We’re a couple who run the food blog Omnoms by TM. The T and M stand for our names, Tanuj and Manolia. We’re both from Mumbai, India and currently live in Dubai, UAE.
1. Why did you move abroad?
We both moved with our parents. M moved to Dubai when she was a toddler and T finally moved to Dubai for the last year of school.
2. How do you make a living?
M is a Graphic Designer working with companies in that capacity, mostly focused on print related design.
T is a computer engineer and entrepreneur, focused mainly around web development and mobile app space.
Currently working as a project manager for a company in the same field.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Both our nuclear families are in Dubai, so we don't really require communicating back home. However every week we try to Skype with our cousins, grandparents and friends. Thanks to WhatsApp and Facebook we are able to stay involved on a daily basis with them as well.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Dubai?
It might seem like a clichéd answer at this point, but the diversity in this city along with the fact that it is constantly growing and innovating itself. Dubai is literally a melting pot of different cultures and a fusion of traditional and modern areas & architecture. There’s something new to experience everyday.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Dubai?
We will always be an expat in Dubai. Unfortunately no matter how much we love the city, we can't ever really call it home. There is also some difficulties and yearly annoyances that we have to endure as expats.
6. What do you miss most?
The familiarity of home and the freedom to visit our extended family and friends. Also the more casual setting and spontaneity it offers. For us, living here, there’s more planning involved when socializing at least.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Initially when M moved to Dubai, it was at a time when the city hadn’t grown to what it is today i.e. no tall buildings on Sheikh Zayed road etc. Meeting people occurred thanks to her parents colleagues and whoever was in the city that they knew from back home. For T, he moved to Dubai while still in school, so naturally that helped with meeting people. Its also how we both met, through University. Nowadays it’s more along of the lines of interacting with people through blogger meets and friends of friends.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
There’s a sense of luxury and convenience that tends to come off as vain and privileged. It’s also very odd to see a row of expensive cars waiting to order a cup of cheap chai (tea) while blocking a lane of traffic and inconveniencing residents of the area.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
It’s a rich city, full of fast cars and expensive things. The truth is that there is a lot of diversity in this area also, as the city is also full of laborers and normal people trying to make a basic living. There is also a lot more culture in this city; malls and fancy buildings isn't what it's only about.
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?
Compared to our home town, the cost of living is not that much different. However quality of life is much better here. Life in Dubai is a lot easier than Mumbai. Having said that, having friends and family everywhere you turn is a different experience so we definitely miss that aspect.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Don't get so wrapped up in the glam and miss out on the nuances of UAE and Dubai. The place has a lot more to offer than you might think, so try going to smaller neighborhoods and unglamorous places. You will see things that will open up your world and wow you. Try to explore the art and old-school local cultures, there is enough to go around.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
We started our blog in September of 2016. Both of us are foodies who love to explore new places and cuisines. Food places is something we used to talk about a lot. Another thing we both had in common was the anxiety of getting to a new place, how do we get there, what's the parking like, are there other options than driving? So we started Omnoms as a place for us to share our foodie adventures and as a way to explain the process of getting somewhere. Getting to a place is a part always present at the bottom of our blog posts.
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