A Decade of Memories!
Disclosure: I was too young to remember quite a lot of the details from back then. This account may not be an accurate image of what actually happened. Do give it a read, its quite interesting ;-).
27th April 2005. 10 years ago today (assuming I get this out by then), I boarded a Yemenia flight from Mumbai, embarking on a journey that would change me forever. It was the first time I was going to sit in a plane, it was also the first time I would ever leave India and at that time, all that was running in my mind was to meet my dad.
Let’s start from the beginning; my dad had moved to London some time in 2004. For a year we had not met him and the only way of us communicating with him was the Yahoo! Messenger’s voice call functionality. When you use that with Dial-up internet, you know what internet struggles are. So by April 2005, I had completed Year 5 and my summer holidays had started. We had been preparing our passports and visas for this trip, so by the time my summer holidays started everything was ready. As with Indians being cheap, we booked the cheapest flight from Mumbai to London, and at the time Yemenia was the cheapest we got.
As we were leaving Mumbai, my extended family members were there to wave us goodbye before we headed to the check-in kiosks. When we got to the checking in kiosk they said that the ticket had to be “activated” before we could take the flight. And since it was our first flight, first flight from India to a different country and the first time my mum was travelling alone on such a long journey, she got pretty stressed. However, after a few calls, we got it all sorted out but it was a pretty terrifying experience for a first time flyer. So after the check-in, we said our goodbyes (the airport did allow people indoors back in the day) and after checking in, I had no idea it was going to be such a long trip.
After a multiple hour trip from Mumbai to somewhere in Yemen, we had a stop-over of about 6-12 hours (exact figures unknown). As with every Indian family, we took food along on this trip since it was such a long journey and rested at Yemen airport not knowing what to do for the stopover. Also, the fact that we are vegetarian and at most of the places, its hard to find vegetarian dishes. My mum knew some broken English, I didn’t know any (as I was a Marathi only student) and my sister was too young to understand most of the things. So instead of trying to figure out what we should do and asking people for help, we just sat there for about 6 hours waiting for our connecting flight to be shown on the board and the gate we needed to head to. I’d also like to point out at this moment in time, I was really scared of using the sitting toilets (the ones you have here in UK) as back home, we used the traditional squatting toilets, and this was going to be a problem for me for quite a while. After waiting for a long time, the flight to London finally arrived and we boarded hoping to get home soon.
After we arrived in London, it was the first time I was seeing different architecture. In India, all the houses have flat roofs which we can walk on, however here most of the houses are slanted. It was really nice and I remember not believing that we were in a different country altogether. It was hard to get grip of the concept of countries and cities when you’re just nine.
A few days (or weeks) later, having settled with London’s time zone and doing the little sightseeing, my dad decided to enrol us into a local primary school to see if we liked what they were teaching us, to see if the way the teachers were teaching was any better, to see if we felt better here. We started studying in May and me being a really nice, well kept, sensible student back in India, I did the same here. I was the most quiet person in the room, I used to ask the teachers if I could go to the loo, I used to do so many things that others felt were weird. But it was who I was and its hard to be someone you aren’t. We started studying in May and as soon as we started, we got a week off for half term. Then in the last couple of weeks before the summer holidays, we didn’t learn much but I started to like the place. I couldn’t speak English so communicating with the teachers was a big problem for me. There I met a friend who knew a little bit of Hindi and I would tell him and he would translate for me. There were a couple of Indian teachers around who decided to help me in studying English. When I started my primary school, the most I knew was “A B C”, “Sorry”, “Thank you” and “Hello, How are you?” Most of the things the teachers were teaching us went over my head, but having got so many holidays within the first month of joining meant that I liked this school much better than the one in India.
As the summer holidays arrived, we went on the first of our “holidays to India”. Since so far, going on a holiday to a different city/country was from India, not to India. to get a “leaving certificate” from our schools in India to make sure that we have completed the studying up until year 5. We spent the holiday to make sure we were ready for our time in UK. I went for some handwriting classes, and also classes to learn some English. I headed back to London, and for the first time I was leaving India to go and settle somewhere else.
So a friend of mine asked me to talk about how it would’ve been if I had not moved here. And to be frank, I do not know.
There is some part of me that thinks that had I been in India, I would have been more outgoing, more sociable and maybe more confident as most of my struggles in this country have been because of my English. I could’ve been closer to my cousins, my uncles, my aunts, my granddad, my whole extended family basically. But life doesn’t usually like to work the way you like it to. If I hadn’t moved, I would be just one of those lots of engineers coming out of India and would be struggling to compete.
But for the most part, I have enjoyed living here. I’ve had lots of opportunities which I most likely wouldn’t have got back in India; I have a job which I really like (before even graduating!), I have no fees to pay for my education, I am studying a subject which I really like, and most of all, I am pretty happy being here. I know the winters are too cold and the summers are too hot but the fact that I have options to do whatever I want, whenever I want is amazing. I could travel to any country, but this country itself is so beautiful that there is no need to be going anywhere else.
Anyway, I could go on for hours about this, but that’s it. Its been 10 years, thank you all for being a part of them. I don’t know what will happen in the next 10 years, that is for fate to decide. Thanks for reading and if you do have similar stories, please share them. Sharing is caring 🙂