As soon as I finished my master's degree in Colombia, I understood that it was time to look for new air. China was one of the places I had in mind when I decided to look for opportunities outside the country, as I already had a great experience in Beijing (Beijing) for a year and the language and culture were familiar to me. However, for reasons of fate, India appeared on my path as an option, and following my philosophy of taking advantage of the opportunities that life gives us, I decided to take it.
Today, India means a lot to me. I lack words to describe all my experience, personal and professional growth in that place. In the 2 years I lived in New Delhi I could see many facets of this immense country.
A mixture of tradition, culture, history, meditation, yoga, religions with chaos, madness, horns, cows in the middle of the streets, modernity, technology and much more ... all in one place. You find it all across the country, and even in a single city at the same time. It is definitely much more than the movies show us and make us imagine.
In 2015, I went to New Delhi to do a professional internship with an NGO for a few months, which actually became 2 years, because I ended up working in a telecommunications and technology company. Contrary to what many people imagined, India would be a unique and enchanting experience.
However, not everything is pink. And I don't intend to romanticize an experience that had a bit of everything. I want to tell you how all this complex mixture that I experienced made this experience so real.
When I arrived, I had to face an unknown society. To stay close to the office, I went to live in a very traditional area of New Delhi, where the only “different” person was me, there were simply no foreigners around. The neighborhood where he lived was in the middle of the city, with an impressive noise (horns everywhere, all the time), and at the same time there were cows all over the streets. I didn't know anyone other than the people I was going to work with and I never thought that I would have to become “practically vegetarian”, since meats were not welcome in the house where I was going to live. Beef was no longer an option (it is forbidden in New Delhi) and it was not easy to get chicken (no pepper then? Ixi!). Another problem I had was how to go to the office, because the subway it was distant and I didn't speak Hindi to negotiate with a auto-rickshaw (or tuk-tuk) to explain the way, and as there were no foreigners in the neighborhood, the drivers did not speak English.
The place where I arrived was a multi-storey house where girls who came from other parts of India lived to work and study in the capital. There were rooms on every floor and some of the girls knew some English. The owner only spoke Hindi and was only able to smile when I asked him about the washing machine in the house (I found out later that they didn't have it). However, we had a maid, who we called "didi" (older sister - as a form of respect). She also did not speak English, but she cooked very well (although spicy!) And only communicated with her by signs. This was my chance to dive into India and have a complete intercultural experience from the beginning.
Although this situation that I was living in made things a little difficult, I used it as an opportunity to learn and have fun amid the differences. Besides, I was trying to adapt: I was "different" from the place.
The incessant and disturbing noise from the streets gave me some headaches at first, but I gradually got used to it. The “forced vegetarianism” caused my nails and hair to weaken, but nothing that good vitamins don't solve (hahaha). I learned, thanks to one of the girls, to go to the office, take the bus, subway and negotiate tuk-tuk. It was also with her that I visited, during my first weeks, the Qutub Minar and some very interesting ruins in New Delhi (which by the way were on the other side of the city - almost 2 hours from my house).
And so my first months in India went on. Discovering, living and enjoying experiences (good and bad) that helped me to grow in many aspects of life. After a few months I moved from that place and discovered another New Delhi, a city that I did not imagine existed while living in that traditional neighborhood. (The second part of this experience I will tell in another post).
Today, when I look back at the stories I have about India, I have fun and laugh, but at that moment I believe that my motivation to learn and my desire to make the most of every second of this experience gave me strength, made me go on ahead and see the positive side of each situation that was presented to me.
Incredible India, a place of love and hate, surprised and fell in love with me from the first moment. Even though I had already lived in China, where I learned and discovered wonderful things, my experience in India was very different. An experience that I lived from another perspective, at another stage of my life.
India has taught me that things are not just as they tell us and go far beyond what we imagine. She showed me how diverse the world is and that we must open our minds to understand a little more the position of others; that we must adapt to situations and not expect them to adapt to us; that we can attract what we want and that everything depends on the angle from which we look at it. Finally I can say that India helped me to grow, strengthened me and taught me that common sense is not as common as we all think.
Asia has always caught my attention, and now that I live here (in Phuket), every time I get to know more countries and cultures in that area of the planet, I find new reasons to become even more passionate about this beautiful continent.