences of resettling themselves in India. I found that networking helps to deal with new situations of life. Community life is becoming rare in India. Joint families are a rarity, religious spaces like temples are not attracting the young Indians busy with several other things. So the new society in India is very much individual based. It finally depends on the individual, whether to choose and pick a circle of people and build a community for herself or not. For me for having a cushion of like minded people around me works -  the golden rule is no competitiveness or comparisons - just speak or listen to each other and encourage each other. It is very easy to not accept or criticise each others views but to understand each others views needs more broadness of mind.  

Amidst of all these I was also going through mental preparation for leaving my primary career choice to the plan B. This was becoming a tough decision but a new job happened in reality and very suddenly. I, 'J' and her papa went through re-orientation to accommodate my job in our family routine. I found myself in a very unknown set up of a private firm in contrast to the university schedule I was used to before. Work is new but the challenges are not and my long term interest about this career helped me. My new work place gave me a set of colleagues which brought me a feeling of direct belonging to the place which I was missing while I was not working. Most of my acquaintances still then were getting created through 'J's friends or her papa's colleagues. 'J's papa made a comment that just after getting the job I am more aware to know the geography or landmarks of the city. My work also brought me close to the local people of this part of India and I have started imbibing more of the language of this state of India -  the language is called Marathi - it has some similarity with Bengali or Hindi, other Indian languages I know. I found myself in same situation when I started learning German in Germany. A language is a key to the door to the culture, cuisine and people of that place and very true it is. 

My work has structured my days and 'me - time' is a luxury again. The time I was utilising in reading, baking with kids or to do nothing. Also the regular juggle to spend time with 'J',  managing to send her to the day care on her vacations and managing her temper tantrums because of stress are catching up fast in everyday life. No I am not complaining, but trying to say that children do get more mood tantrums and feel very tired when they cannot see their parents for long hours. But I have noticed a silent Sunday (staying home and unstructured) between highly active weekdays really helps.

Daily life of a working woman in India is quite different than in western countries. There each and every household chores are done by her or her spouse. But work and family is sorted in different compartments in most days. In India there are affordable domestic help but then schools, day cares, work time and commutes are not so confined or smooth in India. Women in India are also not able to voice their 'no' firmly. I am trying to keep going with work ethics I have learned in Europe but it puts pressure too as often I see only me standing and voicing a concern in the work place. I am not sure where this will lead me but for now this is how it is.

In short this year brought extreme shifts in my life. I stumbled, stopped, got confused, learned and started a new journey with baby steps.  

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