The grass isn’t greener: Caring for my overgrown, dried out garden


I’ve lived in France for two years. Before that I live in Italy for three years. Before that, Peru for 2 years. Basically for the past seven years I have lived in grass that is “greener”. There have been trying times when learning about new systems, languages, beuacracy, processes and basic cultural norms and ways of life.

I remember in Peru, you had to greet everyone in a room and say farewell. This took the form of kisses/hugs, hand shakes and if there were 20 people in the room, it was a long process of greetings and salutations.

I remember also in Peru, I wanted to take my coffee to-go, or eat lunch at my desk while I worked. It was the most absurd idea and I was an alien if I did this. So I didn’t.

I remember clearly a Sunday I spent at the health center working on the computer. “Aman, que haces?” Dr Omar asked with a puzzled face.  “ oh! Just working on the health project documentation.” I responded casually.  “Umm, its Sunday. Go home.” He said, half joking and half mortified. From then on I spent Sundays “out of the office”.

I remember visiting Cusco and the teachers were on a national strike. The local teachers pushed big bulldozer rocks onto the train tracks to debilitate tourism and travel in the area. Annoying? Yes. Disruptive and making changes. Also, yes. 

I remember when we moved apartments in Rome and it took more than a month to get Internet. Is that even possible? I also remember having to send snail mail letters to cancel bills and request snail mail be sent back to ensure the first letter arrived. Maybe I should’ve just sent a pigeon?

I remember countless Italian train strikes that caused me to arrive late to work, or work from home because I wasn’t informed and there was no transport in sight.

I remember when I was unable to finish my delicious pizza dinner. No doggie bag to take home leftovers, just a coffee and amaro and the bill please.

I remember the multi-meeting & interview process of getting my sons in French creche (nursery). It wasn’t very clear, lots of papers and documents needed to be submitted, additionally meetings were had at the nursery, at the mayor’s office of education, and back at the nursery.

I remember trying to buy a car, with half broken French, and being denied car insurance because I’ve essentially not owned a vehicle in over ten years! Pouquoi?  Jee-zus.

During peak frustrating moments, I complain. I want to curl up in a ball and “go home” to where things are easier, faster, more efficient, open 24-7 and better. I want to go where the grass is greener.


Then, on second refelction, I see the beauty in my current situation.

It’s the importance of human connections.

It’s the importance of taking time out and practicing “slow living” in a place that where “fast living” living has never existed.

It’s the importance of days off and connecting with your community, which actually equates to higher benefits in both a professional and personal sense.

It’s the importance of strikes to fight against injustice, like delayed or unpaid paychecks. 

It’s about patience and processes that we have to respect.

It’s about small portions and finishing your food!

It’s about caring for your garden, pulling out the weeds, and allowing it to come to life. That’s what I’m doing this summer.

Aman Sidhu