Crystal in New Delhi: "Indians tend to be hard-working and put their families first"

Expat interviews
  • Crystal in New Delhi
Published on 2014-10-09 at 00:00 by team
Crystal, young US expat, has always dreamed of living in India. This SEO expert moved to New Delhi last September to be with the love of her life...

Where are you from Crystal, and what are you doing nowadays?

My name is Crystal. I've always dreamed of living in India, so here I am - living in New Delhi! I am originally from the United States of America. Years ago, I planned to visit India, but my plans fell through when I lost my primary source of income. I worked three jobs at that time: a full-time overnight grocery stocker, a part-time teacher, and a part-time barista at a local cafe. These days I work for my family business as an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialist, which means my work can travel anywhere I go, provided I have access to Wi-Fi. I also work on my website, which I consider my main job.

Why did you choose to expatriate to New Delhi?

When I first came to India, in February of 2014, it was my intention to stay in Jhansi. I could only stay in India for four months, and as wonderful as Jhansi was, Delhi promised faster internet speed which was important for business. I currently stay near the Akshardham Temple.

What were the procedures to follow to move there?

My fiancé was staying in Delhi, and was able to help me find a place to stay before I even arrived. He booked my train ticket and when we met at the train station, he took me to the PG (Paying Guesthouse) he selected for me, near where he was staying. The only problem I had with the transition was the slow process of getting Wi-Fi set up again.

How long have you been in the country?

My first visit to India was in February and I left for America again, in June. I just returned a week ago, and I'll be here until the end of January. My family lives in America, but they wish me well and we talk on Skype constantly. I have an elder sister, two younger brothers, a niece and loving parents - as well as extended family - supporting my choice to live in India.

What has attracted you to New Delhi?

I'm not really a fan of metropolitan cities, but there are many benefits to being in Delhi. For one, fast internet speed is important in everything I do. From working to blogging or keeping up with my family. It's also nice that in modern cities such as Delhi, people don't judge me or my relationship as much. There is a sense of "live and let live" here.

How is it going profesionally?

My work consists of building websites and implementing SEO, as well as social media SEO. Since I work for my family's business, it wasn't hard to get the job - the trick is constantly learning SEO, as it is ever-changing. As far as working in India, I do not have a business visa. My work is global.

Was it difficult to find accommodation in New Delhi?

It wasn't difficult to find accommodation in Delhi, as I had someone to help me. For anyone moving to Delhi, there are many communities of expats willing to help - and so many options for accommodations. You can rent apartments, rooms, guest houses, live with a host family, stay in a PG, or find a roommate. There are several options.

How do you find the Indian lifestyle?

I love the Indian lifestyle! Indians tend to be hard-working, and put their families first. This is what I admire about this culture the most. I come from a family of TV-watchers, and a culture of entertainment addiction. There's something quite beautiful about the simplicity of how I've been living in India. The only reason I'm in front of my laptop is to write and work. Otherwise, I'm spending my time cooking, cleaning, going out to explore and strengthening my personal relationships.

Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?

I came to India with the hope and, I'll admit, expectation that people would love me as much as I loved them. I was in love with India, its culture and people, before I even arrived. So culture shock hit hard when I was being judged for things that didn't make sense, even though I considered myself a person with high morals. I guess I had the expectation that Indians would be spiritually enlightened and kind and non-judgmental.
I learned with time, that just like everywhere else in the world, India has a wide variety of people. Some judgmental, some not. I came to understand that people will judge me, but as long as I know that I am being respectful and doing what is right, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
So needless to say, I had a hard time adapting to the "Indian Mindset", as my friends call it - but since then, I've been doing fine. It takes time to understand society, which can be frustrating at first.

What has surprised you the most at your arrival?

I was pleasantly surprised by India, on my first arrival. I was overcome with a sense of belonging. I loved the smell of incense in the air. I loved seeing children playing together in the streets. I could always hear some chant or prayer or temple bell chiming near by.

Any particular experience you would like to share with us?

When I was visiting my fiancé's family for the first time, I came to his home by motorcycle. His family was very upset by it, but I had no idea (until much later) why it bothered them so much. According to their society, women should never be on a motorcycle or scooter with someone who is not their husband or family. It created problems for us, because society cares so much about what other people think.
I researched India, second to working, before arriving. But I would never have found that information online. It just goes to show you that Indian culture is divided into many subcultures, societies and sub-societies. Traditions and beliefs differ, family to family. Even things that may seem harmless to you, could greatly offend someone else. There's no real way to avoid it, as you can't predict every mishap. But if you are romantically involved with an Indian - ask questions about everything.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in New Delhi? Is it easy for an American expat to live in the country?

Living in Delhi is extremely cheap, compared to living in America. So it's easy for an American to live here. When I stayed in the PG, I paid $150 per month, to rent the room and ensure I lived with no other guests. This price included rent, maid services, and there was a security guard and cameras to ensure safety. Each full, homemade meal I had delivered to me, costed less than $2. Now that I live in my own apartment, I pay about $200 for a 1 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom apartment. It's even less to stay with a family or rent a room.

How do you spend your leisure time there?

When I'm not working, cooking, or cleaning, I like to visit temples, cultural sites and markets. Even if I don't intend to shop, the atmosphere of the marketplace is one-of-a-kind. There is so much culture to behold, even in the most ordinary of places.

What are the differences between life in India and in the USA?

There is quite a difference between India and America. In America, aspects that are a part of our daily lives are considered luxury here in India. For example: air conditioning, heat, owning a car, hot and cold water control in the shower, even education. On the roads, you often see more rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, scooters and motorcycles, than cars. In fact, you might see two or three cars in a day, walking down the street. These are just a few examples.

Would like to give any advice to future expatriates?

Future expats, don't be discouraged by anything you may have read about India. Every experience is very different, and your choices will change every situation. Expect to be embarrassed, humbled, awestruck, happy and in love with India. Results may vary.

What are your plans for the future?

Currently, I'm content with living simply, day to day, in my apartment in Delhi. The only thing I know about the near future is that I'll be marrying my fiancé. We plan to travel to Agra and Varanasi in the near future. I hope to reach out to as many people as possible who share a similar journey as me, and I hope that by sharing my story, I can educate people about India. I'll stay in India as long as I can, and I'll always come back. Until I can stay here permanently.

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