Born in Manali, by Italian parents, Marco Cappiotti always had a little bit of India in him. He lived in Italy as a child but permanently moved to India when he was 10, with his parents. They decided to stay in Manali, where his parents opened an Italian restaurant. He has lived in India for 25 years and holds an OCI card, allowing him to have dual citizenship. After running a restaurant in Manali for 17 years, he decided to move to Delhi, five years ago, to begin a new chapter— starting a fire oven manufacturing company.
Why did your parents decide to move to India?
They were hippies. Later on, they realized that India was an excellent place to venture into hospitality.
As a child, do you remember your first impression of the country?
Yes, I was shocked to see the number of people and even to see an elephant to walk in the middle of the street in Connaught Place, Delhi! Then, I discovered that people didn’t understand my language, so I started to learn Hindi. In a few years, I became fluent.
And today, are you still shocked by India, or are you used to the country?
I’m used to it, in a way. In the meanwhile, I still see fascinating things as well as frustrating ones! It’s a love and hate relationship.
Talking about love and hate, what are the best and the worst things about living and working in India?
For the best thing, I would say my story works; an Italian, into hospitality, who learnt the language and the Indian way of living. And consequently, many rewards like success and popularity to a small extent. For the worst, people interference! Sometimes I become a target for people— some people love creating small problems.
Do you think it’s because you’re from Europe? Or is this an issue everyone in India faces?
It can happen to anyone, but I think that it’s easier for a European. However, it’s not racism, in my opinion. I have different ideas and different executions. A unique selling proposition giving me an advantage but enough of a reason for people to interfere, by replicating or try to take advantage.
But it’s also a good thing too! The fact that people perceive me naive and with fewer connections or influence than an Indian is also useful; for instance, people trust me.
Because of being in India for so long and even speaking the local language, are completely integrated into Indian society? Or do people still see you as a foreigner?
Yes, I am integrated to a certain extent but not completely. I still do not “feel” Indian! That also may play a role.
What are your views on the work culture for expats in India, in your industry and overall?
It’s a great market with a ton of opportunities for expats with skills or knowledge. It has good growth, and it’s not saturated. Also, Indians like “jugaad,” making any difficult job easier! Consequently, there is a space for professionalism. Other ways, India is open to different cultures, food, and religions. There is also good freedom that you can’t find in western culture. For example, I drove for ten years without a driving license!
What do you do when you’re not working?
Well, mostly self-growth. I’m currently learning videography, in hopes to get good views on YouTube and social media in the future. I also have an interest in business and personal brands. As for hobbies, I love photography, food and travelling.
Do you ever get homesick? If yes, what do you miss the most?
I don’t get homesick a lot. I miss mostly food and equality.
What do you mean by equality?
I mean, the absence of castes, for example, or less economic disparity, however, those things don’t affect me directly. I think Europe developed a more fair system over the centuries, changed over and over again, to create human rights and things like that. I believe France was far ahead of Italy, but still not perfect by any means.
Any advice for expats moving to India?
India is a great place to figure out yourself. Experiment and go outside your comfort zone to find it!
Finally, do you think you’re going to stay in India for the rest of your life?
I’m not sure but for sure a few years more. I aim to build my influence here and go abroad and operate from there, ideally from Thailand.