Reality of Relocation

It has just been 3 weeks since I left Mumbai and technically moved to London, but actually spending more time in this little village called Fuschl outside Salzburg in Austria. No kidding. Feels like much longer, as I have spent most of my time in airports, woken up in strange rooms, eaten food I don’t recognise and more than anything, struglled to identify where home is. I tried to carry my sleeping bag everywhere, something familiar to cling on to.

So, I sat and made a list of things that have changed drastically in my life and have shaken me from my comfort zone.

Home. Familiarity of my apartment in Mumbai. The feeling of waking up with the sun on my face, having the coffee sitting on the window ledge, avoiding neighbours who I never bothered meeting. Everything was way too comfortable. New apartment in London – where everything is still too cold and strange. Where it took us ages to get nails up on walls to hang photos. Where the bar is a bookshelf converted into a bar. Where the TV is too far from the bed. Funnily, it is not London I’ve spent all that much time. The hotel room in Fuschl takes the cake. Set right next to the lake (everything in Fuschl is next to the lake), it is what one would imagine as the perfect little place for a holiday. Only difference, everything doesn’t look all that pretty when you keep checking your Blackberry and working every minute. Back to the hotel room, its basic. Pillows are soft, I love it. I don’t watch any TV, everything is in German. Hot shower. Great breakfast. What’s the dilemma. Last couple of days, I’ve been waking up wondering whether it is 6 30 am or 7 30 am, with the time difference between UK and Austria, snoozing till the time the location hits me. All in all, whether it is Caledonian Road or Downtown Fuschl as they call it, its all still alien. The only thing familiar about it is I dont know my neighbours in any city.

Commuting. I never thought I would say this. But, I miss the autos in Mumbai. No, I do not miss the honking. No, I do not miss the insane Andheri East traffic jams. Yes, I miss the 24 / 7 convenience of finding these little autos everywhere. In London, I’m married to the Tube and before I know it, I would be saying ‘Mind the Gap’ as a part of my regular vocabulary. In Fuschl, where it would take anyone not more than 10 minutes to explore the entire village walking, I have no option. Well, I can’t drive in Europe. Yet. So, I walk, everywhere. And, the rain Gods have this uncanny way of sending their blessings my way the minute I step out. So, do I miss the autos. Hell yeah!

Supermarkets. As ridiculous as it may sound, I love simplicity. I hate choice. I would be the one who would always ask for coffee, when I am thrown coffee jargons like decaf, skim milk, brown sugar, blah blah. Same with grocery stores or supermarkets. Between the unbelievable choice in the Tescos and Sainsbury’s of London (a 100 different types of cheese, cereal, yoghurt, sauces and so on) to the unfamiliarty of German packaging, if I manage to find a supermarket open after 6 pm in Austria, I know one thing. I miss Prabhat Provision Stores and the free home delivery of anything under the sun. I miss the lady in Pali vegetable market who would happily discuss her life over 200 gms of Paneer.

Language. You would be surprised. In London, they speak English right. You bet they do. How come I still don’t get it when they say it the first time? Indian accent. British accent. Howjsay it? Whatchamacallit? And, as for Austria, forget it. I can say Servus, which means Hello and Byebye. I can say Malzeit. That’s what you say before you eat. Kind of like Bon Appetit. I can say Bitte, which means please. That’s my language status. Pathetic. Between trying to understand the British and learning beginner’s German, I honestly feel like swearing in Hindi. And, thats what I really miss.

Timepass. As it is such a common word back home, I felt that this would be the best way to describe it. The one thing about Mumbai was knowing exactly what was going on everywhere, what are the places to hang out, eat, drink and so on. It had taken me almost 8 years to feel like a local. Then, we get to the topic of London. Just the sheer magnitude of things to do and places to go to is mindboggling. I don’t even know where to begin. Someone told me, check out Beer in the evening for pubs,  Last Minute Theatre Tickets for Broadway… then, I started looking up stuff on the internet and found the Timeout Top 50 sites in London. Its a maze. Then, there is Austria, to be specific Fuschl. One lake. Few hotels. Very few restaurants. Hardly any markets. One gym. Lot of paths to walk around. Yes, that’s all I can do. Walk. Walk. Walk. If the weather favours me that is. Right now, I am an armchair traveler, virtually getting to know my cities even before I get the courage to step out. Baaaaaah! What I would do for one beer at Totos.

Food. Where do I even begin? From the comfort kitchen of Ashaji where the rotis and sabji was warm and ready to the 101 restaurants that were always open, I’m eating Snickers bars from vending machines in Fuschl. Life ends here when it gets dark. If I actually get out of office in time to head to the restaurant, I need to think of all the German menus and order what sounds easy to pronounce.  London is not such a problem. Tesco Ready to eat has become Roys best friend. I make omlette and stir fry vegetables in less than 10 minutes. We have discovered the best cheap wines, not that we know good wine from bad wine. Either way, till I find some stability in my eating pattern, it just feels like I’m one one long gastronomical adventure not doing any justice to my waistsize.

Capoeira. The less said, the better. Capoeira in India was life. Between the hundreds of schools in London and the only gym in Fuschl which offers Yoga and Pilates, Ive become bloody lazy. I need Baba (my capoeira teacher in India) to kick my butt once and get me started here.

People. And, finally, it just boils down to one thing. Friends. Family. There isn’t even a comparison point with London and Austria. Mumbai is Mumbai. And, I miss all the blokes who made life so much fun.

Having said that, I’m leaving you with a snapshot of life in Austria so far. A random collection of photos to show you what my life looks like now. I have to say I love it.

My temporary home in Austria – Hotel Mohrenwirt

Apfelstrudel – the only thing I’ve learnt how to pronounce with no issue.

The walk to office … the beautiful lake….

The office…. I am not kidding. It is not a resort.

Signing off in Austrian style – Servus !

8 comments

  1. Writerzblock says:

    Stunning pictures, Apu!!! And the various comparisons you have made are just so perfect, nobody could describe it better. Like you said, at the end of the day, what makes Life worth living, is the warmth of friendship (family and friends). I’ve been here 7 years now, and I know, that this place can never be ‘home’!!

  2. Deepika says:

    People and autos made it to the top of my homesick list when I moved from Hyderabad to Los Angeles. I missed the luxury of just getting out of the house and stepping into an auto to take me wherever. 4 years later I still miss the same things.

  3. Jinsy says:

    hey if u don’t mind me asking, what do you work as??? u seem to be traveling all the time…salzburg…hmm all i can think of is sound of music:):):)..n how do u get work done when the office looks like …(not sure wht to call it) breathtaking i must say:):)

  4. Siddharth says:

    A friend of mine posted this on FB today: When I move fast, the world moves fast with me .. and I see nothing. When I move slow I see the world in all it’s Joy.

    And those snaps made me remeber this

    I yearn for a place where…

    The only walls are the high cliffs
    And there is no ceiling

    The only gossip I hear,
    Is that of babblers in the bush
    And roar that of a brook

    I wake up to a dewy sunrise
    And a cool breeze gives me a high

    Nobody is a friend, yet everything is
    The only possession, the Joy in my Heart

    Desire is smelling the wild roses
    And ambition…merely reaching the hilltop

    A ‘star-studded’ movie is played every night
    With a guest appearance by a shooting star

    The road to workplace is flanked by palm fronds
    And my work-station, by the lotus ponds

    My only competition is ME
    And my achievement…simplicity

    A place where I forget WHAT I am
    And where I’m reminded of WHO I am

    The place isn’t far, that I know
    Might take some effort to get there though

  5. Madhuri says:

    I love the way you write. It made me want to read some more. It also made me want to reach out and give you a big hug. Being away from home is lonely. No matter how beautiful the surroundings are. You’re right, people miss the food, the family and the chaos of India when they’re away. I hope you make some great friends and find peace. One day at a time. Live each moment knowing it will only get better. And keep writing. Catharsis in small doses :)

  6. Preethi says:

    Love the office!

    Hugs from Chennai for the rest…

  7. Parul says:

    Great read. I hope you compile everything in a book, before I “bootleg” everything :P

    Also, start telling everyone there that Tamil is the next big thing. You’re a melting pot in yourself, they’ll buy it!

  8. Chris says:

    I totally feel you. I’ve just come back to Australia after my time in Korea, and while I don’t have the problems with the language or the cultural differences, I do miss Korea’s culture of convenience, their super fast internet, and the overall cheapness of most everything out there.

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