It’s been more months than I care to admit – globetrottingcupcake has been on hiatus for *cue gasp* 6 months and it feels like I’ve severed a limb. It’s taken a lifetime to get my head around a massive move – from the cozy confines of my Delhi home to a disruptive city called Mumbai where time is more compressed than vacuum packed banana chips.
No, I’m not complaining.
But here’s the thing – I have no shame in admitting that I’ve been brought up like a typical Delhi boy. I’d wake up to Mummy-supervised maid-made aloo paranthas, drive to work in a car with ridiculous woofers, and reach house parties two hours late. “Abe Oye!” was as legit as believing life ended at South Delhi. I grew up to lazy winter picnics and jazz in the park with pitcher-perfect Negronis.
And then one day my life was handed an enema.
A move to a new city where it took two stressful months to find a house, a steady gynaecologist, and a bar that knows what a Boulevardier is (in literally that order) Eventually, I settled into accepting my fate – the new home will be a fraction of the old one, the bartender will always need a recipe, and my boots will stay in packed formation indefinitely.
In the interim, I’ve managed to setup a half decent house, learned to love my permanently frizzy hair, and found a new respect towards the economy of home delivering everything from beer to beetroots . And I managed to ring in my 30th birthday on the top of a castle in Edinburgh (more on that coming up soon!)
So what am I here to tell you today? It’s not an awesome trip halfway across the globe that’s creating new footprints, but its a trip closer home that’s changing the fate of life as we know it. And you’re a big part of it.
This is your guide on how to embrace big changes. A change I call India, one that I know to be – home. Whether you’re coming in for the first time or moving within the country – this is the 101 on how NOT to mess up and run back home, wherever that might be.
Stay strong, pocket some aspirin, and get ready to Namaslay.
How not to find a house
If you’re single and looking for a first time rental in an Indian metropolis, you need a lot more than luck. You also need a gut of steel. Prep yourself to answer offensive and awkward questions about everything from your bank balance to your sexual orientation. The trick, is to let go of every possible aspiration you had about living in the ‘ideal’ home. I mean you’re likelier to find a unicorn with a million bucks stuck to its ass.
The good news once you do let go, is that the world becomes your trusted oyster. Set the bar low enough and then, voila! 550sq feet doesn’t feel like Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs.
Mould growing in patches on the wall? Say hello to your new pets. Kitchen drawers that only slide out but don’t slide in? Wait, you’ve got drawers? You lucky son of a gun!
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a place in Mumbai, don’t be puzzled if you see a wash basin outside of a bathroom. Don’t ask if the architect had a brain haemorrhage, and most certainly don’t reject 12 houses based on this abnormality. It’s common in these parts, keep calm and apply your otherwise flawless logic elsewhere.
How not to cook
If you thought that making lasagne made you Gordon Ramsay, think again. Living alone and catering to your stomach 24×7 is the real Hell’s Kitchen. It took me a few weeks to realise that my signature chocolate cake or single lady pancakes were not good enough to survive. I took to the kitchen with gusto, watching youtube videos to make everything from paneer to masala chai. And that’s the story of how I lost 4 kilos without even trying.
So what’s the secret to surviving? Give up any and every standard you may have about the shape and form of your meal. Palak Paneer is not supposed to be like soup, chapatis are not supposed to be papad. But your stomach doesn’t know the difference. Go ahead and fool your brain whilst getting your balanced meal for the day!
Pro Tip: You can actually transform last night’s pizza into an entire meal for the next day. I made a salad with mine. And you’re welcome.
How not to shop on a budget
Lets face it, living in a new city can take a toll on your bank balance. You may know very little about the real cost of veggies or birthday balloons in your new city. And if you’re not careful, you’ll be buying avocados at the same rate as your monthly bubbly (true story)
To my horror, I also realised that the quality of groceries in Mumbai, by and large was AWFUL. My biggest peeve, were these consistently yellow tomatoes that tasted like socks. My quest for finding ripe tomatoes drove me a little crazy. Before I knew it, I was getting my weekly supply of tomatoes shipped from a farmers market in Delhi.
My point is, you have to tread cautiously in the beginning whilst finding your ‘spend’ feet. Go out and explore your neighbourhood to find the best value. Make friends with the locals to find out good deals that will save you a ton of cash.
Pro Tip: Bargain! India is a great place to pay a lot lower than a quoted price. Especially from a guy who probably earns a quarter of what you earn. Go ahead and ask your local grocer to throw in free coriander & chillies with every purchase. As for tomatoes, don’t compromise and keep em coming from Delhi.
How not to adult
See here’s the thing, no one ever teaches you how to prepare yourself to be a grown up. Or how hard it really is to be you first. Not someone’s kid or someone’s partner or someone’s friend. The cockroach killing, calorie counting, e-mail ignoring version of you that just wants a glazed donut and a permanent holiday. That 3am version of you when there’s no one to call but yourself.
But I have good reason to believe, that when the time comes, you will kick arse pretty damn well. Just by yourself. And you’ll be just fine. For everything else, there’s always reasonably-priced Pinot.
Here’s to a better you, each day, err day!