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Interview for Worldcraze

The website Worldcraze (an interesting initiative: in short, travelers bring you, in your expat country, things that you can't find locally!) contacted me for an interview! Thanks to Worldcraze team for their interest in my experience in India!

Here is what I've prepared... 


Introduce yourself quickly.

IndianSamourai, 31, expatriated in India since 2006.

What pushed you to settle down in another country?

I have traveled with my parents since I was a child but what especially convinced me was a semester in Spain with the Erasmus program.

After that experience, I started looking for a job in South America where most of my Erasmus friends lived!

 Was it a choice, an obligation? Did you ever imagine yourself in your situation today?

 It was a choice to leave; but the country (India) was kind of a default choice (since I had not found one in South America).

After landing in Delhi and crossing the city, in the middle of the night, I told myself that 8 months was going to be very long but I could do it! I would be home in no time… And here I am, 7 years later!

 Has the language been a barrier for you?

 A little bit but the English helps a lot.

 Why this country, this city? What surprised you the most?

 The chaos! I remember, at the beginning, I understood absolutely nothing to what was going on around me... I still get that feeling from time to time ;)

 Do you have a special anecdote to tell us about your trip?

 Right now I can’t think of any! But I have written lots of stories on my blog ;)

 Have you ever had the opportunity to use a service of collaborative economy?

 Yes! But it was just to help somebody (a reader of my blog). I bought a bike part for a KTM for a guy who lived in Corsica:

I'm also on Airbnb, but I have only hosted one person till now.

 If yes, what did you especially like? If not, would you like to try and why?

 The hand I gave for the bike thing turned out to be a real burden actually!

With Airbnb it went well. It is nice to meet new people traveling and it gives a descent earning, but it is also quite an investment in terms of time, to welcome someone...

 What products or specialties of your country of origin you missing?

 At the beginning, I missed beef, cheese, and bread a lot. Now I can find it a bit but mostly I grew used to not have it – yet I still love it when my best friend arrives with 2 kilos of cheese and a huge loaf of bread!

More and more products are imported but they are expensive, because taxes (alcohol is taxed at more than 150% for example).

Sometimes I had to break my head to bring into India stuff like: a Greek breed cat, a laptop and a Fatboy from Paris, a Victoria's secret dress and pillows I had tested in a Best Western from the United States, racquetball balls purchased from a site in Singapore etc etc!

The difficulty with India is that most of the foreign online sites do not deliver here (because it is too much of a headache with customs and taxes)...

The other problem is that air companies limit the check-in luggage to 23 kg and it doesn’t leave a lot of space to bring extra stuff!

 If you were leaving, what local products and specialties would you miss?

 Since I am still in the process of getting used to spices and I'm not a fan of ultra-sweet pastries, I can remove a lot of Indian culinary specialties from the list!

In terms of products (shampoos etc.) I still tend to buy international brands so apart from a few Ayurvedic (traditional medicine) products I don’t see what I would miss...

I believe that I would rather miss things like individual services (maids, doctors etc.) that are easy to avail in India.

One (or two) last advice for future travelers?

 Stay calm!

Come with an open mind... Don't think you're going to change Indians – not only it is very pretentious but more importantly you’ll break your teeth and you’ll be the only one having a hard time!

 Joke aside, be patient. Do not hesitate to ask for help to local people. Try to learn the language, even if you can very well manage with English. Take a cleaning lady, it makes life easier and she needs money to live. Travel as much as you can, it is a beautiful country (and incredibly diverse). Don’t have too many expectations, come as “virgin” as you can, let yourself be surprised and do not trust too much what other travelers may say.

 And above all, be ready for a breathtaking experience!


Turtle Feet book: "India, the country where nonsense is the norm"

I recently read a book, Turtle Feet, by Nikolai Grozni. The author, a pianist prodigy, narrates the four years he spent in Dharamsala (the place in the Indian Himalayas where the Dalai Lama found exile). Though I got completely lost whenever he tried to explain Buddhist philosophy, I found it very interesting – another kind of experience you can have in India!

And I like this quote:

“[…] India,” I said, pointing at another road sign that read “Slow down! The life that you save might or might not be your own!” “I’ve never been to a country where nonsense is the norm. It’s like a big joke – life, death, rebirth, Enlightenment – it all amounts to nothing, a play on words, a crazy puzzle that can never be solved. No wonder they came up with the idea of maya, or illusion, you know. In the West things are taken seriously. Life is a serious matter. Eating is a serious matter. Tomorrow is a serious matter. Here I can finally breather: there is no pressure to stay alive! Whatever happens is okay. Dying is okay, begging is okay. I don’t have to plot my life. I can sit back and actually enjoy it.” 

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Turtle Feet, Nikolai Grozni (page 41), 2009



Elections in India: the BIG change

Though I am not a big fan (or rather I am a complete ignorant) of politics, a small note on the topic seems in order! A MAJOR change happened in India on Friday and that will probably have consequences for a lot of countries!!

I had written quite a bit about the Gandhi family, Nehru’s descendants, which has been ruling the country more or less continuously since 1947 (either by being prime ministers or head of the ruling party, the Congress); see their saga. Lately, the family tried to push forward the son, Rahul, known for his (very) looks, his half-Italian origin (yes, his mum, Sonia, is Italian and has been the Congress leader since 1998) and his inexperience in politics. But what looks man…

The Congress got a huge slap in the face in the elections of 2014 (when I say huge, I mean huge, first time their opponent gets to rule with a majority of seats). According to the media, the Indian people got tired of the corruption scandals that blew up in the past decade and felt like getting some change (almost 70 years of Gandhis, you may get tired to see their faces!).

So, the big winner is this guy, Narendra Modi, who is known as a Hindu nationalist (Muslims are trembling), an alleged terrorist (he has been till date forbidden visa to the US and UE – I guess that may change) and as a good businessman (based on the economic situation of his state, Gujarat). He also happens to rule a state where alcohol is banned, which is an inheritance of Gandhi (the Mahatma this time), and to have left his wife within 24 hours of marrying her.

God help us (them??)!!

What I can tell you right away is that after one year of craziness the rupee is finally behaving itself – a normal trend when elections happen. For the rest, let’s wait and see!!



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