Mani: A New Life in India
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to India, etc.
Hi! My name is Mani (short for Manija), I was born and raised in Mexico City. In 2008, I travelled to India and met my soulmate, an American named Josh. A year later, I went against a lot of people’s expectations, left college in London and my comfortable life, and moved to the US. While trying to live a life dedicated to God, we got married, built a life, and on July 2, 2013, we got rid of everything except three suitcases and our laptops and moved to a small town in India.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
About 2 weeks after we moved to India, I decided that our experience was too interesting not to share, and having a bit of spare time, I decided to start a blog and I’ve had a great response to it.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I have several:
- Behind The Scenes: Statues of Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu Festival),
- Fresh Indian Cooking (and Rooftop Neighbor Chat),
- Our Backyard: A Cat, Bird Nests, And An Open Well.
But my reader’s favorites seem to be:
- Nutribullet Fail (And Smoothie Recipes),
- My First Time Wearing A Sari,
- The Best Shoes For India (& Travelling In General), and
- How To Make Homemade Peanut Butter.
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 could write like 5 pages to answer this because life in India is so different to my home country than anywhere I have lived. I even have a culture-shock series of posts in my blog. The major ones I experienced were the lack of privacy/personal space, the noise, and the dirt/lack of cleanliness.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in India? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Not at all. I thought I was pretty prepared because I had travelled to India over 10 times before I actually moved there. But visiting and living there are two completely different things. For preparations, I definitely would’ve packed more food goodies that I can’t get in India, they were highly needed. And I would’ve prepared myself better mentally, because I was definitely surprised by how different life is in India. I even wrote a post about things to know before moving to India.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
This one is a combination of culture-shock and funny story. One night, Josh and I were working on our laptops when around 8pm Shekhar and Adinath, our two new Indian friends, walked into our home (through the unlocked front door) without a word or knock, then grabbed the chatai (a palm leaf floor mat), grabbed a couple of glasses and some beer, settled on the chatai, and started playing card games, without us, right there in our living room.
It was a moment to truly take in. This would never ever ever happen in Mexico or the US, and in many other countries. I think this is a true statement of the Indian culture and its people. Their minds are free like the mind of a child. This has its upsides and its downsides.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in India?
Like I mentioned before, I wrote a whole post about it. But the main things that come to mind are:
- expect the unexpected,
- embrace the unexpected,
- pack all your favorite packable foods and products.
How is the expat community in India? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Well, I have heard that the expat community in India is pretty wide. But I have not really experienced it myself. You see, Josh and I moved to a village near the city of Ahmednagar, the 124th most populous city in India (according to wiki). So, we are pretty remote. But if you happen to move to a big city like Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, you will find many expats and many expat events.
How would you summarize your expat life in India in a single, catchy sentence?
A Mexican and an American move to a small town in India and learn to live in what seems like a different planet.