Free hit counter


By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.


Interview on Aux Cinq Coins du Monde

My blog has been featured on Aux Cinq Coins du Monde (a platform that gathers experiences of expats everywhere in the world). Here is what I had to say to them!  

Introduce yourself 

I'm a writer-traveller-expatriate! Originally from Paris, I started my professional career in India in 2006 and I stayed... 

You and your blogs/sites 

I started to write my blog they day I landed in India. At the beginning it was mainly to share my experiences with my family and friends – who, as it turned out don’t really read it! In the end it became a kind of therapy! I write about what I experience and search about the things/customs/comments/reactions that are new to me and share the same. This has helped me to understand a lot of things about India! 

Where do you currently live? 

In Mumbai at the moment and in India since November 2006, for an indefinite period... 

My parents made me develop a taste for traveling, taking me everywhere since a very young age. Later I spent a semester in Spain, with the Erasmus programme, followed by a 4-month trip in South America. I was really determined to go and work there, at least for a year or two, and I actively started looking for a job. And I found one! But in India... 

Where did you live in France? 

I grew up very happily in Paris with my parents, my two brothers and my cats! I left France at 24, right after finishing my business school. 

For what reasons have you become an expat? 

It just happened... 

Une rue de Mumbai.jpg 

An Indian woman in a sari on a street of Navi Mumbai, on a monsoon afternoon 

What do you like in your life abroad? 

The (sunny) climate, a nice and comfy flat, a certain quality of life (financially speaking), the endless number of places to explore, the constant surprises of discovering a different culture. 

What do you like the least? 

The (humid, excessively hot) climate, a certain quality of life (pollution, noise, odors, traffic), the cultural gap including at the professional level – it is not easy to work in this country! 

What are the characteristics of your host country? 

  • Climate 

Generally hot and humid but it depends on the regions. 

  • Housing 

I found all my apartments easily through brokers but apparently this is not as easy for everyone in the expat community in India! It is a little complicated to rent a place: the societies object to many things like religion, stags, foreigners, youngsters etc., and then you have to go through a full process of registration to the police. 

  • Food 

I love butter chicken and naans. And the food of Kerala, with a lot of coconut. 

I hate coriander (my bad luck as Indians love it!). 

You can find almost everything (even if it is really not easy) so I don’t really miss anything... And what I do miss I bring it with me whenever I go back to France! 

  • Holiday 

5 weeks per year. 

  • Health 

You can find everything – from 'small' doctors in their street cabins to mega-hospitals. Health is not expensive. There are systems of private insurances and public hospitals which are really affordable and even free for the poor. 

In short, you can definitely get treated here (it is even recommended for whatever tropical disease you get here as they know more than in Europe)! Although I admit that you often here bad stories! Personally I often wait till I’m in Paris to see some specialists! 

  • Driving 

It's complete chaos! You can drive with an international license. The French license can also work. But in general when you rent a car it comes with a driver... And when you see the state of the roads and the way people drive, having a driver is not really a luxury! 

  • Censorship 

Not much (some scenes are cut in movies for instance). 

What bothers you the most about the mentalities and cultural habits of your host country? 

The time is perceived differently, and it makes things sometimes difficult to manage! 

Is there a lot of things to visit in the surrounding area? 

There are A LOT of things to visit in India. But going anywhere requires a lot of time. You will need at least six hours of transportation... Often by plane. And you need to know that in the end, after a relaxing trip on a beach or in the mountains, you will come back tired because of the journey back! 

Describe your living environment 

I have a nice apartment with two rooms, very bright and airy but not luxurious. And it is quite noisy because it gives over a slum. But I have a view on the sea and I never tire of it! 

Can you tell us about a typical day? 

I go to work at around 9 am. I work continuously almost without a break for 7-8 hours. Three times a week we have yoga classes on the terrace of the office with my colleagues. Then I go home, I run errands, play with my cat, write my blog, cook or see friends! And 2-3 days a week I'm traveling for work or tourism. 

Vue de chez moi.jpg 

View from my balcony: a slum with the Arabian Sea background 

Your integration was easy? 

Not easy, but not too difficult either. I had the chance to meet an Indian guy after a month, and we were together for 6 years and this has helped me a lot to adapt! 

Do you see / hang out with other French people there? 

Very few. 

Do you know the language of the country? 

Hindi is the most widely spoken language of India but barely spoken by half the population. I have taken courses with Teachyourself then with local teachers. I understand quite a lot but I don’t speak much. The Mumbai Hindi is particular, mixed with Marathi. My Hindi had improved a lot during my year in Delhi and I kinda stopped practicing when I came back to Mumbai... 

Do you have anything to say about the French? 

I dunno, I like the French! 

Do you go back regularly to France? 

2 - 3 times per year. 

Do you have regular contacts with your entourage back in France? 

Skype, facebook, emails, phone, I am very much in touch! 

Do you plan to go back and live in France one day? 

I don’t know, one day at a time! 

Have you changed or grown up since you left? 

Ah yes! This is the least you can say! India is so different that it makes me question myself and my culture permanently. It is extremely enriching. 

Also, I think expats spend a lot of time alone and learn a lot about themselves. 

And at the professional level, with a little motivation and an encouraging manager you can progress very quickly! 

Do you have any advice for expatriates-to-be? 

If you come in India, keep in mind this saying: “If you are patient India will make you lose your patience and that if you are not patient India will teach you patience! In short, get ready to be hustled and shaken and don’t try to resist! It's not easy but you come out of it a much better person... 

Also, don’t have too many expectations (neither good nor bad)… India has a ton of things to offer (good and bad) and the least you expect the more you will find your place here. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 20 years? 

I don’t know, one day at a time! 

How do you prepare your retirement? 

I contribute to the French organizations and invested a little in real estate. 

In what corner of the world do you dream of living? 

For now I'm good where I am! 

Where would you like to live once you are retired? 

I have some time left to think of it!


Interview for Internations

My blog been featured on (a good platform to meet fellow expats everywhere in the world). Here is what I had to say to them! 


Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to India, etc. 

I am a Parisian girl in my thirties. I moved to India in 2006, as this is the only place (outside France) where I could find a job after finishing my business school. And I have been having an eventful life ever since! I have changed companies, jobs, cities and loved it all! I am currently based in Mumbai. 

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences? 

I started my blog the day I landed in India. Initially it was to share my experiences with my family and friends and it ended up as some kind of “therapy”: writing to understand better whatever I came across and startled me in this amazing country. 

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours? 

I have some entries that have received good feedbacks, some funny, like When Jane meets Tarzan; some surprising, as When Superman saves Indian Samourai; and, finally, some interesting, like Why Indians. 

Tell us about the ways your new life in India differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock? 

I had an easy landing as I met an Indian guy a couple of months after arriving and he answered a lot of my questions. I had some difficulties with my first Indian boss which made my life tough. I had a few shocks here and there but generally it’s been a smooth journey… 

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in India? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made? 

I had traveled in India (and other developing countries) before, and since a young age, so I had an idea of where I was going. I wasn’t really prepared though. But I also didn’t have any expectation (bad or good) which I think helped a lot. 

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?  

I have so many! Maybe you can check this list on my blog, which refers to my daily life here, namely My Stories in India. 

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in India?  

  • To be patient – it takes years to start understanding India and there is no end to it… (I like this saying “If you have patience India will make you lose it, if you don’t have patience India will teach it to you.”- I think it is true and it is also a circle!)
  • To be open-minded (easier said than done at times believe me!!).
  • Always try to understand why Indians do what they do (especially at work), otherwise it will drive you crazy and things won’t get done. 

How is the expat community in India? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats? 

I always have had 3-4 very good expat friends, mostly French, but I don’t really know the expat community. It is relatively easy to find expats (through or though we are not so many in India… However, I find it not so easy to find like-minded people – especially since expats usually stay a maximum of 2 years and you evolve a lot after 2 years when you stay in India. Your point of view, your understanding of the place and people keep on changing. 

How would you summarize your expat life in India in a single, catchy sentence? 

Living in India is probably the hardest and yet most rewarding challenge I will ever take up!  


The color doesn't make the Indian!

 You feel very funny when your rickshaw driver gets insulted by an Indian girl in a very skin-tight jogging outfit, and that to with the purest American accent! After a few second of stupor comes the moment of solidarity with the driver: What the hell is that woman doing here? And why is she getting so worked up just because we almost ran over her? Then there is a brief moment of solitude: the white girl with Indian reactions, the not-white girl with not-Indian reactions... The world turned upside down! 

As a matter of fact, I have been discovering a new species lately: Indians who have grown up abroad. And this species seems to have been growing exponentially; I meet more and more of these ‘freshly landed’ guys. They are funny. They have amazing accents (everything but Indian) and they are sometimes completely lost here (as much if not more than the foreigners of not Indian origin except that it’s weird because it doesn’t match with their skin color).  


So who are they? ‘Brains’ coming back? ‘Brains’ just coming? ‘Half-brains’ just coming (see for better understanding the last anecdote below)? 


Everybody must have heard of the “brain drain” that India has been suffering from since the 1960s with many Indian ‘brains’ moving to the United States or to Europe (especially to the UK). Well, the American dream. So even if with 11.4 million the number of Indians who leave is high (1)), it only represents 4.3% of the Indian population with a tertiary education (3.5% for France). (2)  


However we now speak of ‘brain gain’ and ‘brain circulation’. In 2010, 100,000 Indians are believed to have returned to the mother-land and it made a big noise! (3) However, we are far from a complete change of trend...  


To start with, 100,000 out of the 10 million Indian citizens living outside India (1), it's not much. To continue, the same year, more than 150,000 Indian students left to study abroad (4)! Here, it must be highlighted that even if India has made a real effort in the field of education (5), there still not enough places and the quality is debatable. And since almost half of the seats are reserved for the lower castes (representing the same proportion of the population) (6), scoring very high does not guarantee access to the university.  


I can quote the girl I met in the line at the Consulate and who would go study medicine in the United States because with the quotas in India, she was almost sure not to get admitted. Abroad seemed the only option, even if it is not the same budget... And that’s also why many students stay there after their studies, to be able to repay their loans (with an American salary). 


There is not really any study or government data on the return of Indians to the country. However some believe that the majority (80%) of Indians returnees are less than 35 years. (7) Which corroborates what the ‘new Indians’ I meet say: Abhishek, 30, born in Dubai, came to try his luck in the cinema and his parents are almost ‘horrified’ at the idea of him living in India: “We worked our ass off to get us all out of that rat hole and you want to go back! It’s dirty, it stinks, it is the chaos, blablabla”. They don’t understand... And when it gets too difficult, my friends also wonder what the hell they are doing here! 


It is worth mentioning that the ‘brains’ who left several decades ago have been quite successful: the 1 million of Indians in the United States who represents 0.1% of the Indian population earn the equivalent of 10% of the Indian national income. (8) We then understand that they don’t really want to leave... 


On the other hand the next generation, their children born outside India and the Indians who have emigrated less than a decade ago, shows a real curiosity towards India. And are scared by the economic uncertainty in the host countries / attracted by the growth opportunities in India. 

In the generation of foreigners of Indian origin, there are some ‘brains’ and some ‘normal’ people.  


I have been meeting a lot of them, most of all in their thirties and all in India for less than 2 years… There is Jesh, a British insurance guy who came back because his mum had no one left in the UK and she was old and returned to India and got sick, and he hates it here. I met Tosh, a high-end British banker who was sent by his company and would never take a rickshaw  and is disgusted by India. I met Naveed who went to work in Dubai for a few years before deciding to try his luck in Bollywood. I met Bob who spent 10 years in the US and was sent by his medical appliance company to take charge of the Asian market and had very Indian reactions sometimes and sometimes very American ones. I met Shuchi who came on holidays, met a work partner and came back to start together a home-designer company. And there is the whole bunch of guys who come and get ‘normal’ Indian jobs waiting for a better opportunity or to start their company…  


That’s how I found myself in less than a month with two pursuers (of the latter kind), a Sikh from Buenos Aires and a Keralaite from Manchester, who not only have been flooding me with stupid cheesy whatsaps, they have also sent me photos of their torsos. I still don’t get it...    

india,immigration,emigration,migration,brain drain,brain gain,brain circulation,brain,abroad,skin color,skin complexion,study,statistics,returnees,pio,person of indian origin,oci,nri,overseas indians

india,immigration,emigration,migration,brain drain,brain gain,brain circulation,brain,abroad,skin color,skin complexion,study,statistics,returnees,pio,person of indian origin,oci,nri,overseas indians

(1) Since India doesn’t recognise double nationality, many Indians who settle abroad give up on their Indian nationalities. The ones who don’t are called NRI (Non-Resident Indians) and there would be around 10 million of them (against a total of 40 to 100 million ethnic Indians spread across the world). But India has put in place systems to ‘recognise’ people: with the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card for anyone with parents (up to four generations) or spouse of Indian origin and the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card. The 12 million people holding these cards can stay and work in India without visas (for 15 years for PIO and lifelong for OCI), buy property (except for agricultural land which they can only inherit) but they can’t hold an Indian passport nor vote. And you have people of Indian origin with a foreign passport who just apply for visas like anybody else ! (cf the 35,000 employment visas granted to Americans by India in 2010). 

Sources:;; Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs:; 

(2) In 2000; Source: 

(3) Of which 60% are professionals; Source: 

(4) Still 3 times less than China but three times more than in 2000; source 

(5) 500 universities and 26,000 "colleges with a total of 13.6 million students in 2012; Source: 

(6) Only 16% of Indians have access to tertiary education (55% in developed countries, 11% in developing countries; source: ;) 

Scheduled Castes (SC) and Tribes (STREAM) constitute approximately 22.5 per cent of the country's population. Accordingly, a pro-rata reservation of 22.5% (SC 15% and ST 7.5%) has been made for them in educational institutions which come under the administrative control of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and other Central Ministries. Seats are also reserved for other categories of the backward community (OBC). The Government of India implemented the following recommendations in 1990 leading to violent protests: the reservation of 27% of the seats in all scientific, technical and professional institutions run by the Central as well as State Governments for other backward communities (CBOs). Source: