India - final week

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July 17th 2016
Published: July 17th 2016
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Wednesday 13th to Sunday 27th July – UK to Bangalore and back to the UK

Hi all,

The last time I wrote I was getting ready to leave for a return trip to the UK to renew my work visa…! Now I’m back in Bangalore but getting ready to leave to return to my job and life in the UK… I’m going home early J

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that it’s not always easy and fun here for me…! I’ve had my fair share of dramas and challenges to overcome! It’s certainly been a test of my resilience and ability to live independently in a city on my own J I spent 12 days in the UK and my time there made me realise what was important to me at the moment. I really love India, the Indian people and life in India but I was not finding it easy to achieve some things that are important to me around working in India… like eating healthy (Indian food is healthy… I just didn’t have time to cook it!), exercising (just took too long to get to the gym… and I was reliant on my driver to go), spending time with friends and family (my working hours and where I was living weren’t conducive to making friends… I have Marcus and Elin but it wasn’t fair to rely on them and they will leave soon) and doing fun stuff (yes I’m in India and I see fascinating things every day… but it’s not the same when you don’t have someone there to share it with even occasionally and to do other fun stuff with).

One of my main problems was the traffic… I considered myself fortunate I didn’t have to drive in it (you need courage to drive in India!) and I tried to make the most out of the time I spent in it but taking 2 hours to go and do a 15-minute food shop when it’s 2km away… and 45 minutes to get to the gym when it’s 1km away wasn’t fun (I know I could walk… and I did sometimes… but not in the dark) and that’s on top of an already long working day. I admire the Indian people as they live with this daily and feel embarrassed that I found it so difficult. My Indian colleagues and I have shared our experiences of living and working in one another’s countries and we have come to the same conclusion albeit from different perspectives… This isn’t the same for everyone but typically in the corporate working world… in India the week is all about work because there’s very little time to do anything else around it; that makes weekends all about doing your jobs and spending time with your friends and family. In the UK we have more time during the week around work to do jobs and spend time with friends and family. I choose to live 30 minutes at most away from work and am fortunate that I can work flexibly so I have a lot of time in the evening outside of work. That time is precious to me, especially after it was filled with Uni during the last few years. I want to spend time with my friends and family in the UK who I have neglected in recent years (simply because I always had to make time for Uni). And I can see myself living abroad again at some point so will do it now whilst I don’t feel India is the right place for me.

There are lots of ifs and maybes about how things could have been different (Brian able to stay… more friends… less electrical issues!) but I’m completely happy with the decision and it also works for my company… so everyone is happy 😊 I have experienced living and working in India, loved interacting with the Indian people and have some amazing (and ridiculous!) stories to tell. I have lived in a lovely apartment (albeit it’s had its challenges recently!) in what I think is one of the nicest areas in Bangalore. There’s not many places in Indian cities where you can walk around quiet streets, just to enjoy it and go for dinner. I just can’t walk at night by myself.

My final week was interesting as I just wanted to get home and back settled. I didn’t want to get too emotional or sentimental about things so best thing for me is just get on with it and avoid situations where I might. I felt no need to go and do any souvenir shopping (my photos are my souvenirs, will turn them into something creative) or visit anywhere for a final time. I’ll be back to India, still haven’t see the Taj!

I had a new driver called Muragesh because Noor left when he dropped me off at the airport the other week. I knew he was leaving so it was hard saying bye because he’d been good to me, supportive and I’d been dependent on him for a lot of things (keeping me safe for one!). He had left for what he hoped was a better driving opportunity in which he would be his own boss and be able to spend more time with his family. I was pleased for him and impressed with his drive to achieve something different for himself. I may have contributed because we had a bit of a talk one day about his future and within 2 days he told me he was leaving… :/ I really hoped it worked out for him. He text me the day I arrived back in India just to make sure I had been picked up by the new driver J I immediately warmed to Muragesh, so eager to please and efficient. Dealing with people like Noor and Muragesh was another factor in my decision to leave… I’m too soft. Not in a way where I let them take advantage of me… I’m tough but fair like that… but in that I get too emotionally involved in things… like I felt it when I had to tell Muragesh I was leaving and not coming back because he’d seemed so pleased he had a regular person to drive for. The Indian people have really touched me… it’s the same in Uganda and places where you interact with them on a more real level… not just as a tourist. They remind me how special humanity is and how amazing the world is. To be honest at the moment I’m a bit too soft to deal with it here on my own. Muragesh told me his story the other day and I just admired him so much. The people don’t know and probably wouldn’t thank me for it (who am I to say who has it better) but I find it difficult and go around in circles about how I feel about the world and my place in it. I am now even more resolved to progress Believe In Better - www.bibetter.couk - the charitable trust I helped set up and am trustee of - that supports communities in Uganda (we have made some good progress recently and will hopefully be making a distribution of AFRIpads soon!) and who knows… it may expand to India one day.

My final few days at work were spent catching up with my boss (who has been really supportive about the move home, really lucky for her to have given me the opportunity to be in India), re-booked flights, working from home and telling the colleagues I needed to that I was leaving (I had some lovely messages back). Jane and Sharon knew I would be leaving but they didn’t expect it to be so soon but I will see them in the UK the week I get back J They’re amazing colleagues and now very good friends and I’m thankful I’ve been on this journey with them

I visited the three companies I had been working with in Bangalore. The journey to Whitefield that had caused me so much trouble (1 ½-2 ¼ hours each way) didn’t seem so bad the final time. It still took 2 hours one way but Muragesh went a different route to Noor so I saw something new of Bangalore. I was genuinely upset to say bye to these people and they seemed to feel the same. Some were very sad and I hadn’t realised how much of an effect I’d had. We’d enjoyed interacting with each other and many asked me if they could have done anything different to make my experience different. I reassured them not and I that I hadn’t had a bad experience… It would have been nice to stay longer to see if I could fix some things and I was going to miss out on friends visiting… but I was only going home because there were some things immediately important to me that Bangalore would not give me. They felt a bit upset that they hadn’t had much notice as had wanted to do me a lunch or something… the company I visited on Friday had a bit more time and had got me a lovely cake J

I spent Saturday chilling, going out for lunch at the nice healthy café I liked and then in the salon using up credit I had. I had a massage, my nails done and got my hair coloured… I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking with the hair colouring as I haven’t coloured my hair in years and didn’t need to now (other than wanting a change!) The least said about it the better and thankfully it’ll be fixed on Wednesday J In the evening Marcus and I went for dinner at Karavalli, the seafood restaurant at the Gateway Hotel. It was so nice! We sat outside in nice surroundings and the food was amazing… Indian style seafood! We missed Elin and Skyped her when we got back, I was really sad I hadn’t got to say bye to her but I think a trip to Sweden may be in order. I hope those two know how grateful I am for them and how much I appreciate their friendship.

I stayed up late Saturday night packing… felt a bit wary of the apartment because of the electrical issues and whilst nothing had exploded there were still flashing lights and random things happening. The air conditioning in my room wasn’t working so that made packing a bit of a workout. Sunday was spent clearing out and tidying the apartment. The maid hadn’t been in for a few days which made it a bit complicated and I had no idea what to do with the rubbish… The Security Guard helped me figure it out and I took down a lot of foodstuffs for them to save it being wasted. I had a bit of a moment with the Security Guard… with him saying ‘airport tomorrow’ and him shaking my hand and nodding… not much was said (we didn’t speak each other’s language) but it meant something to me as they’d looked after me too and I would miss them. It was simple things like seeing up delivery guys and supervising the handover of money. I knew I was in danger of getting emotional so I avoided them. I stopped in for tea with Marcus though, couldn’t not say bye to him.

Sunday night I got my final Inner Chef healthy takeaway! I wish they had something like that in the UK. My only bit of feedback is about the amount of packaging used (oh and that they put onions in a lot of stuff and there's no way of asking them not to)! I made sure everything was clean and tidy and chilled watching TV and debating with myself about whether I should pack and take home the £10 doormat I’d bought when I arrived. And receiving the odd random calls from people where you just say ‘hello’ to each other as despite the fact that both are speaking English nobody understands the other! I had to get some sleep before getting up again at 3.30am for the dreaded early 7am flight!

My next planned trip is in a few weeks to California. I don’t tend to write blogs for holiday trips so may not write again for a while…

Thank you for reading if you’re a regular. I write this for myself to remember stuff and for people who are genuinely interested… it rambles a lot so you’ve done well to stick with it! And the Facebook photos to go with this as suitably terrible and random…!

Lots of love

Rach Xx


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