For Indian women Marriage means a lot more than a pact for marital bliss for spending your life with your better half in perfect harmony. Instead it means an absolute upheaval of your complete lifestyle, learning to adapt to a new surname, leaving the comfort of home , the company of your friends and most of all being away from the people who love you the most in the entire world…your parents.
But for me it meant a lot more than all of this, since I was going to move out of the country right after marriage. I had no idea for what was in store for me.
The stories I heard about Europe were no comforting either, extreme weather, no authentic Indian food, a close knit European society, markets that closed at 5 in the evening, no getting to celebrate Indian festivals or enjoying your favourite sweets.
It was the day of my flight and I wasn’t sure if I was more stressed about being away from my family or the fear of an unknown country. I found myself wondering if I will be able to adapt to the extreme cold weather of Europe, make new friends, get my favourite snacks but most of all will I ever be able to call a new country my home!
Just as I was pondering over the idea of getting used to the European styled life waiting for a flight change at the Amsterdam International Terminal, I noticed the initials on a waste bag and it instantly put a smile on my face and warded off a lot of my fears.
At Amsterdam Airport Terminal: Never Realized reading a word in hindi could be so comforting.
Reading words in my own language made me feel more at home in this new country.
It was our first week in our new apartment in London and we had invited some friends for dinner when I realized I had run out of Gram Flour. My guests suggested I check out the International grocery section at my nearest Tesco shop (British food retailer chain). I was sure there was no way I would find this Indian ingredient at my adjoining Tesco Express(small Tesco outlets meant for daily essentials) but London again proved my fears wrong. Even the small Tesco express shop had a large International grocery section which really should have been called the Indian section since it carried nothing but Indian groceries right from garam masala to basmati rice, it had it all.
International grocery section at my neighborhood grocery shop offers full range of Indian products.
Not only that, I also had no difficulties finding my favourite Indian street food joints and every time I had my snacking binges, I would totally forget I was not in India.
Yummy Indian snacks with old styled Coke in glass bottles, you may not find these in India anymore but still sold the old way here in London.
We are living in a comparatively more British neighborhood with very less Indian population so I was pleasantly surprised as I saw lovely Diwali decorations at the reception area of my daughter’s nursery. This is what I found at the reception table today.
Books on Diwali, Sikh faith, Ramadan and Id-ul-Fitr lying at the reception of childcare nursery
Beautiful Diwali decoration at my child’s nursery, London
Books on The Sikh Faith, Diwali, Ramadan and ID-ul-fitr lying at the reception table.
The last two years I have witnessed and lived a little India every day thousands of miles away from the actual India on the world map. This Ganesh Chaturthi we brought Ganpati home singing and dancing with other hundreds of devotees and attended 7 days of enjoyable fest and celebrations at the nearby temple.
Dancing away at Ganpati Visarjan Procession, Slough temple , London
As I saw my two year old daughter proudly hold the Ganpati flag leading the procession, I wondered if I had been able to give her the same experience had we been in India where our Ganesh Chaturthi holiday was spent lazying around at home and watching news clips of Ganesh Visarjan happening in other parts of the country.
Not only did I host Ganpati puja for the first time in my life, it was also the first time I went to play dandiya at a gharbha night recently.
Crowded Gharbha night at Harrow , London
But that’s not all I have London to thank for.
I could hardly believe my luck when my husband surprised me with two tickets of the Shahrukh Khan’s Slam+ Tour with his ‘Happy new year’ team in London a week back. Watching my favourite Bollywood stars dance and entertain to the latest Bollywood songs in an auditorium full of crazy Bollywood fans I couldn’t believe I was sitting thousands of miles away from my home country.
An entertaining night with my favorite stars at the Shahrukh’s Happy New Year promotion tour concert 2014
The hangover from the concert had not even ended when the Diwali festivities totally swept us off our feet. Diwali is a busy time in London and the celebrations start almost a month before.
The events comprise of Diwali melas, Indian organizations organizing diya decoration, card making , face painting, archery workshops for kids, mehndi, stalls loaded with mouth-watering dishes and dance performances from the best Indian dance academy’s in London. The mayor of London hosts one of the best Diwali festvals in the heart of the city. Some pictures of the delightful event and some of the best dance performances I have ever seen live.
Diwali Festival 2014, Trafalgar Square London
And now if you will excuse me I need to finish my Rangoli for the society Rangoli competition.
Watch out for there’s a lot more India happening outside India now.