My first two years of living in startling India. Surprising and sometimes astonishing, and sometimes I-want-to-go-back. For sure incredible India can give a lot of emotions and vibes. So is living in this country. These days I have my 2nd anniversary of living in India while continuing my life in Poland.
How is it to live in India? Is it the same as two weeks vacation? What did I discover when living there compared to the dozen visits before that? Let me tell you a bit more about living in #myindia.
MY FIRST TWO YEARS IN INDIA
I boarded the plane to India on the 8th of March 2019, 2 years ago, knowing I would be staying for longer. Back then, two years was a guess. However, the world reality changed with the pandemic, and so did our plans. We didn’t decide on our final (or next!) destination back then. It is the same case now too. Last year, being locked at home didn’t help with finalizing our plans. Always between India and Poland, always on the plane, even during the pandemic.
In India, we live in Bangalore, a city of more than 12 million inhabitants. That’s one of the biggest cities in the country. The one with the biggest traffic jam in the world! Compared to Gdansk, my city in Poland, with ~500 thousand inhabitants, that’s a huge change!
What do I miss from Poland when I am in India?
- family and friends
- our house
- driving my car
- local food
- my places
Now, let’s focus on the starling India and my life there.
LIVING IN INDIA
TO FALL IN LOVE WITH
Customer care in India, and also in other Asian countries that I have visited, is excellent. I have seen it during many occasions of my holidays in India. My living there just reinforced it. Yes, it is a top standard. Maybe it is part of the culture, or it is the battle for clients, knowing that the market is so intense. Let me share with you one recent example. About two months ago, I went with my family (four people) to one of the top 5-star hotels for a buffet breakfast. We knew it is still a pandemic environment, although the service wasn’t right. We were wrapping up somehow unsatisfied. One of the hotel staff members approached us for the payment saying, that the service wasn’t appropriate and didn’t meet the hotel’s standards. And our family’s buffet breakfast was complimentary. It wasn’t about the money but what caught my attention was: understanding, noticing the difference, taking measures to limit any future negative impact. Kudos!
SERVICE AT YOUR DOORSTEP
Service at your doorstep is like an extension of excellent customer service in India. Which service can arrive at your doorstep? Let me share some of the examples from my daily life. It can be grocery shopping from online stores, hypermarkets, or nearby small shops. Also, it can be a hairdresser, yoga teacher, doctor, masseur. It doesn’t seem unique? How about a money exchange service at your doorstep, a baby’s injection (ambulance arriving just next to your home), or a local photographer to take passport pictures? Often we order home one or two natural ice-cream scoops at 10 PM! No additional special charges! I love it!
READINESS TO WORK
Readiness to work and its importance are visible in India. That’s something that keeps surprising me positively.
People seem to be less picky about the type of work. Many professions that have died out in the other parts of the world still exist in India. The same refers to the jobs at risk of existence, for example, due to their difficulty or low pay aspect. People pick up small works, try to earn little by little.
I remember, when Our Little One was small, we called for some cleaning service at home. People responsible for the cleaning were not fully satisfied. They said our house is too clean and they like it more when there is a lot of dirt to be removed. I would imagine one to be happy to take it easy. Wow!
LESS MATERIAL WORLD
That’s one of the items that I appreciate the most about India. Already during holidays in India, you might get a feel of it. However, with living there, one can clearly understand that what matters in life is not material. The western world seems to be chasing a bit too much: for goods, for brands, for having more and more. Access to the products and services in both ‘worlds’ is very similar. What is different is the culture and people’s mindset. People seem to care less to impress others and do things to show off. And don’t get me wrong, many people in India are mad about goods. Who doesn’t love gold and diamonds in India? In the cities like Delhi, Mumbai, or the upper class of society, it is also about brands and tags. Still, the middle class (country’s main ‘cream’) and the overall country vibes say the opposite. It isn’t what shines that matters.
Daily life in India is very closely related to people’s aspects. Families tend to be bigger; extended families live together. In many houses, there are maids or other servants who support families’ daily life. And very often, all this support and help to others is being extended regularly. People might be giving to those in need items that are not needed anymore. It might be smaller items, like empty boxes or clothes, to bigger ones, like an old tv or phone. People might be supporting the schooling fees of those who need it or set up the new business. Often reimbursing the costs is mentioned even if no one expects them. On the one hand, it seems that people waste fewer things in India. And on the other hand, it is visible how natural it is to support others.
Living across different continents makes it a bit more challenging to see selected TV channels, even online. Licenses’ limitations impact streaming availability. As a result of it, I watch less TV in India, nearly none. From time to time, I watch a Netflix movie. I prefer listening to the radio. Radio Garden streams all the radio stations from the world. I also struggle to watch the news in India. Why? When you will visit India, turn on the TV to see local news for a minute. National or local news in India is presented on a colorful and dynamic screen. So much is going on on the TV screen. It is difficult for me to focus on the actual news! Plus, all the debates are one big fight only! Impossible to follow. 🙂
What is so different about Indian bathrooms that I haven’t discovered earlier during my stays in the hotels?
Most of the bathrooms in India have showers (no bathtubs), and most of these showers are open space areas. There are no fixed shower cabins or glass doors. Usually, there can be a shower curtain or nothing, just a shower tap.
What do I find challenging about it? I am used to the floor that is always dry in the bathrooms. Instead, in India, the floor often gets wet, wipers are a must-have. Water is splashed all over. It seems like the Indian festival Holi or Polish Smingus Dyngus every day! And as I love to wear socks at home, that’s an issue. 🙂
I miss ‘normal’ driving, maybe the most! Yes, I have driven a car in India. But it isn’t the same fun. Why? 🙂 I miss my car, right-side driving, speed driving, and better quality roads. A few times, when in India, I dreamt about being in Poland in the garage and taking the car for the drive. 🙂 What are the driving ‘rules’ in India? Me first, no lane and traffic discipline, high-beam headlights on for own comfort, not stopping for pedestrians. It is very creative and dynamic driving. And I love to drive dynamically, but somehow this isn’t my ‘dynamic’. 🙂
It seems that most of the world is still catching-up to ensure equal treatment for women. Somehow in India, the disconnect is felt more. Women might be focusing more on family life rather than a balance of family and own professional growth. There are still many cases when the husband, just after marriage, can disagree on the lady’s further work, telling her to quit and stay home.
Two years ago, when we were doing bathrooms rework at home, one of the sellers brought one shower item home as a replacement. My Better Half wasn’t home, so I reviewed the new item and signed it off. The seller was in disagreement. My feedback and sign-off weren’t enough. All he said was: “I will wait, I need Sir’s review’. 😮 Good, I am outspoken enough.
In many European countries and cities, office hours usually finish between 3 PM to 6 PM. Adding to it some commuting time, it gives opportunities for some personal or family time. Be it a walk, gym, shopping, friends gathering, or family fun time. During spring and summer, when the sun sets later, the activities list extends further. How about India? Most of the after-office hours activities include traffic time. A few kilometers’ drives can result in an hour or two. Plus it isn’t only the traffic to return from the office. Even if one wants to go out in the evening after work, it is just the same. I miss Poland for it!
BETWEEN INDIA AND POLAND
I am writing this post from Poland. And while I am here, I miss India. And of course, when I am in India – I miss Poland. I feel I am lucky. It is one of the best life experiences. No matter how different or challenging it might be on some days, it is fascinating and mind-opening. Travels are wonderful. Living abroad has its own magic. In 2.5 weeks we are traveling to India. In May we should be back in Poland for a few weeks. And later? Who knows. Let’s not over plan and enjoy the moment! Being able to travel these days is already a blessing.
My Better Half told me these days that it might be too many posts about India recently. And I feel that I have so many more stories to share with you! So I need your inputs: tell me below in the comments (or offline). Do you want more or less Indian stories in the next weeks?
Moments that matter, no matter how starling.