French travel consultant and trained sailor, Julie Parvery was living in Beijing for three years before moving to Delhi with her husband and their two teenage kids. They’ve been living and exploring Delhi for the last two years, with hopes of staying longer to experience more of the country.
What brought you to India from Beijing?
We came to India because my husband works for the company Airbus and he had the opportunity to come to Delhi. We were given the option not to move, but as soon as we arrived in Delhi, only after two days, we decided to stay and live here because we had the impression that we would be fine. Moreover, it was an excellent opportunity to discover a new culture and a different way of life; I can say that we never regretted it.
Can you tell us something about what you do in India?
I work for a Paris-based company called Cmycities; it has many travel agencies around the world. My job is to help people who want to visit India and to help those who will be coming to India to live as an expat. I help them find an apartment, discover Delhi, and guide them in things like where to buy food, what hospital to go to, and the best place to visit, etc. I help expats to live hassle-free in this city and also help students who want to come to Delhi for studies. This is a new concept for travelers; we support them by giving them genuine advice. They pay a package, but we don’t organize everything, we give them relevant tools to help them organize their own trips. It is an excellent way to travel for people who want to organize everything by themselves.
…as soon as we arrived in Delhi, only after two days, we decided to stay and live here because we had the impression that we would be fine. Moreover, it was an excellent opportunity to discover a new culture and a different way of life; I can say that we never regretted it.
I am also involved with the association Main Tendue. It comprises of eight NGOs based in Delhi that takes care of vulnerable people like abandoned children, children who were taken from the custody of their parents, abused and battered women etc. The association also redeploys people by teaching them how to cook or sew. For example, Mother Theresa is also part of this NGO; it helps handicapped children. Main Tendue raises funds for all of these NGOs. We organize a few events during the year like a Mela, a fair with many exhibitions. All the profit from this mela goes to the association. Then there is a charity gala at the embassy where people can buy their seat, dinner and the profit, of course, goes to the association.
Did you experience any culture shock coming to India?
I think the culture shock was mostly positive. However, India brings daily surprises, and sometimes, it can get stressful. It can be nothing or many small things that can easily disturb your everyday life. A leak in the kitchen, or an AC that stopped working when its 40 degrees inside your apartment are two good examples; these kinds of daily issues can be very tiring. Even if it’s not very important, it can affect your mood.
…India brings daily surprises, and sometimes, it can get stressful. It can be nothing or many small things that can easily disturb your everyday life.
Another thing, I felt freer in Beijing compared to Delhi. In Beijing, I could take my bicycle out and run my errands with it. I could go out any time, day or night, and not be worried about the risks. In Delhi, you can’t really do that. As a result, you are more dependent on your driver or friends.
When it comes to food, Beijing and Delhi are almost the same. I had to bring my food, cheese, and even wine from France! I also bring my butter from France as I’m not too fond of the Amul butter available in the market here.
What would you say is the best and the worst thing about working in India?
Working with Indian people is not easy! You can’t always rely on them to do the job right. You have to keep checking what they’ve done from the beginning until the end because sometimes they’ll tell you they’ve done it, but it won’t be done correctly, or as you thought it would have been. You have to check every setting, and that takes a lot of time. It’s not because they’re terrible people, it’s just that they have the impression that the work is done, but it’s not done as you would like. So, you have to make certain they did what you were expecting them to do, and this is why it can be tough working with them. In addition to that, they (the men) seem to find it difficult to work under a woman; even if she has a higher authority. They’re not used to it, and that’s a little confusing to me.
I would say the best thing about India is that everything is possible here. No matter how big the problem is, there is always a solution.
I would say the best thing about India is that everything is possible here. No matter how big the problem is, there is always a solution. I see it when I organize travel plans with people, even if you have a problem with a car or anything, there will always be a solution, and fast. In France, it can take two days to find a vehicle if the car renter doesn’t have any car. Here if you don’t find a car, the driver’s friend will come to pick you— as soon as you need a car, you can find one.
What advice would you give to someone planning to move to Delhi?
Though there are many things to discover in Delhi— it’s a beautiful city. I would suggest going outside of the city as soon as you can. For example, we recently went to Âlwâr, which is only 2 hours’ drive from Delhi, it was great! If you do that you can meet people in the countryside, walk, involve in other activities, and discover lovely places like big forts, or nice temples. If you leave the city and explore new areas in the countryside, you will see a new part of India and have a different view of this country. For me, Gurgaon is not India! This country is so beautiful that I would recommend you to try to discover every part of this country like Rajasthan, Gujarat, and even Ladakh!