Diary Of An Expat: Week 16

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So this time next week we will be on our way home to Melbourne! Isn’t that crazy? This last month has absolutely flown by and it now feels very bizarre to be heading home. Our original, albeit loose plan, was to be here for 6-12months but it is not surprising that our plans changed. We are definitely a little fam bam that likes flexibility and change (and travel).  We still haven’t locked down a solid plan for next year which has caused me a little bit of stress this week but I’ve resolved to not worry about it until after Christmas. I just really want to enjoy the first few weeks we are back in Melbourne.

Highlight: Unfortunately for a lot of this week our little man has been feeling quite under the weather thanks to a whole heap of teeth coming through. I know I often talk about how energetic (and exhausting) he is, but there is nothing worse than seeing your rowdy kids suddenly stop and become quiet and lethargic. We spent a lot of the week like this:

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Day and night this was the only position that he was comfortable in. Thankfully yesterday he woke up much brighter. Still no sign of those pesky teeth but he seems to be in better spirits for now. So we took advantage of everyones good mood and we took a trip out to India Gate. We have been many times and it’s a very touristy area but there are heaps of things for the kids to do and we knew this would be our last chance to go this year. We spent the day playing and touring the monument and eating some awesome street food. I didn’t take any photos but here is a pic of India Gate for those of you who haven’t seen it before!

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What I’m loving: Friday was the last day that our local grocer accepted the old currency so my MIL went and basically purchased the whole shop! It’s always fun when she does the shopping because she buys everything and then comes home and sets up a ‘market’ for me to come and take whatever we want for our kitchen upstairs. Here is a little sample of what it looks like:

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What I’m looking forward to: Getting the rest of my wardrobe back!! I have quite a few parcels waiting for me at home as well as the rest of my wardrobe that I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear over here. I’m seriously scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of making interesting outfits and combinations for you guys so just bear with me for one more week ok? haha, thanks 😉

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Doing my best to re-work all my staple items.

I am also looking forward to getting my hair done at the end of next week. It is so much cheaper to get it done here so I figured I would get it done right at the last minute to see me through the rest of the year. It is also always nice to have fresh hair before a long haul flight because it makes me feel a tiny bit less dishevelled at the end of 16 hours haha.

Your questions:

We are planning on coming to India for a holiday but we only have 10 days. Do you think thats enough? Yes.You can definitely see a lot in 10 days and depending on where you are coming from (I’m assuming Australia), the jet lag shouldn’t be that bad.

You buy so many things from Zara, is it cheaper in India than Australia? No, like most big chain stores, the prices are pretty standard across the board. Often it seems like items are expensive here because 3000-4000 rupees (a pair of jeans or a dress for Zara)  is considered to be a fair amount of money. We are fortunate however that my husband earns USD,  so when converted 4000 rupees is less than $60.

Can you eat Pork? Well as you might remember, I have been eating a fully vegetarian diet for the past few months but my husband and kids still eat meat and we haven’t seen pork or any pork products anywhere. However from what I understand, some Indian Hindus do eat pork and there is nothing in their religious beliefs stating that they can’t eat it, it is more of a custom.

So that’s it! I really hope you’ve found it interesting to read about my expat experience over the past 4 months. As I said, we fly out next Sunday morning so I probably won’t have time to do another post next week, but depending on how interesting the week is, I might do a retrospective post from Melbourne. As always if there is anything you’d like to know or ask just leave me a comment or send an email and I’ll definitely give you an answer. I’m beyond excited to get back to Melbourne and start to think about what 2017 will bring. I will of course continue to bring you guys along for the ride too! For now though, its off to drag the suitcases out and start to slowly pack up our life. Again. Have a great week everyone xxx.

Diary Of An Expat: Week 15

Hi Friends! Happy Monday :). Sorry I’m a day late getting this post out, our weekend flew by in a very uninteresting whirl of errands, emails, dust allergies and teething babies! I hope you all had a much better weekend!

Highlight: Im struggling to come up with a highlight from last week. Not because it was a bad week, not at all but it was a very routine and mundane week. We had a few good nights sleep with our non sleeping baby, my husband had a great week at work and I finally feel like I’ve found my social media mojo again so I guess those three things were the highlights? haha done!

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I posted this flashback pic on my instagram during the week. I can’t believe this was only taken in Feb and Xander is so small :(.

What I’m Loving: I had a big laugh at myself this week when I found myself complaining about the way one of the maids make our bed. She folds the sheet and thin blanket at the end of the bed and then covers them with the doona so that at night when I want to get into bed, I essentially have to remake it anyway. So as I was getting on my high horse and going one and on about her to my husband, I had the biggest reality check about our life here. Yes it has been challenging and no it’s not the easiest city to live in, but when you are complaining about one of the many servants that you have, and one very minor thing that you don’t like, then life can’t be that bad!! 

Making the bed is the very last thing I want to do in the mornings (let alone have the time to do), not to mention cleaning the kitchen, bathroom and kids room. I am so grateful to have the extra help and there is no greater feeling than leaving an absolutely bombsite in the morning only to return a few hours later to everything back in it’s place. Obviously this is not a reality that we can sustain back in Australia so it was nice to have a little check in with my self and to remind myself to appreciate the help while I’ve got it. Even if the bed isn’t made correctly ;). 

What I’m Missing: I don’t know if it’s just because it’s the festive season or because my husband and I haven’t been out on a date night alone in over 5 months, but this week I really missed our old social life. As I’ve mentioned before, aside from my husbands mother we don’t have any other family support here but even if we did, the kids are too unpredictable at night to be left with anyone other than us. It can be hard to stay in night after night, especially when friends back home are getting together for christmas parties and girls nights etc but thats just the way it is right now. Thankfully I have a heap of fun things on my calendar when we get back to Melbourne so the excitement for those events is getting me through!

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What I was doing this time last year.


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VS what I am currently doing on a Friday night lol. Bring on the Christmas parties!!

What I’m Looking Forward To: This week we are fiiiiinally going to get to the banks and exchange all of our old (now discontinued) currency for the new notes, which means we can finally start SPENDING again haha. Actually I think my husband probably delayed it this long just to slow me down lol. There is a top in Zara that I’ve had my eye on for the last week – an eternity for me, so hopefully it will still be there this week waiting for me haha.

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This guy will be mine! I already have like 3 mental outfits planned around it hehe. Link is here

Questions:

I think you were all questioned out this week cause I only got the two questions.

Firstly from my all time favourite reader is:

How do you pronounce Hazelle? Her name is just pronounced like Hazel. Two years on I can’t tell you why we spelt her name like this except for the fact that I think it looks pretty. I hope she doesn’t hate me for it in the future when she undoubtably has to deal with people calling her “Haz-ell-ey”  or Gazelle with a H for the rest of her life haha.

and then:

What do you think you’ll appreciate the most when you go home? Awesome question! Aside from my friends and family, obviously, I think our big, clean, amazingly stocked and hygienic supermarkets and markets will be the biggest thing I’ll appreciate. Just being able to walk into an air conditioned environment to buy  a huge variety  of healthy food is a massive luxury that I took for granted and is something that both my husband and I have missed a lot! Also being able to drive and the freedom and convenience that brings will be high on my list too.

And that’s that! Today is my second last Sunday here so there will definitely be one more recap to come and possibly one more after that depending on how organised we are for our flight out! I hope you all have a beautiful week and are starting to get into the Christmas Spirit a little bit! xxx

 

 

 

 

A Break From The Madness

Top: Global Desi (similar here), Jeans: Topshop, Sandals: Zara

Phew! Today has been a good day. A good day in the sense that for the first time, in what seems like forever, it felt like an easy day of parenting.

It’s no secret that the past 5 months have been challenging on all fronts but especially from a mum life point of view. I came to India with a toddler and a ‘baby’ but I well and truly have two toddlers now and boy is that exhausting!! 2 times the tantrums, 2 times the energy, 2 times the love, 2 times the fun, 2 times demands and  2 times the quest for independence but the ultimate dependence on me. It’s also been especially tough because l don’t have a support network here and I have a husband that literally works night and day (all for his family).

I’ve mentioned a few times that my son, my youngest is not a great sleeper but he is also the biggest boundary pusher; something I was totally unprepared for because my first born is so naturally cautious I never even had to baby proof the house with her. Xander climbs on tables, pulls things off benches, runs everywhere, pull plugs out of sockets, draws on the floor, puts everything in his mouth and has an obsession with throwing things in the toilet. So as you can imagine most of my days are spent literally chasing after him, entering into long negotiations with my daughter, cooking, like 7 times a day and fielding fights, tantrums, nappy changes, toilet stops etc etc.

I know I’m not saying anything new and I am certainly not doing anything that every other mum doesn’t do, but the reason why I’m saying it, is that today was not like that. Today the kids played happily and quietly, they ate what I made them for lunch and dinner. They didn’t fight or try to throw themselves off something high. They let me sit by myself for a few minutes and didn’t cry or pull at my leg. Today felt a little bit easier and I was able to catch my breath.

Being a mum is 100% the best thing I’ve ever done and I love my kids more than I will ever be able to explain but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy or that I don’t need my space too. Who knows what tomorrow will be like or even how much sleep I’ll get tonight but I’ll tell you what, today’s good day will get me through a few more rough ones now 😊.  x

Diary Of An Expat: Week 14

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Hi everyone! Thanks for all your comments on last weeks craziness, it was a bizarre week that’s for sure! One of my friends actually said to me that it was good that I was in India during such a momentous time cause it will make a good story in future :). So let’s get into this week!

Highlight: Well the issue of the discontinued currency is still making waves across the country. Every morning we drive past tremendous queues at every bank and we hear stories of people we know struggling to feed their children or to send money to their families in the village. We still haven’t been able to get to a bank ourselves but we are very fortunate that it’s mainly by choice and a decision to wait until the rush dies down a little. We have however been able to help out a few people that we know are struggling and it feels really great to know that even small gestures like providing milk for another family, or giving the security guard at the kids school enough money to buy himself a chai each morning, really makes a difference during a time like this.

What I am loving: As I mentioned last week, going back to Melbourne means that I’ll be picking up some Personal Styling clients again. Given that it’s the party season I have been talking to a few people back home who have asked me to bring back some jewellery and accessories to pep up the outfits they already have planned. I have so many statement pieces from India that I love and shopping for finishing touches is one of my favourite things to do.

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See anything you like?

What I am missing: I didn’t miss much this week actually. I think I hit a sweet spot with knowing that it’s only a few weeks until we are heading back and hence I was able to enjoy what’s going on here and just take it all in as an experience. Anyone else find that as soon as you make a decision to make a change in your life, your current situation suddenly seems fun and like new opportunities are happening? haha, maybe it’s a grass is always greener scenario…

The biggest thing that I am missing in my life in general is SLEEP! My son is nearly 18months old and STILL doesn’t sleep through the night. He’s never been a great sleeper but the past two weeks have been tortuous. Multiple wake ups in the night, unsettled unless I’m with him then up for the day by 6:30am at the latest. I was really at my wits end but this morning I found another little tooth making its way up through his gums, so hopefully that is the explanation for the ‘worse than usual’ sleeping patterns.

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Permanently attached, lol. 

What I am looking forward to: Christmas!!! We’ve gone Christmas mad here as Hazelle is finally old enough to really get into it. Every afternoon we watch a Christmas movie or talk about Santa etc and it’s making me feel like a little kid again too. For the past two years we have had our picture with Santa at Chadstone Shopping Centre and I can’t wait to get another to add to our collection. Fingers crossed that this year the kids are happy enough with Santa and hubby and I don’t need to get in on the picture too haha.

Your questions:

Over the last two weeks I’ve had a mixed bag of questions, some of which don’t necessarily pertain to living in India but I love an ‘open forum’ so I’m just going to answer them all here.

“Do your in-laws live there with you? Will they move back as well?”

My MIL lives here in India and she will stay here but when we go back to Melbourne we will be staying with my parents for a little bit until we can find our own place. So we are going from one set of in-laws to another ;).

“Do they celebrate Christmas in India?”

Many Christians in India will celebrate and thanks to a more ‘westernised’ world there is much more acknowledgement of the holiday but it definitely isn’t recognised as much as it is in other parts of the world. There is a short break from school and businesses but it is only about a week or so.

“Do you catch public transport in Delhi?”

No! haha! Although to be honest, I don’t even take PT in Australia lol.  I wouldn’t want to take a bus here but I’ve heard that the train and newly installed metro systems are quite good.

“Your family is so cute, are you going to have anymore babies?”

haha! well thanks :). I guess my answer depends on how hard of a day I’ve had with my two ;). No, I think a third is on the cards, yes, but seeing as Hazelle and Xander are SO close in age (14months), the last 2 years have been crazy busy and we definitely need a little breathing space before we think about number 3.

“Can you help me find a dress for my work Christmas party?”

Yes!! 😉 Email me: themummystylefiles@gmail.com x

“Do you think you have to wear red or ‘festive’ colours for Xmas and New Years events?”

No absolutely not! Whatever the occasion I always recommend wearing something that you are comfortable in first and foremost. If red is not your colour or you REALLY aren’t a sparkly sequin kinda gal than forget it. Wear that killer LBD or a perfectly tailored pair of pants and blouse. If you are attending an event or function you DO have to adhere to the dress code to make sure you get the standard or dressing right. Other than that though, don’t feel pressured into gimmicky or ‘festive’ attire that is going to sit in your wardrobe for the rest of the year.

“You mentioned ‘hard water’ on snapchat. What is that?”

Here is a proper definition : Hard water is water that has high mineral content (in contrast with “soft water“). Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates.

So I was talking (aka complaining) about hard water cause the tap water in India is considered ‘hard’. That means that you can’t drink tap water but it also means that when you shower you are using hard water which can be really hard on your skin and hair. I always notice when I’m in India that my skin breaks out a lot and I put that down to the pollution in the air and the salt and minerals in the water. Even after washing my hair it still feels salty and crunchy. I can’t wait to go back to ‘soft water’.

and I think that’s it! If you sent me a question in the last 3 weeks and I didn’t answer it today please just send it again and I promise to include it next week. I hope you didnt mind me going a bit off the ‘expat’ track today but a few of you seem to be curious about my life in general, which is totally fine with me :).

I hope you all have an amazing week and enjoy the downhill run to the end of the year; seriously where does time go? xx

Diary Of An Expat: Week 13

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Hi Friends!

Sorry for the absent week 12 recap, things have been a little bit crazy here and last weekend slipped by without me even noticing! I am happy to be back today because in terms of current affairs, this past week has been by far, the most interesting. From the city closing down due to extremely high pollution levels to the sudden and unexpected demonetisation of certain Indian rupee notes, it’s been a challenging but interesting week to be in New Delhi.

If you’ve ever travelled to India and in particular, New Delhi, you would know that the air quality is already questionable, particularly at this time of year, but this past week was off the charts. Early in the week it was so heavily polluted that you could barely see street signs on the road and asthmatics or those with respiratory illnesses reported an increase in difficulty of breathing. The government made the decision to close all schools from Monday- Thursday, which although was a bit inconvenient, it really was the best decision and it meant that we didn’t have to be out in the pollution. 4 extra days off school on the back of the 6 day Diwali break did mean that we went a little bit stir crazy but I will take a bit of boredom over litres of air pollution any day!

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Clean(ish) air means adventures in the garden 🙂

By Tuesday evening however, the air quality was much better and we were all set to get back to business as usual when on Wednesday morning we woke up to the news that the Indian Government had decided to ban 500 and 1000 rupee notes in an effort to stop corruption and stamp out black money. This was effective immediately and the only places allowed to accept the old notes were petrol pumps and hospitals. India is a very cash driven country and a lot of people don’t even have bank accounts let alone credit and debit cards to use in lieu of cash. To say that this was a huge deal would be an understatement. We are fortunate to have a bank account here but we mainly deal in cash as well, so suddenly we found ourselves stuck too. We planned to go to the bank the very next day but we arrived first thing in the morning only to find 2-3 hour long queues full of people needing to open a bank account (so they could deposit money and get the new, valid currency) or exchange money. The situation has only worsened over the past few days with people getting even more desperate for money, ATM machines not working to dispense the new currency and rich people being forced to (literally) throw out huge stacks of cash so as not to draw attention to themselves from the tax office. We are hoping to get to the bank on Tuesday and will hopefully get some of the new notes but until then we are on rations at home haha.

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My last Starbucks coffee until we can get our hands on some of the new currency

Add in the results of the USA election and I think the world has officially gone crazy this week lol!

Aside from that I have some exciting news about our movements at the end of the year. We have decided to head back to Melbourne in early December and will stay for at least the foreseeable future. My husband has about a 3 month break in his project and we have really missed Australia and so we think that we’ll head back Down Under and then hubby will potentially do some fly in- fly out work for a little while until we decide what our plans will be after that.

I am SO excited to come home, we’ve randomly been singing ‘ I still Call Australia Home’ to the kids at night, for the past month or so, so I’m taking that as a sign haha. Given that it’s the festive season I plan to jump straight back into Personal Styling and will start taking clients from the 13th of December. Stay tuned for more details but if you’d like to book in an appointment or purchase a gift voucher for someone else then please send me an email and we can discuss it further.

I didn’t mean to stray from my usual format today but I guess I just had too much to say! It’s really been a wonderful experience in India and I’ve learnt a lot from our time here. I’m not sure that anything can prepare you for the experience of living in India, but there are so many amazing things that I will miss. For example, this week my MIL decided that she wanted to purchase a new Persian carpet for the house, so how does she buy it? She calls a man to come to the house with his collection of the finest rugs. I’ve never seen anything like it. The amount of carpets he presented to us, as well as pashminas and shawls for us to peruse was amazing. All in the comfort of our own house.

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The chosen ones.

My husband and I joke that Frank Sinatra said about New York that -“if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere”, well we are pretty sure that he never lived in New Delhi haha. I will continue to share what we get up to over the next 5 weeks as well so don’t worry this isn’t the end of my expat experience just yet :).

Next week I will get back to the original format and answer your questions which have banked up over the last 2 weeks. Don’t forget to comment or email me if you have any thing you are curious about too.

Congratulations if you made it to the end of this post! I hope you all have a great week and that I am back next week with tales of a calmer Delhi. xxx

 

Monday Mornings

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Cardigan: Zara (similar here), Black singlet: lululemon athletica (similar here), Crop top: Forever 21 (similar here), Leggings: Forever 21 (similar here), Hoodie: Forever 21 (similar here), Shoes: Nike

Anyone else a sucker for Monday morning resolutions? No more alcoholic drinks until Friday night. No more sugar or junk food. Will work out every day. Sound familiar? I actually love Monday mornings. I can’t get to the gym over the weekend and am only able to work out when the kids are at school / day care which is Monday – Friday. I definitely don’t exercise all 5 days but having that little bit of freedom each morning is heaven for my sanity.

Last week I picked up some new activewear from Forever 21 and have since been busting to work out. I’m sure most of you can agree that having new clothes or shoes is the ultimate motivation to get your butt into the gym. I am usually a purist when it comes to my activewear. You know, Nike, Adidas, lululemon, Lorna Jane etc. Lots of fashion brands have added a sportswear line to their collections over the last few years but Ive always been a bit dubious of the quality. However with only two gym outfits with me in India and a constant  debate regarding our water supply, I decided to bite the bullet and just get a few pieces to see me through until the end of the year.

Well I think I’m officially a convert. At least with Forever 21. The quality is amazing, the fit is true to size and although I’ve only worn and washed it once, so far there are no complaints there either. Obviously in India I wouldn’t wear the crop top by itself but in Australia I would definitely feel comfortable thanks to it’s support and coverage. The sleeveless hoodie is a bit of a fashion addition for me, but it would be great for morning walks or post gym coffee’s too.

So what kind of Monday Morning resolutions do you guys make? Any tips to sticking with them ;)? Hope you all have a great week xx

Please note – the Forever 21 website is currently down so I’ve sourced similar products from Cotton On Body and linked them above. The Cotton On Body range is at a similar price point and although I’ve only worn a few items, I think the quality is quite similar too. 

Diary Of An Expat: Week 11

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Hi Friends! Happy Diwali as everyone is saying here. Today is Diwali which is the Festival of Lights. It is kind of like the equivalent to New Years Eve in Australia. Tonight we will light fireworks (yes we light our own on the rooftop terrace, eek), have some wine and just spend time as a family. Its been really fun to see all the goings on this week and to see how all the locals celebrate. Most of the houses in our community are lit up with fairy lights and have strings of marigolds hanging from their front gates. There are parties every night and my mother in law has been sent boxes of sweets, fruits and little gifts all week.

The kids had an early Diwali celebration at school as well and now they are on school holidays for a week.

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These Diyas are little clay pots used to hold candles on Diwali

Highlight: As I previously mentioned, all week there are various Mela’s (markets) all around Delhi where you can buy Diwali gifts, handicrafts, jewellery, traditional clothing etc. Most locals shop at these markets for everything they will need to decorate their house with for the holiday. One of the largest and most popular mela’s is put on by a local blind school and all of the proceeds go back into the school. I really wanted to attend this Mela so I was really happy that we were able to go on Wednesday. We decided it would probably be easier for everyone (mainly me) if Xander stayed home and so it became a bit of a girls only day out.

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I didn’t do too much shopping but as you can see there were heaps of wonderful things available and Hazelle scored a new handbag so it was a very successful day out in her book!

What I’m looking forward to:  Before we even left Melbourne a few months ago I was already hoping that we would all be able to go back for Christmas. As you know, I have a wedding on the 23rd of December so my tickets have been booked for months, but due to my husbands work schedule we weren’t sure if he and the kids could come back too. Well this week we finally settled on a date and booked tickets for the four of us to come home. I am so happy and can’t wait to see my parents and celebrate Christmas. This week has definitely put me in the festive mood and it will be so fun to keep that going back in Australia.

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Melbourne – we are coming for you!

What I am missing: You know, this week hasn’t been too bad in terms of ‘missing home’. We have a pretty good rhythm happening and I’m either getting used to the food and how things are or maybe the countdown to Christmas is getting me through, but all in all it’s been a pretty good week. I will say though, I am getting massive FOMO seeing the Spring Racing Carnival start in Melbourne. My stylist fingers are itching to pull some looks together ;). Next year I’ll be there for sure!

Your questions:

Do many people speak English? Do you find it easy to communicate? English is spoken by much of the population, and it’s the language of education, the professional workplace and politics. Most of the children will learn english at school too, no matter what kind of school it is. I still find it a little bit difficult to communicate however because most Indians have very thick accents and they feel the same about me. My dry / sarcastic sense of humour is definitely not a crowd pleaser either haha.

Can you wear shorts and mini skirts? If I really wanted to, I could. There are no laws or regulations about showing skin and in fact I see many Asian and Western foreigners wearing shorts or short dresses but out of respect I choose not too. I already command a fair amount of attention for being fair and tall, and female, so showing a lot of skin would only get me more attention. We don’t tend to go out at night much and I rarely go out without my husband so I never feel unsafe but for any young girls travelling alone or in small groups I would definitely advise against dressing skimpily at night.

How tolerant are the locals in New Delhi of foreigners? Is it easy to make friends? Making friends is just like anywhere else in the world, it takes time and good judgement but overall there are a lot of social opportunities and activities to get involved in if you want. Family is huge so if you find a good family to mix with then they will often introduce you to their connections and so on. Overally Indians seem to be quite tolerant of foreigners  however they only want to hear good things about their country. If you start a conversation listing all the things you miss about your home country, you can bet the conversation won’t last very long!!

…and that’s all I’ve got for you this week! Sorry I missed a few blog posts again this week, time went by so fast but I will make sure to catch up with all my scheduled posts next week. For now though its almost time to light those fire crackers! Have a great week everybody xx

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