Moving to India. Step 3: Explorations

Maarten Winkels

Working abroad has been a wish of mine for some time now. Xebia offers me the opportunity to live and work in India. Through this blog series I will keep you informed of the progress and challenges of this project.

You cannot fully grasp the meaning of India before you’ve been there and have experienced the beauty of its culture and the harshness of some of the views from the cab window. For the past two weeks my partner and I have been exploring the Indian culture and our possible future living environment. In this blog I will give a short account of our findings.

Culture

While our visit was definitely more than just a holiday, we spend a lot of time getting to know the Indian culture, which for us involved visiting the historical city of Jaipur, a lot of monuments, a temple in the natural reserve of Sariska and a folkdance presentation. See the pictures below.

Jaipur Gate Typical Indian Street View Elephants in the streets of Jaipur Jai Mahal A camel! Temple in Sariska ParkHumayun's Tomb Lotus Temple India Gate Taj Mahal Traditional Folkdance

We love these kind of things and India stole our heart. Not everything is easily accessible and well organized, but that is also part of its charm. We’re looking forward to spending a lot more time in the cultural richness of this vast country and visiting its sites nearby and far from our home.

Housing

The Xebia India Office is situated in Gurgaon near Delhi. We’ve visited some colleagues in Gurgaon to get an idea of the living environment. We’ve also visited a few localities in South Delhi, that are relatively close to Gurgaon.

In Gurgaon most apartments and houses are part of a “complex”. This means that the houses or high-rise buildings are grouped together in a closed area that is secured by a big wall or fence and has entrance gates. The areas we visited are really well maintained and looked clean. There are small parks and quiet roads to walk on. The environment however is pretty dry and thus not very lush. There are quite a few of these areas in Gurgaon, some larger some smaller and most are still under construction. The areas further away from the “center” seem to be more spacious and open, while the ones closer have more high-rise buildings and seem a little cramped.

Gurgaon has lots of options for houses, so there is a housing style to everyone’s liking. The houses are all very new (just a few years mostly) which means they are fitted with modern equipment and the quality of the building materials is generally good. We’d certainly be able to find something in which we could live comfortably for a reasonable price.

The main problems we find with Gurgaon are that there is not that much happening in these parts and that the looks of the place are just not very hospitable and friendly. It mostly looks like a big wasteland with houses and state-of-the-art office architecture scattered around. Not a place you’d grow to call “home” so easily. This is where south Delhi comes in.

In Delhi we visited the localities of Saket, Vasant Kunj and Hauz Khas. We went to the shopping area and walked around the adjacent apartment buildings for a few blocks. The shopping areas are a lot more happening than Gurgaon. We were charmed by the one in Saket, that is quite cozy. The closeness of Delhi is a real advantage. This is a big city where everything is happening and the overall feeling is far more “India”. The apartment blocks are pretty similar from the outside to the ones in Gurgaon, although they are definitely a lot older and more worn down. The areas are less spacious and feel a bit more cramped.

All-in-all we haven’t found a place to live yet, but we’re quite certain that we’ll be able to find something to our liking. It will probably be a showdown between the quality of services in Gurgaon and the authenticity and liveliness of south Delhi. I think in our hearts we would like to live in Saket or around, but we will have to find a suitable apartment.

Work

We’ve visited quite a few organizations that work to help the poorer part of the Indian society to make live livable. My partner would love to work with such an organization, especially to practice her profession as a Drama Therapist. This type of profession is unknown to all of the people that we met, but they were very interested and shared our opinion that it could work really well.

We’ve visited a school for children of construction workers in Gurgaon. In India 25 million people work in construction, but there is no registration and they have to find work every day. Construction sites are everywhere so finding work is not a problem, but the living conditions for these families are generally very harsh. They live on or near a building site and move to the next one every 6 months or so. The children are most often not going to school.

The initiative we visited is run by volunteers and tries to show the parents the importance of education by learning their children basic reading and writing in Hindi in just a few hours per day. Not speaking Hindi would be a very big disadvantage for my partner working there, but we think we’ll be able to learn to speak some basic Hindi when we live in India (reading or writing will be a completely different matter…). The school would not really be a place where she could practice here profession, but the volunteers we met were convinced they would be able to arrange something before we would move to India in October.

My partner also visited a larger organization, that offered her a position as fund raiser. While she liked the fact that she was offered the position and would be making some money to spend for herself, in the end working as Drama Therapist with children is what she likes to do most. According to the organization combining the two would not be possible.

The contact she found most promising was a meeting she had with the head of the Don Bosco Ashalayam organization. This is a foster home for orphans in south Delhi. The children go to different schools in the vicinity. The organization has a team of specialists in psychology and health that monitor the children and counsel them if necessary. This could be a perfect organization to practice her profession as Drama Therapist!

Conclusion

All-in-all we had a very positive experience in India. We’ve not made any concrete arrangements for housing or work, but we feel confident that we’ll be able to find something once we’ve moved there. We’ve decided that we’d like to go through with this and to have an adventure in India!

The next step in this project will be to make the necessary arrangements with my employer, Xebia, that will allow us to live and work in India. I’m convinced we’ll be able to work things out in a good way for everybody, but there are probably quite some things that need to be arranged. I’ll keep you posted!

Comments (1)

  1. Balaji D Loganathan - Reply

    March 1, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Cool Maarten,
    I am glad you decided to come and work in India. By the way, did you checked how much weight you gained after eating Indian meals for 3 weeks. 😉
    Regards
    Balaji

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