After an eventful and partly lazy 2019, I feel prepared and compelled to finish the story I started 2 years back. The small town girl making it big and all…. Just kidding!
Incase you missed the earlier parts, here is a link
Finally! Finally after all the tedious processes I was about to embark on my journey. I was excited but nervous all at once. It was my first big solo trip. After unpacking and repacking my bags almost a million times I finally managed to catch up on some sleep the previous night.
It was my last night in my own bed at home and was very emotional about it. Although I haven’t exactly been living at home for almost 10 years now, the fact that I was moving miles away saddened me. I wasn’t going to be just a train ride away. So the next day after our usual prayer rituals and obsessive that I am, checking my documents at least 10 times, we departed for the airport.
After crying like a baby as I bid farewell to my parents (surprisingly they were strong this time and consoled me) I made my way to check in my bags. After completing security check I walked towards my departure gate. All this while I was scrutinizing people and guarding my backpack with all my life.
I barely slept throughout the journey, although I did enjoy the food. As we were about to land in London, the air hostess distributed some forms around. I wasn’t given one and began to panic. My co passenger realized that and kindly explained to me that it was an immigration form that needed to be filled and called in one for me. I was relieved! She also helped me change the sim card on my phone (I had conveniently forgotten the pin for the card slot). She was my saviour.
As soon as we landed, I had been explained to rush to the immigration queue as it can sometimes take up to two hours to clear the process. So like a Olympic level sprinter, I ran towards the counter only to be overwhelmed. There were people from almost all nationalities, cultures and corners of the world. Until now I had been a frog in a pond. I was stunned. I can never forget that experience. If you believe in God (or evolution), there is beauty in his creation.
Luckily I got through the process without any hassles and proceeded to get my bags.
Rendezvous with Espresso:
Do not judge me for what I am about to say next. Lol.
Pushing my luggage around I finally reached the bus station at the airport terminal and realized it had been 4 hours since breakfast on the flight. I spotted a coffee shop. Café Nero. I come from the land of tea. The only coffees I ever had were cappuccino and mocha before. So after carefully studying their menu, I decided to order an espresso. Why? Because it was the cheapest on the menu and I was trying to save money. I was asked if I would like a double shot and coffee illiterate that I was, I agreed to it. (I was new to the country; I wasn’t going to displease anyone!)
So I sat down with my double shot espresso and blue berry muffin whilst waiting for my bus. One sip of the coffee and I was startled. It was bitter, it was dark, it wasn’t the one I expected. And 2 sips later I was a fan.
I was on a quest, to find my workplace. Captain Jack Sparrow had his compass, but I had a stronger tool; Google Maps. But Sparrow had it easy, here I was struggling to push around my 30 kgs luggage, meanwhile trying to be alert and trying to find the right direction. Two train changes and a harrowing taxi ride later I was left alone in this huge campus of building trying to find my accommodation. As soon as I took my wallet out to pay I was warned by a kind stranger to take care of my money. Phew, and I thought Mumbai local trains were worse! It is at that moment reality hit me, what the hell was I doing in a different country and in a completely different city? I panicked. But against all odds I made to my flat.
My worst enemy:
The British weather was out there to get me. No matter how many layers I draped around me I was always cold. And I had apparently arrived at the peak of summer.
The various shades of English:
For someone who has been educated in English all through her life and who speaks in English at home and otherwise, one would assume working in England would have been a piece of cake. Hell no!
All the anaesthetists out there, mind you, ‘a small needle prick‘ isn’t the same as ‘a small prick’ or someone asking you ‘are you happy’ might mean, please double check!
I had love flowing towards me from all directions. Let me elaborate. It was from colleagues, patients, strangers, bus drivers etc etc. More than my then boyfriend and now husband ever showered me with. And it was something like, hello love, sorry love, there you go love, or just love love! Till I figured out I wasn’t actually the special one but just a local way of addressing a person.
The land of fish and chips:
What vada pav means to Mumbai is what fish and chips means here. Although I do like mine with extra salt, pepper, ketchup, chutney and given a choice extra spices. I blame in on my Indian taste buds.
Be it just a dozen of eggs or that cute dress in Zara, my mind was converting pounds to rupees non stop. Will this be cheaper in India? Is it worth the price? I was a woman on mission to snag the cheapest deals and formulate best jugaads.
Everything said and done, I am so grateful to my ever so supportive family, my lovely colleagues and employer who made this transition for me as smooth as an aged Bordeaux.∝
Copyright 2018 Chris Lemos All rights reserved