I spent a week in Delhi to celebrate my 30th birthday.
It seemed fitting that I should finish the brilliant decade that was my twenties in this unbearably hot, dusty, endearing and formative city.
When I first moved there in 2005, with a suitcase, a journalism degree and a lot of idealism, I didn’t expect it to become home. I grew up there, became my own woman, discovered my limitations and my abilities, found love and understood my own courage for the first time. Over the years, I created my own family. Being a single child, I always rued not having any siblings. But Delhi has given me sisters and brothers. One week there after so many months has made me realise that I have met the most amazing people in my life. And what’s even more wonderful is that they love me back.
The first few months of expat life bring a sense of forced displacement, loss of identity and a feeling that you don’t know anyone, don’t have any friends and don’t really belong. So, to all the people who may be brand new and first time expats like me, remember:
You have a lot of friends, they’re just not in this country right this moment. This is just a sign that you’ve grown up
Just as in your own country you would be discerning about who you will or will not befriend, in your new country too seek out people who you like or find interesting — not just people who look like you or share your nationality.
Learn a local language and befriend people from different cultures. After all isn’t that what this experience should be about?
And most importantly, be forgiving to yourself. I have learnt this the hard way. It’s alright to be sad, or miss home sorely. It’s alright to feel like you are waiting for life to begin. It’s also entirely fine to want to kick start things by putting yourself out there. There’s no right or wrong way.
Finally, tell yourself not to look back, rethink your decision to move or live with a fire in your head that propels you to move back to your familiar places. If you put your roots down, this place could become home too.