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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Outfit Of The Day

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Denim Jacket: Calvin Klein (similar here), Top: Gifted (similar here and here), Jeans: Country Road (latest release version here), Shoes: Sperry (very similar here)

A little preppy vibe for you today because even though I’m in India, it can’t always be all palazzo pants and maxi skirts…lol! I am so happy that the weather has cooled down a little cause jeans and a tee is basically my uniform (which I’m sure I’ve told you a million times).

White jeans pretty much have no place in dusty Delhi but they are such a staple for me, I just couldn’t help myself when I was packing for our stay here. This top is actually a really fine, soft knit which feels so nice to wear and the thicker fabric gives it a little extra structure and coverage. I didn’t really need my denim jacket but I love the deep plum paired with the pale blue so I did the old trick of only wearing it around my shoulders for most of the morning. My go-to gold Sperry’s added a nice touch of interest to my outfit and I would have loved to wear a short gold necklace just around the collar of my top, but I couldn’t find have the right thing. Instead I settled for my chunky Michael Kors watch as my only accessory to finish off the outfit. I actually bought this watch on our honeymoon nearly 4 years ago and it has been one of my best purchases ever!

I can’t believe that it’s Friday tomorrow already! This week has flown by in an unexpectedly chaotic way but hopefully I can catch my breath on the weekend and see you back here for my Week 13 Recap! xxx

House Bound 


Hi Friends! 

My regular followers would know that usually on a Wednesday I do an outfit post, however I am on day 5 of being house bound due to ‘rising pollution levels’ in Delhi so I have nothing to share tonight. I figured I would spare you a post devoted to messy hair and the trackies I’ve been sporting all week so far 🙈. 

It’s been a crazy few days here in India with schools closing due to the pollution, an outbreak of chicken flu again and now today we woke up to the news that 500 and 1000 rupee notes are now banned to try and crack down on illegal money in the country. It’s thrown everything into a spin as a usually cash driven country has to suddenly bank large sums of money (and pay tax on it) and move over to a more electronic system or wait for new edition bank notes to be released. 

Anyway I just wanted to say hi and let you know that even though I’ve been quiet (and unintentionally missed my Expat Recap post on Sunday 😭), things are definitely not quiet here and with fingers crossed the schools will be finally open tomorrow and I’ll be back tomorrow night with an outfit post! 

Until then I hope you are all having a great week so far xxx

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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Diary Of An Expat: Week 10

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‘Week 10’ just sounds like it should be good, doesn’t it? Well thankfully, it was a good one for us! In fact it went by so quickly and we spent most days out and about that I fell behind with my usual posting schedule. I guess it is a good sign when you a living your life instead of blogging about it all the time though right? ;).

Highlight: As opposed to what I’ve been complaining about over the last 9 weeks, this week we had SO MUCH GOOD FOOD! We have really nailed down our favourite restaurants and cafes and eat out at least 3 times a week. This is more than we normally would at home but we also don’t do a big grocery shop each week so it’s not like we are wasting food at home. Dhaba is one of our favourite places. It serves Indian street food but all prepared in a high quality restaurant environment. It is the best place for hubby to get his fix of meat and the best place for me to feel like I am eating something other than bread and rice :).

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Xander obviously knows exactly where to go. We are fast becoming regulars here 🙂

 

We also found an amazing ‘Wine and Beer’ shop that sells imported brands as well as local. There is a local wine here called ‘Sula’ that is honestly THE WORST wine you will ever taste haha. Now I like my wine and I’ve definitely had my share of sub-par vinos but if I had to choose between Sula or nothing, I’d go nothing every time! Of course imported bottles equals highly inflated prices but we managed to find some of our favourites at an ok price!

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hmmm take me to the vino

Things I’m loving: The festive season is still in full swing over here and the next two weeks will just get even crazier. Every day there seem to be new mela’s popping up, live performances, fireworks at night and just a general atmosphere of celebration. We hit a few markets over the week and this weekend but we are planning on doing the most popular one in Delhi, which is put on by a local Blind School, tomorrow after we pick the kids up from school.

Things I’m missing: The greenery and clean (ish) air. The weather is cooling down and like I mentioned last week it is really pleasant in the mornings but now that the Monsoons have finished Delhi is turning into a dust bowl. You can see how dusty the road is in the picture at the start of this post. November / December is when we would usually come for our annual visit, so this is the India that I know, and trust me it just gets worse. Pretty much everything you wear gets covered in dust and dirt and the air quality is terrible, but having seen how green and luscious all the gardens were during the monsoons, it’s a big shame seeing everything turn brown.

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This was our front yard during the Monsoons.

What I’m looking forward to: Diwali school holidays start on Friday and we are thinking of taking a trip to a nearby city called Jaipur. Some of you might be familiar with Jaipur or ‘The Pink City’ as it’s often called. It is supposed to be really beautiful and have some of the most amazing textiles and fabrics so it would be great if we could get ourselves there. It’s about a 5 hour drive so that will be a fun logistic to work out with two kids under 2.5 but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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How amazing does this look?

Your Questions:

Are you still considering a type of online /blog store if a particular item is required for Aussie customers? Yes I definitely am however I haven’t been able to get a good enough lay of the land in terms of manufactures, seamstresses, suppliers etc yet. I do have a handful of good sources to deal with one on one client requests but not yet to fill a store. Definitely still in the works though :).

Is it safe to eat street food? I’d say eat at your own risk. Unless you have reliable sources and you know that all the produce is fresh and prepared hygienically I’d probably advise to skip it. If no other reason than the climate, it is really hard to ensure that the food is safe. If you really want to try the street food look for a very popular stall as the locals will be the best judge. A popular vendor also means that they will be making everything fresh and will have a high sell through rate.

Have you lost weight in India? I’m not really sure what the intention behind this question was and I thought for a long time about whether to include it but I’ve decided to give the asker the benefit of the doubt and assume nothing negative was being implied! But yes I think I have. We don’t have any scales here but I’d say I’ve maybe lost 2-3kgs. Nothing major and not at all intentionally. I think the change in diet, climate and probably a little bit (a lot) of general lifestyle adjustments have contributed to this. The gym has been good for me though as I am slowly putting on some muscle mass and I’m sure that Christmas back in Melbourne will sort me out quick smart ;).

And so concludes another week as an expat! Is anyone else starting to freak about how close the end of the year is? I am just excited as we will all be heading back to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my family. It is looking like our plans might be changing too (story of my life) so the next month or so will be crunch time for us figure out what we want to do in early 2017. Never a dull moment for the MSF family ;). Have a great week everyone xx