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Inspirational Videshi Women: Christine Meier | Founder of Bhangra by Christine

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Bhangra

Image by Kahraman Kilic

 

Where are you from?

Denmark.

How long have you been in India?

I’ve been to India four times in total. Last time I stayed for one year.

What brought you to India?

The first time I came to India was in 2013. I went to Mumbai for special dance classes for Bhangra Fitness instructors. I was staying there for few days and came back to India (Punjab) after few months to meet my Bhangra coach Micky Singh.

What do you love most about being here?

There are so many things to love about India. Most of all I love the people. Coming from a country, where people are a little introvert and enjoy their privacy, I love how India is opposite. Families and friends are so close to each other. Friendships are so special, that you can call your best friend as your sister or brother. And that not just to pretend a good friendship, but the relationship will be as family. I’ve always felt I could trust my Indian friends more than my friends at home. I can always count on my Indian friends and they won’t find a funny excuse to escape helping me. Which I sometimes feel we do in Denmark.

I love many more things about India, like the food! I can’t get enough of North Indian food like my favorite “Shahi Paneer”. There are so many different things too eat, that it never gets boring. And then there is the chai! I love chai. I think I’ve created an addiction since the beginning of my time in India. After coming back to India I’ve learned how to make chai myself. I actually think my chai is the best ( haha).

Bhangra

Image by Kahraman Kilic

Are there any great moments that particularly stand out for you?

Every day in India is a great moment. When I wake up I’ll be happy just to see the sun shine. Denmark is a very cold and dark place to live. We don’t have real summers and barely see the sun in winters. So when I’m in India I feel lucky every day just to see the sun and kind of enjoy the heat.

What have been your greatest integration challenges?

I felt integration was somehow very hard in India. I especially felt it when I was staying for a year. First of all my way of living had to change a lot. In Denmark I had my own apartment. I was used to be all alone. When I moved to India I was staying in a PG with a lovely family and many other girls. Getting used to that was not easy. But in the end I had so much fun and I appreciate that experience.
My biggest challenge was actually the bank and the immigration office. Getting a bank account being a foreigner was impossible for me. The immigration office were never satisfied with my documents and always threatened me to cut my visa. Like that you don’t feel you’ll ever be a part of the country. I would love to grow old in India. But those incidents really made me upset.

Bhangra

Image by Kahraman Kilic

Have there been any individuals or organisations who particularly helped with your move and integration?

When I moved to India I got my job and visa through the organisation AIESEC. But the most help actually came from Micky and my other friends in Chandigarh.

Have you joined any networking groups?

My friends, my previous work places and my Bhangra people are my network.

Do you have any practical tips for ex-pats moving to India about how to integrate or deal with cultural differences?

I always tell people from especially North Europe to be open towards anything. If things go an unexpected way – then laugh! Because nothing will go as expected. And then: Live the Indian life style. Life with Indians, work with Indians. Eat Indian food, go for Hindi movies (even you don’t understand a word), because all those things make you experience the real India. Don’t be shy, but strong and open minded.

What does the future hold for you?

Right now I am planning to go back to India for a couple of months to work with Bhangra. Then we will see what happens next!

Bhangra

Image by Kahraman Kilic

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