leeds university

#IndiaAbroad: Chapter 2: Living with people from different nationalities. Part 2: Abroad raheke bhi Indians ke saath kyu ghum rahe ho?

When BBQ died the vegetarian death
  •  “why are you always chilling with Indian people” 
  •  “AREEEE, you “only” seem to have Indian friends?” 
  • “You only have Indian Friends or what?”
  • “you don’t seem to have gelled up with International people” 
  • etc. etc. 

2017, April: 

I am sitting, very bored, trying to mug up American Drama or something to pass my undergraduate when my email notification pops up. A stranger has requested to view my Scholarship documents. I responded to the email asking who she was because  at that point of time I was working with a consultant to help me through my process of application and I assumed this could be somebody trying to process my application. Turns out, It’s another person who has chosen to study at the same university and is applying for the same scholarship but for a different course. 

Few days of chatting. She introduced me to a few people she knew were opting the same university for masters from India. From 1 to 7 to 134 the group expanded quite rapidly. Put together in whatsapp groups and many zillion mini groups and I was like…

Just Imagine knowing so many people when you are all set to venture into an unknown land. Truth Bomb:  I was of the opinion ki areey yaar kitne Indians jaa rahe h, I feel like I am not going to step out of India only. (Too many people from India, it doesn’t feel like I am venturing out of my country) I was cribbing, my friends back home would remember my cry about it but always receptive in making friends out of them or talking to them.

2017, July: 

Pre Departure, North India Version, Circa 2017

Over 3 months on whatsapp, we had all gotten to know each other almost by many things that would be quite surprising for a person you have never met knowing about you. As a procedure before we all started flying out, the university hosted a pre-departure meet to answer our questions, share experiences of alumnus from the country and of course a platform for all of us to meet outside whatsapp. Our first encounter and we were scolded by authorities at Nehru Place, Eros and asked to (almost) (very embarrassingly, yes) leave. And we all instantly realized, It’s going to be KICKASS YEAR!!! 

2017, August and onward: 

Everyone started flying out and began to do the process on arrival(there are just too many!!!) and over time and especially when I look back I realize how different the year would have been If I didn’t have these Indian folks during my Uni. From the people who understand from your language (Okay not always :p) to your culture to your food and your slang.

So, here’s 13 reasons why… I think you shouldn’t resist your Indian Homies abroad

1. They are the closest to home you have:

I feel as Indians even if we are born or bought up in nuclear families we are just too used to having people around us, pretty much all the time. Having people from across the world is great, I have lived with some of the best people from different countries and cultures and I wouldn’t have loved it differently. But simultaneously, Imagine a British Winter morning, you just wake up and you crave having samosa or probably a dosa with Masala chai or filter coffee with some company. I think the instant yes can only come from your Indian Homies. 

2. They put Festive in Festivals

As a complete desi at heart I think From Holi to Diwali to Rakshabandhan, Everything feels just very important to me. With all the social media around during festivals, when your Indian Clan is posting firecrackers/Colors to sweets etc and you’re just sitting attending a class. It hits you differently! But you can always depend on your homies who would make it LITT!!!

Diwali, 2017
Holi 2018, I am sorry for this scary picture

3. When everyone leaves for home during Christmas holidays, they stick by for a round of late night conversations, coffees and of course playing in snow!!! 

4. You aren’t alone to watch IPL or any other cricket matches. 

I think as Indians we are made to love cricket even if you don’t understand it completely. Its one of our prescribed set of emotions and What better than having 134 of your cheering from a club to the stadium altogether!!!!

Football stadium wali photo because cricket wali keechna bhul gaye

5. You can always talk about Food from your country without having to find words to explain

As much as I loved cooking different Indian things for my friends from all over the world and spending evenings talking about how its made and what’s it called etc but sometimes, you just want to sit and enjoy the meals you make with no explanation just, “Yaaaarrr tune idhar ka yeh khaya h kya bro?” “tu bombay aa?” “tu dilli aa?” “mein teko duniya ka best pani puri khilati hu, tu aa jaipur.”

6. Your BBQ’s will have paneer and mushrooms (hahhaa)

Vegetarian options on British BBQs are like Garlic in Jain’s food. You are just creating a pool of doubts on your existence, so you might as well just…

BBQ Party, Summer 2018

7. Bollywood music just isn’t about Mundian To Bach Ke

I love Spanish clubs and music. I could do them on most Friday nights but … I think nothing still beats a house party on Saturday night with kickass Bollywood music that starts with Punjabi tracks and ends on Sunday early mornings with Jagjit Singh. 

(Shout out to my Nepal Queen, Suruchiee for being the only one to remember the only Punjabi song played in British clubs)

8. Endless Chai and Sutta 

The kind of masala we love in our chai is just out of question for many across the world and getting people acquired to your kind of masala is one of the roadies task I don’t think i could ever sign up for.

9. Travel becomes crazier

Traveling is anyway like therapy for me. It gives me kick like people get from drugs. With your Indian fanatics on board, its crazier. I’ll tell you how- ABCD EFG HI… (if you didn’t complete this, hello fake Indian or Hi other nationalities,thanks for reading my blog!)

We went to a club one day in Leeds we ended up in York the next morning :))))))))))))))))))))

10. You learn so much about your own country

No jokes, before I had lived abroad, I had a very surface understanding of India. Been bought up and lived between Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai all my life. My understanding of the country as a map might be solid but very limited culturally. When I met people from across the country and not just the metro cities, I swear; my desi heart has just become much more curious and my appetite for culture to food is just expanding like ginger. 😛

11. You Learn Language from different Cities

India is probably the only country on this planet where the dialect changes every 10 kms. It’s crazy and impossible to know all of them but I have troubled my friends from Tamil to Telugu to Marathi to teach me. Original proof of me writing in one of those languages below.

12. No judgement for wanting to dance in rains

Random day when we all pulled each other in rains, followed by music, dance and football

13. Clubbing ke baad, maggie khane ke liye humesha log mil jaate h!

After college: 

98% of us flew back to India after our course ended.For almost 6-12 months everyone had a void due to the lifestyle we had adopted, the things we learnt to do differently and the way we started seeing ourselves. It was overwhelming at first but You know the best part amidst all that? From Kashmir to Kanyakumari from Maharashtra to Assam having somebody who could look out for you, go out on drinks with you, take you around their cities and sometimes really be your 3am aunt is so satisfying.

very iconic pose has been copied, if you know, you know. Agra, 2019
Simmy’s Wedding, Jaipur- Feb 2020
Trip to Pune, Feb 2019

We all live in different cities now but the things that still bind us, is the year we have spent making fun of our miseries and being chep to each other (Hahaha). I mean what better than having people who fill your voids from language, culture, food, festivals, and most importantly the acceptance of the fact that your chai has masala in it.

Note: I have been questioned endlessly on having way too many Indian friends while I was living in Leeds. This blog is extremely personal to me and I am aware of my perspective grown with my experiences.. It’s by no means to attack anyone who may feel otherwise. Hope you enjoy it.

About The Author

Diva Bhansali
Diva is a Manager-Communications and Public Relations for a consultancy based out of New Delhi. Mostly found relaxing (read: going mad chasing news cycles and clients) and being sarcastic, Diva is also an adherent lover of nature, coffee, reading, art and travelling. When not found doing any of the above, she can be found on Instagram sharing weird memes and life (read: live) stories.

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