Babies & Temple Bells

I’ve spent many hours sat soaking up the tranquil vibes on the marble floor of temples. I used to be a bit apprehensive and nervous to enter, fearing that someone would turn around and say, “hey, Lauren, you absolutely do not belong … Continue reading

About Nagpur

I think it was the third time I flew to India, I was about to step on the plane when the woman checking boarding passes (who worked for Air India) asked if Nagpur was in India. I think she had to check that everyone on the flight had a valid Indian visa if India was their final destination. Nagpur is rarely in the news and I guess it is kind of small. Many people I know have never heard of the place. Seeing as I write about my life in Nagpur, I think it’s about time I dedicated a post to the orange city, so you can become better acquainted.

city of orangesNagpur is the geographical center of India, it’s smack bang in the middle, and famous for it’s sweet oranges and extreme summers. The biggest disadvantage of living in Nagpur (in my mind) is the debilitating heat from April to June. Whenever I mention Nagpur to anyone who does know the place, this is what they usually bring up… the sweltering temperatures!

I have heard Nagpur be described as a city sized village on several occasions. I guess there must be a bit of truth to it, McDonald’s hasn’t descended yet, it’s pretty quiet and everyone seems to know each other. The majority of women wear a saree everyday, most people prefer to buy food from the market over the supermarket and foreigners are a rare sight. I assume Nagpur hasn’t changed very much in the last couple of years, which I find charming (and, sometimes frustrating).

vegetable wallah

lotus lake inspiration

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There are not many obvious tourist attractions here, but the city is very green, has several lakes and hundreds of beautiful temples to discover. If I wake up early and take a walk, I see ladies drawing rangoli on freshly washed doorsteps, cows being milked and children holding hands as they walk to school. There is a strong feeling of community, the entire city comes out to celebrate festivals together, it feels like everyone gets involved.

funny ganesh

Nagpur Ganesh

Due to the central location of the city, there are people settled here from across India, so there are many cultures, many festivals and many tongues. Most people speak Marathi, even if their roots are in another state. It wasn’t long until I started to recognise the different districts. The British built government building of Civil lines, the artisan workshops of Chitaroli, the bustling market of Birdi and the jungles of Seminary Hills.

If you step out of the city, you are greeted by rural Maharashtra; bullocks pulling ploughs, orange groves and jungles where tigers dwell. Nagpur is also known as the tiger capital of India, there are a couple of beautiful nature reserves close by, where we were lucky enough to see a tiger along with many other beautiful creatures.

This is my home, a small city with a lot of sunshine.

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Advice: Mother Doesn’t Support My Decision to Live in India

Dear Lauren, It has been my dream since childhood to live in India. I have lived my whole life in the USA and I visited India for the first time last year and confirmed my love for the country. I met a boy who I would consider marrying. I’ve tried to mention this to my mother and she screamed at me and said I’ve ruined her life and have to stay in the USA. I have Italian citizenship, so either way I’m going to leave the USA. My dream is to settle and marry in India! What should I do? Should I just not tell my family? They are mean and don’t understand my deep feelings.

Anonymous Reader

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I’m sorry your mother feels this way, it must have heartbreaking to hear her say that! There are a couple of things I would like to talk about. Firstly, visiting India and living in India are two very different experiences. The first time I came to India, I stayed for five weeks and thought living here would be a little hard at first but I would soon feel completely at home. It actually took me about two years to really feel settled in India, to understand the cultural divide enough not to get frustrated at absolutely everything that didn’t fit my expectations. Have you considered coming to India for a prolonged stay before moving?

I’m not sure if I am mistaken, but from your message it seems that you are considering marrying an Indian so you can live in India. Please, don’t marry someone for this reason. If I have misread your message, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. When you move abroad for love, it’s of paramount importance that your spouse is supportive, understanding and open to discussing the dynamics of the country so you are able to learn and understand where you are both coming from if cultural conflict arises.

Finally, your well-being will be your mother’s priority, even if she is hurting you now, it’s most likely because she is worried that you will get hurt in some way. She might have preconceived ideas about India and be confused by your decision. Give her space and time for it to sink in, it would have been a huge shock. Not only that, she will miss you.

My advice would be to visit India again before making a permanent move, to get to know this guy better and to give your mother an opportunity to make peace with the idea. Perhaps try to find an internship or something similar. I wouldn’t just leave without telling them, it’s best to be honest and to try to reassure them that you haven’t taken this decision lightly. If they still don’t support you, at least they know where you are. Sending love.

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Dear Readers, Do you have any advice, experience or a fresh perspective to offer? (Helpful and respectful comments only)

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Easiest isn’t always Happiest

It was my 27th birthday yesterday, and what a year it’s been! I can safely say, the best year so far. Far from the easiest, but definitely the happiest. Whilst I was 26, I built stronger bonds with family (in England and India) and broke bonds with unhealthy beliefs about myself. I have learnt that seeing your child in pain is more painful that childbirth. I have learnt how important it is make a life long commitment to learning and to make lemonade out of those lemons.

My birthday last year involved morning sickness. I later started to watch my stomach grow and grow, then wiggle and squirm. I faced a tough decision on whether or not to stay in the Indian Summer or return to England to give birth. We had a beautiful baby shower, a heartbreaking goodbye and long haul flight. I spent two days in labour, two hours pushing and two months in with my family, making happy memories, before flying back to India (to make a few more).

 

I’ve felt the sting of guilt when taking my baby away from a family who adore him and the blissful sigh of relief when reuniting him with his father and family who cherish him. An international marriage is not easy, there are many disadvantages. It’s been a tough road, and continues to have its bumpy days. But, where is just so much I would have missed out on if I didn’t take that leap of faith.

my-sister-and-i-babywearing-in-india

To this day, I’m still surprised that I met someone so special on the Internet. This year I realised if I hadn’t moved to India for love, I would not have faced the challenges that helped me learn, grow and heal. If I hadn’t moved to India for love, I would not had the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am proud to be today.

Someone close to me told me, before I moved to India, it would be easier to marry someone from England. Easier? Probably. Would I have been happier? I doubt it!

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If you want to help me celebrate my birthday, please consider making a donation to Women In Need. A charity based in the city I call home, Nagpur.

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