I have now officially spent 5 months in this beautiful, cold, mysterious wonderland of Germany. The one most universal, under rated and ignored truth of life remains that you miss most what/who you once had and currently lack. After all, it’s hard to miss things you haven’t already experienced or cherished that you may in near future. I’ve definitely realized my fair share of things that make me nostalgic about India. Friends and family aside, the top ones are definitely:
1. Food, Food and Food
It should be obvious to all Indians that live abroad, that the top thing we miss is our mind-blowing food. I’ve tried a lot of cuisines and nothing will ever beat Indian food for me. I’m obviously biased, but gladly so. It has been months since I had anything close to resembling Indian bread and if I told an Indian friend that i really missed just roti or naan, they’d think I was nuts. It is such a basic thing, and yet so hard to find and make in Germany. I miss the smell of chai and samosas on the streets of Delhi. I miss the smell of Idli and sambar on the streets of Bangalore. I miss the smell of filter coffee and Dum biryani in the back alleys of Kochi. I miss having the option to eat unlimited chaat whenever and wherever I wanted.
Not to mention vada pav, pakoras, raj kachori, bun tikki, chole kulche, aloo paratha, lassi , I could go on and on.
2. Warmth, literal and otherwise
It is funny to see people get excited here when they see the sun, even though it’s still -3 degrees and in general quite cold. For me, seeing the sun is just the most normal thing in the world. I grew up in a goddamn sunny country and I never thought good weather could possibly be defined by the presence of a visible sun during the day.
I definitely miss the warmth/comfort you feel when you are in your home country. Knowing each street, each place, each method and a fairly confident idea of knowing what you are doing and where you are going. Well, I miss that. I also sometimes miss talking to people I would normally never speak to cause it’s so common in India. Here, it’s hard to strike a conversation with an utter stranger unless you need some help. Add to that the language struggle, and then it’s even harder to have deep, reflective conversations.
On my way back from work in India, I’d usually take a cab home and 8 times out of 10 speak to the cabbie about their story, their likes and dislikes, do they enjoy their work and answer their questions on the same. I can’t say I made any friends this way, but it gave me access to stories and inspiration in the most basic way I could get it. A man once told me how he worked 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, driving his car as a cab around New Delhi (which mind you is the most painful thing to do given the pollution and traffic), just so he could have enough savings to put his kids in a good private school, so that they would not have to do manual labor when they grow up. It made me humble and grateful each day I interacted with different people knowing that everyone had their own share of struggle to handle and yet they never complained. It made me feel connected and grounded. I miss that feeling.
The sheer ease of getting simple things anywhere you are in India is incredible. You can find some one to polish your boots for 5 INR (7 euro cents) at the main railway station if you wanted to, and they would still do a job better than the best shoe salon could. You could buy souvenirs, pens, magnets standing in traffic and/or roses for your partner while crossing a street. You could even have a guy pass by on a bike at 3 am outside a club selling you tea/coffee or cigarettes when you need it the most. You could hire a photographer for a small fee to take an instant picture of you outside monuments for practically nothing. I feel like whatever it is or whoever it is you look for, you can most certainly find it in India. Maybe not in the shape or form you expect, but find it you will. It is the beauty of this dynamic constantly moving and jugaadu macrocosm that I miss the most.
Here in Germany, I have meanwhile ignored my problems for as long as humanly possible just to avoid the trouble of finding the right remedy. A simple thing like fixing my bike’s flat tyre, I haven’t really come around to doing it in 2 months, partly cause I know I have to walk 4 kilometers to the bike repair shop and I can’t find one open on weekends when I am actually free, and partly because I’m worried it is gonna cost me as much as a new bike in India.
So well, my rant is now over and if you feel like you don’t know why you love your native land already, try uprooting your life and start from scratch 5878 kilometers away!