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08/03/2015

If you go to Delhi...

Be ready!

 

Mumbai-Delhi. Two cities ten times the size of Slovenia each. Two thousand kilometers. Two hours by plane. Sixty flights per day. Nothing insurmountable! Except that it requires a bit of anticipation. If the delays are not what they used to be a few years ago, they are still frequent between these two mega-cities: when it’s not the fog in Delhi it’s the rain in Mumbai...

 

For an appointment at 4:15 PM, I had therefore planned carefully. I would arrive at 1:10 + something unexpected (a one hour flight delay) + 40 minutes by taxi + something unexpected (almost anything that could happen on the road and block us 30 minutes) and I still had a 45 minutes safety gap...

 

Except that... While it had not rained for more than three weeks, nature unleashed in the night before myindia,mumbai,delhi,flight,gurgaon,traffic departure! Naively, I thought I could still take a rickshaw but upon the advice of my favorite Indian I booked a Uber (a first!), and left early. I could only get a SUV and thank God for that: the water level was so high that only our car could pass in some passages, where rickshaws drivers, stuck in the middle of the street with water up to the waist, were forced to push their vehicle on the side. And we, while water was coming under the door, we drove through, pushing water as a backhoe snow! Which enabled me to 1. Arrive at the airport and 2. Arrive at the airport in time, and even a little bit early. Early enough to take the time to call back the driver after realizing I had forgotten my umbrella in his car – since it is not permitted to exit the airport after check-in in India, it is the guard who had to go get it for me, the driver having some difficulties locating me behind the glass door! And early enough to buy a phone charger since mine had gone missing. So here I was, finally ready for the flight!

 

One hour delay at the time of boarding... How grateful I am for my foresight!

 

Two hours delay at the time of take-off... Why on earth didn’t I book an earlier flight?? Okay, don't panic. There is still a small chance that the traffic on the Delhi-Gurgaon road is not huge in early afternoon and that there is no major incident...

 

Finally I land in Delhi. I jump in a radio-taxi. We rush to Gurgaon and reach in 25 minutes! I am fifteen minutes early which means I can pee, pump some milk, freshen up, put my jacket on. Before all that I inform the desk that I am around, just so they know... An employee comes to meet me immediately and make me follow him. Before I know it, I find myself in the meeting room (hungry, with a full bladder, dishevelled, fearing breast engorgement, my shirt protruding from everywhere, in short completely lost in translation!).

 

My instructions were strict for this meeting: whatever happens, be on time – German-Swiss take time very seriously. Taking this into account, I had calculated that I should be ready to leave by 5.30 PM (it was planned to last 75 minutes max) and could book a return flight at 7:45. How surprised was I to realise it was 5:55 when I left the room! But no need to get excited, with the delay I experienced in the morning, there is no chance that my flight is on time!

 

india,mumbai,delhi,flight,gurgaon,trafficDespite the craziness of the traffic jam (these I-don’t-know-how-many-lanes of cars are very impressive on this road), I arrive at 6.45 at the airport, sharp one hour in advance... Except that I am on the phone with a colleague and he won’t stop talking. Which is makes it very uneasy to show my e-ticket to the guard... Ten minutes later, I finally hang up and I am immediately told that I am at the wrong terminal! I had completely zapped that Jet Airways flights are not operated with other domestic flights... There seems to be no end to this day!

 

Another walking-in passenger then offers me to use his car, which leaves me somewhat puzzled. He assures me it’s not a problem, it’s his office car and anyway I won’t find a taxi at the departures... By the time I decide whether to take up the offer, the guard urges me “there, a taxi! Go go!” I spot a white car which is about to leave and stops it. I ask if this is a taxi, and if he can take me to Terminal 3. No problem!! As I can’t see a meter, I assume I will have to pay a bomb but it does not matter, I just want to go home! I still ask the driver what kind of taxi this is and the answer is weird: taxis booked online by companies, especially for foreigners. Well... Twenty minutes later I'm at the right departure gate, and not even late, my flight was announced to depart with delay at 8:30 PM. When I ask the driver how much I owe him, he answers – wait for it – “nothing, it was my pleasure to help you”. Bah ?? Wait wait wait. Am I really in Delhi? The city with a terrible reputation? And two men offer to help me in the same day? I love my life!

 

I landed in Mumbai with one hour delay. Found a taxi and got home in an acceptable time considering the weather conditions. It is 11 PM and I'm dead...

06/29/2015

Having a filthy day?

After three months away…

No I have not disappeared! I had thought (very naively) that I would have some time to “do my things” doing my maternity leave, like writing. But it went the other way around!!

And like if it was not enough to be haggard, drunk of fatigue, full of playful hormones (they say it is normal when you breastfeed), with a useless brain (not even capable to remember what I have done with a bottle of water I picked up two minutes ago – oh well, I put it in the cupboard, of course!), I got back to work, in a not-so-easy environment… And started yoga again (from 6 to 7 (AM!!))… But I am a Samurai, I can do it!!

My resolution of this getting-back-to-‘normal’-life is thus to start blogging again, posting every Monday instead of every other day…

And to start with, a video to remind us that some Indians don’t have it easy every day…

 

03/18/2015

Interview Excite

The website Excite.fr contacted me and asked me to answer some questions about being an expat in India! Here is what I prepared… Thank you Camille for your interest in my blog! 

inde,interview,excite.fr

Who are you and how was your life before leaving France? 

I am a French girl in my thirties, living in India since December 2006, and blogger from the very first day of expatriation!

I started working abroad (in India) right after I graduated from my business school. So I spent my last years in France as a student (at Reims and Spain with Erasmus), then as an intern, then as a traveler (4 months in South America to meet women working for fair trade)... Very rich years! 

What do you currently do? 

I'm manager in a company that sells food for dogs and cats. 

Why did you leave France? 

My escapades in Spain and South America had opened my appetite! I wanted to explore further by working a few years in Chile or Argentina. I found myself in India – me, Columbus of the modern times ;) (It was the only place where I had found a job quickly.) 

Why did you choose India to live? 

As told above, I believe that this is India that chose me rather than the other way around ;)

But I chose not to leave. At the beginning because I had too many things to discover. Then because I had interesting professional opportunities. And finally because I had been here too long and didn’t know better but to stay…

 Would you go back to live in France? 

Why not? At least for a few years. But I am not the only one deciding now, my (Indian) husband needs to agree ;) 

What do you miss the most about France? 

The serenity of the French countryside: the calm, fresh air, good food...

And of course my family and friends! 

And what do you miss the least? 

Difficult to answer... These winter days when you don't see the sun? These Sundays where everything is closed, no way to run errands or get a massage? These situations where no one is there to help you (with your plumbing, your laundry, your errands etc.)? 

Tell us quickly about your experience in India 

I've landed at night in Delhi, in the November cold. At the time I didn't even know it could get cold in India, you see how aware I was of the country! At the end of the exhibition I was attending in the capital I went to join my base in Pune (a student city and automotive hub 3 hours away of Mumbai), where I spent two great years, mostly partying and traveling.

Then came the time to move to Mumbai with a new job in the pocket. I spent the three following years mostly working (and still traveling around the country).

I was then transferred to Delhi for one year. I faced incredible professional challenges out there. And also personal ones since I broke up with my Indian companion of the last five years. But it was also a great year full of learning and fun (and traveling, always)!

 

I then returned ‘home’, in Mumbai. And less than two years later I was married and with a baby. This is where I am today, at the beginning of 2015!