Peggy is a German Expat living in India. She works at German Embassy.
- What did you know about India before coming?
There were new elections coming up. I did a preparatory introduction seminar about India in Germany. I knew about the high pollution level but I didn’t know how serious it was. I knew about cheap labour and people getting exploited. I knew about Indian food.
- What expectations did you have about your experience here?
That it would not be too hard to be working here.
- What was the first thing that shocked you when you first came here?
I was not shocked by anything because I was prepared to come to a new place. There were many people in the streets but I was not shocked by it. I was positively surprised by it (Delhi) being a modern city.
- What things took you the longest to get used to? (Food, people, noise, dirt, traffic, pollution, etc.)
Pollution is the hardest to get used to. We have to use an air purifying system at home mostly during the winter months.
- In your daily life what are the main challenges you find?
Pollution and shortage of good and child friendly outdoor places in my gated community. There are no good children parks for soccer etc. Winter pollution makes it impossible to play outside, summer heat makes it impossible to do something outside. I would like to jog. It is hard to arrange anything without haggling for prices. Everybody tries to make maximum profit by taking advantage of people.
- Professionally what are main challenges you find? Culturally, what things are hard to deal with?
I don’t have any professional challenges. The non-compromising nature of Indian people is hard to get by with. You never know what they really mean because they don’t answer and don’t take decisions until the last minute. Lack of taking responsibility for actions is a really hard thing to deal with. So, I have to learn to do it another way and not the German way.
- What has helped you the most to get used to live here?
Time was playing in my favour. Some Indian colleagues helped me and other expats who came before me. Sharing their perspectives and listening to their stories helped.
- How about housing? Was it complicated to deal with landlords? Were there new rules you were not expecting?
My landlords are very uneducated, brutally capitalist oriented without hiding it. They don’t look after the place. I fixed a few things inside the apartment and air conditioning does not work. They don’t bother fixing it.
- Do people treat you differently because of being a foreigner?
I’m Mme Saheb, this is the message. I’m exotic, good enough to be photographed. They speak in English and not Hindi.
- Was it hard to deal with the immigration requirements?
No, my employer was doing everything for us.
- What recommendations, tips and advice could you give to people coming to India for work?
I work with Germans, mostly, so it is not hard. People who work in businesses often find it difficult. I wonder what it is that makes it so hard. Maybe they are too business oriented and not diplomatic enough. Our visa department gives out criteria for working standards at our office and it seems to work well.
- What are the positive things of being here?
I’m experiencing a new culture, really, not just from a postcard. Traveling around is great and there are many incredible destinations. It is a diverse country in many aspects.
- How is the work culture?
It’s collegial and friendly. Workplace is a tight knit fabric. Working with Indians is essential cause they showing us how to communicate with Indian institutions. They are culture and language savvy. We don’t know Hindi. Some people talk a lot to their family at work and other colleagues visit each other a lot at work. When it gets too much, it can be distracting.
- Is dating easy in India (for unmarried people)
I am not dating anybody here.
- Finally, can you give a brief description of your background?
I am 49 years old and mother of a boy. Diplomatic service with a background in German language and culture studies. Interests are languages, culture. I have long lived in Brazil before coming to India.