Being the other woman

After four years, I felt like I died and was reborn in this world. It wasn't my first love. But it was a lonely road and heart breaking experience. It was my first affair with a married man, although accidental but it was definitely an addiction !

It was a decade ago when we first met - he was my friend since my college days. At that time he was part of my close friends group. We came close to each other during college parties but it didn't turn out into love. It was a mere attraction. Later, life took us on different paths and sent us to different countries. Throughout this time, we tried to maintain contacts through IM and social networking sites.

Things turned out in a different way for us and we happened to move back to India. But I stopped using social networking sites for few months and didn't know what life has in store for me!

I went to a hotel in Mumbai for a work function and I ran to catch an elevator. Hastily, I stepped on a handsome guy and hurted him. While apologizing I realized its HIMMMMMMM... Wow I felt so happy meeting him accidentally and I felt like the universe is embracing me. I told him that he was my secret crush during college days and I never told him that. We flirted with each other casually for few mins and then laughed on our silly behavior. He told me that he got married couple years back and I told him that I didn't marry yet since I was trying to recover from my previous relationship and focusing on my career for now. We connected instantly like never before !

After going to our rooms, we decided to meet tomorrow. Events moved rapidly for us - Lunch, dinner, shopping, outing and what not ! One day, he expressed his feelings for me and I was taken aback. I was unknowing having the no-strings-attached fun. Well he was bright, articulate and handsome guy, we knew about each other since college days. So, what's the problem if he wants to just have an extra marital affair with me. I didn't knew that he meant this seriously but this is how I started my journey as "being the other woman".

It was a physical longing that pulled me towards him without any warning. My wanting to be surrounded by him was instinctive. However, permanence was never discussed between us but soon I became emotionally attached to him. We communicated with each other almost everyday on phone, skype and email. We met regularly in the weekdays but not in the weekends. I felt like i finally found someone with whom I can be with. We started planning for me to join him in his successive business trips in other countries. Everything he did and said screamed "Love" !

Slowly my position in his life became as a "mistress" instead of "college friend". I began my frequent travels and started spending a fortune on that. Whenever he went alone on a business trip, I flew 16hrs-20hrs to just meet him. We shared many intimate and fun times together. There was a freshness in our relationship. However, the sad part is I learnt many other things in this relationship as well. I learnt performing stunts like jumping out of a hotel window or gate to avoid being seen by his colleagues. At certain times I couldn't call him even if i need him urgently. For instance when he is with his family I cannot call him or send him an email since his wife looks over his shoulder to see what email he gets. I have to spend all my holidays sitting alone at home since he needs to join his family. This drove me crazy. He missed many important moments of my life and I missed his.

But I finally got to attend his birthday one year and I had to pretend as his college friend. It was right then i witnessed the way he interacted with his wife - way he cared for her, introduced her with others and put his arm on her. All I did was crying inside my heart. I felt like somewhere down the road I am losing my identity. It was hard being the other woman, mentally and emotionally. Since in reality, he will not be in my life whenever I need him. I started dating other guys from my work and thought I could forget him in that way. But we still ended up being back together.

During 3rd year of our relationship, he spoke about getting divorce from his wife. I thought finally the things are moving for us. He spent most of the timeat my home. But little did I know that it was the beginning of the end. He found job in another city and initially he would make calls to me regularly and insisting me to get a job over there. But slowly the calls ceased and he blamed it on the signal problem of cellphone carrier company. I went to his city for attending job interviews and he met me in the hotel lobby. It was an unfamiliar place but he didn't even help me to search for an apartment or a house. His behavior was totally different.

Yes, I had become 'the other woman' in his life. There is no getting around. I didn't get the privilege of talking or meeting him whenever I wanted. After six months, I spoke to him about the inconsistent communication between us even though we are in the same city, he suggested for a temporary break up. But what if he never takes the divorce? What if I would wait for him forever? With these thoughts I felt like he stabbed a knife on my back and I feel the pain. He deserted me for his convenience and I thought I should not take this any more. So I left that place.

It has been a month now, since I grieved for the death of my relationship. This breakup gave me the chance to breathe and wake up.

Cultural Shock

People live within the framework of the culture they create. As a member of human race it is interesting to note the different cultures on this earth. The term 'Culture shock' came in 1960s and basically it is a condition affecting someone who is suddenly been exposed to unfamiliar way of life or attitudes. It's an experience of moving from native culture to an unfamiliar culture.

The effects of cultural shock triggers various emotions like anxiety, paranoia, excitement and shock. These are mainly experienced by people who visit other countries for various reasons like further studies, jobs, immigrants and visitors. People have their own experiences with culture shock. It may be because of the food they ate in that country, attire of the people, common gesture, unacceptable standards of cleanliness, language or accent. So, when I chose to write on this topic, I thought of writing about my own experience. Its really just my observations. This is my experience when I landed to united states for the first time.

Let me divide my cultural shock experience in five stages and explain what kind of shock I experienced in each stage.

Stage I - It is the excitement I felt when I was flying to a different country and how I got fascinated with the new culture and customs. The moment I came out of the airport, I saw all "white" people everywhere. I agree I missed seeing Indian faces!! . The concept of "Being in" a foreign country started sinking up in my brain. When I met my Indian friend who picked me up, the phobia went away. But when we drove back to the place where I was supposed to live, the phobia kicked in.. Reason?? Roads, flyovers..... now highways were being called as 'Freeways'.. crossroads were addressed as 'boulevards or intersections' ..Argghhh !

This is how I entered into Stage II of cultural shock..

Stage II - My excitement turned into a big disappointment as I couldn't relate myself to the way people were living here. When I walked out of my apartment, I saw students walking with a sandwich or burger in their hands, going on skateboards.. wearing weird clothes like wearing shorts, cap (reversed), listening to music, hanging a backpack... It was totally opposite to how I used to go to a college in India. I used to dress up properly, comb hair, go in a discipline. It was totally opposite here !

Next, were the restaurants. Being a staunch vegetarian since my childhood I found very disturbing menu items in the restaurants here. Plus, I didn't know how to order food properly :( Oh god.. where did I come ?? How will I survive here... were few of my questions which i asked to myself each and everyday.. I started getting disoriented with the cultural difference here. The symptoms of these - my mood was mostly irritated, more calls were being placed to India (calling cards) and I was getting short of money since I didn't had any on campus job over here yet, sleepless ness (coz of jetlag) and because of this anxiety I didn't feel hungry quite much.

Stage III: After making lot of Indian friends who were in the same boat as me, our views started changing towards this new culture. We slowly started appreciating their culture. There is openness in their culture which was difficult for us to digest. Few initial things we learnt were :- we learnt how to order food in any restaurant we go ! We started understanding their English accent which was quite different to what we speak. Although we never tried to speak in their accent, since it looked difficult to us. We Indians tend to speak very fast and because of the difference of accent, we should try to speak slowly when we speak with any American. It took almost a month to understand this ! Results - phew.. lost 3 on campus jobs because the interviewer didn't quite understand what I was talking about...

Stage IV: Now, after couple of months I got accustomed to the culture, language and general trends here. I made couple of american and mexican friends. I got exposure to international friends and learnt how people respect our tradition too. Slowly, I started sorting good and bad views of this new culture and decided to adopt lot of good things that I was missing. For example, exercising regularly, eating salads and green leafy veggies (sorry but this is the most common vegetarian option here), being independent, managing finances, leaving shyness and being outspoken...

Stage V: This is the stage when I came back to India for my vacation and I felt the initial euphoria, dissatisfaction and confusion. However, I was so excited to share my initial experiences with my family , friends etc..

This was my journey. A basic tip to adjust with cultural shock is being observant and realizing why the culture and customs were created before judging how different others are.

This post is written for blogeshwar

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