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05/26/2014

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... 

india,interview,expat,expatriation,worldcraze,worldcraze.com

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: http://www.indiandacoit.com/archive/2013/07/22/the-travel...

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!

05/02/2014

The chicken festival!

I am always surprised by the propensity of Indians to spend their little money in extravagant parties (I speak here of the Indians who live in the slums at the foot of my building). And since they are poor, they do their party in the street (at the foot of my building) or in the courtyard of the temple (adjacent to my building). This happens at least three times a week, a circus in those lines:

You never know what they are celebrating! A wedding, elections, a God – watching the Sai Baba procession (a giant picture being carried on a truck) with a huge crowd of Indian women shaking their asses to the sound of a vaguely lewd Bollywood song is priceless. Everything is an excuse to make noise! You’ll tell me, if they are happy and you are not, you can always move out! Yes but welllll... 

 

At times I get to see funny stuff, like the chicken festival! One evening, you go home and find a chicken head at the grid. You wonder how the thing has possibly landed there and why none of the three watchmen who have nothing to do have left it there. But you don’t overthink it; it is, after all, a chicken head. It happens!  

And then you look down from your window and you see a truck stuffed to bursting with chickens parking (at the foot of your building), and hundreds of people jostling to buy a chicken. Even your maid is late that day because she had to go to the chicken festival... 

In the meantime, if there is one chicken I would have gladly slaughtered, it is definitely the one screaming in the video!

 

Chicken day, Mumbai - April 2014

04/28/2014

The Indian Wedding for Dummies - 8.All that to say that...

India,wedding