Indian Expat Living in England - Interview with Manjiri

Published: 12 Dec at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Manjiri is an Indian food blogger currently living in London. Digital Marketer by profession and food and travel blogger out of passion for food and for the love of chronicling her adventures in the kitchen and outside. She loves exploring different cuisines, writing,travelling, photography and hopes to end up someday writing books for young people.Meanwhile discovering London and scenic places in England and Europe, going on foodie tours and developing fusion recipes keep her happily occupied. Most likely to be found admiring crumbling buildings, doing walking tours or tucked into a corner in some quaint English book shop with a crime thriller and a savoury nibble for company. Manjiri's expat blog is called sliceoffme (see listing here)

Here's the interview with Manjiri...

Where are you originally from?
From the beautiful and maximum city Mumbai.

In which country and city are you living now?

How long have you lived in England and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved to London in early 2011 and I will be in England at least for the next 5 years.

Why did you move to England and what do you do?
Moved to London 4 years ago as hubby's work got him here and then we decided to stay back after falling hopelessly in love with London! I work as a Digital Marketer by day and a blogger on evenings and weekends.

Did you bring family with you?
Just Hubby and me.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Surprisingly easy considering the many similarities in the pace of life between Mumbai and London.Also the food scene is London is so vibrant and amazing that its really easy for me to procure ingredients specific to Indian cuisine so that really helped us settle much faster than we'd expected!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I am a very social person and love chatting up people! I have met some amazing people at work , at my gym and also on groups like Meet U. I would say keep an open mind and go with your gut feeling as you try and rebuild your social network in your new country.Its also a good idea to get involved with the local community as it helps to stay connected with your roots, attend religious functions and meet like minded expats. London has a plethora of online groups that meet regularly and you can pick a hobby or interest close to your heart like a book reading group or a yoga or running group. I have met the most wonderful people via my food,travel and lifestyle writing too.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
London is a city that is built for being explored on foot, use the vast tube network and find free walking tours to get to know your city and it's rich history. Discover its many cafe and tea drinking culture.I live in Wimbledon and there are vast green spaces in the various commons especially the beautiful wooded Wimbledon Common. Richmond Park is also a fabulous place to escape from the big smoke and spend an afternoon close to nature and do a bit of deer spotting.Box Hill makes for a great day out and has many great mini trekking routes.

What do you enjoy most about living in England?
I love the cultural diversity that London offers and how it is an all accepting city much like my dear Mumbai. I love the well developed public transport and the connectivity it offers. I love walking and enjoy walking tours. The cobbled streets, old crumbly buildings, rich history and the food scene all appeal to my senses. I have fallen hopelessly and headlong in love with London!

How does the cost of living in England compare to home?
London is an expensive city and saving money is difficult. To maintain a good lifestyle both husband and wife must ideally work but then that is true of any big metro in India too. Having said that I honestly feel that Londoners are blessed with access to great food and fresh produce at prices that suit every budget.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in England?
The only negative is of course that one misses their family dearly. But with modern connectivity and many ways of staying in touch with family does help a lot. Also Mumbai is only 9 and a half hours away :)

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to England, what would it be?
Keep an open mind, have a positive attitude and try and absorb as much of the local culture and customs as you can. Respect the local community and the rich heritage of this great nation. Avoid comparing your new life to the way you lived earlier. Most importantly drink in the diversity and the positives that this city and nation have to offer. Travel- expand your horizons, the biggest benefit is that the most beautiful cities in Europe are just a bus ride or short flight away.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest aspect has been adjusting to the drastic weather change. I realise now how much I took the constant sunshine in my tropical home country for granted. new respect for the sunny days and a desire to make the most even of the most grey and rainy day is something I have learnt over a period of time :)

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I think the biggest thing that I shall have to keep in mind is that I will be back with my family and that is the greatest incentive. Again not trying to compare with what was the lifestyle I led will be something I shall remind myself of. The rest I guess will follow as life has a way of unfolding and every city no matter where has a charm of it's own. It is for us to open our hearts and minds and love the place, the people and the culture that surrounds us.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Be prepared to spend the first few months in a much tinier apartment as that was the first shock I had.Avoid hoarding and only but things you REALLY need.
  2. Stop converting currency in your head each time you spend. I know it's next to impossible to do that because the only time I stopped doing that myself was when I started working again.The world is at your fingertips online and so are fabulous deals - make use of technology!
  3. Accept responsibility with grace. Back home we have a support system of family and friends that we need to re-build here. It takes time but you will be able to find your ground. Just remember that life is not perfect anywhere.
  4. If you love walking you will love London and travelling around England. The best trips I have had have been budget trips where we used only public transport and walked everywhere, like our 6 day trip to Scotland a few months after we moved to London.
  5. Don't be afraid to meet new people. Approach your local church, local community centre and online meet ups. You will need to work towards making new friends.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started blogging when I was new to London because after a 10 year long and successful Marketing career back home I had time on hand. I have always wanted to write and it was the best time to share my adventures. I love sharing recipes that I create and places we travel to as it not only my online dairy at times, it's my way of connecting with the world! I find writing very satisfying and food has always been close to my heart.I have managed to make a lot of friends and meet many wonderful people thanks to blogging. Its the best thing that happened to me.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I regularly check all forms of social media including email, Twitter and FB. Drop me a line on the comments box of my profile in Expatsblog and I will respond!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingManjiri is an Indian expat living in England. Blog description: Tales about food and travel, love of 3 cities,many pictures....handpicked from a huge stash of memories,''sliced off'' in smaller bits and set free into the ether (by manjirichitnis)
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