Even before I knew it was definitely going to happen, I couldn’t resist spilling to everyone who’d listen that I might be moving to Mumbai. Something had been niggling away in my mind for years telling me to make this sort of leap, but why leave so many friends and family behind? Why move hundreds of miles from home and press the reset button after three years of settling in London? I’ve known people who’ve waited, saved up and travelled around India for a couple of months rather than move permanently, and they loved it! Wouldn’t that have been safer?
Maybe – but in a strange way, there’s something very hard to resist about actually living outside of your comfort zone, without a return air ticket. At the office on their first Monday back home, I saw the glum looks on the faces of those travellers and instantly recognised how they were feeling. Life in London can be incredible, but it also gets very predictable – the more that happens, the quicker your life starts to feel like it’s going by. Mumbai, on the other hand, demands you to think on your feet – you have to sink or swim, adapt to the pace of life and react to situations you’ve never been in before. For someone who’s never been there, it’s life at its unpredictable best.
The platform shuffling ritual: time to do something different?
It might sound strange to a Mumbaiker, but the way the city overloads the senses has been really exciting for me too. There’s nothing noticeable to smell walking through London, but every time I turn onto a new street here there’s something different in the air – cinnamon, cardamom or clove if I’m lucky, and even when I’m not it’s still novel after years in the bland West!
And what about giving up a job I loved to join Reality? Was the appeal that they’re the good guys of the world, improving people’s lives? Well, yes, but there are plenty of places I could have gone to do that. The really motivating thing though, something I wanted but knew would be hard to find on the same level at home, is the tangibility of the work that the team does. I’ve only been here for two weeks, but am already motivated by how real the results we create are. They’re live in front of my eyes at our Community Centre in Dharavi, where I can go and work in the same room as our beneficiaries, typing something up as I listen to confidence growing in an English class. If I’m in the middle of a slog, I can take a breather and head down the road to our primary school, remind myself what I’m helping to create and get the kick I need to stay focused. I’m suddenly immersed in the real world effects of my work on people’s lives, which is something I love.
It’s early days for me, but I’ve already got a great feeling about the Mumbai years – bring them on!
About the author: Andrew Derlien joined Reality Gives last month as our new Fundraising & Marketing Director – we’re just as excited to have you here with us Andy!