Almost seven years ago, I boarded a flight with two of my college friends. I thought I was just going to spend the next few months exploring India and getting some work experience, but it was the beginning of a journey that forever changed my life.
The course of my life, like most people I know, should’ve been to graduate from college, get recruited from a job fair, possibly move to another city and — unless I had an epiphany after reading Eat, Pray, Love — continue along a safe career path. Things didn’t turn out as I expected. I took my business degree and ran to Mumbai, where I thought I’d party for a few months while doing a short internship.
After the internship, though, I ended up working for a luxury fashion magazine, later joined the music industry and now work at a film production company. In my free time, I write for magazines and blogs. “Normal” isn’t a word I associate with my journey.
I was extremely naive when I first started working in India. Since I visited the country often, I automatically assumed I’d blend in and settle down in no time — boy, was I wrong. The minute I started working, my Western upbringing surfaced like never before.
I couldn’t and still can’t fathom why it’s so difficult to get simple things like a cell phone number. I don’t understand why people have no sense of time management skills. My list of rants was never-ending, and I was really disturbed by all of this during my first six months of living in India.
Working in India is a challenge. On top of that try working in the Indian entertainment industry, where getting sleep is a luxury. After a while I realized that it was my decision to stay here, and I was going to find a way to make it work. There was no way I was going back to the U.S. hating the country of my ancestors.
Somehow, at that very moment, I was blessed to meet people who went from being good friends to becoming part of my family. That was all I needed to get through some of the toughest years I’d ever faced.
Why do I still live in India? I don’t know. When am I going to move back to the U.S.? I don’t know. My Dad is still trying to figure out how I’ve lasted, given he left the country 40 years ago for the same things I complain about on a regular basis.
But as complex and difficult as it may be to work and live in India, you will find just as much warmth as in the U.S.
Last year when my father fell ill, I wasn’t questioned on when I would return from the U.S. and get back to work — I was asked if I was okay and needed anything. That was the very first time family and friends in the U.S. said that I’m lucky I work in India and that the company I work for is so supportive.
They were right. I am lucky, and I will forever be thankful for my experience in India.