Expat Voice: Pangs of Separation

Deborah Manzoori moved to India with only a two-month notice period and little knowledge of what to expect at her new home.


When Deborah Manzoori’s husband told her about having to move to India in two months, the first thought that struck her was that the family will have to say no to taking a 10-year-old boy from Derby in their foster care.

“It was heartbreaking not taking him into our family,” Manzoori told Little India, recalling her sudden move to India from the United Kingdom with her husband and daughter in 2015. Everything happened so swiftly that the enormity of the change dawned on Manzoori much later. “Only when I was on the plane to Bengaluru did I realize that I am not just leaving the UK, but leaving behind some of my closest friends, family and the comfort of being in my own country,” she says.

Manzoori’s husband Rez works for the Rolls Royce operations in Bengaluru. While Manzoori, 47, belongs to Britain, he traces his roots to Iran and Denmark.

Manzoori tells us how her journey has been in India so far:

The First Few Weeks

I started getting gastric problems after the first few days, suffered from diarrhea and lost about 15 kg. It was a good thing that we had registered ourselves in a hospital as soon as we arrived in India. This took care of most of my sickness, and we didn’t have to run around looking for a good hospital.

A Whole New Lifestyle
In the UK, I never had to run to more than one shop to make a decent meal for my family. But here I need to go to the grocery store first, and then to the butcher’s shop and stand in the line. Sometimes the brand or organic product that I had bought the last time becomes suddenly unavailable at the store. This never used to be the case back home where I could find everything under one roof.

Challenges in India
I go to pick up my 11-year-old daughter Zahra from school every afternoon, and I find myself dealing with many rash drivers. The roads are terrible here and no one seems to drive in a lane.

I had never experienced things like power cuts, shortage of water, bad roads, the lack of convenience to get goods for home. The list goes on. Dealing with all these troubles was one of the most challenging factors.

Cultural Differences
My husband spends most of his time at work and the only time we socialize is when we get invited for an office party, which is usually organized during a festival like Diwali or Eid. I wear a sari or a salwar kameez during these times because you stand out when you wear something different.

Traveling in the Region
We want to travel to as many nearby countries as possible while we are in India. We have been to Delhi, Hyderabad, Puducherry and other cities, and other countries like Maldives, Thailand, and Cambodia. Hong Kong and Sri Lanka are next on the list.

Social Life
My daughter goes to a global school called Stonehill International School, which is a few kilometers away from where we stay. I made some good friends when I went to a PTA meeting, where I met many expat moms and could relate to and talk to them. We have also organized many events together for the school and often catch up in a coffee shop.
I have made many expat friends through the Overseas Women’s Community (OWC), which holds monthly meetings.

The interview has been condensed and edited.

Expat Voice is regular column on expats in India. Email us at expat@littleindia.com to nominate yourself or another expat for the column.

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