I thought, I will start this post by throwing my postcode on your face, I live in west London, in a large two bedroom purpose built modern flat with good furniture, wardrobe so big that a couple can make babies in there and I have five of such, two balcony, communal garden, parking, garage, and if this is not enough to rub you in a wrong way, I left my job which cost me good half a dozen lakhs in mere three months!
This is exactly what NRI’s with American or Not-Blue passport used to do with the RIs at work when I worked in Bangalore. They would return after staying in America for a decade, make babies such that they are strategically aligned with their green card application, buy an expensive property in the outskirts of Bangalore and ten other cities, show you the blue print of the architecture of all their Villas, go on family trips to Monaco which I thought was just another biscuit that tasted good with tea and I can go on and on. When you see how things can change after spending few years abroad or in foreign land, you wonder, may be it is not a bad option to earn some good money and enjoy the strip clubs. Exactly, it is so not. However, I will tell you what not many will, in the name of staying abroad!
I would be quoting real life examples some people I know in London, and some incidents that I have heard or witnessed.
When people move to bigger cities, do they tell you that they stay in shared accommodation? A shared accommodation is nothing but PG or shared flat sort of accommodation that we have in India. You can visit this website and see what I am talking about. Usually, a shared accommodation works out cheaper, helps you settle down before you eventually move to your own rented accommodation and start uploading the photographs on Facebook or Twitter.
Not everyone will accept this; some may even object to this in the comments section, some may say shared accommodations are not that bad however, the truth is shared accommodations are not good. You have no privacy, you do not necessarily live with just women or men, there could be couples, singles, men, women, homosexuals, bisexuals and that is the culture here. Men and women stay together and they do maintain their much needed distance. However, women do walk in the house the way they like, be it in a towel.
You can see Indians, Colored and teenagers shopping at Primark which is similar to our Big Bazaar. Shopping at Primark is not anyone’s dream shopping, it is considered low class, the clothes are not the best quality, however you can buy almost anything at a throw away price. A t-shirt can be as cheap as 2£ which is even cheaper than Indian brands. Movies, how can Bollywood lovers live without movies?
East London, Wembley, Harrow are Hindu areas. You will easily spot an Indian there speaking in Hindi and some do not even look “posh” compared to some of the couples I know back in Bangalore. I know someone who used to hide food in the handbag and eat in movie hall because they knew the guys will not check their handbags.
In India, the handbags are checked for security reasons and chewing gums or food is not allowed. Here, some do notpay for popcorn they bring it in their “purse” and later show off to friends how they saved 10£. I was actually advised to do this by the same couple I blocked on facebook!
Coming to mode of transport now, we had two bikes in Bangalore. I was scared to ride my bike in Bangalore and I used to call a cab to go to my work place, which was not even 4 miles away. Later, I did learn to ride the bike and stopped calling cabs, however here in London; one cannot afford a cab on a daily basis. People walk, use the public transport, and behave decently even when the girl sitting next to them is wearing a bikini.
When I moved to UK, my husband worked in Cardiff (Wales), he worked for a decent company, was decently paid, however we have had lost a lot of money in the process of moving to the UK. My Visa was rejected once and many such expenses which lead to a loss of good three lakhs. We are not rich. We are from decent families, middle class, nothing fancy. However, since the time I entered software industry, I have only spoiled myself.
No responsibilities, no children, couple with double income. I lived a luxurious life in Bangalore, luxury as I know it, not as Paris Hilton knows it. I have lived in Bangalore, Hyderabad and I had two maids after I got married. And yes, I call them maids because that’s what they are. So what if they cleaned my house or cooked for me, I respected them, allowed them off time during their days and appreciated that they are working women, just like I was. I used to call a cab whenever I liked, I ordered Pizza whenever I liked, I dined at Leela Bangalore and life was smooth till, I fell for the foreign land dream.
Those who have been reading me know that I do not judge if someone walks in a towel or have to stay in shared accommodation, I myself have stayed in one when I moved to UK; you simply cannot afford anything else till you get a job.And I know someone, who actually has been sleeping on someone’s floor to save money. It is a true story; I am not making it up!
I have shopped in Primark, because it was cold here, I did not have a jacket and Primark is the only place where I could find a warm jacket in just 6£. I still have that jacket and it is warmer than the coat I bought for 120£ later when I started earning. I used to walk to work, which is one mile, had I been in India I would be riding my bike which is rusting back home for I lost the papers to an agent who was supposed to get the NOC done.
I walked when it rained, I walked when it snowed. Back in Bangalore we wore raincoats and rode the bike or yeah, called a cab. I had a problem with auto-guys because I fail to bargain and they charge more than a cab. I watch movies in London, however once in a blue moon; the frequency of stepping in a movie hall has dropped drastically since I have left my job. We did buy the popcorns and nachos, but that too when both my husband and I worked.
If you go for a movie, it easily cost you 30£ as my husband has to book it in VIP section which, wait a minute, in no way is better than PVR Europa or gold class, yet they charge a bomb. I have never owned a car, I may not be able to afford one here because of the insurance, and the fact that we are on one salary now. Above all, I am my own maid. I clean the house, I cook, I make my own tea, coffee and sometimes I bake pizza too.
The problem I have is people do not talk about these things. Staying abroad, you want to showcase a brighter, happier, richer picture to everyone thus letting others know that one time you shared the house with housemates and cleaning too was everyone’s responsibility, Indians back home will have a good laugh, would you like that? How will you? You are an NRI. How can a NRI laugh at you?
Back home they order pizza, here women start baking and flaunt that too as a hobby! Back home, I used to visit the most expensive salons and spas, here I cannot afford, not until I start working again.I have actually not treated myself at the best spa yet. Life is not as bad as I am portraying here, but it has been better if not worse. Things certainly change. You clean your own mess in foreign land, you behave, and you keep your eyes, hands and mouth in control.
You do not submit fake bills. You move to a location where you think the colored population is less and yes it is true! Some of the families I know moved to Indian locations in London because they do not want their kids to learn mother fucker as soon as they are five. Call me racist if you want to malign the genuine facts of this post but this is how they talk.
It is very easy to save money, make money if you do not maintain a certain lifestyle and not everyone maintains a life style in a foreign land. Now, after spending a year in London I have recovered and lived the way I liked and lived in Bangalore. We were back to our larger-than-life lifestyle, again my larger-than-life not Paris Hilton larger-than-life. And then, a follow your heart philosophy hit my head and I left my job.
Today, had I been in Bangalore, I would have had the maids and easily afforded with one salary. Here no matter how much I earn, I would still be doing my own chores. Once I get back to work, we may buy a car, however only if we get the driving license which some people get after 4-6 attempts and a lot of money. In India, I got my DL without even signing on it. I love India, I love Bangalore more than I love my hometown, I love every bit of it and yet when I tweet or post I do not like Anna, people call me names and say, what do you know, you live in London.
London is just another tough city, if you think it is English, we Indians are actually ruling this part of the woods now, no wonder they have stopped the visas. Truth be told, I want to go back however I am still here. The purpose of my visit is not yet over, I am yet to make good money which I am yet to understand, how good is GOOD enough. Once you are a non-resident you already are in an area of no return.
I am Indian as much as I used to be. I have not colored my hair blonde, the only thing that has changed is an extra please, thank you and sorry in my conversations. My life style is not as high-maintenance as it used to be. I am richer now by few lakhs but trust me no one understands luxury and customer service as well as we do back home. The Indians, who have been living here for ages, are as desi as we used to be two decades back.
Their children are actually confused. I will come back however if I will return I do not know. As I said, once you are a non-resident you are in an area of no return already. There will always be a what-if that will trouble you. I am no fancy book writer who has to up-sell a book through this post or someone who writes for NY Times, I am just another brown skinned woman who loves her cotton kurits and kolhapuris, who wanted you all to know, they show you what they want to show, they do not show the reality. There is always a darker side to a story that is told, keep that in mind when you talk to that NRI.
A human, a woman and a writer! She loves everything extravagant and exaggerated. She is petite with not-so-petite dreams. She works for money and write to live. All-in-all, a woman with a strong opinion and fire inside! She blogs at http://chintangupta.blogspot.com.