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 !