Even when times are hard for me, I know very well that I’ve had it damn good all my life. It’s easy to bitch and moan about things that aren’t going the way we expected in our lives and generally speaking I think everyone does it. Whether you are old or young, rich or poor, single or married, employed or looking for work…from time to time, no matter who you are, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.
Well for me, I am back home in Barcelona fixing my employment visa because I changed jobs recently, which to be honest has turned into a much bigger pain in the ass and monumentally much more expensive endeavour than I could have imagined. Although I believe when I registered at the FRRO that the company I moved to India to work for was legally bound to help with repatriating me in the event this situation arose, they felt no inclination to help. Well, I guess I am not sooo surprised given the fact they never even finished paying for my daughter’s flight over and other things that are expected of an employer when they relocate me half way around the world…and then subsequently terminated my employment with 30 minutes’ notice (for more read here).
Like so many things, India’s way of handling visas is different from what I have ever known. After living in Spain off and on for the past 18 years I am not used to having to leave the country just because I changed employers. Throughout Europe, when you have an employment visa, you can then change jobs as often as you like until your visa expires. Then, if you’ve changed jobs, you’ll have to reapply using the new company’s details three months prior to the residency visa expiring. It’s pretty simple. But that is not how India operates, unfortunately, and I received a nice little letter a few weeks ago asking me to please leave the country and go fix this or stay out. And since India is so VERY MUCH my home now…here I am in Barcelona again…cuz a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
The time back in my village on the Mediterranean Sea has given me time to reflect on my new life in Bangalore though, and it’s interesting how the grass seems greener in both countries, but for VERY different things!!
First, after 5+ months in India I have pretty much grown accustomed to the fact that everyone – male and female, old and young – will take a peek at me out of curiosity (see my “what it’s like being tall, blonde, female” post). Over the past months, I have even forgotten that things used to be the opposite and that I was almost invisible in Spain, especially to men! Wrong or right, the fact is that Indian men pay much more attention to me than European men did…typically too much attention just so we are clear. At first I thought it was kind of cool after not having any attention in Spain for so many years. Then I realized quickly that the attention that I was receiving had nothing to do with me “the person inside” and that the men who were approaching me – for the most part – just wanted to hook up with a white girl. Although I am not interested in 95% of the guys who approach me, as a single girl I like having some options again, which is definitely something I haven’t had in years.
My friends here keep laughing at me because I’m walking around wondering why the hell no one seems interested in me, haha. Nothing has changed since I moved to India. So I have got to say that the grass is definitely greener in India because I will take ‘attention’ feast over famine any day of the week now that I know the difference!
Second, I can actually think here because there is no noise. Well, no constant horn blowing I mean. In fact, in the past 10 days I think I have only heard two or three car or truck horns blowing. The only comparison in India is when you are out in the country, someplace without a single car or road within earshot! It’s amazing and so absolutely quiet that there is no need for ear plugs at night. It’s possible and pleasurable to sit under the stars in the evening and have a lovely meal at an outdoor restaurant located on a busy thoroughfare. Granted I am not in a place with the insane amount of traffic that Bangalore has (friends, think Los Angeles at rush hour but on city streets because there are no motorways!), people still seem to function pretty accident-free even without polluting the airwaves, which is a wonderful change. It’s definitely going to suck BIG TIME having to acclimate again to the noise in India.
Third, I am in heaven running around in strappy sundress with my shoulders and legs exposed all day and night. I love watching groups of beautiful women in silky, short sundresses pass by knowing that I won’t see this again for a long while. And I am definitely over-the-moon feeling natural and NORMAL wearing a bikini in public again! My body is so happy to have the warmth of the sun on it….and it’s fun as hell to run from a lounge bed at the beach to the bar located right on the sand for mojitos, then into the sea for a swim, over to the showers to rinse off with fresh water and back again. Without covering up…which is the most natural thing in the world for someone who was born and raised in southern California. Two thumbs up for Spain!! I really do need to start spending more time at the pool at Leela Palace when I return!
Forth and last, I have to say that the growing economy in India hands down beats the 21% unemployment that Spain boasts today. When I left I think the rate was at 19% or 20% so it’s quite sad to see it increase. The whole reason I left Spain and uprooted the life that my daughter and I had was for the sole reason that I couldn’t support us anymore after being laid off from a job I loved back in May of 2010. It was impossible to find a job after that at my level here in Spain. So she and I went country by country and made a list of where we would most like to live our next adventure and India topped the list. So here we are…and I love the amazing opportunities that have presented themselves. My future is definitely secure and the IB programme my daughter is in is amazing – 80% of graduates receive scholarships to top universities (including UCLA where she wants to go)… so her future seems much brighter in India than in Spain too!
So the grass isn’t always greener in India but I have no regrets about the decision to move to Bangalore. I love it and my new career path. Love my new friends and the wonderful, gracious people I see and meet every day. And see myself being very happy in India for years to come!
© Angela Carson, 2011