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Interview with Naomi H - an American living in India

Updated 29 Jan 2010

Naomi Hattaway lives in Delhi, India. She has found the transition to life in India to be a challenging but hugely rewarding experience.

Read more about Delhi in the Expat Arrivals expat guide to Delhi or read more expat experiences of India.

About Naomi

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Born in Nebraska, but have also lived in Georgia and Ohio. 

Q: Where are you living?

A: Delhi (Shanti Niketan)

Q: How long you have you lived here?

A: Since July, 2009.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?

A: Yes, I moved with my husband and three children (current ages 15, 6 and 3).

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?

A: We moved because my husband took a new job with a local Indian company. I don’t currently work, but have a background working as a paralegal and have previously owned by own family entertainment business.

About Delhi

Q: What do you enjoy most about Delhi, how’s the quality of life?

A: For the most part, our quality of life is good. The expat community here is welcoming and thriving. We thoroughly enjoy the wealth of history and things to see and learn about ... most often right in our back yard.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?

A: The climate has taken some getting used to, and things just aren’t quite the same as back in the United States! We miss most the ease of getting things accomplished, as often projects and work is delayed.

Q: Is Delhi safe?

A: We feel very safe. The traffic is a bit overwhelming and aggressive, but we don’t personally drive here, so we are very comfortable being out and about.

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Delhi as an expat?

A: There is a large section of expats situated in the Chanakyapuri area, another section containing Shanti Niketan, West End and Visant Vihar, as well as in farmhouses near Mehrauli.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Delhi?

A: Accommodation can vary – even in the same neighbourhood. Some flats are small and outdate and others are outlandishly large and modern. 

Q: What’s the cost of living in Delhi compared to America? What is cheap or expensive in particular?

A: It is very expensive here for housing. Generally speaking, food and groceries are much cheaper than we are used to. Electronics are over-priced, as are any food items that are “expat” in nature.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?

A: We have had very few opportunities to meet locals, outside of our staff – which in all reality, aren’t local to Delhi at all. We do hang out mostly with other expats, mostly because of our children’s school, and their after school activities. The locals that we have met are all warm, kind and willing to share their culture with us!

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?

A: Very much so! Surprisingly so, in fact!

Family and children in Delhi

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?

A: He arrived several months before the family came, and he was so preoccupied with his work, that the adjustment went relatively smooth.

Q: Did your children settle in easily?

A: They have had troubles saying goodbye to friends/family back home, and the climate was oppressive as we arrived in the summer, but overall they have adjusted quite nicely!

Q: What are the schools like, any particular suggestions?

A: Our children attend the American Embassy School and we are thrilled with it. Our youngest attends the Apple School (affiliated with the American Community Support Association). She also attended Magic Years in Visant Vihar for a short time.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Delhi?

A: We have seen our fair share of the healthcare system and don’t have many complaints. The one thing I’ve found the most strange is the requirement to carry all records WITH us physically, as there are no computer systems in place to maintain records. The cost of healthcare here is dramatically cheaper than we are used to and it will be a shock to our systems to go back to the exorbitant charges in the United States!

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?

A: Breathe. Reach out to others. Learn as much as you can about your new city, but take it all with a grain of salt. Nothing you read will be the same as your own first-hand experience. Keep the lines of communication open with your family. No question is a stupid question. Join up with the local list-serves such as Yuni-Net, Delhi Babies and Delhi Network – they provide invaluable resources!

~ Interviewed January 2010

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