Hi my name is Tanya, also known as The White Punjabi Bride and I made the move from Australia to India just over a little over a year ago. I am a lifestyle blogger writing about my journey living as a foreign bride in Punjab and selling ethnic accessories via my site The White Punjabi Bride.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I decided to take a leap of faith and accompany my partner to India. I packed up my house, applied for a tourist visa and took the next flight to Delhi. Everything just fell into place and we decided to marry and have our very own Big Fat Punjabi Wedding. One year later and we are now celebrating our first anniversary. We have decided to live between both our home countries India and Australia.
2. How do you make a living?
Finding work in India is extremely difficult unless you happen to organise employment prior to departing for India. Particularly if you live in the countryside of Punjab as many people here are farmers. Punjab is the agricultural state of India.
However I have a few hobbies which I hope will eventuate into an income stream such as my blog where I sell handmade ethnic crafts. I also write articles for sites online which generates a few extra dollars. As I live with my husband's family currently this is sufficient to give me a little extra cash on the side.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I have lived far from home from a long time now so I am used to not seeing my family on the regular. Mum and I still write letters through the mail and the occasional email as she doesn't know how to work computers.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in india?
India is such a beguiling country with its meaningful traditions, charismatic people, aromatic foods, ornate architecture and exquisite artisans that there is so much to discover. I love that there is always an adventure to be had and someone new to meet. The culture varies drastically between regions so you will always find something new to discover.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in India?
Whilst there is so much that I love about India there is probably just as much that frustrates me. The most challenging aspect about life in India as an expat is that if you can't tolerate eating curry then it is difficult to buy western food. A lot of the food sold here is targeted at the Indian consumer so you can't just buy simple porridge it is masala porridge. Cooking is also difficult as most kitchens consist solely of a gas burner, tawa pan and pressure cooker. That is all they need to cook curry so do not require a kettle, microwave, grill, oven, toaster or any other modern appliance. Living in major cities I am sure is a lot easier than living in the countryside.
6. What do you miss most?
After living in India for a while you start to miss the modern amenities and services of the western household along with the beautiful interior decor. Traveling as a tourist you relish the experience but living becomes difficult. Especially if you have been brought up within a western household.
Houses in Punjab are typically large two story houses with exposed concrete walls and tiled courtyards fenced off with a sky high brick fence. Given the saltiness of the water here they do not paint their house inside or outside as the salt is excreted through the concrete. You would have to paint your house on a regular basis to maintain it otherwise.
People also live a simple life here so do not have the modern appliances that we have back home. Even a shower or LCD television are considered frivolous. So as you can imagine houses lack the same warmth which is what I loved about having my own home in Australia.
It is amazing how much your environment actually impacts your health. A splash of colour, a few photo frames, fresh flowers, nice rug, fireplace and leather couch all make the difference. Not to mention the beds here are awfully hard. They are just a storage box with a thin piece of foam laid on the top. There is no such thing as a spring mattress here.
Even electricity isn't consistent with it regularly going out for minutes or hours at a time. There is also no garbage collection provided with locals simply throwing rubbish anywhere they can. Most vacant blocks of land become dump sites for locals in the neighbourhood. Grey water is also drained into gutters along the side of the streets which collects with time creating a horrible odour. It really just depends on where you reside in India as to how comfortable your life is. Though most things can be purchased at a price which can become very expensive.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
This was super easy for me as once I married into an Indian family I was essentially related to everyone. We would visit relatives every weekend and our friends & family all visited us every other day. Weddings are considered an auspicious occasion in Punjab so during Wedding season you receive a few invites every week. Being foreign most people approach you to meet you so there is always an opportunity to meet new people. Even when I go jogging around the block I meet children as they love to join in with me as seeing a foreigner run laps of their street is a novelty for them. However there are no foreigners where I live in Punjab so I meet other expats online through sites such as blogexpat.com
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The worst habit that I find difficult to adapt to is their dining habits. It is the norm to chew with your mouth open, slurp your food and burp at the dinner table. I have been raised in a culture where it is considered bad manners to do so. Not to mention I find it a little off putting. However it is almost considered rude of you not to do these things here.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
One myth that I have heard is that Punjabi People are rude and selfish. I am unsure if this is what many people think however when looking online there are so many comments from foreigners who think that Punjabi People are rude and selfish but it is just not the case. They are the most generous and friendly people I have ever met. They are passionate people who celebrate life with much gusto and enthusiasm. Those jubilant dance numbers in Bollywood Movies is the very essence of a Punjabi.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living on an Australian income in India would be such an easy life. However living in India on an Indian income is expensive. The price of groceries are exactly the same as Australia however people here earn so much less in comparison. Most people live off curry as buying vegetables is about the cheapest grocery item you can buy. Although shopping for fashion is super cheap in comparison to Australia. I am dependent on my husband's family so it means that they cannot buy everything that I am accustomed to merely because it is too costly.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
This is difficult given everyone has a different goal with moving abroad. However my advice would be to remember to enjoy the experience. It can be overwhelming and a culture shock however don't let this stop you from experiencing the local life. But with that said also don't forget who you are and where you come from. I am always adapting to the culture at hand that sometimes my beliefs go unheard. It can be difficult to maintain a balance between your culture and the culture you live amongst.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog as I needed a hobby for the days when I am at home with not much to do, so I thought why not start writing and share my experiences. This was only a few months ago now it has turned out to be so much more than just a hobby. It is a great way to make new friends in similar situations and it has also turned out to be an income source albeit small to begin with. Blogging brings with it so many opportunities.
You can connect with me via Instagram and Facebook @thewhitepunjabibride or Twitter @thepunjabibride. I love hearing from others so be sure to connect with me.
Tanya's blog, The White Punjabi Bride
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