The romantic tale

Expat zone

The romantic tale

It’s mostly in fantasy books and movies where we hear about a person leaving their nest for better education and life, and then moving to another country to be with their beloved. Candice Lock and Amit Mirchandani make that fictional story into a rather non-fictional one.

Born and brought up in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Candice left home at the age of 18 for higher education. After she completed her Information System and Management Studies from Iowa, USA, she moved to the bright city of New York when she was 21. After few years of working in the Big Apple, her company sent her to Bengaluru for a project in 2008. Though she was excited to move, it only made her nervous.

She says, “I was always intrigued by India as it’s the tech hub. But the more I read about the place, the more nervous I became. New York allows people to be anonymous and you didn't have to be worried about things there. But it was absolutely terrifying here. The traffic was insane, the idea of footpaths didn’t exist and you would always have to spend a lot of time and energy negotiating with the auto drivers.”

She recalls an incident from the time she moved where she wore a knee-length skirt and a tank top to go out. She was amused at the attention she received and remembers how the auto drivers demanded extra fare. “It was absolutely frustrating and I didn’t know what to do. English was the only language I could speak, so everything was very difficult. Thankfully I met someone — my husband — and life has been fine since then,” she shares.

Candice and Amit met through a mutual friend. She shares, “Before moving, I got in touch with one of my college friends who was then residing in Boston, and asked him to put me in touch with a few people here. He introduced me to three people and Amit happened to be one of his childhood friends. We all went to ‘Sue's Kitchen’ in Indiranagar and that’s when we met.” Meanwhile, Amit was studying in San Francisco and was in India for vacation. During the brief time they had, they got to know each other and he helped Candice settle better.

But after finishing her project, she went back to Malaysia to start her own business. After months of maintaining a long-distance relationship, both Amit and Candice returned back to Bengaluru to be together, in 2010. Post their engagement, Candice even took up Hindi classes to improve her language. While Amit owns his own design firm now, Candice and her brother-in-law started a Mexican restaurant called ‘Chinita’ two years back. “When I moved here, I used to cook a lot of Mexican dishes. It was very difficult to find the ingredients so I made everything from scratch. Our friends are the ones who suggested the idea of selling the food. Amit and I took 300 tacos to ‘Sunday Soul Sante’ one day and sold all of them! That’s how ‘Chinita’ began,” Candice recalls.

Though Candice is a Malaysian, her ancestors are Chinese. Amit says, “When I first went to Malaysia to meet her parents, they were very hesitant to let me in. They were only used to the Indians there and had a pre-conceived notion that I was like them too. But I adapted to their culture and lifestyle fast and I’m happy to say that it's not awkward anymore. We attend all the Chinese weddings and 10-course interesting meal they have along with it.”

On their weekly off, they head out to explore the City with their three-year-old son, Kai. They say, “We recently went to VR Mall in Whitefield and enjoyed the fair they had going on. Otherwise, we like to visit Cubbon Park on Sunday mornings, enjoy ‘Hyderabadi Biryani’ and ‘Rava Idli’ from MTR. The National Gallery of Modern Art is also one of our favourite places. We’re looking forward to the car show that’s happening soon.” The couple makes a trip at least once in nine months, and so far they’ve taken little Kai to Paris, Mexico, Cambodia and Malaysia. “He doesn’t remember much of the places we’ve gone to but he recalls the places that have a beach. We’re also not too sure how he feels about being in Bengaluru because all he wants right now are chocolates,” they laugh.

When asked if Candice found it hard to adjust to Indian flavours, she says, “I’ve been exposed to a lot of Indian food in Malaysia while growing up, so it wasn’t such a big deal for me. Since I’m married to an Indian family, I end up having at least one Indian meal a day.” However, it’s the meal for Christmas that she’s looking forward to. “Christmas in New York is absolutely magical. People, regardless of which religion they are, go out of their way to be with their friends and family, enjoy a good meal, drink some wine and have a great time. Last year, we put up a tree and decorated our home and this year we’re looking forward to a nice dinner with friends and family.”

She also says that it's a constant struggle in India. “I have a love-hate relationship with this place. I've learnt to surrender to the place, accept that the roads will not be straight and it'll always be noisy. I learnt how to drive because it’s just impossible to walk here. But Bengaluru is a warm city with very helpful people all around you.’’

Amit is happy to see that Candice has adjusted well with the place. He says, “It’s amazing to know that she’s adapted so well, sometimes it’s hard to believe that she has no connection with this country at all. But I guess we’re also the kind of people who don’t have a problem with living in a strange land. Candice and I don’t like to think of us as people from different countries and background, but that we’re just two people who like to be with each other.”

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