'Friendly' low-cost India makes Europeans smile

Delhi is emerging as one of the most popular destinations for twenty-something Europeans, despite crowded streets and issues of women’s safety, as job opportunities, new life experiences, a relaxed lifestyle and a low cost of living make it hard to resist for some. 

Young expatriates shared their stories. Excerpts:
* Living in Delhi has been a fantastic journey, spanning two years. Coming here I thought would be good adventure. I still believe it. People have been friendly. But expat life also has a dark side. Sometimes, I have felt that the city is unsafe for women. What happened recently was darker. I learnt about the Khirki episode, the midnight raid, in newspapers. Friends talked about it in the workplace. It is easier being white in this country, at most you get mugged by rickshaw wallahs. India has lower cost of living. It’s a big lure for young people. I can buy better lifestyle here than in Germany. Expat life is wonderful, rich with newer experiences. But staying too long could mean neither here nor there.

Helga Stern, a German citizen working as a consultant for an NGO
* The last week was full of happiness, especially when I met my friends again. In one year, many of my friends changed a lot intellectually, so it was interesting to meet them again. I was also glad to see that my very grandparents still look gorgeous and young. And you can’t imagine how good I felt when I returned to Paris: I walked around my university for some time, and I realised how crazily beautiful can be Paris. Those old buildings lit up by the sun have such a charm – you have to see it one day, you have to! Lekin, ghabraie maat, dilli se bhi pagal hoon! (But don’t worry, I am mad about Delhi!) Yes, I also miss Delhi a lot. In fact, this is my Indian life that I am missing. I know you are going to like what I am going to say – yes, life in France can appear to be very boring in comparison with life in India. I mean, in India, I felt my everyday life was an everyday adventure. When you take a rickshaw, you never know what can happen. In Paris, when you take a bus, well, you just take a bus. My existence in Dilli was thrilling. Always discovering new monuments, new atmospheres, new cultures, new foods. Here, I feel that everything is so common. It is very, very hard to get back to a normal and quiet life. In fact, it is depressing. But no worries, I was expecting this little moment of sadness, so I take it easy.

Hugo Ribadeau Dumas, a former student of Jamia Millia Islamia, shares one of his messages written from Paris to a friend
* I came to India, first as a student and later as an intern with an NGO. I feel really attached to my adopted country. Here, I got to sample new ways of life. It should not be difficult to get an Indian work visa because I have specialised in urban development. The rules say that the skills and experiences should be unique to the place of work. Maybe it is time to think about settling down permanently by finding a long-term work contract. My friend did this in Singapore and he’s just so happy about his job. He is even planning to marry.Denise Ripamonti from Italy talks about his plans
Hugo says he is concerned about shrinking job opportunities in France. One of the limiting factor that could affect his chances of coming back to Delhi is that foreigners must earn an equivalent of $25,000 per year in order to be considered for employment visa.

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