When Jamaal Stewart of the United States decided to move to India for work, it did not take his wife, Amanda, long to acclimate with everything Indian. While her connection to India started with Global Adjustments, her innate need to learn helped her embrace this new culture with open arms. Along with their children Logan and Elias, Amanda has taken it upon herself to go on this new adventure headfirst. Team Culturama catches up with her, as she shares some of their key moments in India
What was your first point of contact with India?
Our first point of contact was Shefali from Global Adjustments (GA). My husband, Jamaal, got in touch with GA when he had come down for a week to visit the new facility. He was very impressed with the office and the confident staff at GA. He told me many times that I would be happy here because of GA. And it was proved true when we moved here as a family.
What was your impression of India before you came here, and how is it now?
Before, it had always been a dream of mine to come to India. The colours, diversity and so much history, the place always appealed to both my husband and me. So when we got the news about our shift to India, we were all excited. But after we arrived and daily life began, everything seemed like a chaotic mess. I had to walk those busy streets that were once intriguing and exciting. I had to understand the Indian English, which some days felt like a completely different language. I got to figure out how the new array of spices go together to make that yummy butter chicken masala. But we know this chaos is only temporary and things will sort itself out.
How does Indian cuisine/food compare to local favourites back home?
In Atlanta, Georgia, we had Indian friends and we often got home-cooked Indian food. After arriving here, we learnt that there are many different varieties of Biryani. We never knew which to choose! And we quickly learnt that Andhra Pradesh food is some of the spiciest food ever. It was a bit overwhelming at first. So when we go out, I prefer to ask another family to accompany us. We encourage the kids to try everything then. Chicken Lollipop was a surprise to them.
But there are just some things that we miss from back home, no matter what. Take, for instance, buttermilk. In America, buttermilk is referred to as sour milk but still good for baking. Here, buttermilk is made of yogurt, has spices in it and comes in juice boxes. It’s been a good laugh at our house; thankfully I did not make biscuits with it.
Have you taken part in any Indian festivals?
Yes, Diwali. We had a wonderful time shooting off fireworks with our new community. It was a great opportunity to meet everyone, and my children made friends.
We knew about Diwali but did not know how to celebrate the festival. Thankfully, we live in an apartment. I asked some people what we should do. I was advised to buy fireworks. I know I am typically the only foreigner who shows up at local events, as long as we are invited and welcomed. Along with everyone else from the building, we shot off the crackers. This gave the kids the opportunity to interact with other children. Now kids knock on our doors and they all run off and play together. I am so glad we went to the roof that night for Diwali.
What are some sources of entertainment in India?
We’ve been to a local movie theatre, shopping malls, several beaches and a few parks. The kids love the Snake Park.
If you wanted one thing to change in India, what would that be?
If there was one thing you would take back to your home from India, what would that be?
The colours and decorations on everything. Being able to put Rangoli design at my doorway every day.
• Best Indian friend: Ranju
• Favourite Indian food: Dosa
• Favourite hang-out spot in India: Terrace/rooftop at my apartment
• Intolerable India: Tardiness
• Loveable India: Colours