Expat Voices: Mini Ravi on living in Madrid
Having lived in UK and her home country, Indian expat Mini Ravi says Spain is somewhere in between the two countries in terms of quality of life.
Name: Mini Ravi
City of residence: Madrid
Date of birth: 7th June 1980
Civil status: Married
Occupation: PR Professional and French Teacher
Reason for moving to Spain: Moved with my husband when started a new job here
Lived in Spain since June 2009
What was your first impression of Spain?
I really liked the relaxed and laid back atmosphere. The people are very warm and welcoming and I felt like I could easily fit in.
What do you think of Spanish food?
While I do like some of the typical tapas like patatas bravas or pimientos de padron, I didn’t really take to Spanish food as such. To me, it tastes rather bland with a lot of meat and fish. I guess my Indian palate is more attuned to stronger spices and flavours! Oh the one thing I really really like is Tortilla Espanola. It’s very tasty and filling too.
What do you think of the shopping in Spain?
I like the retail scene in Madrid a lot. There’s all kind of clothes and accessories available, not to mention out of the world shoes! Fashion seems to be very up-to-date and ever changing. I live on Calle Fuencarral and it amazes me how every week there are new collections on the racks.
What do you appreciate most about living in Spain?
There is a very warm and welcoming ambience that makes feel very much at home here. Since I’ve yet to travel outside of Madrid, I can only speak from a Madrid point of view. The public transport system is economical and more importantly very well-connected. There are small grocery stores round the corner as well as the big supermarkets just a short walk away. There is a wide variety of entertainment catering to all tastes and preferences: restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, cinemas, shows, museums, art initiatives, sports facilities...the list is endless. Plus, the city is also a gateway to Europe.
What do you find most frustrating about living in Spain?
The language for sure! While I believe that if you’re living in a foreign country, it is good to learn their language and way of living, it is surprising and frustrating when people don’t speak English at all. For example, in the office for registration of foreigners, none of the officials at the counters spoke English!
What puzzles you about Spanish culture and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I’m totally puzzled about the non-stop party scene here. How do people go out on weekdays, get drunk and dance all night, get home at 4am and then get to work at 10am and be sane through the day?! Jokes apart, there’s nothing that really puzzles me about the culture here but I do find it interesting to note that there are a lot of similarities between here and India. Hence, I don’t really miss anything specific since I’ve moved. Oh I sure do miss south Indian cuisine as there are absolutely no south Indian restaurants in Madrid!
How does the quality of life in Spain compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
I’ve lived in India and the UK before this and there are a lot of interesting and often unexpected similarities and differences that I find when I compare. For me, Spain seems to be somewhere in between the UK and India in terms of quality of life. For example, while their metro system outdoes that of London, the disorganised manner in their Juntas Municipales reminds me entirely of the government offices back home in India!
If you could change anything about Spain, what would it be?
This is a tough one. I’m not sure I want to change anything here simple because it’s what makes it what it is. Sure the bars could be cleaner, people could speak more English, etc but I like it as it is!
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
It might be frustrating initially but if you’re warm and receptive towards a new culture and new people, you will feel welcome in no time!
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