This article is part of The Ascent Summer Program 2020

By Ayanna Puri

Right in front of me stood this small yet rustic shop. I took a step in, then another and another, and another, until I had finally reached the inside. “Wow” I whispered to myself. It was like I was hit by a bright rainbow of colors and a symphony of sounds. There was this counter with two men behind it, surrounded by bright, vibrant and aromatic snacks. There was a blue jolly ranchers packet, with pictures of rainbow-colored lollipops on the front. And there were bright yellow, green, blue, brown and red chips that didn’t look like your normal Doritos or Lays chips. The entire room smelt so salty, spicy, and fruity all at the same time that I needed a lot of restraining from wanting to eat it all. If that wasn’t enough, there were toys too. All sorts! There were bouncy balls of all the colors, and stickers of characters that I didn’t recognize at the time, like Chota Bheem, Doraemon, and Krishna. I was amazed! But then all of a sudden one of the men started talking to me. He sounded like he was asking me something, but I didn’t know what, though it sounded familiar, I couldn’t comprehend what it meant. I later learned that language by the name of Hindi and was India’s national language, I was a bit embarrassed since I am Indian!

This was when I just moved to Mumbai, India just under four years ago. I was 9 at the time. You see, I was born and brought up in Hong Kong, and I was still new to the way India worked. Born Indian but I was a bit clueless about the ways of the people of my country. I was intrigued by so many little things. I was still unsure how anyone could possibly eat so much spicy food without any water or milk, or even bread! I didn’t quite understand why people ate with their hands, or why younger people touched the elders’ feet. The only Hindi words I knew were namaste, compared to Mandarin where I could write a whole essay.

Not only that, but I had just joined a new school, and had no friends at all. I didn’t know anyone and had no clue how to interact with them. I had the same friends in hong kong my entire life that I missed so much. That’s why I found this was a bit weird. I remember entering school every day wishing that I could just go back to my old one. I remember waking up every day wishing that this move was all a dream.

But it wasn’t and I had to face it. I had to deal with the fact that I now lived in Mumbai, and not Hong Kong. 

After a few months of living in Mumbai, I realized that there was no going back, and I realized that if I even remotely wanted to enjoy Mumbai as a place to stay, the only thing that would have to change was my mindset. From that day on, although hard, I tried to interact with more people from my school, and soon enough made friends, that four years later I have become some of my closest and earnest friends. I tried to keep an open mind to the new traditions and came to enjoy quite a few of them. I will always have a part of Hong Kong in me like traditions like the dragon dance, moon cakes, and lanterns, the streets filled with the aroma of fresh dim sums and fresh noodles! And no matter where I am I will always have a part of me in Hong Kong. But I’m glad that I moved on from my “only Hong Kong” mindset because if I didn’t there would be so much more that I would miss out on. 

There is so much that I learned from this new experience when I moved my life over 4 thousand kilometres across the world. But one thing that I’ll never forget is this – In my life, there will always be change, I might not always like it but it will be there and there’s nothing I can do to change it. The only thing I can change is how I cope with it. I have the power and control to make the change to the change, I could make it a positive experience, or a negative one. It’s up to me! The only thing constant in life is CHANGE. And I have decided that I will always take my ever-changing life and make the most of it.