Expats Speak

I was catching up with a friend of mine, Stephanie, a journalist, who’s made her way to Delhi from Australia. In our conversation about life, work, love and whatever else, I asked her – ‘Why relocate to India?’ 

It took a bit for her to respond, and then she pensively said – ‘I want to figure this country out. I want to understand it better.’ Statements like this often have me posing questions to myself, the most obvious being- what else is there to learn about this city? Delhi?

Sure, I know its streets and sounds, but there are parts of Delhi that people like me, who’ve been born and brought up here, are totally disconnected with. Speaking with friends from all corners of the world who’ve found a home in Delhi is a gentle reminder of how you can never know enough – about any person, any place… anything. In moments like these, it helps to look at this city I call home through the eyes of people who are working towards making it their home – all of  a sudden, the things that I consider mundane sound more exciting, and I discover a facet of Delhi I’ve been oblivious to. I tell myself ‘Think like a local, act like a tourist.’

What’s astounding to see is how expats have found a way to bring parcels of their culture to our city. Relocation to India is coming of age. The French- bistros, cafes, stores et. all have found a foothold here, and festivals at Spanish, German and Italian embassies and cultural centres are a ticket to a whole other part of the world. To resettle here is not such a bad option. I caught up with 5 expats in Delhi, and they were asked- What’s Delhi to you, and how has your experience and understanding of how the city has changed over the past few months/years of living here? How have you found a way to bring & find a bit of your own culture to Delhi?

Here’s what they had to say:

Cameron, Musician, Australian

Three years ago, Delhi was a place I knew nothing about. I moved here with my family to make a new home, and I had no idea what was in store for us.

Since then I’ve been swallowed up by an ocean of people, been shaken by how insignificant I am, awestruck by a vibrancy of living and along the way, discovered who I am and the music I need to make.

I made a little cave in South Delhi full of musical instruments, guitar pedals, coffee cups and curiosities, and I slowly began to write music. It was a lonely process, one in which I found my singing voice. I was inspired by my new inner circle of Delhi friends, who showed me anything is possible in this city, you just have to know where to find it! 

I found ways in Delhi to build my own world around me. Either on a large scale, helping put on the super fun Bhootsavaar Fashion Night parties, or on a micro scale, with my friends gathered around my espresso machine. I really love making coffee. Indian coffee beans are amazing, and if you take time to make a cup of coffee properly {and this involves playing the right music while pouring!} then you can make the world a better place, even if it’s only inside your kitchen!

I’ve now put the finishing touches on my songs and my first music video. We shot it in an old studio in Noida and had fun with coloured Holi powder! I can’t wait to share it with my fellow Dilli-wallahsTeek hai, challo!

Christina, Founder, Mummydaddy.com, American

I have been in Delhi since September 2010… I moved here for a ten month AIF William J. Clinton Fellowship. In that first year I remember running around the city so much – exploring and discovering this new place. Now, Delhi for me is a relatively normal life. I suppose that happens with moving to any place, especially one so extravagantly far from home. In the beginning you discover, and then it settles into the usual routine of work, family, friends, home. Thankfully, my work keeps me exploring.

On bringing my own culture here: Part of bringing the culture here is bringing holiday traditions here.Every year, we have a tradition of a Christmas celebration with near and dear friends, where we exchange silly gifts, share amazing food, deck the halls and enjoy all the festivities. My mother used to make this gorgeous Christmas cranberry cordial that takes a month from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve to mix and to bring out this beautiful bright crimson color. She ships me the cranberries for it every November – a new tradition bridging both places, I suppose.

We do the same thing with July 4th. It is extremely important to keep these traditions alive, in whatever form they take.

On the more flippant consumer side, I consider being in Starbucks basically the equivalent of being on American soil. It was never something I sought out at home but now enjoy it to absolutely no end.

Read full article at LLB, Delhi

By Suchita S.