As you know, I love living in India – after all I went well out of my way to end up here.
It didn’t just happen: one doesn’t slip and inadvertently end up on a continent 8,000 miles from where you were born.
You make an effort to get here, and with the visa restrictions, god knows you make an effort to stay here. And although the place occasionally drives me nuts, it is utterly my home now.
And frankly, that it’s beginning to show.
I’m acclimatising to more than the weather – and man, I whinge about how cold it is when I go back to London. In fact, I can often be found complaining it’s cold in Bangalore.
(I mean, really, I didn’t move to the tropics to be wearing a cardigan…)
Anyway, it’s more than feeling a bit chilly at 23 degrees celcius, I’m culturally acclimatised. These are the tell tale signs;
Indian sentence structure is creeping into my every day speech.
Obviously I have a weakness for this – or I wouldn’t have this particular blog.
But I was surprised to hear myself answer the major domo who was working out where to seat me for dinner. He asked how many people would be joining me for dinner and I said… wait for it….‘it is me, only.’ I’m awarding myself additional points for the fact that, without thinking, I threw in a head bobble.
Women doing very hard manual labour while dressed in bright saris, no longer surprises me even a little bit.
This is very shocking when you first arrive here. Not just the incredibly hard nature of the work women do – as a feminist I can understand the need to earn money for your family and at least building sites are partially equal opportunity employers. Women with no other skills can get jobs doing labouring in a way they can’t in most countries in the West.
Though you can’t really call it equality, as by the look of it, women only do the all the really hard and nasty work. The lighter work more skilled work is done by men.
Anyway, one startling thing when you first arrive is the fact that the women don’t wear ‘work clothes’ but their normal dress, usually a cheap but cheerfully coloured and patterned sari. As one of my expat pals said, it takes a while to realise the different costs of materials here – she told me that at first she thought ‘Indian women wear such nice clothes to work’ and then gradually she realised what cheap cloth it was, and how even simple clothes are made to be as lovely and as patterned as possible.
The moment I knew I was acclimatised to that? Driving home from work one day, I saw a very skinny woman working in a ditch hacking away at the mud in a particularly sparkly sari and didn’t think ‘she’s over dressed for manual work’ or even ‘good god, that woman’s far too frail to be wielding a pick axe’. No, instead, I thought the utterly air headed ‘ooh sparkly!’
Well, I never said I was deep…
This is Part One of a Three part series
Read Part Two – You’re half way to being a local…
Read Part Three – You’re not really Indian at all!