Cynthia: « Here in Ghorachal, we are living a quiet peaceful life »

Expat interviews
Published on 2013-05-30 at 02:00 by team
Cynthia grew up and lived in Colorado. She decided to retire in India with her husband. They settled in Ghorachal Bhowali Nanital District, Uttarakhand where they live a "quiet peaceful life".

Why did you decide to move to India?

I grew up in this land of opportunity called America. I married, raised a family and prospered. I achieved the American Dream. That dream is no longer possible for my grandchildren. Our country is morally and economically in decline. My retirement investments have lost half their value. My freedoms are slowly being taken away. I cannot afford to live the life I expected to live in retirement. My health care options are now limited due to implementation of Obamacare. Once I reach 65 my health care will be rationed: if I am ever diagnosed with cancer, I will not be treated.
My husband, born in India, and I have decided to outsource our retirement to India. As my husband puts it, we are going home. I had never been. The India that I know comes from the memories and stories my husband tells of forty years ago. I wondered if I could live happily there.

How was the adaptation process?

Now that we are here I am finding India to my liking. I am living a very good life style, much better than I could in the USA. We have settled in Ghorachal Bhowali Nanital District, Uttarakhand. The climate is cool in summer, unlike the oppressive heat in most of India. I can walk to the Golu Devata temple in 10 minutes. There is little traffic and noise here. We have rented a 2 bedroom cottage that hangs off the side of the mountain with a beautiful view off my balcony. Life is very affordable here. I have a full time cook/housekeeper. We have no need of a car. Getting around by taxi is very affordable. I love being able to get locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. We have had no problem finding good and very affordable medical care. Making friends has been very easy. Now that we are settled in our home, we will begin exploring India and its vast culture.

Did you face difficulties to settle there?

I won't say there have not been challenges, there have been, but nothing I can't handle. Probably what I miss the most is easy shopping on the Internet. Our location here is apparently off the beaten path as far as postal delivery from Internet business. I haven't found any that ship to this area. For instance, I can't seem to find an ironing board locally in a store. I can't find it locally using a Google search. I did find one on the Internet, but they do not ship to this area. Finding a rental was not easy. They just do not pop up on a Google search. I have found that if you just ask the locals for what you are looking for you will eventually find it. Roads are narrow and often bumpy. It takes longer to get from point A to B. Electricity comes and goes. Both are not a big deal to me.

What does a typical day as an expat in Ghorachal Bhowali Nanital District look like?

Here in Ghorachal, we are living a quiet peaceful life. Ram, my husband gets up around 5.30-6 am, lets the dog out and goes for a walk. Usually he goes to Golu Devta Temple to offer a prayer of thanksgiving and then continues his walk enjoying the Himalayan mountain views. I get up a bit later and make breakfast. After Ram returns from his walk we have our breakfast on our balcony that has a beautiful view of Bhimtal Lake. Our cook/housekeeper, Kamla arrives at 9am and makes and serves chai. She does all of our housekeeping, washing and cooking. She also runs errands, and goes to the market for us if needed. Ram and I may spend the rest of the day home or we may take a taxi to the Bhowali market or visit nearby Nanital or other areas of interest. Occasionally we go Haldwani, an hour's drive to the Haldwani market and to visit family. After supper Kamla washes the dishes and makes a list if anything we might need for her to pick up on her way into work the next morning. She brings milk every morning. I find that we do not need a refrigerator. I enjoy getting locally grown fruit and vegetables fresh from the market. Ram and I usually take a walk after supper, again enjoying the beautiful mountains. We also meet our neighbors doing the same. We have found it is a good way to meet the locals and to make friends. Occasionally we are asked to stop in and have tea or we invite our friends in for tea. During the day I work on my blog, IndiaLiving, read using my Nook and catch up with family and friends back in the States on Facebook. Though it is available, we have elected to not to get a TV. I relish the peace and quiet of my home.
Currently we are planning a 15 day trip to visit several temples in the Himalayan range. Our favorite taxi driver will drive us. We have found that it is very economical to use a taxi for our travel needs.

What are the formalities to retire in India? What did you have to do to be able to retire and stay here?

It has been very easy for us to stay in India. Ram was born in India and is now a U.S. citizen. Because of his Indian nationality he was able to obtain a permanent OCI, Overseas Citizen of India visa. This allows him to permanently stay in India and to come and go to the USA at will. Once he obtained his OCI status, as his wife I was able to obtain a PIO, Person of Indian Origin visa. This allows me to stay for 15 years. However after 150 days I must check in with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer/Foreigners Registration Officer.

Could you please share with us a common belief about India which wasn't right?

I can think of only one misconception I had about India. That is beggars are a huge problem and will be constantly in your path begging for a handout everywhere you go. That does not seem to be the case. Maybe I've been lucky. I do see them at the temples but they do not get in your face. I have occasionally seen them in larger hill stations and cities, but they do not become obtrusive.

Which advice would you give to people wishing to retire and settle in India?

Read as many expat blogs as you can. Ask questions.
If you have never visited India make a short trip first. Visit different regions and see if there is an area and climate that is attractive to you. Once you find an area, plan to rent for at least a year before you make a final decision and make the big move.
Once you decide India might be for you, find a bank in the USA that also has branches in India. Once you have done that you can transfer money via a bill pay system from your current bank to the Indian bank in the USA. Once you are in India you can request a transfer from the Indian bank in the USA to the same local bank in India. We have found that traveler's checks did not work well for us. Not all banks will cash them and local business will not take them. Once you do find a bank that will cash them there is a limit on how much you can cash at one time.

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