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Find a home, away from home

You know why you’re having trouble adjusting with people in a new city? Because you are trying too hard to be one of them, writes Sonal Kalra.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 19, 2012 01:28 IST
Sonal Kalra

Because of my extremely good nature, so many of you trust me with your deepest troubles and problems each week. But, I don’t know why a lot of you keep asking me not to mention your name while discussing the topic. Don’t be so humble now. Isn’t it cool to see your name published in a national daily, Varun? So what if it’s in the context of you wanting to pee outside your neighbour Anil Sharma’s front door in Lajpat Nagar each morning because he’s such a pain and fights over parking? You’ve done it only thrice, as you clarify, but see the brighter side, you’ve now become famous. You’re most welcome, I already know about my optimistic, good nature.



Anyway, this week, I got a mail from 19-year-old Vivek Oberoi from Indore who is depressed. Haww, it just struck me that people may be writing fake names in their letters to me. Or maybe not. With a name like that, some amount of depression is inevitable.
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Anyway, around six months back, Vivek moved to Delhi for higher studies. And he hates every minute of the six months he’s spent in this self-centred city so far. His words, not mine. "People in big cities are unfriendly towards those from smaller towns. I really feel out of place. I had so many friends back home in Indore, there’s so much warmth when I call them everyday. I hate it here, feel like crying," he says. Oye hoye bachche, idhar aao, rona band karo. I can totally understand your problem but have you thought about what you may have done, unintentionally, for people to be unfriendly? Like tell them your name. Oops, that was really mean… but please don’t mind. You know I’m just joking, don’t you? I genuinely love all Vivek Oberois in this world.



Coming back to your problem, what I’ve gathered from a lot of things you have written about yourself in your mail— which I will not share here, because, you know, I’m fiercely protective of peoples’ privacy —I think you are a fairly nice, well mannered and sincere guy. Generally, people of all cities love those qualities. And although I completely agree with you about a sickening bias some people have against those who’ve migrated from relatively smaller cities, I would like to believe that most Delhiites are not like that.



And this problem of ‘not being able to adjust’ is not specific to Delhi. A lot of people, who are having to live away from their native place because of studies or work or any other reason, often feel anxious and stressed while missing home. It’s very natural to. But what makes the situation worse is their tendency to let this I-miss-home feeling keep them from embracing the new place in the true spirit. Although having never ‘lived’ anywhere outside of Delhi, I’m the least qualified to preach on this subject, but because of my spectacular wisdom and of course, extremely good nature, I’m telling you about three mistakes, in my view, that you should never make when trying to adjust into a new city.



1 Mistake 1 - Trying too hard to belong: For all the ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ gyaan we’ve grown up on, I feel it’s a big mistake to shed your individuality in a bid to be like the people of the city you’ve moved to. Be the real you, if you want to stay away from depression. I remember, back in college, there was a girl who originally belonged to Madurai. Everyday in the college canteen, I would notice her being visibly uncomfortable and sad. One day I told her how I find certain rice dishes tastier when eaten straight from the hand rather than the spoon. She had an incredulous look on her face and said that she’s used to eating like that only and was always worried what ‘others’ would think of her. Lo batao. To hell with others, yaar, be what you are. That meal of sambhar-rice with our hands was the best meal I had in college because it came with such a rare smile from that girl. I’m not saying completely disregard the required etiquettes in a situation but don’t forego happiness either, in trying to be what you’re not. Don’t fake an accent, don’t fake style, don’t fake ‘cool-ness’, don’t fake a smile. It shows.



2 Mistake 2 - Harping about your own: Remember, a city and its people can not warm up to you till you don’t stop harping endlessly about how much you miss your native place, and how much better it is. Every place has it’s own highs and lows. There may be too much crime in Delhi as compared to your town, but there may also be rare opportunities here to explore and discover culture like no other place. Try to leverage on the uniqueness of whichever place you are in.



Also, it’s much easier to make new friends when you are not always talking to— or about— your old friends back home. As we grow in life, we have to make new friendships. Don’t keep holding too tightly to the older ones so much that your hands are never free to shake them with new friends.

3 Mistake 3 - Forgetting to thank your luck: Hear it from someone like me who was born, brought up, studied and worked in the same 30km radius all her life. Would most likely retire, die and be cremated within the same area. Sometimes it sucks. Just sit back and imagine the world as a globe before you. We get to live only one life. A lot of us spend the whole of it in the fraction of a dot that you can’t even spot on the globe with a microscope. Just be thankful if your dot is slightly bigger. It may be hellishly tough to adjust but every new place where you live, gives you two gifts — experience and memories. Cherish them.

Sonal Kalra is suddenly as depressed as Vivek Oberoi. For the totally opposite reason. Why does someone else always seem luckier than us? Mail your answers at sonal.kalra@hindustantimes.com or at facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra

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