They Came, They Saw, They Stayed Behind: Delhi Through The Eyes of Expats


It’s always the way with falling in love. It’s hardly planned and to the rest of the world, it rarely makes sense. But seeing the rising number of expats who choose to call Delhi home, this is more than just puppy love.

Whenever I see an expat roaming around the streets of Delhi, I’d think ‘Why India?” I always wondered if they experience the same Delhi as I do, or do they experience more?

Little Black Book Delhi spoke to three expats from different parts of the world to see the same Delhi from their point of view. Here’s what they had to say.

On their first year in Delhi:

“When I first landed at the Delhi airport, it wasn’t anything like it is now. I was the first to disembark, and hot wind slammed my face, which gave me a sense of Delhi’s weather, and how I would have to survive the heat!” Dr. Waiel Awwad, a journalist from Syria.

“In that first year I remember running around the city so much – exploring and discovering this new place. Now, Delhi for me is a relatively normal life. I suppose that happens with moving to any place, especially one so extravagantly far from home. In the beginning you discover, and then it settles into the usual routine of work, family, friends, home,” Christina, an American who has been in Delhi since 2010.

On how Delhi has changed them:

“Three years ago, Delhi was a place I knew nothing about. I moved here with my family to make a new home, and I had no idea what was in store for us. Since then I’ve been swallowed up by an ocean of people, been shaken by how insignificant I am, awestruck by a vibrancy of living and along the way, discovered who I am and the music I need to make,” Cameron, a musician from Australia.

On finding a piece of home in Delhi:

“Every year, we have a tradition of a Christmas celebration with near and dear friends, where we exchange silly gifts, share amazing food, deck the halls and enjoy all the festivities. My mother used to make this gorgeous Christmas cranberry cordial that takes a month from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve to mix and to bring out this beautiful bright crimson color. She ships me the cranberries for it every November – a new tradition bridging both places, I suppose.

I consider being in Starbucks basically the equivalent of being on American soil. It was never something I sought out at home but now enjoy it to absolutely no end,” Christina.

On watching Delhi grow:

“It’s changed a lot in the past few years – take Hauz Khas village for example. And whilst that development arguably happened too quickly, without enough planning, it’s great that the city is opening up, with more places to go and a more interesting scene,” Sarah, Co-Founder of Safomasi, British.

On falling in love with Delhi:

“I would sum up my living in Delhi by saying- It is the city that will make you cry when you land, when it rains, and when it’s hot…. and you will cry also when you leave it,” Dr. Waiel Awwad.

No matter how different Delhi is from their first-world countries, it seems like these expats were able call Delhi home. Maybe it’s the intoxicating sights and sounds of Delhi, or maybe it’s how living in Delhi changes you.

Sarah sums up the highs and lows with this:

“It’s not an easy city to live in. There’s the extreme temperatures, the unrelenting traffic, the daily fight with auto drivers, and so on… I think in some ways Delhi hardens you, and makes you stronger. You have to assert yourself to get by. You learn to not be surprised by anything. And to try and deal with things that happen with patience and humour, whilst remembering that it’s the unexpected things that make you love Delhi, even though they also make you crazy!”

To read Little Black Book Delhi’s Finding a place in Delhi: Expats in the capital, click here.

Picture credit: Manish Swarup/Associated Press


Read more about Delhi:

Must-try experiences & dining spots for female travellers in Delhi

On a mission: Single women budget travel in Delhi, India 


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Nothing makes Aditi happier than good shampoo, good design, evolutionary theory and a spicy Bloody Mary. A Bombay girl to begin with, she’s made a home in New York, Glasgow, Singapore and London over the last ten years. After a one-day career in hand modelling (true story) and a much, much longer stint in brands & advertising, Aditi is all set to make the most of her Delhi/NCR chapter. Aditi is the Delhi Editor for Zafigo and her writing has appeared in Little Black Book Delhi, Travel+Leisure and Huffington Post.