During the past couple of weeks I have been making an extra effort to enjoy the things I love most about life in England. I also keep finding myself thinking ‘wow, this is probably the last time I will *insert situation* for a very long time’. Day-to-day things like Sainsburies and travelling on the London underground.
After some pondering, here are the things I will miss about England.
1. Family and friends
Where would we all be without them? Saying goodbye to my friends has been so hard and I cannot imagine how it will feel to say goodbye to my family at the airport on Friday. I am eternally grateful to them for being so supportive of my move to India. Luckily the internet means the distance between us shrinks through Skype calls and emails but it is not the same as meeting up at a coffee shop or walking down a street together.
2. The sound of the traffic
…or lack of. Every now and again in England you will hear a ridiculously loud car revving its way down the road but that is nothing compared to the sound of traffic in India. I would not be surprised if I have heard more horns in India during ten minutes than I have in England over the past ten years. Being someone who had never experienced such a thing before at first I liked the fun and exciting atmosphere it brought to driving, after a while it was not as exciting. Also, that constant cacophony of horns makes it harder to have a nap.
3. Tea bags
Is this too stereotypical? It might well be but it is definitely something I will miss. I really love Indian chai but nothing beats a good cup of English breakfast tea, made with a tea bag in a large mug. I am considering packing some PG tips and taking them to India with me.
4. My bed
I am not a great fan of the Indian bed. My bed in England is squishy and soft with a thick duvet and fluffy pillows. In India the beds that I have sampled are pretty solid. I am sure it is probably better for your back to sleep on a solid bed, but I will definitely miss my squishy bed nevertheless.
5. Public toilets
Within ten minutes of arriving in India on my summer trip, I was faced with an Indian toilet. I stared at that hole in ground for a good couple of minutes before concluding I didn’t have enough courage to attempt it. After spending five weeks in India still don’t have the technical skills needed to use an Indian toilet (I cannot describe the relief I felt when I saw the western style toilet in my husbands house- the only toilet I used for my whole stay). Living in India means that is it highly probable I will have to one day face the Indian toilet again. When I do have to use the Indian toilet, I intend to be prepared (after doing some homework).
6. Being invisible
When I ride on the back of my husbands motorbike in India, the other riders look twice if they see me and people in cars nudge the other passengers and point. It is quite uncomfortable to be stared at a lot. I don’t yet know how I will feel about this long term, I will just have to wait and see. It has become normal for me to be invisible in England, people tend walk around in their own bubble and it is rare to have eye contact or share a smile with a stranger passing by.
7. Knowing what is going on
I know very few Hindi or Marathi words and so whilst in India I rarely have any idea of what is going on around me. Are those people in the street arguing or agreeing? I have no idea..
8. Roast dinners
I have been asked several times ‘will you not miss beef in India?’, but luckily I am vegetarian (for the past five years) and so this will definitely not be a problem. I will miss a good roast potato though, crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. I will also miss homemade cake, a nice slice with jam, buttercream and a cup of tea. Bliss.
Indian cuisine has little use for ovens. I really wanted to cook my husband and in-laws an English Sunday lunch roast but couldn’t because of this lack of an oven. Whilst thinking of something to cook my Indian family I soon realised how much of the food we cook in England requires an oven. In the end I cooked a pasta dish for them (Italian, so technically not even English). My husband said, being the lovely husband he is, he would buy a small oven for me. So maybe my relationship with roasted foods will not completely end, but until we get this oven I will dearly miss those roasted potatoes.
9. The seaside
Nagpur is the centre point of India and so it could not be further from the sea whereas Britain is the tiny island where you are never too far away from the beach. The sand castles, donkey rides, ice cream, piers, paddles and puppet shows.
As a child the beach meant an exciting day trip and as an adult I found so much comfort staring out to sea. There is something so calming about the salty sea air. I lived next to the sea for four years whilst studying and I will miss it being able to go to the coast whenever I want to.
To anyone who is not familiar, Eastenders is a soap opera set in East London. Most of the time it is completely ridiculous and beyond outrageous but I love it. I have heard a lot about these Indian soap operas, it will be sometime until I can actually understand them but I guess until then imagine the story to match the pictures.
So for the next 3 days I will enjoy Christmas with my family and savour the small things before flying to India. A couple of months down the line it will be really interesting to think about what I still miss, what I no longer miss and the things I am glad I got away from!