Coming to London was not my decision. I never wanted to. I was headed to Australia- the land of beaches and barbecues. Sunny days, the feeling of sand between your toes, beach volley ball or surfing; basically the idea of you being a stone’s throw away from the most amazing sunset at a beach and of course the excessive amount of beer that comes along was incredible. But life as we know is hard and plans always change! And so London happened.

Although I’ve had the opportunity to travel abroad if not extensively at least a little, it is in no way comparable to living alone in an alien continent that you have probably vaguely spotted on the map at some point in geography class and a foreign country you may have never imagined yourself to be in and a city that seemed unreachable once upon a time. To finally be here is this feeling of unfamiliar that is exciting and unsettling both at once!

India has been my world for 24 long years. Indian politics, Bollywood movies, local celebrities, Indian food, lame controversies in my town about some rich dude’s kid involved in a hit-and-run case, and the occasional headlines in the papers about earthquakes and tsunamis world over is all I bothered to know. I may have kept track of the occasional “George Clooney love life update” because…

… just look at him! Can you blame me for stalking?

 I guess I just didn’t care enough about the rest of the world because quite frankly no one in India really cares enough about it! We are so caught up in our own rut that we barely have enough information about our own problems let alone Africa or elsewhere. I tried reading about things but that’s like saying you’ve read a book when really all you’ve read is the summary or blurb of it.  Anything that wasn’t affecting me directly was the least of my concerns. Someone rightly said “out of sight is out of mind”

However London changed this in a jiffy. I think the first person I tried to make conversation with turned out to be half Canadian half British and it’s safe to assume it was the hardest conversation of my life! Not because I am retarded and can’t talk but because I had a feeling whatever I said was just not making sense to him. He wasn’t laughing when he was supposed to.  All my references were Indian. I asked him his name and tried to make small talk and all he could say to me was “If you’re Indian how can you speak in such good English?” Was I offended? Hell yes!

English is almost my first language but just because I don’t have a British or American accent apparently it doesn’t count. But what I really was is pleasantly surprised to see how little he knew and cared about India. I m pretty sure I could make him believe we have a famous tribal dance in my hometown!

The reason this conversation became memorable is because it marked the starting point of what I now call “a whole new world”. I suddenly realized how far I am from home even though every second person walking in London is Indian, I realized how exciting this one year was going to be and how many new people I would meet and how many new experiences I’d have and how my life had suddenly gone from being monotonous to awesome in less than ten seconds! And in that moment I just felt lucky to be where I was.