With the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, expats in India are finding it difficult to navigate these testing times, but nonetheless they are staying positive. Team Culturama spoke to a few expats about their experience
India is home to several expats who have made this country their home. Through initiatives including launching WhatsApp support groups in all major cities in India, Global Adjustments has proactively taken steps to help expats during these lockdowns. While many have been called back to their countries, some have decided to stay on in the hope that this will pass soon.
Taking precautionary steps and following government rules has been a top priority for the expats. Amelie Dubois from France has been living in India for two years and is optimistic about the future. ‘My family is here and not in France, so I feel better to have them around. We stay at home all the time. We regularly wash our hands and use masks when we go out for shopping. We are able to manage fine; therefore, this situation has not been challenging as it has been for many others,’ she says.
Olivia Jones from the United Kingdom says the situation has been all right for her family and that she is not planning to go back to London immediately. ‘The main issue we are facing currently is that we don’t have a driver and have to rely mainly on deliveries. We are struggling to get groceries delivered, with very few places offering the service and the timings being limited. Without a driver, getting to the shops is difficult. Post COVID-19, for economic reasons, as companies are struggling worldwide, there will likely be a reduction in the number of expats. Some may not return nor be replaced,’ she says.
While staying indoors all the time may seem like a challenge for many, especially with children, several expats have taken to online classes to keep themselves occupied. Linda Johnson from the United States says that she has a routine to get over the boredom. ‘Our main challenge was to figure out where to get groceries or how to go to a doctor if we are sick. We wanted a better understanding of the rules and how things work from the government. The expat community has formed groups and that became a source of great comfort.’
One of the countries that has been most affected by COVID-19 is Italy, and India is home to several Italians. Isabella Ricci was looking forward to visiting her parents in Italy during the summer vacation, but her plans changed when the government cancelled international travel. Isabella and her family often talk about going home, but they plan to stay back for now. By strictly following lockdown regulations, they feel safe. ‘We know that it’s important to follow the rules, because in our country the situation is very bad. My husband works from home, my eldest daughter takes virtual lessons and my little one plays or does some activities that I prepare for her. And we have wonderful support from Global Adjustments too. In another country, it is not easy to find this kind of support. After the COVID-19 situation eases too, I hope this support will continue.’
One of the main fears that a number of expats have in India is the post COVID-19 situation where they feel there could be discrimination towards foreigners. Elena Rivera from Spain comments, ‘Thankfully we do not have any problem up to this moment. We are not planning to go Spain now. I do sometimes feel discriminated by some of my neighbours because of being a foreigner, since they now associate the virus with foreigners. We are confident that it will change with time.’
Among the several expats who have gone back to their country is Sara I to from Japan. She had been living in India for eight months and just before the second lockdown, their company requested them to head back home. ‘We came back to Japan by a special flight. My husband’s company decided to send all expatriates back temporally until the pandemic settled down. I miss my friends back in India and hope that we get back soon.’
We too hope that our global friends will come back home soon and continue to find comfort in India like before.