Though I come from a coastal village of Andhra Pradesh, I cannot but help naming Hyderabad my home. Ofcourse my village has several things that I miss being anywhere else. Owing to the 8 years of my life's crucial time spent in Hyderabad, everything about me is now deeply rooted in that city. Ask something about me, and I hardly see myself answer without 'Hyderabad' in reply to it. The city has been successful in absorbing me, or rather I have been able to dissolve myself in it. But I clearly see that is not the case with Barcelona. As with anything that is linked to people's behavior, I cannot identify bullet points as to what makes a person feel at home, but what I can do is talk about how it affected me.
Europe is like a developed India. No less, no more. It might be politically wrong to say so, but culturally and geographically is appropriate. The similarity ends at naming the descriptors (language, music, habits etc), both of them have very less in common in terms of each of their descriptions. India is a (supposedly organized) chaos where everything appears fuzzy, whereas European countries seem to have clear boundaries on what each of them term as their own, and what is foreign. I favor none.
Edit: A friend notes that the the statement "Europe is like a developed India" might not be appropriate. Please note that it is just my observation owing to the organizations in place in both regions to help different cultures/languages have their own space, besides co-existing. As I said, I do not prefer one to another. Both have their drawbacks.
1. Language: This is one thing which greatly puzzled me the first time I was in Europe (France). I thought English, steadily establishing itself to be a defacto communication medium across the globe, would be spoken widely here. I cannot be more wrong. An Indian auto-rickshaw driver speaks better English than an airport authority in Europe (not at all an exaggeration). I had mixed feelings about this: On one hand, I really appreciated the people for not depending on something foreign. They have everything available to be consumed in their language, in every European country: education, government services etc. On the other hand, I'm amazed at the apparent stupidity (can be indifference/ignorance) in not having an English speaker at the places most necessary like airports, immigrant services etc. In India, we do the opposite. If it's hard to believe, I'll take you to a nationalized bank in a village of the state of Andhra Pradesh where they do not serve with Telugu documents. All the document requests are in English/Hindi which none of them speak. 'Organized' chaos? A chaos which cannot be better organized I say. My mixed feelings towards Europeans in this regard are quite justified.
2. Socializing: Drinking (tea, coffee and beer alike) and smoking can easily be seen as the fastest and most natural activities over which socialization happens (general rule of exceptions apply). It cannot get any worse for someone like me who takes none of those. This is more a psychological thing as you feel estranged amongst all those holding glasses and cigars. But once you start realizing it is only in your head, you will stop noticing the problem altogether. Still there are way too many beer meetups, or tea breaks, or cigar chats that you will have to miss. This is very unlike India, where we can gather and talk just for talking sake and choose to do nothing else. And of course, restaurant dinners (as is the travel) in India are much cheaper and facilitate great spots for friends to meet, again unlike here where private drink parties substitute them. As I said, these are no bullet points, only my personal experiences.
3. Formalities: In general, we Indians are more intrusive and less apologetic which is the way we are used to. But people in Europe are just too formal in everything. They apologize too much and they seem detached with their neighbours. This treatment is not limited to foreigners like me, they do it between themselves too.
This, and many other sublime experiences, put you out of your comfort zone. When I moved from my village to Hyderabad, I can accommodate the change as an extension to my way of life. Here in Barcelona, it's rather different. I do not say I don't like it, I like it and enjoy as much as the Europeans do. But it does not feel to be an extension anymore, I'm on a different island of culture as a visitor.
Nevertheless, there seem to be some benefits to be reaped out of this situation. The most important of them is boredom. I'm not kidding, it's the best thing that can ever happen to us. When it reaches its zenith, you will end up being creative. You just can't help it. There is no other way out. As for me, I started (or resumed) reading a lot. And, writing (my first not-so-short story, written in Telugu, is to be published in http://koumudi.net, probably in three months from now). I have only dreamt of reading a good deal about the person who had a great influence on me: Sri Krishna Devaraya, but never got time for it. Well, now I have it in abundance, and did it. I love him even more now (a full post about his reign has been deferred). The next best thing is that you have time. Well, it might sound the same as the boredom, but not quite so. I want to jog, swim and learn an instrument. While in India, I barely get enough time (don't ask me why, I have no clue) to do any of those. Here, I'm already at two of them, waiting to bring my violin in my next trip to India. The other good things are: your phone does not ring much, your mother can not overfeed you, friends don't hit you on birthday etc.!
All that is my own experience, nothing imaginary. But from here on, I also include some opinions which may not be from a direct experience (but ofcourse are based on some discussions with knowledgeable people).
A question which I was asked quite often is: Will you return to India? I remember at least four people asking me this in our first meeting. My answer from day one (as would be obvious from what I said till now), is Yes. Only now, it is stronger than ever. This post is no place to discuss my reasons (but just to be clear, I'm no patriot). I always wondered why some people stayed back? Especially those who go to United States and United Kingdom. Ofcourse, I'm not wondering about the big firms and establishments in silicon valley, it's an altogether different story which has its own course that I believe would ultimately lead to a symbiotic setup across the globe. Whom I wonder about is those day-to-day employees. What motivates them to hang-on there away from home? It cannot be just money (Or can it be, after all?). I tried to convey my thoughts whenever I get an opportunity. Some agree with me when I say that there are already huge communities of people from India in those countries and people who go there are no more faced with social challenges like the ones I mentioned in the case of Europe. Some say it is to give their children a better life and opportunities. I remember reading two articles (long back, and have no track of URLs) which shed more light on mundane reasons. But at the moment as the job space in India is expanding, such reasons seem to be loosing context, and my wonder still remains a wonder. Anyway, my opinions in this regard are prone to change as I learn more things. An Indian in Europe and an Indian in US will certainly have contrasting experiences, and I'm very interested in learning the latter's perspective.