Saturday, March 27, 2010

My life after India...with India in my mind and heart though!

Well, yes, it took me some time to write this post... In case you didnt't know - I am home yet ;-)
I finally decided to write something after watching “Singh is king” in the cinema today (with Polish subtitles, finally I understood everything! yay!) I guess I just suddenly missed my colorful Indian life! Additionally, I just realized I left Mumbai exactly a month ago! On 27th of February! Good day for some summaries!

I had some doubts… this is a blog about me in Mumbai, about me in India... not about my life in general... However, if you spend 8 months in one place, totally different from what you have been used to, amazing, scary, exciting, wonderful... you won't let it go from your life once you move to another place. Places like this stay with you. India will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life. And since for me places are about people - people I met in India will always remain the ones who were there during some of the greatest moments of my life...

India, people, me... so now about me. Have been recently reflecting upon what exactly has changed in me over this period of time. What have I learnt? What have I understood? Plenty of things actually.

Enjoy your life
There are billions of people in this world who are in a much worse situation than yours and...they still enjoy, they are happy with what they have, they are just glad they have something to eat or they found the place to sleep.

Enjoy your life. There are always some things in your life that should make you think you are the happiest and luckiest person in the world! They are not always obvious, keep searching!

Things happen for a reason
I wouldn't have gone to India if the PAI had selected me to his team. I keep saying he made the best decision in my life actually. I wouldn't have had such amazing flat mates if Maria hadn't been leaving India when I had come there. I wouldn't have had such an amazing job and colleagues if I had kept insisting on working for "the brand I know" (lol), I wouldn't have chaired NLDS if the actual chair had got his visa, I wouldn't have had some of the great adventures if the bus on the way to Goa hadn't broken down, I wouldn't have seen Shimla if Anca hadn't have found Sandeep on couchsurfing...

Whenever you think life sucks and all the things in this world are just against you - remember - things happen for a reason! Your turn will also come soon!

(In case it still doesn't work you can also check: - also learnt in India - thanks Meenal :))

Treat everyone equally
It's funny how I learnt this in India, the country which is built on the divisions. Different casts, languages, religions, states, cuisine, festivals - either you treat everyone equally or you keep fighting with the entire society because it's bound that each person you meet will differ from you by at least one of these factors.Amazing… It's not easy. I have seen many examples of people treating chai wallas in a worse way… But I just made this promise to myself I will never be like this. Leaving the country I knew people will remember me as a friendly person – not only my colleagues, bosses, friends… but also drivers, chai wallas, street sellers.

Treat everyone equally, although so different we are all people by the end of the day!!!

People are GOOD

I am not saying this because I am generally nice to people (this is what some of my friends say) but because I truly believe it is just better to assume people you meet are good. It makes you feel better and happier. Of course it's not about trusting everyone in 100% but it is about giving them a chance instead of assuming they are bad and stupid.

If you start with the assumption that people are good I am sure they will surprise you..because they actually are! It happened to me so many times in India! So many riksha drivers that turned out to be most helpful, my colleagues who were there for me all the time, people I met traveling (this is like a big group of the best people in the world!, people randomly met on the street who seeing me lost would just offer their help without me asking for it! Yes, people are GOOD!

Don't judge

Those of you who know MBTI test would understand what J in the sequence of four letters mean. So, this is what I had been before going to India - a strong J - judger. Yes, I would have judged people by the way they look, the way they speak, the work they do. I was like this, really. And then I took the test again, while being in India and you won't believe it - it turned into S - sensing!
If you were a judging person in the environment which is so different from yours you would just go crazy! You can't think guys holding hands are gays because this is a regular way guys in India behave when they are friends. You can't judge people by the way they nod their heads, by their language, religion. You can't!
Spend time with people before formulating an opinion about them. Give everyone a chance. Don't look at the world with your mindsets, your own lances. Open yourself. OK, I know it sounds very pompous now but I think open attitude was one thing that kept me going all this time in India. If I had been closed I would have run away after 2 days. If I had kept looking at things with my European eyes I would have gone mad! You have to try and understand how the others think, behave and why they do so. Only then you can say you like/don't like this, you agree/don't agree, you want to behave the same/you don't want to.

Well, I have definitely become less judging. I am not saying it is good or bad… but I think life is just easier this way.

Me – more interdependent

Going for an internship abroad you usually expect to learn how to be more independent, manage your life on your own, deal with your own problems or become more self driven... Funnily enough it has been quite opposite in my case...Knowing me a bit better you would know that I have always been very much self sufficient. Asking for help is not in my nature, making fuss about my problems is something hardly happening in my case... I would rather solve my issue on my own and once it is done I would inform everyone "there were some problems but they are sorted out already, so there is nothing to worry about". Being put in a totally different environment and facing problems you would never face otherwise somehow pushes you to ask for help…and it is actually nothing bad! There are people who just know some things you don’t know and can help you with problems you won’t be able to solve on your own!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not about showing you are weak. It is about accepting some of the very basic functions of the society - we live together for a reason, we have different skills, capabilities, we come from different backgrounds to support each other and to learn from each other.

Me - more self confident

It is really easy to become more self confident in the place where you are just a different one . Why? People will always ask you for your opinions, they will always look for this “different perspective”, they will usually include you in some discussion just to learn what you think about the particular topic or how it looks like in your country. Being put so many times in the situations when someone would just randomly ask you: “What do you think about it?” teaches you how to formulate your opinions, how to be able to sell and explain them better, how to say politely that you actually don’t agree.

If you have something to say – just say it! Voice it out! There is nothing wrong in being wrong…actually even if you are wrong maybe you can just inspire someone to look at the problem from another point of view!

On a less serious note (this is mostly for girls;-) being a white girl in India makes you also more confident as a woman :-) You are the admired one, being compared to Karina Kapoor and always being noticed in the club. Whenever you go out you can be sure there will be someone complementing on your “wonderful blue eyes” or “silky blond hair” (you don’t have to be blond actually to hear this kind of things ;-) Lots of fun! (And free drinks:P)

O.K. This post is getting to long, I hope you managed to get through the entire thing ;-)
What’s next? I definitely learnt lots of things in India… I miss my colorful masala life sometimes… How can I bring it here? How can I live my Indian learnings in Warsaw? That’s the challenge for now! Chalo!


  1. Ela!I got the impression that you became more mature person too!;-) Such often takes people entire life to reach such learning points. And you drew them at a quite early stage of life! I am jealous because of that ;-) and of course my sincere congrats to you!

  2. After reading this post I think many people would decide to go for an internship :). I don't think that "things happen for a reason" but it's rather about noticing and taking advantage of opportunities and the way we respond to the things that happen to us.

    Anyway, it's great that it was developing for you. Now just do it :)

  3. Ela! I'm truly impressed! Your post made me look differently on what I'm going through in Jordan! Great food for thoughts and I'm very happy to see you are content about your past experiences and where they brought you!
    Thanks a lot!

  4. Excellent post Ela! Im glad that with experiences both good and tough, India was in someway able to make a difference to your life and way of thinking...being in a alien environment can be very tough sometimes (trust me, iv now spent 2 years in europe) but the most important is to have the right attitude! and you seem to have made the most of it...wish you the best!

  5. Actually, this post is worth to be published in some famous and expensive magazine or newspaper)))
    And I don't know if it is because we both were in India or something else but I can subscribe to every word mentioned there.
    Thank you=)

    Olena (Ukraine)

  6. that's so cool, Ela :) wow, this is a I am an AIESECer story!

  7. Thank you all for the comments and mails!
    I am glad you got some inspiration and good thougts after reading it!
    Keep searching, you are surealy the luckiest people in the world as well! :-)
    Sergio,feel free to use it :-)

  8. hey ela

    reading ur blog after a long time!!

    great posts!!

  9. Not all of India behaves the same might be surprising there are places in India where people get treated equally..For a different experience, please check states in south like "kerala"

    More about Kerala state..

  11. I have read it just now and i think that in fact things do happen for the reason - i couldn't choose better moment to read it. So valuable words!! Greetings from Cairo.........

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