Have you ever lived alone? I mean for the first time how was it? I am not sure if this is something that you will think could be different but for me it was a whole new experience and that too in a completely different country.
Like here in US/Canada, kids would be out of home by the time they are sixteen or later for college and they learn early to be independent and live their life.
I grew up in a country where kids don’t leave their home until they are married off and this is specially about girls because boys will get married and bring home his wife and live with parents. But that doesn’t mean that kids don’t live in dorm or hostel for their college, they do. In my case, I literally grew up living with my parents until that one day I decided to migrate to Canada. A decision very gallantly taken by me without even thinking.
Things worked out for me in such a way that I landed in Canada and after couple months living as paying guest in couple folks house, I decided to be brave enough to live by myself as paying guest was not literally paying guest, it was more like an extended family where even though you pay your rent and hope everyone will mind their own business but that was not the case.
“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”
I moved to a one bedroom apartment in Toronto, on the East York side as I wanted to be close to my work place as those days I am completely relying on public transport system TTC.
Living alone for me had its own experience as I was scared too because I have never lived alone before.
I had a call-center job those days which would start at 4:45 pm to 11:45 pm and there was no commission of the sales that I make hence it was a typical office contract job as medical is free so didn’t have to be a full time job with benefits.
Since the timing was such I used to come home late night and that was very scary and tensed moment – the walk from the bus-stand till my room and why I say room because even if I enter the building the worst part was going in the elevator as after midnight you don’t know who’s who?
Once I was inside my apartment, It was my world and my life no one has anything to know or do with it. I used to come home get fresh and go to bed those days I didn’t have mobile phones and there was no smart-phones so the only phone I had was landline and no one would call that late unless it was an international call to India.
I think living there alone in my own world, I felt this was the first time I was trying to know myself better. It’s not that as a child I didn’t have the freedom to do things that I liked but I figure that lot of things that we do gets carried away with our family, parents, siblings and we just follow those and we do find happiness.
“Sometimes, you need to be alone. Not to be lonely, but to enjoy your free time being yourself.”
I used to love to keep my apartment clean and tidy. I would read books after that and make food and at times I used to go to the nearest public library and go read newspapers and magazines. It used to give me a feel of I am responsible and making my decision though it was new so I would think properly before making that decision – should I take the bus and just travel from one end to the other just because I have a monthly pass and anyhow I have to use it.
The best part was that for TTC you can go one way no matter how far you only use one ticket except that the transit is in one direction. If you break and go some other route then you have to pay another ticket. Hence going one way and getting down to do some shopping and getting back in the same bus was something I found very comfortable and easy as compared to moving around in Pune, India, where you have to know the route and then the right bus to go there and then find the right address to reach the destination. I used to feel so happy that I am traveling alone and that too in Toronto, Canada.
I used to make phone calls to some friends that I had made in the call center and the funny part was that they used to talk to me on the phone for hours and hours because they would say its only twenty five cents. I used to feel worried as in India I used to make phone calls only for emergency purpose or to give any message as I am going to be late or so. But here, I was able to keep my relationship with my friends as we daily meet at lunch time at work but weekends it was good to connect with them specially when I was all by myself, talking to friends would bring more cheer to me.
“Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” ~ Henry Rollins
And this making phone calls to my friends didn’t come up just like that, it was the time when I used to feel very lonely. Weekdays was busy with work and hence it was the weekends when I used to feel lonely. After finishing my chores and reading books as the sunsets my day would be more gloomy and when I shared this with my friends at work, they immediately said don’t worry we will turn by turn call you and that will take your loneliness away. Such good friends I had one was Lisa Jattan from Trinidad and other one Valerie Shan, she was from Pakistan married to Sri Lankan. We had so many beautiful days whether it’s on the phone, at work life was for like college those days.
I remember going to a dandia (dance with sticks that you play at India festival). Today when I think I laugh at it but those days I don’t know much about things but I would look at the advertisement pamphlet and find my route on the map and just dress up in Indian saree and would show up alone and dance in the group and before midnight I would make sure I come home. Those ones really boost my confidence as back home, I was always taught to be cautious and careful and hence many time when I am traveling alone I would be more stressed with that thought but here I was happy though cautious but I was doing things that I thought I will give a try.
“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”
I also one day figured out to keep myself busy, went to nearby old age home facility where I used to go and sit with elderly people and spend time. I used to just sit and watch them initially and later I started engaging with them in conversation and one time I got scolded by one of the elderly lady who thought me to be her daughter. Later I realized she is Alzheimer patient and she scolded me for not showing up all these days – I got nervous and cried but immediately the staff came and rescued me. But next day I was confident to go and hug her and she smiled at me and said comb my hair its been long time. I remember I used to play with them, laugh and cry too.
It’s true that I would be very cautious when I am out but inside me I was a free living being. I loved those moments and still cherish the memories.
“Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.”
Note: Now you can listen to the audio version of my blogs in Hindi on the UshaDawn Hindi Podcast on Google, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Check it out and new episodes uploaded every day 3 AM Pacific Standard Time.