Practical Realities of Living Abroad
This post is for those of you who might be feeling that I am living a glamorous and exotic life in the sunshine, while you suffer the ignominy of daily life. This is to reassure you that my life is not glamorous, at all.
I’ve recently realised that there’s going to have to be a sea-change in my cooking and eating habits, which were hardly outlandish to begin with. But it’s more potatoes and rice for me, which are Rs 19 (24p) and Rs 30 (38p) respectively, and less pasta, at which the cheapest is Rs 140 (£1.75).
The reality is that without paid work one’s budget can only stretch so far, and I’ve already paid all my rent for six months, in advance, for a slightly more expensive flat than ideally I was looking for. (But the location paid off, as it is very pleasant, being so close to the sea, and parks, and very easy to get to places and find the things I need.) However it does mean I have to budget very carefully now. And pomegranates, which I have inconveniently discovered a strong liking for, at Rs 90 (£1.12) each, will have to go entirely!
I do most of my laundry by hand, in a bucket in the washroom, and take my nicer clothes to the laundry where they are dry-cleaned. I bought my own iron, and iron on my bed. I walk to most places instead of taking a rickshaw or taxi, unless I need to get there in a certain time, or am carrying luggage. As usual there is a quick and convenient way to do things, and the cheaper, less convenient way that takes more time. I however do have the time – time to walk instead of taking a cab, time to look at things properly, consider and reflect. I live in a building without 24 hour water, but this is not really a problem once you get used to it. I have a very basic flat, with one little portable calor-gas stove ring, and I cook all my meals in one pan. I realised that I have Rs 5000 (£62) to live on for the next three to four weeks.
I know that this is not how everyone would choose to travel, or spend their time abroad, but I wanted time. Time to do the things I didn’t have time for in the treadmill of working, commuting and ordinary life in the UK, and the opportunity to be somewhere else, on the other side of the world, in a different time-zone, climate and culture, and seeing India.
So this is what I have chosen, but it is not the high life, only an interesting one. And one that brings me some fresh vision or perspective, and teaches me something new, every day.