Guest blogging is for
lazy people who want to invite others to contribute to their blog. People get invited because they may have interesting things to say, be an authority voice on a particular subject or maybe it’s just a friendship and you think it’s cool to have others write on your otherwise very personal website.
To be asked to guest blog on someone elses site is a huge honour and should be approached with sincerity and maturity. Hmm. Just kidding. Being asked to guest blog is a pain in the ass as you try and come up with some witty content to prove how wonderful you are.
So, where is all of this leading? To a guest blog of course. I invited my friend Fay to say a few things on my blog and to show other people that there is more than one Brit living here in Chennai!
Now, without furtther ado, may I present your blogger for the day, Miss Fay Kaufhold…
When Pete asked me to write a guest blog, “about India – your view and opinion of it,” I’ve gotta say I balked. I started my own blog a few months back thinking that I’d be able to explore my views and opinions on India and life in general, but had such a hard time formulating my endless thoughts and opinions into words, that I’d only managed to rant at the peripheries.
“It’s easy” said Pete, “what you are doing here, why you came, what you think of it, what you miss.” I changed the subject back to his rather unpleasant mustache. Yes, Pete had a mustache – briefly. Ask him to show you the horrifying pictures!
So one of the first things I noticed in India was that about 60% of the male population has a mustache. A mustache seems to be a badge of masculinity. In Britain, mustaches belong to the Army-Major type, or to people whose self-image is stuck in their 70s youth, like my Dad. Any female Britisher knows that mustaches are Highly Unattractive. I take it as an indication of how Chennai has seeped into my skin, or dare I say, my bones, the fact that I now think men with mustaches can be attractive. Can.
Roight (as we say in Suffolk, for I am from Saarffuk, in the UK), what am I doing in Chennai? Well, as an actress from the last century, Ethel Barrymore, once said: “You must learn day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens.”
I really value learning things, about life, humanity, whatever, and I’ve found that the occasions when I have learnt the most are when I have taken an opportunity that seems pretty daunting.
So I was presented with the pretty daunting opportunity of moving to Chennai and beginning my working life in the education/IT sector after completing a rather dreary maths degree, and I took it up. I have now worked for HeyMath, creating interactive Primary-level maths lessons among other things, for 17 months. And in that time I haven’t set foot back in the UK, or even off Indian soil.
I really love it here. I find it very fulfilling to live in a country full of people who often have different values to those I was exposed to growing up. You only have to read Indian papers for a week to realise that the golden BBC impartiality is absolute rubbish. The views and opinions expressed by the BBC and other UK media are very very British and really do not reflect some common value held by all humanity, as they like to think.
I arrived in Chennai not long after returning to the UK from Havana, where I’d spent 6 weeks soaking up some wonderful Latin-American socialism, enjoying Cuban culture and attempting to learn Spanish. I sat on the plane to Chennai wondering what on Earth I was doing going to socially-conservative Chennai.
I spent my first few hours in Chennai slightly over-whelmed by the noise, smells and my inability to cross the road.
I spent my first few weeks wondering how I was meant to cope without being able to meet my friends down the pub in the evenings.
I spent my first few months craving cheese and other things that I cannot even recall now.
But I loved every second! Or at least the majority of seconds.
There are plenty more things I could say about my experience of life in Chennai, but I’ll finish here with something about friendships. I think the good stuff of life is getting to know people, without that, I’d be very bored and unhappy.
In India, I have found getting to know people to be in some ways very easy and very hard. Very easy because people are generally very friendly and open to other people. Very hard because life is so very family-centric and regular social time with friends outside of the context of family is not really the done thing, or rather, it is for some, but not all. Also, people make prejudiced assumptions about you based on the fact that you are a Western woman. This may make people more likely to seek out, or shy away from, friendship with you. It has taken a while for me to adapt to how friendships are formed here and how I can progress them. It’s been a challenge, but a very worthwhile, wonderful one.
I love Chennai! My home.
You can follow Fay’s blog here, it’s 10 million times more intellectual than mine, and you might even learn a thing or two about the politics of Chennai (rather than how bad the tuk tuk drivers are that I so frequently focus my wrath upon).
And I never had a mustache.