Initial Difficulties Since Moving to India from the West 164


I thought I should share a couple of things I have found difficult since moving to India, especially as it’s something everyone keeps asking me.

I thought I should share a couple of things I have found difficult since moving to India

I may always find some of these things difficult while others I will surely get used to with time. It’s only been two months so it will be interesting to look back on this post one day and see if things have changed.

1. I miss my family and friends

I have no idea when I will return to England to see them again. I wish England and India were not half a world away and plane tickets were free. One of my best friends will soon be getting married, another one is due to give birth, I wish I could be by their sides during these special times. This leaves me feeling low sometimes.

2. Being unable to understand my new family

This is my ongoing struggle, the language barrier. My mother-in-law and I cannot communicate very well which sometimes leads to confusion but mostly leads to frustration.  When I have tried to speak Marathi people laugh at me which makes me feel uncomfortable and leaves me feeling disheartened. When someone speaks to me in English, people laugh at their attempts which I sense also makes them uncomfortable and  disheartened. The result is a feeling of isolation.

This brings me on to #3.

3. Giggling makes me self conscious

Trying to adapt to Indian life means having to try many new things, such as eating with my right hand (I am left-handed), cooking Indian dishes and wearing Indian clothes. I am trying but there have been many occasions when I have unintentionally been made to feel defeated when doing this.

My attempts are often met with laughter and giggles which makes me want to grab a fork, a pair of jeans and run to my room. I know that the giggles are not malicious or nasty but they still make me feel so self-conscious. I desperately look to my husband to check if they are laughing because I am doing it wrong;

I really do know that these giggles are harmless and only because they are seeing something unusual. I know that I have to work on building a thicker skin and a little more confidence. This will just take some time I guess, time for  my confidence to grow and time for people to get used to having me around and seeing me do crazy things like eat.

4. Lack of Independence

I have now made some short trips to the local coffee shop and supermarket but still feel a lack of independence. This will also take some time, learning the language and knowing my way around Nagpur for myself will surely help. For the time being, I still depend on my husband for everything.

5. Hearing that fair skin means beautiful

I have been bombarded by advertisement for fairness creams and fairness enhancers. I read ‘seeking a fair bride for our son’ in the newspaper personal columns and I have been told that fair skin means beautiful regardless of facial features.

I’m finding it upsetting that some people feel the need to bleach their skin to feel beautiful. The strange thing is that in the West girls desperately try to darken their skin with bronzers and tanning products with the opinion ‘the darker the better’. Ironic, right? The fairness obsession can be seen everywhere in India, from billboards to glossy magazines.

6. Lack of privacy

At first I was shocking when someone would walk into my bedroom without knocking, but I am slowly getting used to it. It keeps me on my toes, I have to make sure I have the door locked when because someone could (and has) walk in when I am getting dressed.

There always seems to be loads of people in our house, people I have never seen before turning up unannounced anytime, day or night. This is something that rarely happened in my house in England, people would make appointments, so I sometimes find it uncomfortable and overwhelming, especially when I am still in my pajamas with bird nest hair and I turn around and see we have guests.

7. Having maids

It sounds luxurious but I have found this to hard to adapt to. We have two maids and both of them are extremely nice and friendly but I find them intimating, for some reason I cannot put my finger on why I feel that way. Maybe it is because they can go around the house with confidence, walk into any room and do what they have to do whilst I hide around corners waiting for them to leave so I can make myself a cup of tea. I guess I just do not want to get in their way.

I have been woken up a couple times by one of our maids sweeping the floors in our room, she lets herself in without knocking. I also find it hard to find a time when to maid is not in the kitchen so I can cook for myself, I like to make my own food because the food that is made by the maid is not to my taste so I have to wait until she is finished, I rarely manage to make it to the kitchen before she does.

8. Touching the feet of elders

It is not just because of my clicking knees I find this a struggle. This tradition is a source of great anxiety for me and it all started on my first day in India. Touching the feet of your elders is a gesture of respect but I don’t yet know when it is appropriate or to whom it is appropriate.

When my grandmother-in-law was waiting to welcome me to my new home, my husband reached down and touched her feet and everyone looked at me. I had no idea whether I should do it or if maybe shouldn’t, countless thoughts flooded my mind. Do I have to wait until we are married to touch her feet? Am I allowed as a Westerner? In sheer panic I just gave her a massive hug which was fine. On subsequent meetings I knew she expected me to touch her feet but I am still slightly anxious about it when faced with new people.

Now I have a basic rule of just following husband but on the occasions when he is not around and I meet new people, I panic. Will they be offended that I think they are old? Will they be offended if I don’t do it? I try to keep in mind that people will understand my ignorance as I have not grown up with this custom.

9. Having my photograph taken without my permission

I am not sure why men want to take photographs of me, but they do! I do not like it at all. I have been photographed in may different ways without my permission, some more intrusive than others. I didn’t mind it so much to begin with but it soon became tiresome. I have been photographed from a distance and I have had a camera phone thrust in my face whilst I am eating a meal. I have had people who stand directly  in front of me and click a photo whilst others have been much more sneaky about it.

My husband and I were standing watching one of the marriage ceremonies during the wedding in Aurangabad we recently attended. I spotted a guy pretending to take a photo of his friend as he pointed his camera phone directly at us, I nudged my husband and said ‘I just saw another photo being taken’. My husband replied ‘yeah, I saw it too’. I pointed in the direction of the amateur photographer and my husband said ‘I saw it happen there’, pointing in the opposite direction. Two people were taking photographs at the same time, I couldn’t believe it.

10. Craving food I cannot find in India

I dream of cheddar cheese from the West Country melted on top of Heinz baked beans…  There is no need to continue on this point, it is torture to talk about it.

To conclude:

Whilst there are some things that drive me absolutely crazy, upset me and make me feel extremely uncomfortable, so far so good!


About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.


164 thoughts on “Initial Difficulties Since Moving to India from the West

  • Deodatta Shenai-Khatkhate

    Very well written, Lauren. Thanks for sharing these. Here are my two naya paisa, if you will….

    Hopefully you will overcome some of these by getting used to Indian mannerisms and behavior. Quite honestly, when I am in India, I myself do feel uncomfortable with most of the obervations that you have made, and I was born in India, growing up there for 21 years of my life. What I cannot stand most are more subtle aspects of Indian society such as no respect for personal freedom, the lack of privacy, and duplicity or hypocracy that is so common……

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Lovely to see you are blogging again, Deo!

      My husband says the same about privacy, he has never liked the way people just walk into a room without knocking. I guess we are lucky locks were invented.

      I hope you are well and thank you so much for reading!

      • Deodatta Shenai-Khatkhate

        You are most welcome, Lauren! I do like to read your posts, as they always come straight from the heart, expressing your feelings with utmost honesty and sincerity. Your story as English wife in India is developing beautifully, and I wish you all the best in making it better and better.

        As regards to blogging, I have opted to blog only for special thoughts or occasion. So you may see me in the blogosphere every now and then. Thanks for your kind words.

        Cheerio, for now!

  • Ms.Z.

    I can relate to absolutely EVERYTHING on your list!!! One comforting thing I can tell you is that – things get better with time. I promise. My first couple of weeks I didn’t even want to go alone anywhere because people were staring at me all the time. It felt so uncomfortable. Nowadays, people still stare at me, but I just walk by and don’t even think about it.
    I remember when I was hiding from our helper in the house, waiting for her to leave the kitchen so I could make myself some food or coffee. Because of the language barrier, I always felt strange around her. But now, 10 months later, I am sharing the kitchen with her, communicating and even arguing when she finds me doing the dishes. And all without speaking the same language.
    I also felt very self-conscious when I would try to say something in Nepali and people would giggle and laugh, and make fun of it for hours to come. That’s probably the reason I never had the courage to try and learn the language. However, now I feel at home in Nepal. And I feel that I don’t really care that people giggle or laugh or make fun of me. I am here to live my life, and I cannot go on hiding from others and feeling shy and self-conscious. So I started taking Nepali classes and announced it to everyone. I expected them to tease me, but I was really surprised when people were so supportive of it. Now, I cannot wait to share with them what I learn.
    As far as touching the feet goes, I think the tradition is a bit different than in Nepal, but I will still share what I know. Maybe it helps. I was taught to lean in for a blessing on the head (aka touch feet), only to the women related to me through my husband’s father’s side of the family. To other family members I do a simple “Darshan”. All others “Namaste”. Generally, when I don’t know what to do, I just follow my husband’s lead and do whatever he does. In the beginning I would get so frustrated because he would just leave me hanging and I would be all awkward and confused. After one big discussion we had, we agreed he would always give me a short notice as to what I am to do. For example, when someone I don’t know walks in the room, he would quickly whisper to me how to greet the person. That made everything a million times easier for me, and I feel so much more confident now.
    Not to spam your comment section, I will end here. But this is certainly a topic we could share notes on. Email me if you ever want to share your frustration.
    Good luck with everything!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Ms. Z,
      Thank you so much for your comment! It is such a comfort to know that you went through the same struggles and have been able to adapt! To be able to share the kitchen with our maid without feeling awkward would be amazing… I look forward to that day, I can see my confidence has grown a little in the last 2 months, in 2 year I might be arguing with her too!! 😀

      Thank you so much for your advice on greeting new people, my husband isn’t usually around when this happens (he works so much 🙁 ) I need to talk to my mother-in-law about it I guess. Especially as our wedding is 2 months away, a lot more people will be showing up soon!!!

      I am glad it is not only me who has hidden from maids!! I really appreciate your comment, it is so reassuring to know this is not just my silly ways but actually what other women experience when the move from West to East!!

      Take care!

      Lauren

      • shailu

        dear i respect your love…but its too too too difficult to adapt to indian custom ….i m happy that you adapted successfully

  • Shmruthi

    Hi Lauren, It’s interesting to know the culture shocks that westerners experience when they move to India and you have written a very honest post here. Kudos for that! I experienced the reverse of many of these points, when I moved to Europe after 22 years of being in India 😉 I could NEVER understand why Europeans were so obsessed with tanning!! One of my friends even used fake tanning products every so often to get some “color” as she says! It was so bizarre to me just like the way you feel about the obsession with fairness in India.
    Also, I totally agree on your point on lack of privacy. It’s a cultural thing and we all grew up used to being around many people. And especially in smaller cities, the culture of visiting people unannounced is still alive. In bigger cities, you would notice that it’s more nuclear these days and the culture is changing. Personally, I would prefer the former since, to me, that is what I love about India. You would be surprised but it took me a while to get used to the silence in the West!
    And I can very well imagine your plight on getting pictures taken. It’s one of the things about Indian men that I don’t approve of! It’s not just you (since you are white it might be many folds) but almost all pretty girls (including Indian) will be tried to be captured on the camera’s of some perverts! I really wish this sick mentality of the Indian guys change soon.
    Lastly, ending on a positive note, if you get a chance to go to the bigger Metropolitan cities like Mumbai or Delhi, you can definitely enjoy very good British food in specialty restaurants 🙂 It is just that the West and the East are radically different in a lot of ways that it’s natural to experience culture shock. But I sincerely hope that you cross that chasm soon and adjust to these new surroundings better & enjoy your life in India even more 🙂

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Shmruthi!

      Thank you so much for your comment!! It is so lovely to see my culture shocks mirrored by your culture shocks from East to West!

      I think the reason for the tanning obsession is that if we look pale people ask us if we are ill and to have some colour shows you are healthy and have been enjoying the sunshine.I may write a post on this!

      I too have heard of many cases of Indian girls being snapped and teased, I know it is definitely not just isolated to Western women… it is a very sad situation.

      I am definitely looking forward to a trip to a larger city to see what foods I can find, I am enjoying food here but it is just those specific items I cannot get out of my head, you must have felt the same!!

      Thank you so much again, Shmruthi.

      Take care

      • Shmruthi

        Lauren, thanks for taking time to reply to my really long comment. (Oops, I don’t know what I was thinking then 😉 ). I would really love to read more about your experiences and opinions on practices in India. I’m sure it will help us understand the east and the west better 🙂

  • yachna

    Dear Lauren, I was born and raised in India and I have experienced your frustrations. Couple years ago I was in India with my family, sister’s family and my parents in Goa and there was this street romeo sitting on a bench taking my pic with his cell phone. He thought he was so clever. I have 2 kids a teenage daughter and with my husband so I don’t think this ludicrity (if that’s a word) will ever change. I also relate with the language issue. Here in the US I have experienced this time and time again when I get invited to social gatherings hosted by south Indians. They jibber jabber in their own language and just lack the social etiquette. If I manage to exchange social pleasantries with someone I get rudely interrupted by someone who shows no courtesy, but just starts talking with this person as if I am non existent. No matter how independent you become, safety will always be an issue. especially you standing out- I think you will always draw unwanted attention. Even today when I visit my parents in India I get shameless gawks and glares. Regarding touching feet, only touch feet of family elders. Live confidently, don’t let the maid intimidate you. You do what you want and need. She can dance around you. If people entering your room is a problem, just keep it locked. Set the boundaries now or else it will get really hard later.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Yachna,

      Lovely to hear from you! It seems that camera phones are hazardous, it is such a shame because it makes you feel so uncomfortable. I dread to think about how I would feel if strangers start taking photos of my children (when they arrive).

      My husband lived with South Indians for sometime when he lived in the US, even though they knew Hindi they would always speak their language so he can understand what I am going through, like you do.

      Thank you so much for your reassuring words, I am really going to concentrate on increasing my confidence and keeping the door locked.

      I hope you and your family are well!!

      Take care

      Lauren

  • Jessica

    I totally understand and went through a lot of these things, too. (Cheddar cheese! Real soy sauce!) Maybe it would help you to do some reading about culture shock and some summative research about Indian culture. It usually takes people about 6 months or more, on average, to adapt (or decide they reject the new culture). I’ve been here 8 months, and have gotten over many of these humps, but I’m going back to my country soon, not living here permanently, (and I’m not married to and Indian) so I don’t have to adapt at the level you do. Some of the things I was able eventually to let roll off my back, like working with the maids/drivers, etc. and people taking pictures (I have two children, ages 4 and 6, the younger is blonde and blue eyed, so we’re constantly fighting mobs away). But some I just couldn’t adapt to. I imagine as you learn the language and are able to communicate, you’ll also learn about your social standing in the family. Then you’ll feel more comfortable as you understand where you stand and what’s expected of you. From a Western point of view, I can’t say my friends who are daughters-in-laws are in an enviable position. I know a lot depends on the family, but their place on the totem pole seems to be one step above the maids; I’m not judging, it’s just inherent in the culture. I’m not saying it’s bad, either. Relationships need great care. They are just structured differently in Indian vs. US/British culture. Good luck to you, keep up your hard work, and I hope your internet connection is fast enough for you to get some good Skype with your friends and family. 🙂

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Jessica!

      Lovely to hear from you. I just cannot imagine how you feel when people are taking photos of your little girl, bless her! I have been thinking about when I have children here in that respect. Big hug.

      I have been extremely lucky that my in-laws try to accommodate all my needs but that language barrier really gets in the way! I will be so interested to look back on this list in 4 months (after 6 months of being here) and see how my feelings have changed!!!

      Luckily my parents and my youngest sister are currently expats in Kuwait so it is only a 2.5hour time difference so I can Skype my Mummy often. My friends work fulltime and with a 5.5hour time difference it is much more difficult to get hold of them. When they get home from work it is 1am here.

      Thank you so much for your message, I really appreciate your words!!

      I hope that you handle repatriation well! I am sure it will be a relief when people stop taking photos of your babe.

      Take care

    • Brady

      you are a foreigner in a foreign country. You should have the respect to align with the customs of the locals

      At least this girl is loving of India etc. You should return back to your country !

  • Cyn

    I can relate to all of them, having been in India 10 years, let me tell you it does get better with time, not perfect, I still have issue with certain things, but slowly and slowly things fall into place. Regarding the food thing, check if zansaar.com can deliver to your place, they have some of these western pantry items. Or else next time you are in a big city, hunt a gourmet store down and stock up on some non perishables, will make a world of difference.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Cyn,

      Zansaar.com looks amazing, thank you so much for the link! I agree, and I guess that you know more than most, having some home food comforts will make a difference.

      Lovely to hear from you and thank you for your comment!!

      I hope you and your family are well
      Take care
      Lauren

  • Hidden Passions

    True.. and yes, I laugh at fairness creams now but back when I was in India I believed fairness is a gift until I saw other side of the world. Aaah.. regarding westerners like to get tan, simply saying.. the grass on the other side is always greener… what is not-common becomes unique and every human in general craves for uniqueness.

    Other points you have listed were absolutely true.. and I feel uncomfortable when I am in India. what I took all the points you listed were granted and never questioned before and now I have a problem thinking in those lines. It is a matter of getting used to and finding out ways to do what is more comfortable with us.

    Good Luck Lauren.. indeed you are doing very well with your stay so far.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      I agree! The grass is always greener!! I hope that more women realise that fairness is not the be all and end all of beauty. I guess it is just that Indians are bombarded by these advertisement, especially ones endorsed by bollywood stars.

      Thank you so much for your comment, lovely to hear from you!! Take care and best wishes

      • Hidden Passions

        Fairness in India is equivalent to Tanning in West. So not much of a difference. If you google it, you’ll know the story behind tanning/fairness creams.. it’s interesting and you always want something you do not have. Human minds always need more.. 🙂

  • ffg

    i dont think people like u can last very long in india either u will return back to ur country or to usa with ur husband. it would have been easier if u had just married a white guy & ignored ur hallucinating idea of having a India connection

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Ffg (if that is your real name…)

      I am sorry you feel that ‘people like me’ do not belong in India. I also hope you have read my post properly as I clearly state how I love my life here but if you put anyone in a culture that is different from what they have grown up with, it does take time for them to adjust. I am sure if you were plopped on the other side of the world, you would also take some time to settle down.

      With regards to ‘it would have been easier if *u had just married a white guy’. I married my husband because I love him, I didn’t marry him because he was Indian. I didn’t marry an Indian because I wanted to experience. I married THE MAN I love, regardless of his nationality.

      To just ‘marry a white guy’ would not have been easier because the man I love his Indian… I don’t know about you but I don’t think marrying someone purely because they are the same race as me is a certain path to happiness. I would not have married any one else, sorry about that.

      I am extremely sorry you have these opinions, I hope if you ever visit another country people don’t look down at you.

      Best wishes,

      Lauren

    • Brady

      youre wrong here man

      I thought she may have been one of these Westerners who come to India for the whole enlightenment or hippy adventure thing

      But she genuinely loves her husband and the life they have.

      And she goes out of her way to learn Indian ways as best she can. So stop hating on her. We need more women like her around

  • melissa

    Awww Lauren, I hate the giggling! I hate to think people are talking about me, and I hate people staring. I know they don’t mean any harm, but it makes me feel so uneasy.

  • loveinistanbul

    Another great post Lauren! God, I remember grappling with so many of these things when I lived in Bangladesh – the photo taking, the maids, the not knowing what to do in certain meeting and greeting situations… nightmares, all of them!

    For the photo taking, I used to just pull stupid faces when it was getting on my nerves too much. I had friends who’s swear and shout, but I just couldn’t get that worked up. The maids things – it’s weird, isn’t it, coming from a place where we don’t generally have domestic workers… I was shocked how quickly I got used to / came to rely on having home help! And the meeting and greeting thing – I had a female colleague sit me down and explain everything one day, and that helped, but there’s really nothing better than watching and learning!

    Do you get just generally stared at, along with the photo taking? That, along with the lack of privacy, was what used to wear me down in the ‘desh. I could draw a crowd five deep just by buying carrots in the market. Sometimes it was funny, but most of the time it was downright intimidating.

    I trust what most other commenters have said – that it WILL get easier! I remember thinking, two months into my life in Bangladesh, there is NO way I’m going to survive two years. But something happened around the 3/4 month mark, and I suddenly fell in love with it all! It sounds like you’re already falling, despite your list 😉

    Take care!

    • stockdalewolfe

      Dear Lauren,

      I was very sorry to read about your troubling adjustments but don’t forget, you just got there. It takes time and there are bound to be many bumps in the road in the beginning. Many of your problems I understand having been engaged to a Sri Lankan and lived with him in an international dormitory in the US. All of the Indian women would stare and point and whisper about me all the time. And I never understood the prejudice against dark skin– having heard that from my fiance and seen it in Indian movies, mothers whitening their daughters skin. Personally I think Black is beautiful but I did not grow up in that society so cannot pass judgement. And I have seen young people touching the feet of non-relative elders. I wondered if I should do that here– I have wanted to for the parents of Indian neighbors we meet in the elevator, etc. There were many things that make problems. But you will get used to these things and I think many people gave you good suggestions and encouragement– I second these comments. Personally, I have this problem being Bipolar, many of these problems, even within my own culture. We don’t have servants but I feel discomfort with any service and certainly would feel uncomfortable with servants. And people laughing and giggling aggravates my own paranoia. Whenever I move somewhere new, even if just a new neighborhood, I feel very paranoid and this is without cultural differences. Change is hard for me and for lots of people. And you have MAJOR change with a capital “C”. Check in with yourself and see if your depression is coloring things slightly. It is going to be hard for awhile. Being white you stick out but you do look Indian and you will love India I am sure and you love your husband. It is hard with him working 6 days a week and missing your family and friends. Skype. Use your blogosphere friends to help you. You are certainly welcome to email me if you want. Find some place to get your British foods and that will help you immensely. And maybe frequenting that coffee shop and becoming on greeting familiarity with the staff in the shop. And I agree you should lock your door when you need privacy. Wishing you well and some peaceful adjustment, Ellen

      • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

        Hi Ellen,

        So lovely to hear from you!!
        I feel the same as you did, I get bouts of anxiety during the times my husband is away in the office but they are becoming much better! I have received so much comfort whilst he is at work from blog friends and skyping family!! I am so happy I started this blog and I can see how people have gone through similar emotions even if their situation if slightly different!

        Writing is definitely such a great comfort!! I love India so much and every day gets easier, my husband has been absolutely amazing!

        I hope you and your husband are well!

        Lots of love

        Lauren

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Wow, I didn’t know you lived in Bangladesh, my niece is half Bangladeshi!

      Pulling a funny face… Brilliant idea!! I get starred at a lot, if I am in a crowded room it feels as if all eyes are on me. I have gotten used to it to some extent so predict there will be a time when it simply does not bother me!

      I have definitely already falling in love, I just thought it would be a good idea to share some struggles and to vent it out a bit!

      I hope everything in the ‘bul is fine and dandy!!

      Take care x

  • mechsivashankar

    Dear Lauren,
    Sorry about your struggles in India. But you’re going to marry a gentleman right. Then discuss with him without hesitation and try to solve one by one.
    1) Language barrier – Trying to learn Marathi is a good thing. But I don’t know how long it’ll take. Best of luck.
    2) Giggling – Just go through the following link.It’ll help. Of course it belongs to an another married interracial couple just like you. I think you know them. “American Punajaban PI”
    http://www.americanpunjabanpi.com/2014/02/theyre-all-going-to-laugh-at-you.html#disqus_thread
    3) Lack of Independence – I don’t know exactly where you’re living means in centre of the city or in outskirts. If it’s in mid of the city then just start to go for a trip by yourself with a proper guidance from your husband. Be careful.
    4) Regarding fair skin beauty – Leave it. There are something that we can’t change.
    5) Lack of privacy and having maids – This is the easy part to overcome. Discuss this with your MIL along with your husband and she’s the only person who can help you. I’m sure.She seems to be a nice women. Nothing to worry about this.
    6) Touching the feet – If you felt difficult, say Namaste and give her a big hug. This will make her happy.
    7) Photograph issues – I don’t know what to say. May be try for that T-shirt.
    8) Craving food – Go through it and buy as much as you want. Just search it on Google.
    http://www.passioncheese.com/contact.htm
    http://www.naturesbasket.co.in/categories/cheese-and-dairy-cheese/cid-CU00099992.aspx
    http://toi.amul.com/cheese-cheddar.html

    Anyway, at last If he’s understand and supporting you means then the above mentioned issues are nothing.
    Take care,
    Bye.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Mechsivashankar,

      I hope you are well, thank you so much for your advice.

      My husband listens to ever thought, concern and feeling I have and has already made so many adjustments (i.e. told the maids to knock, bought me an oven to cook western style dishes, told my mother-in-law not to take me round her friends houses where I would just sit whilst they spoke about me in Marathi).

      Sadly, somethings are out of his control (especially when he works 6 days a week) he cannot stop people taking photos etc. I tell my husband everything as it is going through my mind. I have read APPIs amazing post, it is such great to hear that other have felt the same, it makes me feel less paranoid and reassures me that I can overcome my feeling of discomfort (thanks APPI!!).

      My MIL knows how I feel but the maids still have to do their job, it is up to me to overcome my own insecurities. I feel I have already taken the first step by communicating how I feel to her, it is up to me to gain confidence, learn Marathi and put everything into action!

      Thank you so so much for the links, I will check them out! Thank you so much again.

      Take care

      Lauren

  • Mani (A New Life Wandering)

    Although some of these points were not part of my struggle in India because we were in different situations, I can relate so much. The three major ones for me were the lack of independence, the lack of privacy and the lack of western foods. Hang in there! xo

  • American Punjaban PI

    I remember having all of those same struggles. They will get better and it sounds to me like you’re doing quite well. You just need to remind yourself that you are. As for the cheddar, you can find this in larger chain type stores. In the North we had a HyperCity that was very similar to an American Wal-Mart and they carried international goods. There were other stores in different parts of India. Ask your hubby about stores like that and he should either know or have a friend that knows where to find one. They will be expensive but it’s a treat that makes life feel a little better when you need that kind of pick up.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Thank you so much APPI, everyday has its own little breakthrough moment!

      I just googled and sadly there is not Hypercity in Nagpur, there is one in Pune where we will soon be going wedding shopping… maybe we will have to stop by and doing some other shopping!

      Thank you so much for the advice, I hope you and your hubby are well x

  • The Fourth Continent

    Hey Lauren… I think you’re going to just have to get used to the photo taking, because I don’t think that will not change in your lifetime. It is also the same in China, they take photos of the white person. If you can get used to the fact that you are a celebrity, the so much the better. =)

    HUGS. It’s not that easy, I know.
    x Tanny

  • whitegirlinasari

    I relate to your post A LOT. I was only in Nepal for 2 months and found things hard even though I enjoyed it at the same time. I don’t think I could live there permanently after what I went through. biggest thing is no freedom while living with your in-laws, constantly being watched by people was a big thing too. I felt comfortable with learning the language etc and was welcomed, people loved me speaking nepali. but I didn’t know much language and often felt isolated as there was no-one to talk to and communicate with. Even though I had Rabindra there, I felt very lonely because I missed my family and friends. All the best 🙂

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Casey,
      It is so hard to be stared at constantly! I really hope I can break that barrier, I know that my family and everyone else would be so happy with me speaking Marathi but the way they react if I try makes me uncomfortable, just something to get over!!

      Missing family and friends is the hardest 🙁

      I hope you and Rabindra are well!
      Lots of love

      • Jessica

        Wow, you are such a graceful person, Lauren!

        I think you’ll find that the staring won’t go away. However, you’ve probably noticed that, especially with the women, just give them a smile and they’ll smile back and be so pleased! Most likely they are very impressed with your beauty, and also that you look so beautiful in Indian clothes and they are flattered that you are making an effort to accept their culture. I think Indians are very shy towards foreigners, but I always find warmth when I initiate a smile. 🙂 But they are very curious. It’s super easy to make friends here simply by smiling.

        • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

          Thank you so much, Jessica!!

          I always smile at woman and they usually give me a lovely smile back! My husband says a lot of the photos are because I am wearing bindi, sindoor and Indian clothes so you are probably right!

          Thank you so much again x

  • Boston123

    I can offer a comment regarding the maids behavior. Your home may be one of many houses they clean, sometimes twice a day. So completing her work in a timely manner, optimizing her sequence of work, is important to her. Further, if she does not clean your room, or leaves a part of the house not swept or cleaned, she may have to take hell from your mother in law( not saying this happens in your case, but could happen).

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Boston123,
      My MIL knows that I don’t let the maids in plus she talks to them a lot and I don’t think she would ever scold them :). I can imagine it happens in other houses though!

      I am not sure if they do clean other houses, I might ask if that is the case!

      I hope you are well

      Lauren

  • Chai a cup of life

    I just left you a long comment, but as I posted it the Internet cut. Typical. 😉 I hear you in so many ways and reading the other comments, you are not alone!
    With touching feet of elders, I follow what my husband does..otherwise my mother in law and I have a signal whether when I should or not..maybe discuss it beforehand so you know..the only thing I can suggest is that you find yourself a hobby or job, something to get you out of the house and feel more independence. The other things that you struggle with will then become minor. However, It sounds like you are handling everything very well…by the way, you and your sisters are gorgeous!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Amelia!!
      Oh no, that happens to me ALL the time!! I am so glad I wrote this post because, as you say, I now know I am not alone in with these feelings. I have thought I will get involved in some kind of NGO once the wedding is over.

      Thank you so much for your encouragments and thank you so much again, my sisters are beauts!

      Take care and best wishes

      Lauren x

  • spanwar

    Hi Lauren,

    Feeling bad to know that you are facing so many problems while adjusting to life in India.
    Indian and European cultural difference are too much and it is very difficult to bridge the gap. you can overcome some of the problems with time but few things are probably not going to change. you need to talk to your husband and his family about your problems. They need to be sensitized about this.
    Culture across geographies vary but there are some qualities like Love, Trust, Mutual Respect, Loyalty are found and appreciated in every culture and place. If You found these qualities in your new family then there is no need to worry because you can overcome any other problem with the help of these.

    Cheers!!!

  • barelyherenorthere

    On your last point of the cheddar on baked beans…well, I’ve discovered Spencers! It’s a supermarket that sells baked beans and cheddar cheese. It also sells weetabix and mcvities biscuits and wasabi peas and other such luxurious food items. I don’t know what your equivalent is in Nagpur, but it might be worth some research.

    I can relate to a lot of your points but it’s a little easier for me…i’ve got the culture thing sorted, almost, as i grew up with it but my husband’s side is completely different..They’re Telugu(from the South) and have a bunch of whole other customs. I don’t understand the language either and their English is not too great. Sign language and lots of laughter. I find laughing at yourself and just giving everything a go really helps. I’m just really impressed that you’re actually doing it, the whole traditional indian wife thing. I’m indian (by birth, british by nature, i suppose), and I don’t do the indian wife thing. It’s tough but you’re tougher! All the best and lots of love. If you ever feel like you need some help or just a shoulder to lean on…I’m right here.

    Dev

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Mmmmmm… mcvities biscuits! I love them so much!

      Thank you SO much for your really kind words!! You must understand both sides as you are a British Indian (I guess I am an Indian British :P) and your husband’s family speak another language.

      Lots and lots of love to you. Thank you so much again!!

      Lauren x

      • friend

        @Lauren

        Privacy has negative connotations in Indian culture. If you seek privacy it means that you are either offended on trying to keep yourself aloof. If a couple closes the door during the day when the people are moving, it is considered rude. The bottom line is you must be visible most of the time otherwise it is felt that you are anti-social or arrogant. I know this sounds strange to a foreigner but we considered privacy to be unnatural. Partly because Indians grew up in joint families and villages surrounded by people all the time.

        In olden days the queens had something called “Khoop Bhavans” or anger chambers where the queens went whenever they were angry and sought privacy. The king was promptly informed and he would go to pacify the queen.

        • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

          Hi Friend,

          I hope you are well! I don’t think it would be possible for me to be visible for the entire day around people who I cannot understand, constant visitors and maids without having a mental breakdown.

          Since I was a child I have spent a good deal of my time alone. I am lucky because in my joint family, my in-laws understand it is the way I am and I am not trying to be rude.

          I have had a couple of occasions when a khoop bhavans would be of some use! Thanks for letting me know about this fact, I love stories on Ancient Indian royalty, find them enchanting..

          Thank you for your comment

          Take care

          Lauren

  • nepalilovestory

    I loved this post. This is everything I worry about and more. You have captured the things that I cannot begin to feel until I arrive in Nepal. Thank you so much for your post. I am glad that besides the strange overwhelming differences you are enjoying your time. Also, your husband is a saint. I wish you both the best valentines day. XXX

  • advayd

    Hi. Although my wife has not been to India yet, I have explained some of the habits and culture we Indians have including some you have mentioned here. She already feels uncomfortable about visiting and understandably so. Hang tight and don’t be afraid to be assertive if you are made to feel uneasy. Having said that there are quite a few positives and I hope you can fashion your lifestyle around that.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Reassure your wife that everything will be okay if she prepares herself! I love India, these are my 10 struggles but I have 1,000 joys here!

      I really hope your wife loves India as much as I do when she does visit! Best wishes to you and your wife

  • girl

    Hey Lauren,
    Read your post and i know how much of a weird confusion you might be in because of all the cultural differences in your life before and now..
    But you know being on the other side and grown up here i will try and explain you a few things about the culture here..
    I know for a fact that indians giggle, but being a marathi i can give u this in writing that Marathis giggle ten times more than any average indian would. My mother for example either smiles laughs giggles at any given situation. But u have to know Lauren that many a times Its in a very positive sense (i may sound stupid to u but thats true. In like say an Adoring way!.) Just try and avoid them.
    About the maids- God even i hate mine. They just walk in without knocking. Mine is also very rude. The best way to deal with them is to clearly tell them where not to intrude. And i am sure though ur MIL talks to her often n much but she definitely will listen to you more than her.
    Also lastly, About touching feet.. Your rule works perfect. Follow your husband. And when he is not around just EXPLICITLY ask your MIL. She’ll understand.
    I am sorry If i am being like a teacher. Unnecessarily trying to coach you but i just thought i’d risk sound bossy but try helping.
    I really love reading your blog. And follow it so regularly.
    I know It might look really creepy to you but I would love to meet u if sometime you’re bored and have free time.
    I can show u things around here…
    Keep writing..
    TK CR
    PS- U have beautiful english family. Ur sisters are so beautiful.
    And so are ur grandparents..

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Awww you do not sound creepy at all, not one bit. That would be lovely.

      Haha, I can see that Marathi people like to giggle a lot! My mother-in-law is very smiley and giggly too 😀

      Thank you so much for your advice and really kind words!!

      Take care, dear x

      • girl

        Oh i am glad..
        Let me know when ever you wanna go out…
        For ANYTHING… if you get any cravings or for buying stuff…
        i’d so love to meet up.
        Thanx.
        Take care..
        Keep writing!

  • Karolyn Cooper

    I know exactly what you mean about the lack of privacy, and the maids. Very hard for Westerners to adapt to that.
    After a short time in Bangalore, someone said to me “you need to find the thing that will make India wonderful FOR YOU”. Not for your husband, your family, other expats, other Indian women, but the thing that works for you.
    It took a while, but I found it, and then the problems mattered so much less, because I was spending more of my day feeling good. Don’t know what that thing will be for you – but writing for this blog will be a good start. I was a fan of the cow you photographed before – so maybe go out and take some more photos?

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Karolyn.

      You are completely right and that is amazing advice!! I have often said to my husband how I am so glad I started writing this blog because I gave been able to connect with so many amazing people, like you, who can relate and it gives me so much comfort.

      I have been writing quite a lot, about life before India, therapeutic writing I guess you could call it. I also really loved taking those photos. Writing and taking photos really does make me happy, I should do that more and try to worry less.

      Thank you so much again for your amazing advice and kind words!

      Lauren x

  • Vikram ⓐ (@Individualist_)

    From joy rides to bumpy tracks. That’s life! Keep your faith strong in yourself, in this glorious land and Eeshwar! You have only just begun your journey here. Soon you will be the “master of the seas”! 🙂 (I think a bad idiom)

    You have touched many issues in this blog and each can have extended discussions of their own, and while there many things that people around you might be doing wrong, I can only suggest to you what you can do from your side to glide over these “struggles”.

    You miss your family? First time married? Yes of course! That’s what most girls miss then they marry and go off to their new home.

    Language! Well that clearly takes time. But here is a suggestion. Books alone won’t help you much if you want to learn quickly. You will have to find yourself a tutor. Not a professional one, just someone from the family or neighbor. Also check if there are video courses available. And what about the uncomfortable giggles, etc? Well they are spontaneous reactions, treat them as such, don’t carry them in your mind. When we were kids, we had hard time speaking in English in school. We were all laughed at, made fun, sometimes humiliated. It was fun! 🙂

    Privacy takes on a different meaning here. Knocking at doors is not the way here. In fact, I would consider it inappropriate in a home. But it’s not just related to privacy, it is also related to daily discipline, something that you’ll have to actively find out and learn. For example, you are not supposed be in your pajamas once out of the bed. You should be dressed up, prepared for the day (and the maid as well). Once you are comfortable in communicating, try doing the morning puja. As far as going to your room is concerned, ladies and kids are free to go to your room, or should be. Men are not supposed to go your room, uninvited, if they have to, rarely, they should call out your name and wait for your response. If you want to include your husband in this group, that’s up to you. 🙂

    Touching the feet of elders? Always do that, unless someone explicitly asks you not to. You have a right over the blessings of elders.

    Having your photograph taken without your permission? In a family event, family members can, for making family albums. Others cannot. Frown at them!

    But above everything else, what matters is the love between all members of the family. As long as that endures, nothing can go wrong. So spread love and enjoy your bumpy ride! 🙂

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Vikram,

      Lovely to hear from you. I smiled slightly when you said ‘first time married’. I guess everyone is different, some people don’t mind being giggled at and I hope that someday I will learn to not let it bother me.

      I guess I will always find it inappropriate to enter someones room without knocking, it is just the way I have been brought up. I really appreciate my new family trying to make adjustments and knock, just as I have made my own adjustments.

      I am still uncomfortable to let ladies and kids in my room without knocking, I value my privacy, it doesn’t mean I am being rude. I understand it is not considered rude in India so I do not take offensive. I will always maintain this, it is my personal preference. My husband as always wanted them to knock long before he met me so welcomes this change.

      Family members taking my photo is completely fine but that is not what I am talking about, I am talking about random men taking photos, it is very unpleasant, for my husband as well as me.

      I know that as we all learn about each other more things will get easier. There is a lot of love in this house.

      I hope you are well. Take care.

      • Vikram ⓐ (@Individualist_)

        Well I hope you will reconsider that someday. It is not about being rude. It is is about creating the least barrier between yourself, and family and friends. It is about mutual trust and strengthening the bond of relationships.

        It’s hard to explain in a comment, I can give analogies but that would be too long, and I don’t think you would be able to relate to them just now.

        Just something to keep in mind, even if you don’t agree with it right now.

        Take care!

        • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

          There is nothing to reconsider, I am not ashamed of my need for privacy. I like my own space, liking my own space does not harm trust at all or weaken any relationships. I am not attempting to become an Indian and my husband loves privacy too so all is good. I think that we should respect other peoples way of life and not try to enforce our lifestyle on everyone else.

          My new family respect and understand that and so that is all that matters 🙂 we all have to make compromises, I have made a lot of compromises but I am not giving up having my own, private, personal space.

          Take care.

  • Andrea

    I think my biggest culture shock upon going to my in-laws’ was the lack of mobility. Having lived in Delhi, where I would just call a company car or take an auto and come and go as I pleased, wherever and whenever I wanted, it was very odd to be ‘confined’ to the house for my first few days there! Prior to the reception, my in-laws didn’t want anyone to see me. Afterwards I left the house only when accompanied. For a visit of a few weeks that was not too terribly bad but I don’t know how I would deal with it long-term.

    The other thing that I didn’t expect to be an issue but was – was the language barrier. I do speak a fair amount of Bengali, and understand more than I speak, but the best conversation I had was with a ten-year-old telling me about her trip to the circus, because that’s basically the level I am at 🙂 I was able to hold my own during the big question and answer session all the women hurled at me before the reception, but afterwards I was so stressed out I went right to sleep until I was called to get my hair done!

    And after about nine days, I stopped speaking in Bengali. I don’t know why; I didn’t want to, but I just had no strength. I read English short stories from a book we were gifted for the wedding. I spoke only when spoken to as far as Bengali went and shied away from visitors. I knew that if I had more time, then I’d be able to press on past that, but there wasn’t time as we were leaving in a few short days. I wish I’d been able to get over that barrier; I would have felt more comfortable. Instead I got back on the plane with a sense of failure… even knowing it was normal.

    Culture shock is a reality for everyone, and I think it’s important to have both your familiar ‘comfort’ things from home as well as to keep being intrepid and pressing on during that time. Some days you’ll feel like you should have never gotten on the plane, and others you will feel like you’ve got this country and you understand everything about it. And then before you realize it, the pendulum will stop swinging so wildly and you’ll just be living in your current reality without a second thought.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Andrea!!

      Lovely to hear from you! I too have had a big question answer session, it was really uncomfortable.

      I know it will just take time and everyone who moves to another country experiences a culture shock of some sort. Thanks to you and other commenters, I know I am not alone in feeling theses things. I am going to be really interested to see this list after a year or so!

      I hope you are well!

      Lauren x

  • Vikram ⓐ (@Individualist_)

    Dear Lauren,

    I wasn’t trying to enforce my lifestyle, not in my power, don’t intend to. It wasn’t about my or your lifestyle either. What I suggest others, at least those whom I like, are the right things to do in life, never my personal likings.

    As always, my best wishes!

    -Vikram

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Vikram,

      I know your comments are always in good nature but your language is very instructive. ‘You SHOULD be..’ etc. etc. etc.

      I strongly believe that there is no ‘right way to do things in life’, what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another. We are all here on Earth to learn our own lessons and live the life we were destined to live. I think a life of mutual respect towards all is a good life.

      I hope you are well!

      Lauren

  • Expat

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m sure you know of Sharell’s blog, but if you don’t (because she has not been blogging for many months now), you would really enjoy reading it. I lived in South Mumbai for under two years, and found the constant staring and the uncomfortable feeling while trying to take a walk – even along Marine Drive – very unnerving. I ended up restricting my life much more than I would have wanted to and went everywhere with the car and driver. I love walking but I ended up walking on Marine Drive when it was evening so I didn’t stand out so much. I would be very careful who I smiled at – I would limit it to women and children because you will invite unwanted attention otherwise. Sharell had a good post on the photo taking, which you should read:

    http://www.whiteindianhousewife.com/2013/08/why-phone-cameras-are-the-bane-of-modern-india/

    Good luck with your new life!

  • Deodatta Shenai-Khatkhate

    Today, while thinking about your post, I realized that you have simply touched the surface of issues and concerns. With more time spent in India and added exposure to Indian society, you will be able to see lot deeper inside Indian mindset. Perhaps you will see good things as well that should equalize the not-so-good ones. I am forwarding a link to a good article (written by famous actress and humanitarian Preity Zinta from Bollywood). It is entitled “Odds stacked against women in India.”

    http://deodatusblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/favorite-insightful-article-odds-stacked-against-indian-women-by-preity-zinta/

    I think it’s relevant. Best Regards.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Deo,

      Thank you so much. I have already decided to delve a little deeper into some of these points. I have to give a true account of my life here via my blog for the sake of my readers and so I thought it was time to say some of my difficulties, so I wrote this post. Obviously I have seen so many lovely things in India, I have written about them and always try to put a optimistic spin on every blog post.

      Just because I have some struggles doesn’t mean I have not seen good things as well.

      I really love Preity Zinta so looking forward to reading her article. Thank you so much again!!

      I hope you are well!!

      • Deodatta Shenai-Khatkhate

        You are absolutely right, and I agree with you totally. I do notice that you often offer a positive and optimistic spin, and I am just hoping optimistically that you will see more good things in Indian society than not-so-good aspects of India…….quite honestly I am unable to do so on most occasions, which must be because of my living away from India for so many years (I left India in 1979. Wow!. That’s a long time.)

        I do appreciate your response, and please keep up your great work. Cheers!

  • madhmama

    Lovely and honest post.
    I struggle with many of the same things, although we do not live in India.
    My MIL could not understand my accent at first, because I often slur my words (a result of living in different places). Humour is also a big one – culturally, we have totally different senses of humour. It gets better with time, as you get to know each other.
    As for the giggles – well, you just have to learn to laugh at yourself too. Imagine me when I spent 2hrs trying to drape my saree, got it perfectly pinned, and then my hubby told me the pallu was on the wrong shoulder (total fail! LOL)
    As an independent Western women, the lack of independence also bothers me when I’m in India. But that comes with any foreign place…
    P.S. Aurangabad is notorious for harassers taking pictures without permission. These young men lurk around specifically to take pics of foreigners. I have seen people be harassed there. There was a huge outcry about it last August –>http://madh-mama.blogspot.ca/2013/08/another-dayyet-another-story-of.html

    • AB

      Hi ,
      Should have told your hubby that you wore the saree in Bengali ( West Bengal is a state ) style . They have the pallu on the wrong shoulder 😀

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hello Alexandra, always so lovely to hear from you.

      My mum has been reading your blog posts and is a fan, she wanted me to tell you that you are absolutely stunning!!

      I agree with sense of humour, I think that will come with time, like it has with you guys.

      I only discovered after returning from Aurangabad that it is such a problem!! Most of the photographs taken in Aurangabad were at the wedding itself though, completely unexpected.

      Absolutely STUNNING photos of you at the caves, we were so close to them but could not go because of time. We will be visiting them during summer instead.

      I hope you, hubby and beautiful Maya are well!

      Take carex

  • AB

    Hi ,
    That’s a very nice and long post but so are the replies haha .
    1- No one can do anything about that . Particularly when you have those gorgeous sisters ( I’m really really sorry but had to say that )
    2- No one can do anything about that too 😀 .
    3 – I am glad your family is just giggling as i have known more than enough people laughing at other people like you who are new to this country and i mean the cynical , soul crushing , ego destroying laughter .
    4 – For independence i would say you should learn the language, atleast hindi if not marathi because going far without knowing the language can be really dangerous . I mean extremely dangerous .
    5- People who are obsessed to have fairer skin probably haven’t heard the term Latina 😀 .
    6- *Shakes head*
    7 – Maids have security clearance for all the rooms at any given time . No one can question them . They work directly under the orders of The Queen ( mothers generally .Mother – in law here ) .
    8- Touching the feet – Ah. People who are 10-15 years older than you come in this category . Other than that stick to ‘Namaste’ or if you have any specific term in Marathi ( I don’t know anything about marathi except few terms for ex. aai for mother and tai for elder sister .)
    9 – Who cares .Makes you feel like you are a celebrity .

    So that was my two cents . I hope you wasted your time reading that as nothing’s going to help you in near future 😀
    Anyways , I really enjoy reading your blog .

    Have fun ( atleast try )

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi AB,

      Yes, I agree. My sisters are very gorgeous 😀

      Taking photographs sounds glamorous but it is not when people invade your personal space and make you feel uncomfortable, especially as it is always men. So whilst some people wouldn’t care, I care. I wish they would at least ask permission. Of course you did not waste my time, don’t worry about that and thank you so much for contributing to my blog and your advice!

      Lauren

  • hungrydai

    So although I am a male, I do share most of your concerns, Lauren. Because of that, this blog was VERY interesting for me. I had the same problem with people just walking into my bedroom so finally I just locked my bedroom door when I wanted it to be locked and always made a point of knocking other people’s doors and waiting for an answer. Now everybody is doing that here. People in this area of the world are used to crowding and no privacy and I have always hated crowds. Here I just retreat to my room when I want to, after exchanging all the pleasantries first. I love the food here but yes I do miss food from home too. I would die for an Iceland breaded chunky cod steak right now and those ready chicken tikka masalas. How about fruit yoghurt ? I am an addict but we can’t get them here in Nepal. And the big one for me is the plate of fish and chips English style with salt, vinegar, mayonnaise. You’ve started me off again hehehe

  • thelosperspective

    Very interesting post, Lauren! Definitely missing home is something that you would eventually experience, but the best part is that you have your husband next to you to ease the transition. Knowing me, I would definitely react to someone taking a picture of me without my acknowledgement, and I would probably get in trouble. Nothing like a Jersey attitude from unwelcomed individuals in one’s personal space…LOL

  • Dilip

    How nice of you to share your experience so spontaneously. As you may be aware it is Indian diversity that is most fascinating like Maharashtrians, Punjabi’s, South Indians and so many others – even we ourselves find it rather daunting to fit into each others traditional and cultural domains.

    However with time and understanding the nuances of these differences makes it fun 🙂 Wish you a wonderful days ahead 🙂

  • Neeli

    Awwwwwwwwwwww Hugs for you Lauren!!.. muaaaaaaaaah!! I know how it is.. though I’m not married and still in India (read South India; I hail from northern part of India).. even I face the max issues mentioned by you!

    Its absolutely disgusting clicking pics of others without consent. I felt ashamed for that. I apologize on their behalf! those crazy nuts 😡

    You are looking amazing in all of your pics.. especially in the pic with your sisters! 🙂

    I know it’s hard to get accustomed to a whole new culture and environment but i believe gradually you’ll get adapted to people and cultural.

    Prayers n hugs for you!! Muaaah!!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Awwwww thank you SO MUCH, Neeli!!!!

      I really do not understand why people want to photograph random people, the worst is when the camera is pushed in my face, you definitely don’t need to apologise (you are so sweet!!!!)

      I feel I am gradually settling in! Things that shock me, no longer shock me 😛

      I hope you are well dear!!!! Lots of love to you!! <3 x

      • Neeli

        u know what i saw a one such lady like you today morning while i was traveling in local train this morning, adorned with salwar-kurta, lil cute pony, managing her Dupatta (Shawl)… she reminded me of you.. I suddenly realised in the same fashion even you would be wondering around in Nagpur… 😀 🙂

        love and hugs to u..

  • leggypeggy

    How wise you are to recognise the things you miss. How loved and blessed you are to be married to someone who supports your transition to life in India.

    No doubt, your blog is a huge release for you and I look forward to hearing how you settle as time goes by. Learning the local language and customs will make an enormous difference. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Some of my favourite memories are of the goofy mistakes I’ve made living as an expat.

    Thinking of you on this adventure.

  • Shayla Saleem

    Very Interesting post Lauren,specially when we adapt to other culture,I live in Kanyakumari District,Thiruvithamcode,small village have been here for the past 9 years,my son live with me while my daughter is married and lives in Mauritius,my family here is a huge family where all sisters family and brothers family live under one roof,a big family.
    Things were very hard in the begining for me to understand tamil,talking to mum or other family member, asking them for something it was sign language,at times I would laugh to myself because of misunderstanding.
    I would mingle with them and try to understand what the conversation is about or I would ask father in law and he will translate when hubby’s not around but they are very supportive family,I love my life here even I can’t get a KFC or a PIZZA,I would go to the nearest supermarket get my ingredients and will cook what ever dish I feel to eat,check the net for the recipes. I am daughter in law of the house,there is no fear of the maid they are respectful towards me.
    Lock your doors for your privacy, that’s what I do,any body comes even my niece 2 years old,she knows how to knock my room door,there are certain things that you have to implement because they are living their own life and we have to adjust and believe me after you will learn the language you will be more happy,I mastered the language now and no one can fool me,I laugh,jokes at time fight also with them,and I watch movies,TV serials also,and another thing I am together with them always,after all its my house I love my family……
    My father in Law passed away in July last year,he was like my father very loving and caring I miss him so much, in his ending time I was his nurse,never left him alone till his death….
    Sorry very long blog!!!
    ShaylaSaleem

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Shayla,

      Thank you so much for sharing your heart warming story!!

      I do not fear the maids as such, I just feel uncomfortable around them, I do not want to get in their way or want them just to walk into my room without warning. They are both lovely women but they do restrict my activity when they are around (all the time :)), but that is my own issue, nothing they have done specifically wrong.

      I am keeping my door locked and slowly but surely people have realised that walking in without knocking just doesn’t happen in England. Guests still try to walk in from time to time, I usually have it locked though so they end up walking into the door (oops).

      It was so lovely to hear your story and thank you so much for stopping by!! I hope to hear from you soon.

      Lots of love to you and your family x

  • Crystal (My Hindi Heart)

    Aww honey. I can relate to a lot of this. Upon meeting DN’s family, twice, we have communicated through gestures mostly. It’s like a game of charades.
    The pictures can be intense at times. The people staring and commenting make DN and I laugh mostly, but sometimes we are both left feeling uncomfortable.
    I definitely understand the craving Western food. I never thought I would!
    LOL @ running away with a fork and a pair of jeans.

    You are so brave! From one to another. 🙂 ♥

  • Shailesh

    Hi,
    I appreciate your efforts to adapt Indian life. Believe me even Indian women find it hard to adapt in new home. I am marathi and aware of all the cultural differences you have mentioned. I will suggest you to talk to your family here in India freely on all the issues you are facing. And ofcourse it will take time.
    I have read all your blogs I liked them all. It helps me to see our culture in different angle. Again I appreciate your efforts. All the best.:-)

  • Bharat

    If you ever crave for cheddar cheese or any of the food items popular in the west and feel the need to buy them while in Maharastra, then Dorabjees’s in Pune is the right place to go. Its a grocery store and a restaurant. The grocery store includes everything from balsamic vinegar, croutons, gnocchi & cheese from around the world(even unsalted) etcetra. I know its far from Nagpur, but if you ever get a chance, you can shop at Dorabjee’s just like you shop in a supermarket in your home country.

  • kappagantulaaditya

    Hi Lauren!
    It was very interesting to know the same world i am accustomed to from the other perspective! Incredible writing prowess is what I can say. The words were straight from heart, though at times I felt they are too candid, I appreciate them 🙂
    Fortunately or unfortunately, privacy is something which is extremely difficult to be found in indian families. I believe, that is the driving force behind indian joint family tradition.
    Wish you all happy days ahead 🙂
    Will keep reading your blog.

  • arun

    sorry 4 those incidents wen ur pics were clicked without ur permission. but by now u shld hv known that cant be changed here.it’s a shame ppl just look at foreigners like they are from another planet. hope u ignore such ppl n enjoy ur life here in india 🙂

  • R

    Hi Lauren,
    Sad to hear that you are feeling uncomfortable due to India having an alien culture .. I just want to say a few things .
    1) buy cheddar and hienz beans online or order it from a store in a metro close by . Keep it stacked 🙂
    2) how you feel is very important .. So don’t try to nullify your feelings all the time . You try to explain everything you feel almost as if you’re wrong to feel those things .. About the giggling .. Firstly what you’re trying that is very commendable .. Giggling when it makes the other person uncomfortable is very rude and unbecoming .. And doing it again and again making you embarrassed or self conscious . That’s not good . So you don’t need to build a thicker skin. You’re just fine . The fact that you try so much is very good and you should be encouraged and helped.. Maybe you should convey this to your husband .. Though I’m sure he already cares about you .. But mentioning these things will help you ease into this culture.

    3) please don’t allow strangers to click your pictures. Please don’t . Such a thing will never be allowed for an indian girl because that’s just pervertish.. Or in your case maybe curiosity too but still.. Please cover your face or tell them to stop you’re no tourist.

    4) Thumb rule for touching feet, if the person is elder to you touch their feet.. The sentiment is that now you’re married and like a daughter to them so you must touch their feet like you touch the in laws who are now your parents .. Since you’re the ghar ki Lakshmi :). You don’t need to touch everyone’s feet..Like walking on the street going shopping or traders .. Just people who know your in laws and your husband and who visit your house. Basically friends and relatives. Yes it’s tiresome but then you don’t need to worry about when to do it.

    I hope I’ve been helpful, and really gutsy of you to write this blog.
    Good luck !

    PS: we indian girls have a ‘creepy man’ detector ingrained in our bones due to the frequent requirement for use. So we know when to respond and when not. That guy who commented asking ‘you in India right now’ like he’s your friend . Umm. :/.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hey R,

      Thank you so much for reading and contacting me!! Very sweet.

      I have been growing a thicker skin, well, trying to hehe!

      I try not to let people take my photo, it is very awkward… I cover my face but usually it is too late!

      Thank you so much again. love the creepy man detector haha!

      Lots of love

      Lauren xxx

  • Manu Smirutha

    Hi Lauren,
    I came across your blog after your article on Times Life. I wanted to appreciate you for adjusting so beautifully to a culture that’s so different from yours. I don’t think I could ever do that. I feel bad to see that you are troubled by some very strange behaviour [ like leering and your pictures being taken by strangers!! 🙁 ]; I sincerely hope you come across less of these annoyances and get to experience all the great things about life in India 🙂 God bless and you’re awesome!!

  • Praktan

    Hey Lauren,

    Wanted to comment for sooooo long
    i m reading ur blog for couple of months now
    n i m nJoyin it a lot

    I m also from Maharashtra (Pune)…. a marathi gal!
    if u feel like talkin to somebody, do mail me, and if u plan to come to Pune, let me knw we can definitely meet 🙂

  • sowmya

    I know this is an old post, but I had to comment to let you know how much I identify with this post even though I grew up in India. I wonder if I would be better off had I not lived abroad. Coming back to India and adjusting to the life here has been the worst struggle of my life so far. I wonder if I’ll ever be comfortable.

    I hope your journey is a lot smoother than mine. Wish you the best!

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Aww thank you for your comment, Sowmya!
      I has taken a lot of time but most of these things I am starting to come to terms with. It really is such a struggle!! I hope that you are well, sending you hugs xxx

  • Rohit

    Hi . It is much difficult even for Indian women to adjust to a huge joint family , I can only imagine how it would be for you. Nagpur as a city is still a bit conservative as compared to Mumbai and Pune which have become more cosmopolitan and are a melting pot of different cultures. I am from Pune at is not uncommon here for couples to live separately even if their in-laws stay in the same city which is much easier ( and better what I feel ) . Wish you all the very best

  • ila

    Indian relationships by western standards might be too primitive. In india between husband and wife I am correct, there are no personal spaces, it is just we. between relations in the family and between family the personal space is very limited (too small). It is quite common for friends and relatives to drop in the house unannounced because afterall can there be formalities between friends and relations? The concept of taking prior appointments are yet to be catchup.
    We in Chennai also face this problem especially it is very difficult when both the husband and wife are a working couple.
    Best wishes

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Ila,

      I could be attached to my husbands hip, there is not space between us… it’s just everyone else I am uncomfortable with. Over time, each side has adapted though. To drop by unannounced in England is considered EXTREMELY rude, so it’s been a big adjustment!

      I hope you are well!

      Take care

  • rd

    Hey Lauren,

    I Stumbled upon your blog today and I’ve been surprised by what I’ve read. You seem like an absolutely wonderful person who is going above and beyond what is expected of her. Indian girls in India don’t do what you do. Girl, you have a choice. You don’t have to touch people’s feet, a namaste or a hug will do. And the last time I heard someone conforming to the covering chest with dupatta was in a 80s Bollywood movie. Your in laws may have a lot of expectations, but you don’t have to be so self sacrificing and do things to solely please them (and wait to be able to live your life only after you move out of the house). The more you comply, the more will be expected of you. Whenever I visit India I ask people to knock on my bedroom door, and they do! If you like a tradition, adopt it. But if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t. You seem like a very polite person, I’m sure you can tactfully raise issues in your family.

    Good luck!

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Rd!

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment!! Yes, it’s been a while since I wrote this post and most of these things have been sorted (PHEW!). Knocking is such a big thing, I am glad I could transfer it!

      Sending you lots of love

      Lauren

  • Saumya

    Hi Lauren,

    Agreeing with the post above, I’m afraid your husband’s family seems a lot more conservative and orthodox than a lot of modern upper middle class families nowadays. In fact, having lived in India all my life, I’ve hardly met families where wearing dupatta or such other customs are followed. My own mother is free to wear jeans/skirts etc. and do whatever she wants. Perhaps you could get your husband to point it out to your in-laws that feet-touching, dupatta wearing etc. are not prevalent practices even for Indian brides.

    You should considering telling the maids to refrain from entering the room before knocking, after all they are only there to make life easier and not worse! I agree Nagpur is a lot smaller than the larger Metro cities but all food options should be available if you really search.

    Also, I wanted to point out that joint families are not the norm. Feel free to tell your husband if you want a separate home and are unable to adjust with in-laws. Trust me, tons of Indian couples do it.

    Anyway, I wish you all the best and a happy married life!

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Saumya,

      I hope you are well, thank you for your comment!

      It was a good while since I wrote this post and after living in a joint family for over a year, we are moving out to have some time alone.

      I have found some Western food outlets, pizza hut just opened which is great!!

      Thank you so much again for your comment! Wishing you a lovely day!!

      Take care,

      Lauren

  • julie

    Hi Lauren

    I don’t know if you’ve been asked this, but how do you feel about giving up your career that you had in England?
    In time, would you, and could you, pick it up again in your part of the world
    Does your sense of self begin to change as the cultural identity is different there?

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Julie,

      I wasn’t completely happy in my career, I wanted to be a pharmacist to help people but soon it became apparent that pharmacy is a lot more to do with making money and sometimes I felt as if the way it was dealt with was very immoral and I became really distressed by it. I have now decided to pursue a writing career and hope to help people with my words instead. But, who knows what the future holds?

      My sense of self was initially broken (living in a joint family was tough on me) but slowly I have been building it up again, finding myself, my happiness and my truth.

      I hope you are well xx

  • Tiziana

    Hi Lauren,
    I have been reading your blog for a while and I find it interesting. We share the fact that we both are non Indian (I am Italian) married to an Indian husband and we live in India. I live in Mumbai and even tough I can relate to most of the things your share with us, I really can not relate to the conservative/ traditional society/ family in-lows you sometime have to deal with. The reason can be that Mumbai is a very cosmopolitan and modern city and I don’t live with my in lows. My Indian friends here are citizens of the world in the sense that they embrace the best of the western and Indian culture, they are a mix of both. Not everyone of course, but the majority for sure. When I came to India I made a slightly different choice then yours, I didn’t go for the sindoor or for traditional clothes, I kept my western style and this never bordered anyone. I mean I never felt like I have “to fit in” or maybe I nerver felt I have to go Indian style to fit it, but this is my personal stand/feelings. Living in India for more then two years by now changed me a lot as a person, mostly in better, or so I hope! I also hope that by now you have gained much more independence in moving around because I feel this is very important. A city like Mumbai helps a lot in terms of confidence in moving around because there are lot of safe parts/areas in the city and the outskirts and there are so many places to go to. I am also part of a community based in Mumbai called Adaar, foreigners married to Indians, it’s a support community and through this community I met lot of women coming to India from abroad to live here for good with their Indian husband. Lot of them are living here from so many years and are confident and socially active women, and some of them run very successful business. I like to be part of that community because the people in it inspired me in many ways as you did with your blog! Anyway it’s nice to read your blog and let’s keep in touch trough it.

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Tiziana,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I do hear Mumbai is a lot more liberal than little Nagpur. This post is kinda old and so much has changed. I too feel more independent, we are moving to our own place and I have overcome many of those “culture shocks”. Lovely to hear about inspiring women, hopefully a network will be here in Nagpur one day!!

      Thank you again,

      Keep in touch!

      Lauren xx

  • Sonali Sakhare

    Hi Lauren…
    Your life seems very interesting.. I can’t imagine how you have managed to adjust in different country..
    I have married my boyfriend who belongs to different cast but still I face many issues with culture , language and many more.
    Lady.. hatts off to you!!

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Thank you so much, Sonali!
      I have noticed that it’s not just foreigners who have to adjust, there is such a variety of cultures!!
      I hope that you and your husband are doing well!

      Lots of love xx

  • Sonali Sakhare

    Thanks Lauren.
    Yes I and my hubby are doing well.
    There are many issues with the religion and culture but.. it’s our “LOVE” which binds us together.

    I mean, e.g. I used to love egg omelette but I left it for my hubby after marriage and became pure vegetarian as he belongs to a Jain Family (Jains/Brahmans are vegetarians).
    I left spicy food which I used to have at my mom’s home, as at my hubby’s home the food is not so spicy.
    There are many more things like this where I did sacrifices but still life is good because “He is with me”.

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Love is the most important, being with the man you love is better than eggs I guess.

      I too had to make a few sacrifices but it’s worth it to be with my husband 😀 xx

  • Kumar manglam

    As your room requires privacy , your eating and living , so your married life also requires privacy, with so many advisers ,they can ruin . If you love your man and did everything do accept their parents , traditions and life because before u came in his life he was their part, so he can never forget them,many year later you will realise that the golden opportunity you got to live with in laws is no more as they are no where in this world and you will be confused with dual living of your own. If you married him love his totality along with country , culture , home parents and friends otherwise its slightly cracking which you may not be seeing. But you have left his parents. And may soon leave his indian food, indian dress, his friends , relatives,truth is you are cracking . Marriage is mot a poster you share with strangers but with the person and his family.
    Hope you will take my advice seriously.

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hello Kumar,

      I hope that one day you will realise that everyone on this Earth is different and not one way of life fits all. Just because you feel that your way of life is superior, do not dictate to other people what is right and what is wrong.

      We are not cracking, my husband and I are living our life the way we want to live it. If anything, we are blossoming. You have no idea what the “truth” is because you don’t even know us.

      I am a writer, this is what I do. If you don’t like it then please stop reading.

  • linds

    Hi lauren , I been reading your blog and you are such a sweetheart. Congratulations on finding your soul mate .from what I been reading in your blogs, he is such a great guy.you are very lucky to have a husband like him.
    Let me adress some of your concerns.
    First touching feet of elders-yes that’s a custom we follow in india.but if you are confused of that tradition, you can just say ‘namaste’

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Dear Linds,

      Thank you so much for your lovely words!!! So kind of you!! Thankfully, I think I have the touching feet custom down now 😀

      I hope you are well! Lots of love xx

  • Henna

    Hi there!

    I found my way to your interesting blog suddenly and wanted to write a few words. I am Scandinavian wife of an Indian guy and we have been living in India for several years now. We are also living in a joint family and we have a little daughter. Things have probably changed a lot for you within this first year, but this post from 2014 brought a lot of memories of my thoughts when I first came to India (and some struggles are kind of growing and changing and occasionally going back to the point where I started:-).

    Now let me devour some more posts! How wonderful that you keep this blog!

    Henna

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Henna,

      Thank you so much for your comment!! Lovely to hear from you!!!! I would love to hear more about your experiences some time! I hope you have settled down well now and India feels like home, it must have been hard at first!

      Lots of love to you and your family!!

      Lauren xx

      • Manzoor

        Hi Lauren,
        I think I’ve seen u and ur husband on a TV channel interview first, after that just now only I’ ve seen ur story on internet unexpectedly, while I was searching the procedure of marrying a foreign women, I’m Indian. Really u r husband s so lucky guy he got u (an English wife).. I liked ur blogs n replies for others comments.
        I was so interested n liked to read ur story and experience bcoz I liked it so much and I had a wish if an English girl court me someday but it couldn’t happen, instead of that God decided a Filipino girl for me..we r in a relationship now an planing to get marry.. thank u so much to share ur story on internet n ur blogs it’s very interesting..May God bless u n ur family..

  • mohit

    I feel sorry for the pictures taken of you without your permission. Some of my friends do that too and I don’t find it good. And hey why don’t you tell them to knock the door before coming? My family used to march in my room without knocking the door, i made it clear that I want it be knocked before anyone comes in.

  • mrssagoo

    Hello, how are you. Do you like India. I belong to India, but now I have been living in London with my husband. I felt happy that you liked India.

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