Rahat Fateh Ali Khan stored my feelings in this beautiful song – Main Jahaan rahoon –
Main Jahan Rahoon, Main kahi bhi hu, Teri yaad saath hai.
Kisi se kahoon ke nai kahoon, ye jo dil ki baat hai
(Wherever I live, Wherever I am, your memory is with me. Should I tell to someone or should I not? What’s in my heart)
This song gives a perfect desi vibe and for anyone who moves to the United States of America from their lovely land of Bollywood, it makes a whole lot of sense.
According to the 2010 United States Census, the Asian Indian population in the United States grew from almost 1,678,765 in 2000 (0.6% of U.S. population) to 2,843,391 in 2010 (0.9% of U.S. population), a growth rate of 69.37%, one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States. (Source: Wikipedia)
Before we get into the personal list of some of my favorite things and weird fetishes that I miss and most probably you will too, let me introduce myself.
I moved to the United States of America in May 2021 to live with my husband who lives in New York. It has been quite the journey and requires a blog of its own. you can check this story here. The USA or let’s say New York brought a lot of good changes into my life along with many moments of pure joy. But they say it right, you can take an Indian out of India and but you cannot take India out of an Indian.
I am guessing you are reading this because –
- You are moving out of the country
- Have already bit the bullet and are in your new country
- Have someone who has moved or is moving abroad
- You are simply interested in reading my blog for that I am utterly grateful for you
No matter what your reason is, Thank You for spending time with me today! Without further ado, here are 10 things that I and most Indians miss when they move abroad :
- Loving family & friends –
In an ideal world, no one would want to move 13,568 km away from their loved ones unless they have a reason to do so. But we do move and life is beyond just ideal; it is full of love, exciting changes, opportunities, responsibilities, dreams, and desires. No matter what your reason is, one thing that you are definitely going to miss is your family and the loved ones who are back home.
Though technology has become easy to stay in touch with everyone now. I wonder how people did it before Whatsapp Video calls. I remember this one time when I was in school, we went to the airport to receive my uncle who was visiting from Germany. As a kid, I loved the opportunity to visit the international airport in Delhi. Everywhere you could see people hugging someone and the atmosphere always has a lot of happiness. This time, I saw one old mom who was eagerly waiting for her son who was coming from the USA after 5 years. When he came out of the terminal, he ran and hugged his mom and they stayed like that for good 5 minutes, all while crying and hugging tight. It made everyone who was watching cry.
Now with WhatsApp video calls, you don’t feel the distance most times but still, there are time zone differences making it difficult to stay in touch with everyone at all times. There are other moments like sicknesses, nostalgic memories, big moments which make you miss the family you can’t see every now and then. As for me, no one from my family will be able to attend our wedding in the USA and that makes me really sad.
Oh, my rikshaw and the rikshaw wala bhaiya ( I am not talking about the auto here). If you have lived in New York City or you are coming here then brace yourself. You will walk a LOT and all for just basic reasons:
- Your subway stop is far from home
- Your grocery store is far from home
- Your gym is far from home
- You went for a walk and it started to rain – you don’t have rikshaw here so keep walking
- You went for a walk and your blood sugar dropped (if you didn’t know, I am a type 1 diabetic warrior)
No matter what is the reason, you will miss our nice riksahw wala bhaiya happily bringing the rikshaw for rescue.
Side Note: you eventually get used to the walk
- Ghar ki chai (Home made tea)
Are you a chai addict like me? Even if you are not a chai addict, I am sure you drink chai. If not then are you even Indian?
Listen, you can get chai in New York. There are many Indian restaurants and you can definitely make it at home with some tea leaves, milk, sugar, and ginger (if you fancy some) but there is just something different in the chai here. I am not sure what that thing is but my guess is milk. The milk that we get here is just different than what we get back home. In many ways, it is actually better than milk which we get in India but it just does not give the same taste we are used to.
Maybe we get used to this eventually but I can’t wait to go home and have some ilaichi adrak wali chai (Ginger Cardomom Tea) every hour of every day.
- Delhi Metro
New York City has a big subway system so do not worry you have the means to commute from one place to another. Now, New York is a dreamy, fun, happening, and exciting place to be but let’s face it, the subway system in good words is not up to the mark. It’s smelly, confusing, and just plain dirty. Plus, I can never understand what the subway conductor is saying (only Lily from How I Met Your Mother Speak Conductor)
If you have traveled in Delhi Metro, then you know how good the metro system is. Despite Delhi being dirty, smelly, and disorganized, the metros are neat, organized, and simple. I really miss it including the announcement –The next station is the botanical gardens. Doors will open on the left. Please mind the gap.
- Road Side chat stalls
Even before I say anything about this- You do get chat in New York and there is plenty of that here plus it is also is very tasty & much healthier than what you get in India. There are many food stalls and trucks here in NYC and all over America and even though I have not seen one which sells chat, I am sure it exists. You can still go to an Indian restaurant, specific markets like Jackson Hite, Little India in New Jersey, etc to have some desi food. (See my recommendation for good Indian food in NYC).
What you will certainly miss here is the fun of seeing the chat wale bhaiya on the streets banging their ladle on tawa to make an inviting sound that fills your belly with excitement. FYI- I hardly ate street food in Delhi but I still miss the atmosphere and my few favorite vendors like the daal moth stall in Rajouri Market, Chat stalls in Kamla Nagar Market, or my favorite Bhelpuri stall in Rohini.
- Famous Indian shopping markets with their hustle environment
YOU DEFINITELY WILL MISS THIS. PERIOD.
You can find the hustle in Little Italy, Jackson Hite, and even Soho but the whole fun of seeing millions of colors spread across the street in various forms can only happen in INDIA. ( Link)[S1] Few Indian favorite places that you certainly will miss are Dilli Haat, Sarojini, Rajouri Markets in Delhi; Colaba Causeway, and Lokhandwala Market in Mumbai; Bapu Bazar, Johri Bazar in Jaipur and I can keep going on.
- Bidet / Toilet Faucet / Jet Spray
This actually is on the top two in the list of things all Indians miss here but for aesthetic reasons, mentioning this at number seven.
You will miss this and I have no idea how and when will I get used to the absence of bidet in toilets here. Though there are hacks people use and I have mine (it’s a secret). Also, I know that when you buy your own house then you can install the bidet in your toilet but until then, either get used to the absence of it or find a hack that works for you.
- Washing machine in Apartment
This is specific to New York as I only know about New York. This may be the same in other parts of America too but I am not sure about the same.
Though in NYC, it’s very common for the apartment buildings to have no washer dryer installed in the apartment. Sometimes you see these as common appliances for the unit in the building basement or in the remodeled apartments. Most New York apartments were built in the 1950s which can not support the plumbing requirements for washer-dryers in the apartment.
A very common business hence in New York is of the laundromat. You see these everywhere along with people carrying loads of dirty/ washed laundry.
- Neighbors and their small talks (which you avoid when you are in India because of too much small talk)
This is more of a new-age modernization phenomenon everywhere. When I lived in Bangalore, I hardly knew any neighbours until an old aunty shifted next door and gave us her dosa platter.
That is an exception as most Indians have family houses where their grandparents and parents lived for decades and if you belong to one such locality then you know what I mean by “Too much small talk”.
Being an introvert, it was common for me to run towards my home from rikshaw to avoid a lurking aunty always waiting to make small talks. But even then, I knew her and there is a sense of familiarity when you know the people you live with.
I don’t know my neighbors and I definitely would like to change that. This does not mean that people are not nice here as they really are. They are just busy and people are very private so it might take a while to crack that conversation.
A common Indian way to meet your neighbors is by offering them something you made that day. Should I do that with the Japanese people living next door?
- Bollywood music
We do have Alexa, Spotify, and YouTube so there is no dearth of Bollywood music on demand. Though Alexa struggles to understand my accent, I have learned to fight with her to get my way.
What you will miss is the Bollywood beats in FM radio, Discos, Weddings, Weird remix jagrata (prayer songs) songs, Someone else’s car speakers, or someone singing and humming a tune near you.
My husband loves it when I put on my desi playlist and cook up an Indian Storm in our kitchen as at that time, I perform my Balle Balle te Amritsar Challe dance.
These were the top 10 things that I have been missing here and my judgment says you will miss them too.
They say that distance makes your heart grow fonder and I now know why all NRIs become so nationalist or why festivals are celebrated with much more sass when you are in a different country.
How did you like the post? What are some things you miss living away from your country?
Leave your lovely comment below!
I loved reading it, and while reading it I felt like you are narrating it to me . I could visualise you and your expressions as I read along .
Thanks Sunali. It’s really kind of you 😊