I live in Canada and happily so. At the same time I miss India especially when there’s a special day coming up. With colour and lights and decorations on every corner, it feels like home. Can a girl have two homes? I’m living proof she can!
Weird Things I Miss About India
The idiosyncrasies that I’m used to about India as soon as the plane touches down, the little oddities that are characteristic of the largest and most populous democracy in the world. These are the weird little things that give me pangs living on the other side of the world. Literally saat samundar paar.
1. The People. Really, my husband says! He could have less of the teeming crowds. The friends and family are great but the crowds on the street, yes it can get a little overwhelming. But those are not the people I miss. It’s the ones who drop in at home all day long. My kids love the ringing of the doorbell. It could be the Aunty next door (yes, random older women are called Aunty, live with it). It could even be newspaperman with a message, “I will be away tomorrow and someone else is going to deliver. So don’t blame me if you find the newspaper in the bushes.”
Such personal service! Each time the bell rings – it is a surprise!
2. The Amazing Food. Of course Indian food is awesome. But I am not talking about the run-of-the-mill awesome Indian cuisine. I am talking about the BLOW YOUR MIND vegetarian grub. At least 40% of the nation is vegetarian (some surveys put the number at much higher) that means the variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes even is so delicious that even hard-core meat-eaters like me don’t miss the meat at all. Well, perhaps the occasional juicy burger. In addition, for about 9 days in the year most of the nation is vegetarian (I couldn’t find any reliable stats and so I thought I will just make one up, based on my experience of course). These 9 days are called the Navratris and are usually during the fall when it’s the season to eat, dance and be merry. These days herald the start of the festival season and the food is vegetarian and amazing! The pakoda, parantha, golgappa, all vegetarian, my mouth is watering just at the thought.
3. The Festivals. There are at least a few of significance during the year. In Canada the only one we really celebrate is Diwali and the rest all kinda fall in between the cracks. It’s in India does one realise how important these celebrations are in bringing neighbourhoods together. Except for perhaps Janmashtami, the birth of Krishna which is an excuse for people to set up loudspeakers on rooftops and play religious music loud enough for the whole country to hear…at 4 am. Neighbours do not come together at this time.
4. The Markets, not the malls which are aplenty now. I am talking of the outdoor markets where you walk from shop to shop bargaining for colourful stuff that you feel you really must have.
5. Market stalls that sell fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers. Sometimes it’s less stall and more just a man with burlap on the ground and a whole lot of fresh produce. Markets like these are quite common where you everything is from within 100 kms. Quite possibly within 50 kms. The Eat Local movement that is gaining popularity in North America isn’t really a movement in India, more a way of life.
6. Mangoes – I try and avoid visits in the summer because of the 40 degree days. But if we do, mangoes make it all worthwhile. These are not the neatly packed Alphonso that you occasionally see in the ethnic produce aisle of your supermarket. Or the green and red Kenyan variety that looks so different but yummy regardless. I am talking about the Dussehri, Langda and Chausa variety of mangoes that are rarely found outside of India. My Canadian kids are happy to eat mangoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner if permitted. As am I.
7. The Recycling man (Kabaadi wala) who comes to your door with his cart. He will sort your recycling for you, pack it up and PAY you for it. What a novel concept found only in India, and it encourages people to recycle.
8. Wearing Indian clothes for no-good reason. A few trips ago, my then 7-year old commented why we needed to take so many of our ‘special’ Indian clothes.
“Will there be many parties in the two weeks, Mom?”
No, Honey, these are just regular clothes in India, you can wear them on a normal day.
9. The casual disregard for human safety. Whether it is riding a scooter without a helmet or a motorbike with three other people. Whether jaywalking across the road or sitting on top of trains in droves. Trust in God!
10. The sense of frugality where you can get anything fixed. A suitcase, a leather belt, an air conditioner. Really, anything! Throwing stuff away is just not acceptable. Reuse and recycle was the mantra long before the cool kids started doing it!
Things are changing, India is different now. every ear I see changes some good and some bad. I am fortunate enough to visit family and friends back in India every year
and perhaps I don’t get the same chance to ‘miss’ it as some of my friends do.
What do you miss most living away from India? Comment here or share on the @MapleandMarigold Facebook page so that I can see it.