Q1. Can you tell me about your relationship with your beautiful pet you recently lost?
This would be the hardest question for me today. Funny enough I dreamt about him the other night. I know a lot of people say, ‘he was just a pet’, but for me, Tango was family. I struggled with depression during my last year of university and the start of work life. During those days my dad was posted in the field and my brother was in college. It was just me, my mum, and Tango. I had these crazy panic attack-anxiety bouts, but Tango was always around. He was not just some cuddly pet, but he acted like a service dog. Maybe not officially, but he knew when I was having one of my episodes. If I was crying, he would put his head on my lap as if to tell me that it’s going to be ok. Or sometimes he would lick my hands to calm me down. Other times he would run to the door asking me to take him for a walk so that I would get distracted and not stay cooped up indoors.When he was nine months old, he saved me from a man who tried to assault me as I was walking him around the neighborhood one night. It was one of the terrifying experiences, but this little pup chased the man away and came back and rubbed his head on my shaky legs, while I cried like a baby surrounded by my neighbors, who had gathered hearing me scream.I was in love with this hero after that. It would always me, who would give him baths or take him for walks or give him food. My brother did that as well but it was mostly me. He would only listen to me and that used to annoy others; it was quite funny as well. He knew my voice so well that when I got back home from work he would be at the door waiting. He was the best part of my childhood and I loved him to bits. He started to fall sick when I moved to Bangalore for work, but he didn’t give up. It’s like he knew I would come around once a month and he would get to see me, moreover, my brother was around to give him company. But Tango got worse when I left for Germany in October 2015.I couldn’t be with him in his final days and he had to be put to sleep (2016) because he suffered an internal infection that damaged his organs—he was in severe pain. My parents told me they had to do it soon and I was so angry that I failed my first exam and didn’t eat for days. I couldn’t handle it. Every time I thought of him, I broke down (I still do sometimes). I have a feeling he would have lived a couple of years more if I hadn’t left. I feel like I abandoned him when he needed me the most and that’s my biggest regret. I couldn’t be there with him, for him, like he was there for me.
He was 10 years 6 months old and we buried him under his favorite tree in the backyard. My family and friends helped me deal with the pain; one friend went out of her way to help me deal with it. It took a while getting used to the pain of losing a family member, my best friend, my brother. He will always be a part of me.
Q2. How often do you visit home? Do people say you have changed—whether it’s your dressing style or even something as simple as your accent?
I have been home thrice. The first time was a blur because it was only for two weeks out of which one whole day was spent at a wedding, so I was tempted to take another trip for a longer period. But now I would only go home after I finish school though I would return and get a full-time job here (Germany) until I need some change. I love change. It makes me uncomfortable and maybe that’s why I like it.
I once read somewhere that good things happen outside your comfort zone, and I am a complete believer in that since most of my learning happened when I moved out and lived by myself.
So, yes people tell me I have changed more often than I like it. I guess it’s not the dressing or the outer changes that bother them, but rather my outlook towards life.
For instance, I don’t really care if I show more skin than I used to or shave my armpits because I am not conscious about it anymore or it doesn’t make me uncomfortable (maybe because people don’t really judge you here or care for that matter). Or when my parents bring up the marriage topic and I tell them it’s not important to me at this point in my life. So I would say, my confidence has gone up even more than before.
I was already an outsider in Germany, but I sometimes get a similar feeling back home. I feel like I have missed out on more than a year worth of changes in the lives of the people I love and care about.
Q3. As an Indian abroad, what do you think Indians need to stop doing?
This a great question, and we discuss this a lot among us, Indians. In my opinion, the main thing fellow Indians should stop doing is sticking to their groups. The whole point of moving to a different country is to learn about different cultures, meet new people, and grow as a person. Of course, you should never forget your roots, but there are so many new things to learn from other people. I see a lot of Indians sticking to the same groups, and I am not saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s also not the most productive practice. Most of us have just two years during the course of our studies and we should rethink how best we can make use of this time.
Q4. One thing Indians should learn from Germans?
First things first, I am an architect by profession and I completed my bachelors in Hyderabad, India, where I had been living for almost 15 years until I moved to Munich. I have been here since October 2015, and I am enrolled at the Technical University when I am doing my MSc. in ClimaDesign (climate responsive architecture and energy efficiency in buildings). I also picked up an internship (interior designing) recently at an architectural firm in Munich. I love traveling and forming new experiences; I love collecting memories and most of all, meeting new people who have something different to offer in terms of cultural diversity.
One thing Indians should learn from Germans is ‘independence’, in terms of work, education, and relationships. I wish I had some kind of small-time job during school so that I could have learned to be more financially independent and disciplined. We, Indians, are spoon-fed and are always dependant on others at every stage of our lives (especially women) and it is dangerous in my opinion.
Q5. If you were to run or own a business, what would it be?
I have given this a lot of thought, to be honest, and every time I have an overload of ideas. I do want to stick to my profession because I love designing, but I would like to start an architecture studio for quirky and eccentric design ideas. I also want to own a café somewhere in Delhi, but more like a joint venture (my friends and I have already discussed this). Not one of those kinds that have these hipster designs these days, but more basic and simple. Or a travel agency for both international and national trips to places that are unconventional and not touristy.
Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.