Category Archives: Expat

Buoyed Up With Confidence

So, I have arrived. Still living in a bit of bubble, not quite yet at the point where I can branch out and start to uncover all that India has to and will offer me. With perhaps the naivety of the innocent, we plan to move into our apartment on Wednesday. I say naivety purely as I have been warned, things don’t often go to plan here. 


Tomorrow, we go for a final check of the apartment. Tomorrow, therefore will either be the bursting of our naivety bubble or we will continue to live in the belief that things happen on time and to the stated standard here.  The question is: can you continue to consider yourself innocent of the truth if you are absolutely certain that sooner rather than later things will not go to plan – promises will not be kept? Perhaps informed innocence is a better term – if that is not an oxymoron in itself. Ah India, clearly nothing straightforward here!

A sudden nostalgia for a wonderful friend, Sarah, recently led me to the picking up of ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This is one of her favourite books of all time; one that I had never read until now. One of the main characters, Fermina Daza believes that you can like anyone or any place purely by making the decision to like it. That if you choose not to make that decision, you may well learn to hate a person or a place. I have chosen to like India. I have chosen to allow the things that will inevitably disturb my comfort to simply be ‘India’.


Chris and myself have laughed however as to whether in six months time we will still be buoyed with such confidence, relaxation and determination to get on. Once again, is our positivity simply a reflection of our newbie innocence or is it something that you can more or less sustain for a prolonged period of time? Let’s hope so!

I have promised readers a more practical explanation of all that has happened to result in this great transnational move. Well, here it is. 

For years, we have wanted to move abroad, to get an opportunity to live in a completely different culture, learn a new language, extend our knowledge of how the world works. Several opportunities for various reasons over the least 12 months or so have come and gone. Then India came. 

On January 23rd this year, I randomly checked my phone at lunchtime only to see a text from my husband, ‘JLR are looking for people in this city. What do you think? (link to a Wikipedia article about Pune).’ Within 20 seconds, I had sent a text back saying – ‘go for it’. Within ten days, he had the job and it was perhaps only then we realised that we should think about it. We did for about 2 minutes and realised that we were up for anything so location was more or less irrelevant!

Consequently, we have moved to Pune so Chris can work for Jaguar LandRover although seconded to Tata Motors (owners of JLR). We will be here for at least three years although we joke if he fails at his job, we will either stay longer or he will be fired! He will, you see, be responsible for trying to bring a Tata car development project in on time – hence the firing or staying on longer! I have promised him a gin and tonic every evening! Timings and India, well as Chris’ favourite Indian line goes – Indian Standard Time really means Indian Stretching Time!


During this time, I will not be able to officially work. Although it is possible for me to get a work visa, the reality is that this is unlikely to happen. As a teacher in an international school, I would probably only just get over the minimum salary requirement for a work visa, then to get it I would have to go abroad, giving up my entry visa. Should my work visa be turned down – which is likely, I would then be faced with the possible situation that they would then not re-issue me an entry visa as I had just applied for a work visa! The resulting situation could well then be Chris living here while I was forced to stay in the UK for the remaining time on his contract. Not a situation, we are willing to even contemplate. 

As I have stated in previous blogs though I need time, I need time to completely get my health back. I need to be able to set my own timetable and my own agenda. Prioritise getting physically fit which will help my health to make the final few steps it needs to fully return to the energy levels I was at 2 years ago. Legally therefore being forced not to work is exactly what I need. Without this, I think I would put pressure on myself, feeling I had to contribute – how could I be a feminist who lived off her husband when she had another choice. Here I don’t have a choice therefore no pressure to do what in reality I shouldn’t be doing anyhow. 

I do hope to start doing some voluntary work, probably working with some education based NGOs but this I will do in a few months and I won’t throw myself into it but will do a little bit at a time until I feel physically it will be okay to do more. I’m quite excited to have that flexibility!

For the next 48 hours keep your fingers crossed and secularly or religiously hope / pray that our apartment will come through without any issues. That we can continue to live in our naive bubble but that also we can begin to discover ‘real’ life in India. 

Keep your eyes peeled for the next blog – will we or will we not have moved in!??!?! Oh, the tension!

Don’t forget you can subscribe to my blog really easily by clicking on follow! Also, feel free to share it. 

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Challenges: Infuriating But Mainly Exhilarating!

We are heading the way that many, many young Britons have gone in the ‘great’ colonial past. (As an Irish person, I can assure you ‘great’ is most thoroughly in inverted commas!) We are packing our bags and moving to IndiaMapIndia with, I hope, a tad less arrogance and significantly greater tolerance than the colonialists of the past.

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View of the mountains from the pool at VW Marriott, Pune

It is to Pune, three hours South-East of Mumbai, that we are heading. The former capital of the Marathi rulers and the former monsoon holiday destination for colonialists with a love for its ever so slightly cooler mountain climate.

This is a city that has grown over the last 20 years from a city of minor significance to being in the top ten largest Indian cities with a population estimated to be over 6.5m but growing by 100,000s a year.

It has been dubbed (yet another) Indian Silicon Valley, the Oxford of India and the Detroit of India. Western descriptions perhaps intended to show just how modern and developed this city is.

The truth of course is not so clear cut. Certainly, it is a centre for Indian tertiary education. Certainly, it’s IT parks employ 1000s of the Indian educated middle class providing IT services to largely western companies. Certainly, it is home to very many aspirational Indian universities. Most certainly it is home to many, many automobile companies; not the least TATA motors a subsidiary of TATA (which interestingly, through the various concerns it has bought into in the UK, from steel to cars, is UK’s the largest manufacturing employer).  Reality is however that people have flooded into Pune from all over India in the hope of finding a job, any job. Most of these people only experience the very fringes of the wealth such development has brought if any of the wealth at all.

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View from our apartment block to the prestigious Phillipe Starke designed YooPune residential block.

Alongside, the shiny new Trump Towers, the Phillipe Stark’s Yoopune residential building lie those that have not managed to find a way to this prosperity. Be it through poor access to education, caste or sheer bad luck. 32.5% of the population live in a slum. Many of these are illegal (not registered) and lack the basic services such as access to running water and refuse collection.

So yes, along with the prosperity of Pune, alongside its Westernised face will be the more bleak reality of poverty on a scale neither of us have ever experienced.

Our visit to Pune over the Easter holidays showed it to be every bit this strange combination of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. I saw some of the biggest, most extravagant houses of my entire life there and for the first time, I saw slums.  Although, having only just spent one week in Pune, it seemed obvious to me that at night, for example, far fewer people seemed to be sleeping on the streets than in my one and only night time visit to Mumbai – there it was obvious – perhaps in Pune it is just more hidden. Or perhaps, what they say is true, Pune is one of the wealthier of Indian cities, with fewer living in extreme poverty.

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In Pune, building projects are everywhere. If there is a sq milimetre of free land, it will be built on!

Pune is an exciting place. Change is evident everywhere yet no change is also evident everywhere – an oxymoron if there ever was one. The noise of tooting horns (Horn OK Please – across the back of most commercial vehicles); the colour of stunning saris and salwar kameez (a people not afraid of bright colours – thank god); the non-intrusive intrigue of passerbys when they realised that we are white foreigners – everything was invigorating and made me want to move there even more than when I only had a google ‘Pune’ search to rely on. I just can’t wait to get out there on Saturday and begin the process of being able to call it ‘home’.

For three years, our lives are going to be significantly different to how they are today. I hope that we do not find ourselves living in an Expat Bubble, obliviously to the other side of India on our doorstep and possibly even driving our car or cleaning our house.

Everyday is going to be a challenge, everyday I will learn something new either about myself or about India or even possibly both. Challenges will be frustrating, aggravating, infuriating but they will also be thrilling, exhilarating and life enhancing.

Time will only tell but one thing is for certain, we are about to go on an adventure or as Winnie the Pooh would call it – a ‘grand adventure’!

So feel feel to read along, join me and my husband in our ‘grand adventure’. Grow with us as we grow through experience and challenging our status quo. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to the ride!

I Can Hardly Believe It Myself

Ok, so it must seem like quite a long time since I wrote a blog: you are wrong. I’ve written lots of blogs recently.

“What?” you say, thinking how could such an avid follower of What Will Happen To Me have missed said blogs. To be honest, I have written lots of blogs, I just haven’t published any of them. Our life has been such a tumult recently that each blog posting I wrote just didn’t feel right so I would walk away, to return to it again with fresh eyes. On returning however, I would realise that what I had written now felt even more not quite what I wanted to say so I would begin another and another and another. In the end, none were published. At this moment, I have every intention of publishing this blog – through hell or high water. Let’s see.

On Friday, I move to India (crikey!) – my husband has already been there a week. Who would have ever considered that possible? Only 12 months gujarat-leicesterago I was limiting myself to a few thousand steps a day at best and was spending at least 18 hours a day in bed. We had no idea whether my health would ever improve – although improve it eventually did. Now, 12 months on, I very shortly will be living in India. It is a miracle that I will always remain astounded by.

Re-reading old blogs recently, it was obvious that within the genuine positivity and determination to find a way out of my ill-health there was also a desperate voice whispering – “what if, what if, what if it will never happen?” The reality today is that I am still finding my way out of my ill health and perhaps will continue to do so for many years to come. However, re-reading my old blogs also showed an absolute determination to grab life and experience as much as I possibly could. I wrote about how I had no idea about where my life would now go or what I would now do but how that didn’t frighten me but rather filled me with excitement and pleasant anticipation.

Back in those days of new found enlightenment as I began to emerge from my illness, I certainly had no concept that one day (very, very soon) I would be packing up my bags and moving to the other side of the world. Although, to be honest, the idea of moving abroad was nothing new. Myself and my husband had discussed it for many years. I had slowly been inculcating him into the cult of ‘expat’ – we just hadn’t done anything about it – then I became ill.

I returned part-time to work in October 2014 and slowly worked my way back to full-time in January 2015. Being a teacher is the hardest work, there is no time to sit back and catch your breath (just a little important for a girl who suffers from Dysfunctional Breathing Syndrome). You get caught up in the job and the students and silly Ofsted requirements and it gets hard. Really hard. Especially if you are still not fully healthy. I probably should never have gone back to work full-time but how was anyone to know that until I gave it a try? Long before India came on the scene, I was struggling and not willing to really accept that I was.

The opportunity to move to India therefore could not have come at a better time. Six months earlier or six months later probably wouldn’t have worked. Six months earlier I wouldn’t have had the chance to return to teaching and see if I was right, that I had completely lost the love of it. I would have walked away from a career that I had been in for 12 years without knowing whether I really wanted to walk away from it. Six months later, I would possibly have worked my way back into ill-health or learnt to hate my job so much that I failed to give the students what they needed most – a decent education. I would consequently have possibly moved to India under a dark cloud of failure.  If indeed, I was even capable of making such a move.

India, therefore, came at the perfect time. I had returned to teaching long enough to know that I was no longer willing to buy into a lot of the nonsense that surrounds it. I had been back long enough to know that the only reason I liked teaching in the first place was being in a class full of students.

For the first time in my adult life, I am completely unemployed and while that feels strange and slightly uncomfortable, it is also a relief. My time is my own, I no longer have to dance to somebody else’s fiddle. I am no longer in a job I had, cropped-unemployed-not-happywith the exception of teaching classes, grown to hate. I am now in a position to walk comfortably away from a career I had for such a long, long time loved. Six months ago, walking away may well have broken my heart – today I simply miss the people I worked with and the children – nothing more.

My headteacher (a remarkable woman) has been kind enough to release me in the middle of a term so that I don’t even have to continue until May half-term. She was smart enough to realise that the stress and physical demands of moving halfway around the world made working impossible. Her kindness has allowed me to start my husband and I’s new adventure more or less together. Her kindness has enabled me to start once again to really take care of my health so that I will get 100% better.

So, this blog (which is definitely getting published) is the start of my adventure. If you want to know the details – where I am going, why I am going you are just going to have to subscribe to my blog via your email address or WordPress account. You can also follow my twitter @kironside78.

I hope to regularly blog again – I will have no excuse – I will definitely have the time. My aim is to (just like I did when I was ill), simply reflect on my experiences: the joys and the challenges of living in India. If it helps somebody else about to make such a journey or simply provides an interesting read over a coffee, I will be happy.