It has been weeks since I moved to UK. And those who think UK implicitly means London are wrong. Because I am living in a city known as Ipswich (I feel the name has a Punjabi flavour) . If you think that all the cities in UK are similar to London, then it is a mistake. Ipswich is in no ways like London and nor does it aspire to.
When I was travelling to the UK I had decided not to write anything about how I am finding the new life in UK. I decided this because I never wanted to write something which has already been talked and written about. But last week something happened that made me think otherwise. I was chatting over the internet with one of my friends when she mentioned something which surprised me, or rather inspired me to think. I took a step back and looked at how change of residence has resulted in changes to me.
This is not about how clean one finds the surrounding, or how organised things are, or missing the feeling of water on your bum every morning. This is about somethings which are more subtle than these, which one misses to notice and slowly gets used to them. Hence I decided to write about these things which happen but nobody mentions. Also, this might act as a guide for people travelling to UK in near future.
Thanks to this friend of mine, I was forced to notice them. What follows is list of these unalarming things which if noticed are as annoying as Himesh’s voice, or probably more.
You will be born again
Yes. Coming into a new country is like being born once again. You need to learn the way of the land, just like a child would learn about the world. You will have to learn what to say if you want to buy a snack from a shop, how to get a bus stopped, how to open doors, how to switch on lights(believe me these guys are nut, they hang strings all around the place instead of using switches) and even how to cross roads. It takes a month to learn the denomination on the coins. You will find yourself being frowned upon by people in the queue while you are counting coins like a toddler. And it does not stop here, it goes on and on with addresses, doctors and what not. Those who have been here for a long time will either flash a patronising smile or will go nostalgic about how they were when they first came.
You will realise that you are a Superhuman
At least that is what the people will think of you. It is like Lord Hanuman discovering about his powers and abilities, as for quite some time even you would be in a state of shock when you find out that the amount of work you can do(or people think you can) is beyond the capacity of mortals. You will be expected to do double or maybe triple the amount of work that you would be doing from offshore/India. Moving to UK changes something, something in you which increases your capability, just like it happened with Superman/Clarke Kent. Superman hailed from a planet called Krypton which had a red Sun, but when he came to earth our yellow Sun made him a superhuman. But you are a far greater being. India is no krypton and even if the same Sun shines over India and UK(assuming it is not raining in UK) you will gain super strengths. So bring red underwear with you, in case you want to look the part as well. Up, up and away!
If you are not thankful to the people around you for the next breath you take, you will be
Thanking people is a national frenzy. I mean, it is good to be mannered and appreciating someone for some help is good. But, here it is at its craziest heights. You will find people thanking each other over and over, for things which should be done as part of their job. Even I do not expect people to thank me for doing my job. Either these guys are too humble or too sarcastic. It will be no wonder one day they will be thanking the key for helping them open the door, or the remote controller for letting them change the channel. I am thankful to the person living downstairs. Why? I don’t know why but I have to be thankful to someone or another, otherwise I will be considered to be rude. Thanks you for reading friends.
You will not notice when your phone rings
Why? Because you would have forgotten how your ringtones sounds. The number of calls that you get is reduced drastically (assuming like me, you don’t have a girlfriend) as most of your friends in India will not dare call you. It has happened a couple of times when others have pointed out that my phone is ringing. I simply did not realise and had assumed that it is somebody else’s phone. It can even go to the lengths of you forgetting how to make calls from your cell phones and you eventually forgetting what cell phones are.
You get to live in an art gallery
Ever heard about the theory of relativity by Einstein? It says if you move to speeds near values the speed of light, with respect to a particular point in space, you travel slower in time than the person at that point. In effect for that person the time seems to move very slowly when he looks at you. A situation can be reached when he feels time has stopped for you. Confused? Anyways no need to get into details, you can still feel the same and without any need to travel at the speed of light. You just have to look out of the window on an evening especially, if it is a Sunday evening. Before the clock hits 5 people rush into their homes, roads are deserted. If you look out of the window you may feel that time has come to a halt. You can keep on looking for hours without a slight movement of things. Not even a car passes or a bird flies by. It is like every window in your home has turned into a painting and you live in an art gallery with same exhibits every day. These are ideal settings for suicide enthusiasts. If you are on the edge and just need a slight push, it is too easy to find that. Melancholy finds it true meaning here. Every atom of everything mourns the end of the weekend.
You will come to know that Hate is love
Until I reached here, I believed I hated crowded places. I believed I don’t like chaos, but not anymore. It was the eve of the Olympics opening ceremony when I reached Stratford train station in East London. The opening ceremony was to be held at the Olympics Park just walking distance from the station. It was 8 PM and chaos ruled. The platforms were crowded like they are in India, the ticket windows were closed, all the gates were left open, station staff had no idea what was going on, and most of the commuters were asking each other about where to go and nobody knew. I looked around and I smiled. In midst of that chaos I found comfort. Never after reaching UK had I felt so comfortable. I almost cried. Few you would believe but I actually miss the street dogs. They are a great source of entertainment, when there is nothing to do, you can just peek out of the window and find them fighting, running, chasing each other. Their gang wars are the most exciting part. Here when I look out to the streets, there is nothing. NOTHING.
The worst one
As you all would have realised by now by reading the above content that you become a bore. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you resist, but eventually you become a bore. And this was what my friend pointed out and made me step back and take a look. Probably, the reason for this is not spending the same quality of time with your friends. The time that you spend with your friends nourishes your sense of humour. But once you miss on that, it you slowly start drifting towards what the world knows as boring.
So, any aspiring UK traveller out there should keep in mind that there are things which nobody will tell but which happen to you here. I would suggest you all to start going to yoga or meditation classes. It will prepare you. It will impart the strength to your mind.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti…