Living in India
India is the seventh-largest country in the world with a total land area of 3.2 million square kilometres. Expats who will live in this spiritual renowned country are about to experience an extra-ordinary culture while being surrounded by majestic mountains and a vast desert.
Known to have a diverse terrain and a history of vast empires, it has the most population in the world. It is also a newly industrialised country that can outsource its human resources to other countries while building a strong trading bond and allies. By Western standards, India can be quite chaotic and loud considering that it houses more than 1.3 million people. However, those who love to embrace new challenges and have the courage to embrace this country’s unique identity will be soon rewarded with a one of a kind experience.
Learning while Having Fun
One of the things expatriates consider when planning to move to another country is their children’s welfare. Keeping your kids happy will not be a problem in India because from outdoor activities to mind exercises, this country has it all. In Borivali National Park in Mumbai, for example, they can marvel at lions, macaques, crocodiles and other exotic animal species. They can go climbing granite boulders or the trees on top.
Those who would rather give their minds a good workout can do it in any of the kid libraries such as the Hippocampus library in Koramangala which is also an experience centre where kids can engage in all sorts of enriching activities. Expat parents who want their kids to learn about India’s local culture will not run out of historical attractions to visit such as the world-famous Taj Mahal and the Varanasi which is the oldest living city in the world where the evening Ganga-aarti is performed.
A Taste of India
Indian cuisine is known for using aromatic spices such as haldi (turmeric), tamarind, jeera (cumin), methi, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, saffron, cardamom and red or green chilli peppers. The Indians also love to use their signature herbs which are mint, bay and curry leaves as well as coriander. Other food staples are lentils, naan/roti (flat unleavened bread and raita (yoghurt mixed with chopped onions and tomatoes).
Food plays a significant role in the Indian culture. All festivals and celebrations in this country usually involve a feast where locals gather to dine. India is a country where expats will not run out of places to buy food. Hotels or the local term used for small eateries are scattered almost everywhere. There are also lots of restaurants, stalls, Food Street and pushcarts that sell authentic and affordable Indian foods. Some of best local foods that all expats must try are tandoori chicken, Baingan bharta, Bhindi Masala, Rogan Josh and Recheado masala fish.
Dealing with Culture Shock
An expat in India will usually find the people warm and very friendly. This makes adjusting to the new country a whole lot easier. Sometimes, Indians can be too nice in that they would rather tell a lie than hurt people. But this is all part of the local culture and should not be taken in a negative light. Among Indians, order is very important. For every group of people, whether it is a family, an educational organization or a company, people always recognize certain individuals as their head or leader.
And then there are other unique things an expatriate in India will find unique about the local culture. For example, people don't like giving or receiving flowers because these are associated with funerals. Hindus will not appreciate receiving gifts made of leather while Muslims would not like anything made of pigskin. When being handed out a gift, it is more acceptable not to open it in the presence of the giver. Gifts, in general, are believed to make things easier for people to move on to the next life.
Moving to India may also require one to take a quick cultural crash course when invited to an Indian home. Entering one must be done with footwear removed and left by the doorstep. And when being invited for tea or coffee, one must refuse the first invitation. This is considered ethics. On the dining table, the guest is usually served first, followed by the men and the children. The women usually prepare and serve dinner and eat last. Food left on the plate after means the person has had a hearty meal while an empty plate means the person is still hungry.
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