I have pretty much entertaining posts about sights and holidays, culture and traditions and stuff though there is nothing about how I came here to India. Also I try not to show my face as I am modest and shy ^_^
So my friend from Ukraine who also lives in India and whose name is also Olga (and who I will tell you about later in a separate post because her story is fantastic) asked me a set of questions about how it all started and what happened next, how I live here, what I like and do not like and what I just cannot stand and bear, what food I eat and other things. If you also have such questions then maybe you will want to get the answers. Enjoy, I did my best! :)
My name is Olga, Im from a beautiful country with a beautiful name Ukraine and was born in a beautiful city Kremenchug which is famous for a special kind of popular truck. Im 24 and I graduated from the university in Kharkov city in 2009 with background in Linguistics and technical translation. The useful skill I have is only English. At some periods of my life I started to learn Chinese, German and French but gave up all of them since Im the greatest lazy-bones in the world. Id like to say that I am fond of photography but show me who is not nowadays. I travelled a bit in Eastern Europe, went to Istanbul on a ferry to see attend Depeche Mode concert on my birthday and it was cancelled, hehe. Then something clicked in my head and I decided that I want something special. The decision came quickly and was situated at Indostan penninsula. Well, my parents were glad =)
How come that you chose India?
The story started as long as in 2007 when I just began dreaming about going to such a mistereous and far India. I was dreaming not alone and there it could all end if I didnt meet another dreamer. Dreams started to reshape into goals and at some moment there even were some plans, but life brought its own corrections into them and after celebratin New 2010 Year I decided that either I go no matter what or forget about it. I clearly remember that on March 15th I booked my Kiev-Delhi-Kiev flight by AirArabia. I booked it and immediately felt some shiver in my body and butterflies in the stomach there was no way back, yeah. I got my visa, packed a backpack and went. Alone. I returned after 2 weeks safe and sound and didnt join any sect as my parents were really afraid I might do that )) But after my return I started to think of going to India again and for a longer period of time as those 2 weeks just teased me. My mom recommended to think and maybe choose some other country, and I told her that I was actually choosing between India and Cambodia. Well, then let it be India, no problem she said. On December 13 2010 I landed in Ahmedabad.
What did you know about the country and expected before coming here?
I knew quite a lot of things as I spent nights at various forums and read a lot of online blogs of travellers from India. It seemed to me that I knew everything about this country and was ready to face anything (muahahah). I was aware that its dirty everywhere, cows and beggars are teeming in the streets. Also I knew about numerous scam schemes and was sure that Im prepared. India is a very cheap country, this is what I also found out from the internet. Its much cheaper than Ukraine but there are exceptions of course. Indians pee on streets, dont use toilet paper and worship a god-monkey thanks to internet, I know this too. But overall all my expectations were quite realistic and I didnt have illusions as to evergreen palm-trees, elephants and shanti-shanti everywhere ))
What are the stereotypes about India in your country?
:) There are two types of them positive and negative. Positive: its a fairytale country full of green palm trees, elephants and always smiling enlightened Indian people, paradise on earth. Very spiritual country, many temples and so nice people who are always ready to help. Enlighten whenever you want!
The negative: shit is everywhere, antisanitary conditions are everywhere, dirty and stinky and stupid Indian people, death of malaria.
There is also the third type, though its rather a mixture of the two and is actually obtained by practical method. No one believes these people as India can be either very bad, or very good )
How did I find a job in India?
Everything is very easy. There is an international student organization called AIESEC. It provides an opportunity to go for an internship almost to any country of the world if there is a vacancy there. The intern should be a student or a young specialist under 2 years with a relevant education. By some irony of fate I found a job that matches my education only in India. To get access to the database of internships you need to pay a fee which varies from country to country, in my case it was $250. AIESEC helps with all the documents required for getting a business-visa though the fee is paid by the intern. In Ukraine one-year business visa to India costs $200. Plane tickets are also to be paid by intern. Once you get matched with your future company go get a visa, buy tickets, pack and come, thats it.
Share your first impression after landing here?
First I landed here in May 2010 in Indira Gandhi international airport in Delhi. I had a transfer in Sharjah (UAE) and Sharjah-Delhi plane was full of indians, I was the only foreign person there and it felt scary )) I went out from the plane and realized I can hardly breathe in so humid was the air and so unusual it was for me. Then I went to take taxi to the New Delhi train station and there I experienced very nice cheating scheme on me. After that I wanted to change my flight back to the nearest possible no matter how much fine I will have to pay. But then I took a deep breath, relaxed and told myself to go on and not be so weak and stupid. And after this everything was fine :)
What was\is shocking to you during your stay in the country?
I can get over many things and I already did but the most shocking thing still is this beautiful indian tradition to litter the streets. Its not that they dont know how damaging it is for the environment, they have a good education, they have access to internet where global warming, water shortages and plastic problems are all the time discussed and highlighted. And still even some of my friends just throw garbage on the road telling that there is a person who will clean it later and that I should relax and do the same because its India, everybody here is doing like that.
What is the value of your international XP for you as a person?
The value is invaluable :) First of all I learned to survive in such a strange and conservative society. Its like going to another planet and learn walking from the very beginning. I became more patient, though sometimes there are exceptions of course. For a long time I lived with foreign people in one appratment and this thing taught me to be tolerant. Different cultures, different attitudes, but overall we are all people, we are all humans. I made really good friends with some people and now I have someone to visit at least in 10 countries of the world! And with some of these people I know I will meet again. Its a very nice feelings, its like the world is not so big afterall.
Also I can say Hello and Cheers in many languages now :)
What have you learned from the local people?
Oh, I learned how to eat with the help of just one hand; I learned to make roti and other Indian food; I learned how to bargain hard; I learned this typically Indian gesture with the head which means sometimes yes, sometimes god knows what it means )))
I have many friends from Ahmedabad and other cities and little by little I learn something new from them about this incredible paradox called India. Also local people contributed a lot to my hindi learning as books are good but there always should be practice and someone to ask why? and get a clear reply. There are a lot of other things I guess, just cannot recall them all at once.
On the other hand, locals learned that there is such country in Europe called Ukraine. And that its not UK or Bahrain, its Ukraine ))
Share the stories of the challenges; you’ve faced during your stay in India.
The first challenge was to cross the street and still be alive :)) The traffic in India is right-handed and all the time I had to look on the right I was following my reflex and looked on the left. And the traffic is soo sooo dense: rikshaws, cars, camels, buses, donkeys, hundreds of motorcycles and bicycles. Everybody is honking and sometimes it feels like its a competition who has the loudest honk. It took me some time but finally I mastered crossing the crossroads ))
The second thing was to learn how to bear all those curious looks you catch whenever you go out. That was the most difficult thing and I still try hard to ignore and pay no attention.
What can you say about the Indians? Likes and dislikes
First, whatever Im writing here shouldnt be treated by Indian readers as a personal offence since the image I keep in my mind is generalized. I dont like these constant stares of men at me no matter how much I cover myself. This thing drives me crazy as well as their Hello baby stuff.
Indians like to boast and show off a lot. Also they think that there is no better country in the world than India. Patriotism is good, but often I face some unhealthy vibes bordering with nationalism and just refusal to admit that there is the rest of the world where people are also nice with their unique culture etc.
Indians like to poke their nose in your life when not needed, but when you really need help they are not going to give a helping hand unless you ask them.
They throw garbage whenever they want. Argh!
Beggars. Thats a separate story about them but in India they are something really different from what we normally have in Ukraine.
But, on the other hand, I always meet a lot of extremely hospitable people. I have a lot of friends in this country and it wouldnt be possible to befriend them if I saw only bad sides in this nation. Its great, but it needs a lot of work on itself.
What are the main differences between culture of your country and India?
The main difference that really stroke me is that people in Ukraine are more negatively tuned towards each other whereas in India strangers call each other bhai brother. Indian people are more easy-going and simple. Though sometimes this easyness is not for their benefit.
There are many differences in our mentality too.
How do you find Indian cuisine? Can you cook something? Share your story of the relationship with Indian food.
There is really a story =) First three months I didnt eat Indian food at all, only Indo-Chinese stuff like paneer chilli dry or manchurian noodles. And then, then I tried paneer butter masala with plain tandoori roti and there I fell in love with Indian cuisine. Im already used to spicy things but sometimes food is SO spicy, and nevertheless I keep eating it, sweatening like hell and drinking water all the time to put out the fire in my mouth )) I can cook several types of bread, vegetable dishes and simple paneer dishes.
What are the places, which have impressed you the most and you would suggest other people to visit?
The greatest thing Ive seen in my life is Himalaya mountains. I didnt go far, the highest peak was just 4000 metres, but oh my god, that was increadible. No other man-made objects can compete, even Taj Mahal, which by the way I would suggest to visit in the last place. Go north!
What are the stereotypes that Indians have about your country? How do you think, why?
We eat meat because its very cold in my country ) Also, as many other white women noticed, men here think that we are a very easy fish for them thats why they have no shame staring at us with those dirty looks. And I completely understand thats an image builty by our people in the world and they keep supporing eat. Just visit Goa in high season or any Egyptian or Turkish resort and youll understand what I mean.
Also Indian people think that Ukraine is in Africa. Those who know its in Europe are 100% sure its always very cold there and there are no summers. I dont know the reason for this stereotype but I guess it;s just a lack of geography lessons =)
What would I like to suggest to people who want to come to travel/work in India?
I knew three or four people who came to work to India and went back after a week or two. Some of them couldnt survive the heat, some of them couldnt survive the society. India is a great indicator of all your shortcomings and weaknesses so you should be prepared to face your true self and not to freak out. I know youll manage! :)