Flashback – So, I’ve always had these friends from childhood, school, college, work who all disappeared from India one by one. They went to study abroad, work abroad, marry abroad or just live abroad. Friends in New York. Friends in London. Friends in even Azerbaijan. The charm of going abroad was quite a bit, especially for the South Indians. All I remember was farewells as they all left home. I had never even set foot outside India when some of my friends left for good.
Then, I spent all these years envious of those who had the opportunity to live in London or New York. After all, it is so much closer to Europe and South America. I had this vision of them traveling all the time, almost with a backpack surgically attached to their shoulders. I had a vision of them drinking coffee in little backpacker hostels and missing buses and chatting up immigration officials and trying a folk dance or two. It was all my dream. In reality, I don’t know if many of them set foot outside their city.
I struggled saving money to travel to lands far far away. I made elaborate plans to maximise my time away and squeezed in holidays between 2 media plans at work. But, I managed. Somehow, managed to travel and explore the world. I surprised myself with everything I saw. The last 5 years, living in Mumbai and exploring the world every other month was the best part of my life.
Fast forward to now – I moved from India to UK and Austria. And, you would be surprised how much of the world I’ve managed to see living here. Nothing. Nada. I’ve taken flights from London to Salzburg and back and the occasional miserable transit via Frankfurt, with rude immigration officials. This is the perfect living example of taking the place you live for granted. So, that’s reason 1 to be disgusted with myself, almost because I am letting work overtake my life and losing my fervour to explore the world with it. I have only myself to blame for it. I somehow need to get out of this inertia.
The second reason is not me. It’s Indians in general. From the time I have moved here, the only thing I hear from any of my friends around me is ‘when do you plan to go back home?’. Haven’t you already thought about booking your flights to India. Come on, I just got here and you already want me to go back home for a holiday. My inlaws visited us. My mom is coming over next month. I skype at the drop of a hat. My closest friends from Mumbai have all either visited me or planning to visit me in London. What is the need to go back? I was thinking about Jamaica or Cuba or the Greek Islands.
So, now it has all fallen into place. The biggest predicament of living outside India is the pressure to visit India and give up the world. I shall not succumb. I am glad the realization set in at such an early stage. Thank you friends.