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How to enjoy the single life

October 27, 2005

It's the end of the month. Very soon the landlord will be knocking on your front door, demanding the rent.

You also probably survive on a very insipid dhabba and long eagerly for a home-cooked meal.

Sounds familiar? These are part and parcel of having to live away from your family.

To address your concerns, we offered Top survival mantras for living alone.

We now feature your stories about living alone -- your raves, your rants, your advice...

Since I was a girl, my parents were not too sure about my staying in Hyderabad for work. I knew I could handle it, but an unknown place can sometimes get to you. The loneliness was not easy to handle. I had a roommate initially, but she developed her own circle of friends and got married in a year's time.

I was working for a top MNC and realised there are not many single women you will find in your firm; those who are there tend to get married in a year or so.

Eventually, I had no choice but to actually stay alone. My two cents for people planning to stay alone:

~ Stay in a good locality. Do not, under any circumstance, compromise on that.
~ Keep a few phone numbers of people you can ask for help any time. It helps to know a few local people also.

~ Get organised. Make a list of things you need to do at the beginning of the month, like paying rent, maintenance, electricity bills, phone bills.

Also, write down the phone numbers you might need in one place: the gas agency, tailor, electrician, plumber, dhobi, hospitals, police, etc.

~ Do not go to unsafe/ unknown areas late in the evening. Remember, accidents do not happen everyday!

~ Save, save, save -- I cannot emphasise it enough. No matter how good a friends' circle you have, money can always cause bitterness. Make sure you don't have to ask people for it.

~ Some days get depressing and boring; for such days, you should know what brings you back to your cheerful self (maybe music, watching television, surfing on the Net, shopping, chatting with family and friends) and do it. Take control of your life.

If you have a hobby, develop it, or develop new ones. Having a hobby helps when there is no one is around to entertain you.
Staying alone for three years now, in a totally unknown city (though Hyderabad is really a very safe place for girls), has helped me become confident; I know I can handle things on my own.
-- Rupali Shah, 24, senior software engineer, MNC, Hyderabad 

I lived away from my family when I worked in Hyderabad in a reputed firm. So I thought I figured it all out -- eating places, cousins to spend weekends with, favourite haunts, managing chores and finances.

But nothing prepared me for the change when I moved to the US for an MBA. Searching a apartment to rent was in itself a daunting task.

Initially, I lived with two other students at a youth hostel for a whole semester in an area with one of the highest crime rates in the US.

Later, thankfully, I found a nice apartment in a safe area and have been living here since.

Here are some common woes you face in the US:

~ Where does one find Indian groceries??

~ For vegetarians: Don't be fooled by a cheeseburger, it has much more than cheese.

~ There's no bai here. You must cook, clean, wash, etc, on your own.

~ You better learn how to pay your bills, the rent, etc.

~ The temperatures fall below zero, so wear that silly-looking coat even if it makes you look like a monster.

And you have to do all this while you are supposed to be studying, keeping your grades up, acclimatising and working on campus. It's quite an experience!

-- Kamachi, 28, student, New Jersey, USA

Living on your own could not be as tough as people make it out to be, or so I thought. After all, I had a job that paid well and came with a semi-furnished company accommodation in Mumbai.

But the last seven months have added to my perspective. I can now vouch that living on your own is not at all that easy. Here are some of the reasons:

~ Support system: The complete lack of one, emotional or otherwise, can get to the most unemotional of people; you start realising just how important your family and friends back home are to you.

~ Health: Taking care of yourself, visiting the doctor when you fall sick, arranging for medicines and fending for yourself is an experience in itself.

~ Finance: I never imagined money would become such an issue, until it did, when I went broke and the next salary payment was still a week away. Learning to budget and avoiding over-spending and buying unnecessary stuff are some of the things I have learnt the hard way.
~ Chores: If you think getting a maid is tough, try matching your schedule with hers! This apart, regular chores, which you took for granted back home, will drive you crazy.

~ Making friends: In a big city like Mumbai, making new friends is a challenge for a working professional like me; time, work pressure and inclination all work against you. No matter how hard you try, your circle will not expand beyond colleagues/ business partners, etc, who are not much fun anyway.

The list can go on and on but, in the midst of all this, I realised living alone makes you a complete human being; you may not be confident about yourself but you know that, by hanging in there, you will find answers to everything that life has to offer.

The essence of freedom is responsibilities.

-- Suraj Saraf, 24, manager-distribution, Dimensional Securities, Mumbai 

At the ripe old age of 29, I was single, footloose and fancy free. I decided it was time to cut the umbilical cord, move out on my own and experience what 'taking care of my own home' would be like.

A woman my age would normally be married and taking care of her home, but seeing that marriage is a long way off, I decided it was time I looked for my own home anyway.
This isn't easy, especially if you are Indian; unless you're married or moving out of the country, living on your own is definitely not an option. But then, since I am pretty headstrong and was quite gung-ho about being independent, I moved out anyway.

Oh yeah, I got the whole 'we did so much for you' from the folks. But -- he, he -- nothing was gonna change my mind!
If you think moving out is gonna give you a whole lot of free time to party, THINK AGAIN!

In between working and making sure I had the water tanks filled during the time the municipal arrived through the taps, cooking, washing clothes and cleaning the house, the last thing I need is to go to a crowded discotheque and shake a leg. And I was someone who partied religiously at least twice a week. This frequency reduced to once in two months and finally tapered down to not at all!

The funny thing is, I don't miss it at all!
My priorities changed overnight, as I went from being a messy ma'am to a Monica (from the sitcom Friends) type -- I became obsessed with cleanliness! I remember the first time I had some gal pals over -- I was literally following them around with a mop to wipe up any dropped ash or drink rings. It was really quite funny. Now I have them over a lot, even for sleepovers, and no, I don't walk around with the mop anymore.
The first thing I did was to buy computer with a television tuner card, so I have Stevie (my television) and Stanley (my CPU) to keep me company. I have been on my own for the last five months now and it's been awesome. I do not have any real problems, but when there's leak in the pipes, or the fuse goes off, then I have to be all grown up. Things I used to take for granted like clean, ironed clothes and a nice fresh towel are things are now need to take care of myself!
It has been an amazing learning experience. Things don't upset me as easily and I've discovered a strength in me I never thought I had. Everyone should live alone for some time -- it brings out the best and, in some cases, the worst in people. Go ahead, live a little!
-- Anisha Fernandes, 29, creative consultant, Mumbai


Do you currently live alone?

Was is tough locating a house? How do you manage money every month? Are the neighbours nosy?

What advice do you have for those who are planning to live on their own?

The trials, the tribulations, the bouquets and the brickbats, we want to hear it all. Don't forget to mention your name, age and what you do for a living. 

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 11

Sub: venturing out

hi i have not yet ventured out but about to do so. I am 27 and for the last 3 years i have wanted to ...

Posted by meghna

Sub: Re: Living alone

I think this is a very useful series by Rediff. I am living alone for last 7 years (first 4 yrs in college), and now ...

Posted by K Rahul

Sub: thanx!

hi.. thanks to the writers of this article, and of other articles too which deal with living alone. i am gonna go to stay alone ...

Posted by Nihar Gokhale

Sub: venturing out!!!!!

hey this article has been of a great help to ppl like me who are stepping out of their comfy,cushy existence.I have recently gone thru ...

Posted by kavitha.

Sub: Re: How to enjoy the single life

Always keep yourself busy in learning new things, networking etc. Have a mobile; get a broad band internet connection (there is nothing like internet), TV, ...

Posted by Venkat Bendalam


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