Expat Voice: Slice of India
Antonio Scirocco moved to India with his family in 2008, in search of a new lifestyle. The 39-year-old Italian entrepreneur, who has been living at Auroville near Puducherry for about 9 years, makes original brick pizza ovens for restaurants all over India. He talked to Little India about all that flavors his life in the country.
Break from Monotony
I and my family liked the concept of Auroville when we first traveled to India in 2003. The life back in Milan got a little boring, so we decided to move to India. But moving to India wasn’t easy at all.
India is very diverse in terms of its cities, people, and everything else. When you go to North India, you see a different culture altogether but down South, the people, the food, the culture is almost the opposite, like traveling to another country. Each part of India has its own beauty, which is something that cannot be found in any other part of the world.
I have always found the people here very welcoming, friendly and helpful. There’s a sense of simplicity among Indians, which I really like.
A Big Change
It was a mess in the beginning, since we moved from a colder climate to a very hot, tropical and humid one. Local food didn’t really help either cause we happened to be in South India, where the spices are known to be the best.
Also, nine years back in Auroville, there were no shops that catered to our daily needs. I had to travel all the way to Puducherry to buy grocery items and electronic goods.
It took us about two to three years to adjust to the country. We also struggled to communicate with people since we weren’t fluent in English back then.
Almost a Decade in Auroville
When we first moved here, there were fewer people living around us. There were only three or four families who had television sets in the locality, but now you can find a television in almost every house with a dish antenna on top.
There were no shops around, only the lush green forest, and the tiny houses. But now it’s like a full-grown community, with people from 47 countries living here. We also have a very large Italian community, with about 130 Italians settled here.
Staying in Auroville has helped us connect with many people and to move ahead with my company, Il Pizzaiolo. We wanted to meet new people from different countries, backgrounds, and cultures. So we have made some good friends from Korea, Belgium, China and other countries who have also been living here for several years. Now, we rarely miss Italy except for the food and the wine. We are happily settled here.
We had quite a lavishing life in Italy, where I and my wife had well-paying jobs and a beautiful house of our own. But we still decided to live in another country for a change in our lifestyles.
Staying in a calm rural area was something that we chose to do. There’s no point in my life when I would want to move to any metropolitan city.
Challenges on the Way
Dealing with the conservative mindset of people was one of the biggest challenges in the beginning. Later I realized that it is not just a mindset but a common factor that you can find in any rural heartland in the world.
My family comes from a small village in Sicily, and after coming here I discovered the same kind of people that I encountered there.
Also, because the people are very friendly and caring, they cannot say ‘No’, and end up giving you false hope sometimes. This is disappointing for someone like me who comes from a country where people are very upfront.
What Sets India Apart
The people here can be quite welcoming as well as spontaneous. This is a great combination for an adventurous and a simple life.
The interview has been condensed and edited.
Expat Voice is regular column on expats in India. Email us at email@example.com to nominate yourself or another expat for the column.