Have you heard about the five stages of grief? It starts with denial, followed by anger, then bargaining, depression comes next, and lastly, acceptance. I think I’m in the second, third and forth stages, all at once.
Azri and I researched a lot about Kolkata before we reached here. We only knew a few friends who had travelled to India, and even fewer who had been to Kolkata, so we relied heavily on the Internet to know more about the city. That said, no amount of research and mental training could have prepared me 100% for the culture shock that I experienced.
Left: Weather in Melbourne; Right: Weather in Kolkata
When my friends texted me to ask what how I was the first few days, I was in denial mode. I was going with the flow and just taking in everything, psyching myself all was good. It didn’t matter that the sun was scorching hot, all was good. It didn’t affect me that rubbish was strewn everywhere, all was good. And it didn’t bother me that people didn’t smile back, all was good.
Okay, maybe all was good. Maybe I wasn’t psyching myself, maybe I was actually enjoying the different environment. Because I did feel happy and excited. But ugh, pessimism crept in sooner than expected: When it dawned on me that this is not a short holiday but will be my everyday life, I wished I was back home in Singapore.
Top: My Melbourne girlfriends and I hugging my old chic kitchen island goodbye; Bottom: My new kitchen.
I suppose the one main thing that is making me feel highly irritated, anxious, and sad, is the apartment that we’ve got here is not up to my expectation. I have been pampered by the beautiful and contemporary apartment we lived in Melbourne, and I thought that maybe this new place will be about 50% worse. It’s not. It’s probably 70% worse with the peeling walls, broken drawers, and gaudy curtains left by the owner, to name a few. And because this city is highly polluted (PSI: 151 today!), dust is inevitably everywhere, even with closed windows and doors.
I don’t fault Azri’s different colleagues who had lived here the past many years, for I know it was probably difficult for them (who were living alone) to get things done due to their busy work schedules and the very laid-back attitude of labour workers here. (Hah, an electrician was supposed to be here to fix some lights at 1pm. It’s 3pm now, and he’s probably a no-show. I will need to see the management tomorrow, hurr.) But I hope I can improve our living condition, for us and the future tenants.
That said, I don’t think everything is bad about the apartment. We still have a quaint view of the city from the windows, TV with cable, and hot water to shower with.
Left: Angoori gulab jamun (Source: Ruchi’s Kitchen); Right: Chai and me!
And of course, not all is negative about Kolkata. Food had been delectable, with my new favourite Indian dessert being angoori gulab jamun. And I am absolutely pleased to have a street stall, which is a less than 5 minutes walk away from my apartment, that serves 10 rupees (about 20 cents SGD/AUD) flavourful chai! I’d probably have it every other day 😛
I am still finding my grounds here, and I know for sure that acceptance will eventually kick for me in a few days. Apart from Azri, I am thankful to have a small support group, three other Singaporeans, to slowly help me adjust to this new world. It sucks to know that they’re here only on a temporary basis (one is leaving on Friday, while the other two are leaving in a few months), but better to have them here for a short while than not to have them at all. They’ve brought me to some interesting local places the past few days, which I will share more in the next post. And hee, we’ve spoken of plans on what to do during our free time together, which is pretty exciting!
Holding my chin up and looking forward to brighter days ahead 🙂