After one of the busiest weeks in my Indian-career, having organized a well-visited Hackathon, I walked through the local supermarket, thinking about possible things I would miss after I return to the Netherlands. Living in India as a foreigner is fun, but one could also end up hating the country after a while. I’ve seen and heard a lot of horror-stories about misbehaving drivers, very bad hygiene conditions and unpleasant weather. Realising that India is a controversial country for some western visitors, I’m also very blunt: what the hell are you doing here if you don’t like it? And furthermore: couldn’t you make a long list of unpleasant things from your own home country? I’m a proud Dutch citizen, but give me a few minutes and I’ll present you with a long list of irritations or things that cause a lot of discomfort from my home country.
Almost 15 months of my 2-year assignment are now behind me and I haven’t had one really bad day in India. Obviously, April and May are so hot that one should stay inside or work for long hours in an air-conditioned building. Furthermore, dealing with the authorities is challenging. In India, you’ll get a free course of ‘staying patient in nerve breaking situations’, for example with the renewal process of your employment visa. And what about the traffic? For surviving the traffic here, I should be given a university degree in staying calm dangerous situations.
However, there are a lot of benefits to living in India. The weather conditions in Pune are great, food is relatively cheap and the people here are very friendly. I would love to stay here for a while longer, mainly because I want to finish a few of my projects. But what will happen when I return to the Netherlands? What will make me happy to be back? And what will make me reminisce of India?
Check out my personal list, with little things that I’ll be going to miss after returning to the Netherlands. As you will notice, I haven’t written anything about living here under expat-conditions. So, I haven’t mentioned a personal driver, a big house and a maid who cleans six days a week. These extra’s do make my life easy and comfortable in India, but I’m not going to miss them. However, I’m going to miss the following:
Top 10 things to miss after leaving India:
- Alphonso Mangoes in April. I love eating mangoes and nothing beats the Maharashtra-produced Alphonso mangoes. One could see temporary outlets everywhere in the city during the mango season, between the end March to end of May.
- Wearing a t-shirt for 365 days a year. I’m not wearing a suit to the office, but I do spend time on attending the office in a well-dressed manner. Returning home is always easy: a t-shirt will always do, 365 days of the year!
- Mystic rituals in all parts of the city. As a foreign citizen, you’ll never reach the point in understanding every aspect of the Indian society and its culture. The daily rituals by Hindu-priests, incense sticks in buses, these rituals are overwhelming in India.
- Service in top-notch restaurants is unbeatable. India is a country with relatively low labour costs and a huge competition. The result of this could be found in one of the many top-notch restaurants in the city. The food-quality is very high and the service is awesome. It feels as if you have a personal waiter, who is always there for a refill.
- Colours to make you smile. The Netherlands could be considered as a dull and boring country without any colours. I don’t think this is true, but after returning from India it could well feel like that. Even in the remote areas, colours are everywhere in India.
- The famous IST, which in my mind stands for ‘Indian Stretchable Time’ , does annoy me occasionally. Yet, it also creates a more flexible environment where you don’t find yourself rushing from one place to another. People are not so stressed.
- Instant access to premium healthcare. The general physician is the entry point for medical care in the Netherlands. Unless you have something urgent, one should visit him or her first. My experience in India is almost contrary to the situation in The Netherlands. Do you need a dermatologist? A dentist? With Practo, a brilliant medical platform, you can find and book an appointment with a recommended doctor in your neighbourhood in a few minutes’ time.
- There is a loophole for every problem or challenge. India is a very bureaucratic country, with a lot of complex policies and rules. Luckily, there is a loophole for almost every problem or situation. As long as it’s not a pure bribe, I’m ok with the loopholes as they often get you out of misery.
- Going for a destressing massage for only a fraction of the price in Europe. Having the opportunity to go for a massage nearby is a luxury, especially with the relatively low tariffs when compared to Europe.
- People. I have written a blog about the people in India earlier and the people are definitely in this top 10! There is no existence of India without it’s openly warm, funny and colourful people.
My real list of things to miss after returning to the Netherlands’ will be much longer. I’ll miss the chai walla’s, the tea stalls everywhere in the streets. A small can of the Indian red bull keeps you going when you’re tired. In addition, I will definitely miss much much more.