Marina Marangos is a Greek Cypriot by origin, born and raised on the island. Her professional background is law but she enjoys writing and travelling even more. Luck or circumstance have taken her to London, Kenya, Liverpool, Geneva and now to New Delhi in India which will be her new home for the next few years. Marina writes the entertaining blog www.mezzemoments.blogspot.com
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I come from Cyprus and I am Greek. I am married to an Englishman and I have three sons. I am a lawyer by profession but have not worked for a while.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: I live in Gadaipur South Delhi which is where you find a lot of farmhouses. They are simply large houses set in grounds which tend to be spacious and beautiful and where some expatriates choose to live.
Q: How long you have you lived in Delhi?
A: 6 months
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: Yes my husband, one boy of 15 and two at university in the UK
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: Husband heads a UN organization in India. He is in charge of the whole of India and finds his job challenging and rewarding.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Delhi, how’s the quality of life in India?
A: Very vibrant metropolis, a lot on offer but you need to be resilient and to get over the small day to day problems to enjoy it. I tend to be quite interested in the cultural and historical events which are plentiful in the city. I also belong to an organization called Seven Cities which is directed more at Expat women and where we are able to explore the seven ancient cities of Delhi through the ages.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: This is a difficult place to live and settle. There are lots of things I miss not least the cleanliness, the ability to walk, the quality of meat products, the quality of the water. There are a lot of daily frustrations here, often appliances don’t work, calling workmen out can be a thankless task as they turn up without any tools and getting results even for small tasks can take time and patience. However you can also do a lot more things here than you can in Europe or the states as Indians are willing and able though not always effective. This is a big city. There is a lot of traffic and noise and air pollution. That is one of the reasons we have chosen to live a little out of the city.
Q: Is Delhi safe?
A: Yes I consider it is safe but you have to be sensible about where you go and what you do. I will walk alone on a defined path in a wooded area but would never stray from the path on my own. I always take my dog who is big and is the perfect defence.
About living in Delhi
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?
A: You can choose to live in the city places like Vasant Vihar, West End, Shantiniketan, Friends Colony, Defence colony. We have chosen to live in the Gadaipur, which is approximately thirty minutes from central Delhi, The Gadaipur and Chattarpur areas have got houses with large gardens, swimming pools and tennis courts. It is like being in an oasis after the madness of the city.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Delhi?
A: This varies enormously. There is a lot of construction going on in Delhi at the moment and the flats are new and tasteful but often have problems with electricity or water supplies so you need to check those out first before you sign. Installations also can present problems. Landlords will not always be happy to address all the issues.
Q: What’s the cost of living in India compared to Cyprus? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Expatriate housing is very expensive and most rents are anything from 2000 dollars to 12000 dollars a month. There is little at the cheaper end. Most of the properties for expatriates are in demand and so landlords can more or less charge what they want.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: I have met a lot of returning Indians as well as Indians from my husband’s office and my son’s school. Locals are great and you can easily mix. Expats are plentiful and a number of networking organisations exist to help you meet and socialise. Try Delhi network and Gurgaon Connection as great starting points.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Yes it is very easy to meet people. I think making friends depends on your stage in life and what you are looking for but there is something for everyone.
About working in Delhi
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: Yes - we came in on tourist visas and they said we had to leave and reapply for dependent visas. It took 6 months of arguing to sort that out.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in Delhi is there plenty of work?
A: Yes India is booming, and there are a lot of jobs both in the local market but also with NGOs and in the voluntary sector as well.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: Very cutthroat and not a great deal of professionalism can be seen but India is changing very rapidly and some accountability structures are being put in place.
Family and children
Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: No, my husband thinks it is a privilege to be here.
Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: Relatively easily though life is very different here and they miss the absence of relative freedom for a teenager. Little to do and nowhere to go. Having come from Switzerland where the children could travel freely anywhere here they have to be driven everywhere.
Q: What are the schools in Delhi like, any particular suggestions?
A: Several good schools. American Embassy School. British School French and German Schools.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Delhi?
A: We have had some experience with the health care system and we have found it to be cheap and good. We have met some very good doctors and professionals. You need to ask around to find the people who come highly recommended. Max Super Speciality Hospital has been the hospital we have used.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: This is a challenging destination. Look carefully at where you want to live based on your family's needs and the ages of the children. Consider housing very carefully. Find reliable and trustworthy staff. Enjoy what India has to offer without dwelling on the small issues that can get overwhelming.
~ interviewed March 2010