I've moved way too many times during the course of my life. I've lived in New Jersey, then Texas, then India and then in Georgia. Pune, India, has been my home for six years, and it has truly changed my perspective on so many things. Now that I'm back to living in the U.S., however, I do think that there is a lot that I miss about living India and a lot that I really wouldn't choose to go back to!
I'm going to be traveling to India over the summer, which made me recall a lot of old memories, both pleasant and not-so-pleasant ones. Here's my take on the pros and cons of living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world!
The Things I Miss:
1. The Food
If there's one thing I cry about on the regular, it has to be the food in India. India has become such a metropolitan place now that you can get all kinds of food there- Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and American. They even have TGI Fridays!
The pizza pies are herbed and saucy, with just the right amount of cheese, the vegetables in the noodles are crisp, the paneer tikka is soft and spiced well and the food in general tastes fresher, tastier, better. I can't express the number of times I've drooled over a menu of a restaurant in Pune on Zomato, waiting eagerly for summer vacation so I can taste it firsthand.
2. The Hospitality
India isn't playing around when it comes to her luxury hotels. The hospitality and service that one is treated to in these hotels are just unmatched. The rooms are bigger and grander, the lobbies magnificent, and there is always someone ready to wait on you hand and foot, and serve (yes, serv) you food and a drink if need be. A stay at the Marriott in the USA is not the same as a stay at the Marriott in India (even though they are often priced the same). You'll feel like royalty when you're taken care of and pampered at an Indian luxury hotel. Once you get used to being treated like a princess, it's kind of hard to go back to doing everything yourself.
If you thought the U.S. celebrated too many holidays, get ready to be blown away by Indian festivals. There's always a celebration taking place, whether it's Holi, the Festival of Colors (pictured above); or Diwali, the Festival of Lights; or Makar Sankranti, when you have a kite race; or Navratri, when you dance till your feet give in.
Everyone takes part in the festivities, even young children and senior citizens. Festivals in India are very joyous and are often celebrated in a group or by extended family, as opposed to many festivities in the US being celebrated just by the nuclear family.
4. The Unity
5. The Proximity
I really miss being able to walk everywhere. When I lived in Pune, I had two huge shopping malls (one of which is pictured above) within a five-minute walk from my house. I could easily visit bookstores, restaurants, clothing stores, and movie theaters without having to get into a car, drive there, and then drive back. Even if you didn't live in a neighborhood as developed as mine, if you live in India, chances are you have a grocery store, a stationery store, and some sort of clothing store a few minutes from you. Most people have fresh groceries delivered to their homes twice a week and have people come home to do the housework and fold and iron their clothes. It is so much more annoying to have to drive all the way to Walmart yourself every time you finish a milk carton.
The Things I Don't Miss:
1. The Noise
India has a lot of people, and a lot of vehicles. A lot of vehicles almost definitively means a lot of noise. Apart from the whirring of motorcycles and auto-rickshaws, there's sometimes speakers blaring music on the road and the sound of a security guard blowing a whistle. If you don't mind a little noise on the daily, it may not be that bad for you, but I absolutely detest it. I much rather prefer the tranquil silence in the U.S. to the blaring noise in India.
I have already mentioned that India has a lot of vehicles. The roads are also pretty narrow, leading to a lot of traffic. Traffic jams are common and really make it difficult to get from one place to the other. I also really dislike the speed bumps and unevenness present in certain roads.
While catcalling happens in America as well, there is an added discomfort associated with wearing revealing clothing in India, and it usually results in being stared at by men on the streets. I do not generally feel safe stepping out in shorts or tank tops, even if the weather is in the high 90s.
India is a country located in the tropics, so it's bound to get a little hot. However, in recent times, the temperature has risen significantly, causing the pleasant weather to become extremely uncomfortable.
In India, there is a pressure to behave and dress a certain way. Of course, today's youth are switching it up and redefining Indian culture, but there is always an auntie (who you're almost never related to) who feels the need to remark that your parents should have brought you up better. There is also pressure to do well academically, to get into one of the IIT colleges, to get a high-paying job, to marry well and to have children (yes, in that order).
These looming expectations do create, to some extent, a type of pressure that is unpleasant to handle.
Even though I may dislike certain aspects of life in India, and adore many others, at the end of the day, I'm glad to have had the chance to live in both India and the US, and both countries have a place in my heart.