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New Girl in Pune – The Series

>Dipika Asnani Dipika Asnani
December 28, 2016

The Big Sacrifice…

“What was it like moving from across the globe to Pune?” I’m asked. I pause for a moment to take a deep breath, hundreds of things sprinting across my mind. Here I was, 5000 miles, 12 whole hours and 2 flights away from home, and all I could say was “It wasn’t easy.” A bit of an understatement…

I had stepped off the plane in Bombay, my nerves tingling with excitement and nervousness, my heart heavy from leaving my family behind, and head slightly dizzy from the turbulence of landing in the rains. I couldn’t wait for those doors to open and when they did, the feeling was indescribable. The airhostess swung the doors open with a smile and a strong scent of manure hit me like a wrecking ball! *sorry*. I held my nausea together and smiled back at her. I entered the dull grey airport (this was the old airport), tripped at the entrance and landed flat on my face. I got up, dizzier than ever, ran to the bathroom, which smelled strongly of cheap orange air freshener, and threw up. So, that’s how my journey began.

Growing up abroad, we had a pretty tight-knit Indian community – we watched Hindi movies, we celebrated Diwali, and we danced to Bollywood songs. That’s enough for me to qualify as an Indian, no? Boy was I wrong; for starters I had this strong American accent that nobody seemed to understand. I barely spoke a word of Hindi, and when I did, it left people in splits of laughter, and I didn’t understand the ‘m’ of Marathi. This one time, I had literally asked someone to send me a ‘sandaas’ (poo) instead of ‘sandes’ (message) by mistake! *laughs uncontrollably*

It may seem like a small thing, but language makes a huge difference, it made me stand out like a fish out of water. It also made me feel much more alone. I mean, it makes it a little hard to make friends without talking, right? It also wasn’t very economical. I can’t tell you the number of times I was ripped off by rikhshawalas the moment they heard me say ‘baiya’. Sometimes hearing myself speak among others would sound weird to me. So I began to make a conscious effort to stop rolling my Rs so much.

By now I speak like every other child that has grown up in India, and sound like a phony when I talk to people back home in an American accent. I can proudly say that I can hold a conversation in Hindi. When I come across Puneri kids, born and brought up here, who speak “toota-phoota” Hindi, I am not sure if I should ‘aww’ at them, laugh, or red rage them, so I usually just roll my eyes and sigh a little. I really do miss my original accent but it was a sacrifice I had to make. Although things have been better since, my culture-shock didn’t end there. But more on that next time…

Dipika Asnani
Dipika Asnani
An NRI child hailing from Morocco, Dipika Asnani believes herself to be a true Punekar by now. And, you'd never guess otherwise until you speak to her in Marathi! She's a Social Media Marketer by profession but a writer at heart. Loves cats, fluffly socks, fantasy novels, is slightly obsessed with Harry Potter and will do anything for a little bit more chai.

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