During the course of 25 years, Team Culturama has made many life-long global friends. Here are excerpts from some of the conversations with them…
Nothing can beat the Dosa!
Rosario Besse and Mickael Besse, France
‘We like the different kinds of food in India.’
‘I like that,’ Rosario’s hands shoot up circling in the air, ‘It has a lot of vegetables… hmmm.’
‘No…but I like chappathi a lot too. What do you call that…?’
“’No, bhatura is really nice, but this is not bhatura.’ She closes her eyes for a second and is in serious thought.
‘ Masala Dosa?’
‘That’s it!’ her eyes sparkle, there is sense of contentment and an air of excitement. ‘I really like the dosa, it’ll be my favourite food here.’
Living a dream
For Cyrpiot Marina Marangos from Greece and her British husband, Charles Gilks, living in India was a careful dream nurtured for 25 long years. ‘We came to India as young students and fell in love with the colours and the people, and my husband has always dreamt of coming to work here. Finally, after 25 years, the job opportunity came up and we have been here ever since.’ So, it is hardly surprising when Marina says her unique space is her home in New Delhi.
Love for knowledge
Youngmi Kim, Korea
Experiencing It All
The first surprising thing for me when I came to India was the Indian mothers’ passion for the children’s education. I was told that some Indian mothers register in schools even before their child is born! And even more surprising was the fact that some of the top schools have entrance examinations for three-year olds!
The Learning Curve
Every single day is like a ‘learning India’ school for me. I think one of the biggest learning was to understand that India has so many diverse cultures and how they embrace all differences. And I appreciate Indians’ deep affection for their own traditional arts and crafts.
Land of stories
Suzanne Smith and John Thompson, USA
Mahatma Gandhi and all the heroes in my collection of over 400 Indian classic comics called Amar Chitra Katha.
India has the world’s best vegetarian food. So we have become largely vegetarians.
We had travelled to a number of places in India and plan to visit Kerala, Rajasthan and the Himalayas.
We feel lucky to have the opportunity to experience how different cultures can be, and yet through new friendships to find once again that we are not so different after all.
Going on a spice trail
Beth Caldwell, United Kingdom.
I must say that, having grown up ordering Indian takeaway, I was inordinately excited at ordering my very first takeaway in India. I stuck to the UK favourite of Chicken Tikka Masala, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! It’s still a weekend tradition — takeaway and a movie. Some habits clearly die hard!
When in the United Kingdom
Have deep pockets! Expense aside, you can’t leave the country without trying fish and chips — best eaten out of the wrapping paper, even better at the seaside. In London, do visit the incredibly good value Vietnamese cafes on Kingsland Road. And even small villages have an Indian restaurant.
Kyoko Fukuda, Japan
My tips to live and work in India
Stay connected with people who are positive. Participate in activities you are interested in and meet new people outside your place of work. Understand the people and culture.
India on a platter
India has a different attitude towards food – strongly related to religion, tradition and culture. Recently, I read somewhere that turmeric, which is often used in India, helps prevent Alzheimer’s. I have been thinking ever since that I have to learn to have more Indian food daily!
One advantage of living in India is the travel. India has many tourist attractions like mountains, beaches, deserts, islands, heritage places and wildlife. My favourite experiences were cycling and paragliding in Kerala, the quiet and empty beaches of South Goa, and vineyard and heritage tours in Nashik and Aurangabad. My dream is to go to Leh and Ladakh on a motorbike.
Festivities in the air
Rodrigo García and Estefanía Salgado, Mexico
India on a platter
All of our friends think that because we are from Mexico we eat really spicy food; we do eat somewhat spicy food, but nothing compared to the spice levels in India. Here, food is truly spicy but delicious. In Mexico, we use a lot of sauces for our dishes, which you could compare a little with the use of sambar and the chutneys but with different ingredients.
Celebration at the doorstep
We have been here to experience Pongal and Diwali. We love the decoration with lights, the kolams on the doorsteps and the joyfulness overall. We would prefer to leave out the noisy firecrackers.
I am taking home…
We are taking home a little bit of everything, culture, traditional dishes, music and yoga.
Navigating through challenges
Hedwig and Bernadette Baars, the Netherlands
Of Yeses and Noes
A ‘yes’ in the Netherlands means yes to the full extent; in India, it might be, ‘yes, I understand, I will do my best’, but it is not necessarily a commitment
We like this city, the people, the food, fresh fish and fruits. Of course, we do miss a good steak now and then, and getting a good bottle of wine is still a challenge here. But it is our children we miss the most; despite the technology we have today, a good hug is not possible!