It’s like diarrhoea after eating five plates of roadside pani puri. You think you’re immune to it. You’re sure it’s someone else’s problem. You sit back and laugh at the weak victims it has claimed already.
And then it strikes.
Homesickness snuck up on me after a long honeymoon period with the new country. I was in love with everyone’s friendliness, their efficiency on the road, the new food.
And all of a sudden, the same things become annoying. Why couldn’t I get coffee without accidentally becoming the barista’s soulmate? Why were drivers so annoyingly considerate of pedestrians? “Right of way” is a stupid concept—life on the road is competitive and everyone must play to win. And let’s not get started on the food—if it’s not cheese and meat followed by cream and sugar, it’s leaves with a side of greener leaves. When did moderation go out of style?
I knew I needed to maintain perspective—after all, I’d moved abroad to grow as a person. I missed filter coffee in the local dosa joint, breathing in the smell of Bangalore’s rain-soaked ground, but I was making a unique set of memories abroad too, wasn’t I? My first walk in the fresh, soft snow, the first time I saw the autumn leaves and wondered if there’s anything more beautiful than this, all the wonderful people with quirky life stories—I’d come farther than I realised.
Of course, following these words of wisdom is like doing a juice cleanse to cure the diarrhoea. It’s the wisest solution, but do you really want to do it? And so, like every other idiot clutching their stomach and refusing to drink green tea, I just had to wait till it was over. During that wait, however, there were some ways to fill the time.
First, I made full use of technology. Clinginess has many names—FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp Calling, Viber, Vonage. I would constantly tell my friends and family how much I missed them, and maintain an uncomfortable silence till they said it back.
Second, I found ways to talk about home all the time. When the guy at the café asked for my order, I told him this muddy bean water added to the illusion of milk doesn’t hold a candle to South Indian filter coffee. When my friend wanted to cry over an ex, I gave a speech about Bangalore’s theatre scene and how it’s really picking up. It had nothing to do with my friend or the ex, but I just thought about it and wanted to get it out.
And of course, I paired the incessant talks with a large glass of whine. (Yeah I did.) And while these were wonderfully helpful (I don’t want to hear anyone else’s personal thoughts on that), here’s what helped me the most.
As a miserable, uprooted Bangalorean in an evil new country, I needed to feel like I was at home at least once a week. I found that feeling in an Indian grocery store. People rammed three shopping carts in a narrow aisle, pushed them in every direction, and abandoned them when others behind them were trying to move. It was like driving in Koramangala on a Monday morning, and I loved every minute of it.
And that was my version of clutching my stomach and turning away from the green tea.