The first year swept by, crazy as ever. Just like any arranged marriage, slow but not steady. We had our fair share of turmoil backed by great expectations, surprises both pleasant and otherwise, tears of sorrow and of joy and loads of love. Today marks the end of my, rather our first year in India after 13 years of living overseas.
I am still in a state of confusion but glad we didn’t call it quits. Although the first half of the year was spent in a marathon of constant retrospect, we began living life one day at a time soon after we embraced acceptance.
We made our way back to India, or the country of our origin last year this day – 31st May 2015. We had a valid reason. But the transition was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. It still is.
When I married my boyfriend 12 years ago, little did I know I would have to live with his parents after living away and nuclear for about 11 years. That formed the biggest challenge, leave alone settling in a new city you could never relate to. A typical Mumbai girl, I was like Bhel Puri. A little sweet, a little spicy. I was never the Misal Pav that always tastes the same. I was a blend of cultures, languages, ideologies and more so, an extrovert who had never understood or believed in formalities, traditions or being reserved with strangers.
Welcome to Pune, a cultural hub may I say, a place full of intellect, wit, respect for and pride over history and language and this reserved nature backed by a double scoop of sarcasm. I felt like such a misfit. Coming to terms with traffic indiscipline and road sense was another chapter altogether. I quickly understood Marathi andScooty meant survival. And yes no helmets, driving away into the wrong side of the road and absence of any usage of the rear view mirror were strict norms to be complied with. Tooting the horn was your only safeguard. You had to be quick to adapt the honking style based on what side you were using to overtake, warn a fellow driver reversing in the middle of the road completely oblivious of your meagre existence, or running over pedestrians only to look around and make sure they were still alive before you recklessly darted forth because your time was precious you see. Phew! ! I had palpitations.
At home, I had a different war to wage. I had never lived with my in laws except on vacations over the past decade. And everything had been rosy. No, not like they trouble me or so, but you live life on your terms for 11 years, give birth and raise your kids without any interference, and you are nearing your forties, living together like the big happy Indian family becomes a big deal.
If in my late thirties I resist any change, I should be deemed insane to expect any from my in laws who are approaching their eighties. So yes, everyday living went through a sea change. From food, clothes, a constant bandwagon of relatives fondly visiting and sometimes staying back to sharing your space and being answerable. Did I forget to mention I wasn’t Marathi speaking, which had zero impact all these years, but now I found myself talking Marathi, eating Marathi, even breathing Marathi. So much so that I couldn’t take any more of it post sunset each day. My 11 year honeymoon had come to an end.
But amid these practical speedbreakers, I discovered a new life. After years of living on an island, I was in the city with some real heroic history. I was living amidtekdis and experiencing seasons. Each season presented a more fascinating side to experiencing different colours to the same landscape, appreciation of different food to match the weather. I was happy with my newly found freedom, a new bonding for my kids. Back in Singapore, my children were always dependent on me. Hubby would travel recklessly and fortunately I had domestic help. But I was the be all and end all for my children.
Out here, I could walk out of the house every time I so desired. My in laws and helper were enough army to mind them. The children are independent and do not need to be fed or constantly looked after. All they crave is company. I was glad hubby and I were watching more movies, taking those long drives, returning home late nights, living it up while the children were happy even without us.
During the day, I could make decent conversations with my in laws. I feel blessed their sense of humour is still intact. Mother in law survived two falls and one major surgery. Thanks to her positive attitude, she came out of it like one true winner. Father in law went through his health issues and we ours. So much for acclimatising both physically and mentally. The girls adapted well to the place, be it school or condo.
I feel grateful we landed in a house we truly love and a condo with no derth of people. The views from every room in my house are breathtaking and I don’t need to drive down to Mahableshwer to experience an unblocked sunset. Most morning walks make up for great views of the rising sun. Yes, friendships came in slow. But I am glad I have familiar faces to talk to and sense of humour seems splattered around in abundance.
The cherry on the cake has been the beginning of my work. I used to do storytelling back in Singapore. I started out here as well. Ihave been well received. And that has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience, thanks to support from my spouse. His love and faith have constantly helped all of us to keep afloat. The journey of life my friends is full of surprises. You never know what’s next. Its just like the roller coaster. Sometimes we hang up in mid air only to land into a free fall. At others, we get that split second to catch our breath and muster the courage before we realise we are heading for the next rise and fall. It is important to have faith and realise it is the lows where we learn the most. They bring out the best and worst from within. It’s the trying times that determine who we truly are and shape who we are going to be tomorrow.
If I am here today, it’s for a reason. For now, I know I have been a winner; we have been winners. We have found our happiness in the little things that matter in our daily lives. Yes we still miss Singapore but we don’t regret the move. It has taken a while to make this city home. It has been tough, not impossible though.