I have been living in India on-and-off for almost three years now, usually for trips of around 2 - 6 months at a time. Why? I am working here as a travel agent, but also my boyfriend is Indian. That's always the story right? Ha ha. Girl meets boy basically!
Anyway... my life here is certainly different from life back at home. Not only do I look completely different to everyone around me, but I also speak a different language.
For the first year definitely, and a little into the second, I was always treated as a foreigner still. I was never really accepted as a regular friend. The only thing that changed that was time and determination. I tried (and still am trying!) very hard to learn some of the language, learn the etiquettes and way of life. After putting these into practise. I gradually noticed a difference in the peoples attitudes towards me, they were more accepting of me and I feel very comfortable to be here now.
These days, there is sometimes the odd comment that upsets me, but it's usually do to with me and my boyfriend. It seems that they Indians are more than happy to welcome foreigners to their country as a tourist, but when they see one living here with an Indian man, that friendly welcoming attitude changes into one of curiosity and perhaps even disbelief. However, there are people like that all over the world and I don't necessarily think its a trait only in Indian people.
Living here I have also learnt to cook Indian food! My first (and second, third, fifth even) attempts were basically inedible, but my boyfriend soldiered on through the pile of crap I'd made and ate every drop while trying to force a smile! I guess that's the reason I'm still here and the reason we can ignore the stares, comments and rumours. That reason is because we love each other, and regardless of race, love is still love!
Even though I miss my family, friends, mothers cooking and all those sorts of home comforts, I don't regret my decision in moving here. It's really changed my life by living abroad. Being able to not only respect but also understand another countries culture, religion, way of life and customs has made me much more broad minded in my approach to life. Despite the many differences between the two countries, there are also many similarities. Basically, I learnt that people are just people! Wherever they're from or wherever they live, they still talk about the same topics, have the same needs, wants and dreams.
By living here, rather than just visiting India as a tourist, I have gained so much more. Learning the cook the local dishes, driving on the roads, forming good friendships with local people, visiting villages and seeing the real day-to-day life, learning a new language!
For anyone thinking about staying in a foreign country for longer than just a holiday, I would definitely recommend it. It will really change your perspective on... everything! There are moments when it's tough and you just want to go home, but battle through them and you'll have such an unforgettable experience and meet all sorts of new people.
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