Rachel: Hippie in Heels
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to India, etc.
Hi! I’m Rachel Jones, the writer of the blog Hippie in Heels. I used to be a travel nurse but moved to India after a backpacking trip here and meeting my boyfriend near the end of the trip. That was almost 3 years ago! I have been living in Goa, India with my boyfriend since. He works in Goa and has lived in India over 5 years and is originally from the UK. Now, I write my blog, practice Thai yoga masseuse, and am also a candle maker for my brand, ISLA candles.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
When I first got done with my trip, people were really shocked about my positive experiences. Most people back home didn’t know a thing about India except maybe the Taj Mahal. As time went on, whenever anyone who was a friend of a friend wanted to go to India, I would get an email asking me for help. At the same time, I was thinking of a new career as I didn’t want to do nursing in India. I decided to start a blog.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
On Fridays, I share a short story from India that are either silly and funny or sometimes serious things I go through as an expat here that are difficult for me: This Is India
Tell us about the ways your new life in India differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Because I traveled India quite extensively before moving, I didn’t experience culture shock. But if you come for the first time, you surely will. There were small things to get used to: driving a stick shift (dodging cows on the other side of the road), shopping in markets outside instead of grocery stores, having a maid that came with the house we rented, getting pets here and dealing with ill-equipped vets, and much more.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in India? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was lucky that not only had I been before, but I was moving in with a guy who knew India quite well. It was an easy adjustment as Goa is very westernized. I wish I would have brought more “homey” things with me like my favorite blanket, ranch dressing, and backups of favorite beauty products. I didn’t pack well the first time. Now, I’m a pro and bring everything I need to last a year.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Oh wow, which one to start with! I’ll share one I just saw recently, which is about something in India called “jugaard” where Indian’s have a knack at fixing things anyway possible, sometimes in very funny ways. For example, putting a swivel computer chair as the drivers seat of a car because the real seat was stolen. Well, one I have seen multiple times that cracks me up is when a hole is cut into a car / van / bus and a home window air conditioner is put in!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in India?
- Pack less clothing
- Bring FOOD. I take a whole second suitcase of food. Basically, in India you can get imported products at a high rate. When you’re homesick you’ll inevitable give in and buy those 12 dollar Doritos. It’s better to pay 100 bucks to check a second bag and have another 50 pounds of space to pack all your favorite goodies.
- Be ready for change. Everything in India is different. If you want a certain lightbulb, instead of one stop at Walmart, you have to check maybe 3 different electric shops to find the right one!
How is the expat community in India? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Goa’s expats are a bit different that the rest of India. While in the cities, many have come to do business or run call centers, in Goa most are artists, musicians, or just hippies on extended visas (or overstaying visas). I wouldn’t say there is an expat community. Still, it was easy to make friends here!
How would you summarize your expat life in India in a single, catchy sentence?
One second I’m driving in my beat up old Omni van dodging a python, and the next I’m in a fancy Brazilian restaurant… this is crazy India!