Thursday, September 29, 2011

journal day - "looking at all of the life you've lived so far, can you pinpoint one time frame or instance that you feel truly contributed to your growth as a person?"

Danielle at Sometimes Sweet has set another Journal Entry so here goes:

"Looking at all of the life you've lived so far, can you pinpoint one time frame or instance that you feel truly contributed to your growth as a person?  This may be a turning point, a positive or negative experience, a moment or collection of moments that stand out in your mind...something that changed 
you as a whole."

Firstly I'd like to apologise for how long this post is! I got started typing & couldn't stop! Yoink!

At the start of my second year at uni we were given the chance to lengthen our course so we could spend our 3rd year in industry. I jumped at the chance of gaining experience in the Textile world & when asked where I wanted to go I asked for anywhere abroad thinking I'd get sent to New York or Paris or Milan......but none of these came up, the only country on offer was India! I'd never even thought about visiting let alone living in such a different country. I'd travelled abroad but only to America & Europe, no where like India! I went home & discussed it with mum&dad as well as Art & anyone else who'd listen.

At first mum&dad were a bit nervous about it all. I guess it was a bit of a fear of the unknown, but once they thought about the valuable experience I’d get in the textile/fashion world & they thought about the great time they’d had on a teacher exchange to Oregon in the US, they really supported me. I went & bought a Rough Guide for India & read it every night. I'm not sure how confident I seemed on the outside but deep down I was so scared!

The last month before going was horrible, I'd have a knot in my stomach permanently as I tried to be brave about going. I've always been so close to mum&dad & had never been away from them for so long or so far away. The day before I was due to fly mum, dad & I stayed in a hotel near the airport & I felt so sick & upset to be heading off (even writing this now that horrible feeling is back & if I ever go to India with work from Heathrow Terminal 3 I get it there too!). The morning of the flight we went to T3 to meet up with Becca, Emhen & Nat (all from Lufbra) & Art came too. He gave me a card that I couldn't open till on the plane (& when I did boy did I weep, it still makes me tear up now!) & a photo montage he'd done of me with all my uni mates. It was so lovely. I put off going thru security until I couldn't leave it any longer & finally set off to meet the others who'd gone off ahead all excited & eager to get there.

The flight seemed to take forever, partly cos I was dreading it & partly cos the company we would be working for had paid for the cheapest option so there were lots of stop offs. That’s about all I remember of the flight & I don’t really remember being greeted at the airport & driven to our new home, I just felt numb & kept crying (I must have been so annoying seeing as I was the one who'd been up for it right at the start & needed more people to come along or else I couldn't go!).

The first month was so difficult. We were living in a little village called Bommasandra outside of Bangalore, South India. Our apartments were just like cheap Spanish holiday villas with one bedroom we shared between two. Outside were stray dogs, pigs, cows, beggars & every night we had a security guard who walked around all the flats blowing a whistle & banging a metal pipe on the floor to reassure us all was well, (it drove us mad at first but after a while it was a normal noise that was worrying if you didn't hear it.). Cockroaches were one thing I never got used to & poor Becca (the girl I was living with) would wake up to find little pots all over the floor where I'd trapped them but was too scared to do anything with. Our other regular house guests were geckos that were lovely & I often shared a shower with one.

Work was just down the road & I designed Woven Textiles for companies like Max Mara, Tommy Hilfiger & Phase Eight as well as furnishings with Becca. Everyone we worked with was so welcoming & we made some great friends & even travelled to some of their native places to meet their families.

Another side to Bangalore that I wasn't expecting was the nightlife. Fan (a French girl also working at our company) took us out for a drink at Cosmo Village one night & me being the mardy cow I was back then declared that I hated beer so didn't want anything to drink & just had a soft drink with no ice & no straw cos I'd heard you could get sick from both.

I spent a lot of the first week crying all night either on my own or down the phone to mum&dad or Art (until I maxed out my phone bill & they blocked it!). I don't know what happen in my mind to make everything change but suddenly after about a month I was happy. I saw India as the beautiful, colourful, friendly & exciting country it is & not just dirty, scary or lonely. The best/worst thing that happened to me was that I got a taste for kingfisher beer! My social life was amazing & much better than it ever had been (& probably ever will be), I went out about 6 nights a week always starting at Cosmo (either with the girls or not, sometimes I'd just go on my own & enjoy meeting lots of new people). Usually I'd walk in & one of the waiters would spot me, run off ahead & a cold Bottle of Kingfisher would be on the bar waiting for me to climb the steps to the 3rd floor. I had my own little Cosmo family too & the person who meant the most to me out there was Seamus, he was brill & we had so many hilarious nights.

Mum&Dad came out to visit at Easter & when they saw the place we'd been living dad actually apologised for making me stay each time I'd cried on the phone when I’d first arrived but by that point I didn't care, it was my home & I loved it so much.

After our 52week contract ended we had a month to travel, we started off as the original 4, then Becca & I went off together & finally I travelled a bit on my own which I never dreamt I'd be confident enough to do. My last week was spent partying in Bangalore with everyone before Seamus drove me to the airport & again I burst into tears. I didn't want to leave! Again the flight home was really tough & when I landed back at Heathrow although I was happy to see everyone I still missed my second family in India (who says women can never make their mind up?!).

Before I went to India mum&dad had told me never to turn down an opportunity cos you never know where it might lead & boy were they right. Seeing as I very rarely said no I met some ace people, saw places I'd never have seen if I hadn't pushed myself & also ended up with a job for when I graduated thanks to Seamus introducing me to someone.

Due to the terrible traffic I learnt not to stress out so easily over things you can’t help. If I was due to meet someone at 9pm but were still hours away stuck in traffic then chances were the other person was too & if not they understood & waited. I liked that part about me in India & I think I’ve forgotten to think like that now I’m in London. If the tube sits at the platform or in a tunnel for longer than a minute I start to get stressy & wondering why it’s stopped.

Although I went a bit OTT on the partying/drinking I had the time of my life. Being in a new country & socializing gave me a new confidence I never had. I think if I'd have stayed in the UK & done a placement there instead I wouldn't have grown anywhere near as much or had the confidence to move to London straight after uni & start my new life here. Also I’d have never started my little old blog so wouldn’t even be here right now (not sure if that’s a good or bad thing?!). If you want to read any of my posts while I was living in India (hopefully you’ll never get that bored!) they’re in the archive for 2005 from Jan – Aug.

Ttfn x

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the comment. You've got a new follower! I bet living in India was hard. It's such a different world there. I've always wanted to visit. It seems like great experience, especially in textiles. I always regret not studying abroad in college.