It’s been pouring over London all day when we meet with Tenzing. He’s dressed to impress, comfortable in his workspace, and ready to talk to us about his journey from India to London across the huge world we share.
Tenzing’s story begins in an area called the Seven Sisters of India, where he was born into a Nepalese family. Because this land used to be part of Nepal, most of the population is of Mongolian descent and speak Nepalese.
“When I tell people here that I’m from India, they always tell me I don’t look it. The same thing happens to me when I visit central India. Even the way we talk in Hindi is different, so people there just assume we are foreigners,” shared Tenzing.
As a kid, Tenzing spent most of his time away from home. This is the case for many children in India who live far from major cities. In his hometown Darjeeling, a hill station famous for tea, it’s hard to pursue schooling past an elementary level. So, children are sent to the big metropolises across the country and to attend boarding schools.
“The mentality back there is that you get a good education in boarding schools because you’re not being distracted by other matters. So, I moved around,” he says.
He lived in Calcutta for six years, where he pursued his bachelor’s in Business Administration and Marketing. He recalls that, even though he was still living within India, people still regarded him as a foreigner.
After graduating, pursuing a master’s abroad seemed like a natural progression for Tenzing. Some of his friends had moved to London and regarded the city as immigrant-friendly, so he packed his bags and set out to complete his MBA in Marketing.
“The loneliness is different from when I was in boarding school. Back then, I could still travel to see my parents regularly, but, living here, I don’t see them often. Here, if you have any difficulties, you have to wait to get holidays and money for tickets,” shared Tenzing.
For the first year, Tenzing lived with a friend from college. Although he welcomed the familiarity at home, he did have to learn how to navigate life in the UK. Because the cost of living is very high, he had to make time to cook his own meals in order to survive. His parents did send him money, but it wasn’t enough to make ends meet without a job.
“Going outside and getting to know the culture was hard, but, since I knew how to speak English, it wasn’t that difficult,” says Tenzing. “The main difference is that people back home are more relaxed. People have time to chat with you or grab a cup of tea. They can sit for hours without thinking about what they have to do. Here, to meet with a friend, you have to book an appointment.”
For Tenzing, London is a land of opportunity. While he’s in good health and earning money, he sees himself staying in the UK. Although he’s fond of his family and his country, going back would imply starting over and leaving behind everything he’s achieved so far.
Back in Darjeeling, his siblings are already involved in the family business, which his father built from the ground up.
“When my father was growing up, they didn’t have many luxuries. He was the eldest, and everyone before him had been a farmer. So, he started his own business and gave opportunities to my uncles and everyone even though he didn’t have that much formal schooling,” he shared.
Even though his father couldn’t speak English, he kept going. He brought up four children and was able to send them all to boarding school.
“There were a lot of sacrifices from his part, and hopefully I’ll grow up to be like him. He went from the village to the towns creating his good name. Everybody knows him,” Tenzing added.
Of course, many migrants regret the time they miss spending with their loved ones back home, and Tenzing is no exception.
“Once you have your own family, you are even more occupied with your personal life. Your parents are also getting older, so you want to spend more time with them. Sometimes I want to bring them here and show them around where I live, where I work,” says Tenzing. “If I have enough money someday, then yeah, I’d move back and talk for hours with a cup of tea.”
Tenzing is a Sales Director for Ria in the UK and one of the 281 million migrants who have left their home countries in search of something more. While their experiences and sacrifices are different, they all share a common goal: making the most of the world we share to create a better life for themselves and their families.
Ria is made up of people like Tenzing, committed to their roots and devoted to their host countries. As a company of immigrants for immigrants, it is our duty and honor to serve the millions of families around the world who depend on our money transfer services to open ways for a better everyday life.
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