If you’ve talked to me recently, you might know that my host family situation in Kolkata was less-than-perfect: the food was mediocre (I lost 15 pounds living there) and the family was inconsiderate as well. Somehow I managed to make it through the semester but coming to Santiniketan, I was skeptical of taking up another PG.
I saw many flats back in September but nothing seemed appropriate and in my last trip in December, I had a rude awakening: because of my American passport, I was being quoted exorbitant rates, over 2-3 times the going market rate. Furthermore, because I am a single girl and the area is so rural, my parents insisted that I either find a roommate or move into the girls hostel.
Somehow—by some miracle—everything managed to come together at the very last moment. Marshall, a friend from AIIS, had a friend-of-a-friend who needed a roommate for a two-bedroom flat. After seeing pictures while in Hyderabad two weeks ago, I decided to take a chance. I called the landlady and in my broken Bangla, tried to explain my situation and after some hesitation, she agreed to let us share the space.
Upon arriving in Santiniketan last night, I was so glad that I had committed to this flat. My room is really tiny but I absolutely love it. I went shopping last night and bought an almirah, rug, and throw pillows and it is so cozy. There are two windows for ample sunlight and it is an altogether cheery place. And though my room might be small, I definitely have space to host!
Also by some coincidence, it turns out that my landlady has spent a fair amount of time in Portland as her niece lives there. Not only that—her niece’s husband happens to be colleagues with my father at Intel! What a very small world. Aunty called her niece up and I also spoke with her on the phone—our homes are just minutes apart back in Oregon.
I organized my entire room last night and honestly, am thrilled to have a place that is all mine. I shared a room growing up and only lived in university housing while at school—that almirah I bought last night is the first piece of furniture I’ve ever bought! I cooked eggs and toast and warmed up milk on the gas stove this morning—I’m going to go buy vegetables and fruits at the market today. (I actually haven’t met my roommate yet as she is traveling but her friend dropped by to say hello and give me a rundown earlier today.)
I might just be experiencing some kind of adrenaline rush but I honestly already feel happier in my new place (even sans wifi!) than I was in Kolkata—it really is true that your mental space is determined by your surroundings.