For the past three weeks I have been in Sitges (Barcelona), Spain, fixing my employment visa for India following my change in jobs. Spain has been my place of residence and home for the eight years immediately prior to my move to Bangalore five months ago. Happily though, in 72 hours I will return to fabulous Bangalore. You see, I’m in love…and my love affair hit me fast and hard like any passionate love does and I miss my new “lover” very much…my new lover India!
But coming back to Sitges has reminded me of just how different my new life is compared to my old one. In all fairness, some of the differences actually validate why my move to India was the best move possible for me and my daughter. My two favourites are:
- Spain has 21% unemployment and India has a massively booming economy that offered up three new jobs for me within days of losing my first job in Bangalore. I have a fun MarCom job with a leading BPO company, work with a growing cricket league and am starting to write for one of the hottest men’s magazines in the world. Thank you India!! I had been looking for a job in Spain and trying to get back on my feet so I could support my daughter and I again for almost a year when I decided to move to India, what a change.
- My wallet was stolen when I took the metro in Barcelona last week. I have lived in Spain off and on for 18 years and this is the first time I have ever been pickpocketed. In part, this is India’s fault because it’s so safe and I have now become so relaxed about my handbag and belongings so I simply – and stupidly – forgot to be “on guard” at all times in a dangerous place like Barcelona. In India, women CAN leave their handbags unattended or on a chair when they run to the restroom at bars and restaurants or simply turn around and talk to friends behind them, knowing that their handbag will still be there when they want it. It’s also okay to leave things in plain view in a car, no one will break in to steal anything like they would in other countries.
However, coming back to Spain has reminded me of a few things that my new lover India and I fight about, sometimes on a daily basis. They range from little annoyances to bigger problems, which I had started to sort of forgive and not notice as much as I did when I first moved to Bangalore months ago. My biggest Love/Hate issues with my new lover include:
- Pushy Indians! Whether it’s taking a 2 lane road and deciding to arbitrarily convert that into a 5 lane road or perhaps it’s bypassing an orderly queue when boarding a plane…I am not a fan of my new lover’s pushy way. In mainland Europe, people stand on the right side of an escalator when they are riding it so people who are going faster can walk past on the left. Also, in the U.S. and in Europe, drivers respect the lines painted on roads. Outside India, people actually stand in lines and queue when boarding a bus or a flight without cutting and trying to push in front of the person in front. It’s one of the hardest things for me to brush under the rug because in the bottom of my heart I believe that people know it’s rude to cut in line.
- The damn car and auto and moto horns blowing 24/7! In three weeks, I have maybe heard 4 or 5 horns being blown here in Spain. That’s it. No joke. There is no noise pollution here like there is in Bangalore. It’s wonderful to sit outside (street-side) on terraces and enjoy a meal or quiet’ish coffee with friends. Or go to sleep without wearing ear plugs. It’s lovely treat I think I will miss most of all!
- Bangalore is dirty. Here in Sitges, the streets are cleaned every single day with one of those machine thingies and by a team of physical street sweepers. In other cities like Barcelona, streets aren’t cleaned by machine everyday but they are kept so clean that I have never encountered a single bag of trash on the street or piles of muck that have accumulated over time. This is done by coupling the commitment by the city governments to keep streets clean with the citizens’ commitment not to litter or throw away garbage anywhere except into bins, resulting in the cities staying pretty squeaky clean.
No lover is perfect. And I wouldn’t trade my new love for any other in the world. But I guess at one time or another everyone thinks that the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence…and I have to admit that this recent trip to Spain had my eyes wandering – but only a bit!