Editor’s Note: An enticing journey of a young girl who comes from a very humble background, decides to take some bold career decisions and embarks on the journey to the unknown. Not a common practice in the middle-class Indian society where a girl’s life is still thought to be at its best under the umbrella of her family and home. Keeping her apprehension aside and leaving the comfort of her home, she boards the flight to Berlin, Germany all alone. As she lives her life in the country of the strangers, she experiences the unexpected. The journey thus becomes a symbolical journey of her life, as it not only marks her professional growth but also her growth as a woman. By the end of it, she emerges from an ordinary girl to a strong and confident woman of substance.
One Step Into The Unknown
Sitting in my office on a slow Thursday morning with a throbbing migraine, I start thinking about the last two and a half years that I have spent abroad. A hot cup of coffee makes this trail of thought a bit philosophical, as I reminisce about the decisions that I took which led me to Germany. When I quit my stable job in 2015 to pursue another post-graduate degree in Berlin, Germany, almost everyone around me told me, in the sweetest way possible, that I was making the stupidest decision of my life. Why was I adamant about leaving the comforts of home and my family in pursuit of the unknown was unfathomable by most, except for a very few people in my life. But here is the thing about me – I somehow feel uneasy when things around me start getting ‘too comfortable’ and ‘too familiar’; routine makes me anxious. I subconsciously seek for opportunities that lie beyond my comfort zone, I look for unfamiliar paths, crave for new challenges – both personal and professional. Which is why I jumped at the amazing opportunity life presented to me, grabbed it hard, and set forth for the mysterious land – flew across continents and landed in Berlin on August 2, 2015. In the last two years that I have lived here, I have had some of the great moments in my life and possibly some of the worse. Living alone in Germany, I experienced life in a way I had never imagined I would. I was able to actually accomplish things that were never even on my bucket list, to-do list, or any list for that matter. I have jotted down some of the more memorable ones here. • I learned a new language – I always fancied learning Spanish but ended up learning German in Germany • I made new friends from 26 different countries – yes I counted that. And met with people from some more. • Tasted 6 – 7 different types of beer and realized that I still absolutely hate it – greatest irony of living in Germany • Grabbed a handful of fresh snow from my window sill dressed in my t-shirt and pajamas – the details of my attire is necessary to make the impact • Went around Berlin alone at 4 am without any fear or anxiety – coming from Delhi this was pure fantasy • Experienced 2 of the most memorable Durga Pujas (Bengali religious and cultural fest) of my life. Although I was alone for the festivities, the Bengali community in Berlin made me feel at home. • I did my first solo personal trip to Cologne and realized that I do not enjoy travelling alone. I will always prefer to do that with my life partner. • We went to Paris! Yes, this was on our bucket-list and we ticked it off right after my 31st birthday. • Visited London, not once, but twice – I did not think it would be possible even in my wildest of imaginations and of course I fell in love with the city. • Met with some of my oldest friends from India, after years, in different countries across Europe • Visited 11 different countries – well, most of the European nations are smaller than the Indian states. So it was not that difficult. • Got my first tattoo! – does that count as experiencing one of my great fears? • Spent the first two days in this country without change of clothes and almost without food – my luggage did not arrive with me, ta-da!
• Cried myself to sleep because I missed aloo-posto too much – and of course, missed my husband! • Discovered my true love – Avocados! They are just divine. • Watched my nephew grow up, crawl, start walking, and talking – only through Skype. For quite some time he thought that I lived inside the laptop. • A complete stranger came up to me, introduced himself, asked my permission if he could tell me something, and, to my utter surprise, told me that he thinks I am cute – he was a very sweet young man. Alexander, you made my day. There are countless such experiences and memories that I have collected, both good and bad, over the last two and half years. It was only possible because I decided to step into the unknown. It is always easy to ‘settle down’ (whatever that means!), to become comfortable, to get accustomed to a routine, but life is so much more than that. I had the privilege to get onto this remarkable journey, and I know that not all of us get such chances. But whenever you get an option to explore uncharted avenues, grab that opportunity in the first instance. Fight your inhibitions and go with your instincts. It is always easier said than done, combing through unexplored pathways is hard, but you never know what you will achieve at the end of it. In the wise words of Mark Batterson ‘you are one decision away from a totally different life’ and since it is only one life that you get, make the most of it.