Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Country in Review: India

What do you think of when someone mentions India? The exotic country conjures many associations about its culture, people and food; with film and cinema also helping to popularise Indian life. The expat experience in India is filled with bright colours, bustling metropolises, epic train journeys, unusual animals and smiles.

Image Source: National Geographic
The most iconic image of India across the world is the must see Taj Mahal. It is considered one of the seven modern day wonders of the world, and it’s easy to see why. For romantics, it is the climax of a great love story, a mausoleum commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of the beauty of his wife Mumtaj Mahal. The Taj Mahal displays the diversity of Indian culture, combining several architectural styles that have historically influenced India, including Islamic, Ottoman and Turkish.

Image Source: thehindu.com
India is also famous for its food. Although delicious, the curry culture that is now so popular in the West is not a true representation of Indian food. In India, each area has its specific style of cooking, using local ingredients to make unique dishes. In Kerala, coconuts grow in abundance and feature in most dishes, whereas if you try a dish in Manipur it is likely to be very spicy. If you eat sensibly, you can avoid the dreaded ‘Delhi belly’ and indulge in exotic street food unique to India: tikka rolls, potato patties, spicy kebabs and garam masala.

Bollywood is another part of Indian culture that has been exported to the West. From its Golden Age following independence in 1940s-50s, Bollywood has been a glamorous dimension to cultural India with its glittering clothes and romantic love stories. Although it is only one part of the film industry in India, Bollywood has found fame globally and as the world is becoming smaller its popularity is growing further. 

Image Source: Lonely Planet
The friendly and welcoming people of India are another draw for expats and travellers alike, according to the 2012 Expat Explorer survey 43% of expats in India have a more active social life against a global average of 25% of expats. Visitors to India discover just how happy and welcoming the Indian people are. Although some may not have many possessions, they still have a smile on their face. Most Indians value the important things in life-family, good health, and are happy with their lot.

Image Source: expatforexpats.com
India is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world. On the western coast of India, bounded by the Arabian Sea, Goa attracts 2 million visitors a year drawn by its white sands and sparkling waters.  As a solitary Portuguese outpost for almost 500 years, the evidence of colonial rule can still be seen everywhere, from the architecture to the East-meets-West style cuisine. Considering the charms of Goa, it’s easy to see why it attracts so many expats from Russia, the Middle East, and Europe, who are looking for a simpler way of life.

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