Jean: Magnolia 2 Mumbai
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Mumbai, etc.
My name is Jean. I am an American who has lived all over the US. Mumbai is my first expat assignment. I arrived here just a little over one year ago. I live in Powai with my husband and two dogs.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging almost immediately. I had too many questions from friends and family back home. Blogging is a great way to answer them.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Mumbai differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I think everyone experiences culture shock in Mumbai, even people who were born here and return after some time away. I think the toughest transition is not driving here. Although we live in Powai, where we can walk many places, we can’t just hop in the car and decide to go somewhere. We must be accompanied by our driver everywhere.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Mumbai? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think we were better prepared than some, but less than others. My husband had a few Indian expats at his firm who helped him through the initial transition. If I had to do it again, we would have negotiated two cars, not just one, into the contract. We really do need two cars at least once or twice a week.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
That would probably be the regular ritual of tortilla-making.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Mumbai?
- Don’t bother bringing anti-malarial drugs. You will be here too long for them to do any good; long-term use can damage your liver, so you are better off without them. If you get malaria, they will treat it.
- Don’t expect India to change to suit your needs. You must accept that India is India, and always will be. Some things will change; some things won’t. You are not an agent of change. You are a visitor.
- Don’t move to Bandra for the trendy address and Bollywood stars. If you like your freedom of movement, Powai really is the best location. The only tradeoff is that it can be a longer ride to SoBo.
How is the expat community in Mumbai? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is diverse. People are warm and friendly. Get involved with the American Women’s Club or Mumbai Connexions to find great people. Volunteer with an NGO to make a difference.
How would you summarize your expat life in Mumbai in a single, catchy sentence?
That is so hard to do, even for an editor, who is used to paring down paragraphs into sentences, but if you want a sentence then, here it is:
My journey from Magnolia to Mumbai has not always been well paved, but I have learned valuable lessons about myself and my new home with each bump on the road to happy destiny.