Monday, 5 October 2015

October moods

The bright cheery summer has suddenly changed into cold, rainy, grey October.
It's windy and the skies are always overcast. It's been like this for a week. In the beginning, it's a refreshing change from the heat but then you wish you could see blue sky for once.

So, today I was really craving soup and then I thought I saw a little bit of blue sky for a few minutes and then I got out to go to the cafe and get soup and sit outside and enjoy the weather for a bit but by the time I got out it was just grey. And it was too cold to sit out and eat soup. So I just came back home with the soup and watched the garden and courtyard from the window. Well, the soup was delicious. I'm certainly having it again. Or maybe if I feel like it I'll try making some at home.
Well, a cold Sunday evening with hot soup, toast and a nice book - not too bad.

After all, you've got to figure out a way to spend time alone when you're an adult. I know I always dreamed of having my own place. I quite like it most of the time. But sometimes I feel like I really want an actual conversation with an actual person. Not virtually. I realize I go days without speaking at all. Other than passing 'hi', 'hello', and 'how are you' (which, by the way, I feel is overused around here and I still don't know how to reply). If you count all that it's maybe and average of a minute a day. Or sometimes, the only non-virtual person I've spoken to all week is my advisor at our weekly meetings. Even worse is the very rare conversation you have really pissing you off. And then I think - well I'd rather not be talking at all. And that's how it's been.

So yes, this is not what I imagined it would be like. I always imagined I'd have my own space, but also that there would be gatherings I would host in my small but prettily decorated apartment, and there would be good food and deep, interesting conversations. Not only have I not had the time for that, no one else has either so it's difficult to get people together at one place and time.

I think the bigger issue is navigating socially in a new country. Social norms are different. Maybe I read things differently. For example, the 'how are you' from a person you meet every day would be odd in India. It's only something you say if you're meeting someone after a long time. So when in doubt I just be as friendly and nice as I can but really, I can't get around it. But I see that people do make friends, very good friends. I don't quite know if I'll get there. I suppose we just take for granted that when we move to a new place we'll meet new people and make friends. We never even think about it. After all, isn't that what we've always done? From moving schools - elementary to middle school to a new high school, then new college, institute/job - all that. We've done it every single time.

I wonder sometimes whether all this is really worth it. Living alone, so far away from home. And then I need to remind myself where I am and how lucky I am and I have every research tool I could possibly want literally at my doorstep.
But even then. Is it worth it? Spending a Sunday evening alone, while at home I'd be sitting with my family drinking tea and eating muri-chanachur and telebhaja. Sometimes I feel like wow, what would life have been if I just stayed in Calcutta and got a job and made it back home in time for tea every day. Of course, it's a different matter that I'd need a PhD to do even that!
Well, it doesn't work that way. I worked hard to get here for a reason. And I also love the independence. I guess there's always a price to pay, anything you do. It will all never be perfect.

So yes, I sit alone by my window as dusk falls and the lights fade. But it is my place. My window. Everything I've put together from scratch. The computer, phone and Kindle, dining table, chairs, couch lamps and shelves I bought. And suddenly it hits me what a long way I've come. It's a different life.

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