Adjustable beautiful individual from Ukraine, who came to India for spiritual experience and found love for life. Staying and working in Pune with her Indian husband, finding balance between eastern and western culture she perfectly fits in as non-Indian Indian wife role. Meet Marianna Sharma, a woman who is a digital ambassador for happy and peaceful life in India, having more than 6 years of Indian life experience and still counting.
Hi! I’m Marianna. A designer, unshakable optimist, enthusiastic cook & non-Indian Indian wife. A born-and-raised Kyiv girl with keen interest in spirituality, miraculously turned Pune dweller years back.
This is how Marianna describes herself in first words on her blog, the place where I actually first came across her person and life here in India A positive coffee addict, kind of a foodie person, a person who loves tasting delicious Indian cuisine, reading books. Check out more about a person who settled in India and lives her life in Pune, Maharashtra.
Renata Cieślak: Hi, Marianna, nice to meet you! I’m extremely happy to have you here and it’s a huge pleasure and honor to share your story here. Thank you for openness. If you could describe yourself in 3 words – what would it be?
Marianna Sharma: Love, patience, curiosity.
RC: 6 years in India is not a coincidence. What is Your recipe for long happy almost-Indian life?
MS: Firstly, it’s ability to switch focus from own culture and the way things used to be, to a new one. I believe, it helped me adjusting to India faster. As non-Indian Indian wife, I’ve learnt to be curious about all the things I do not know or understand, – food, family relations, religion, ethical behavior, appropriate outfit, and perceptions of others. Secondly, trying not to expect, but to accept people and things as they are, help to relax and be happier. If you want to get anything done in India, you need a lot of patience and empathy. People may not be as fast and efficient as we used to it in Europe, but they are nice and sincerely try their best to help you. Mastering humility results in rewarding experiences and great relationships. Belonging to different races and cultures, at the end of the day, we are all human.
Along with immersing yourself into a new culture, it’s important to remember what’s true to your nature too. For example, with all my love for the Indian family, our noisy gatherings and chitchatting, I need some space of my own. Reading books, meditation, long walks help me rejuvenate and reconnect with myself. And I’m ready to socialize again.
RC: Who are your closer friends now? Anything that worked specially for you and what advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends?
MS: My closest friend is my husband, I also have few friends from Ukraine with whom we are in touch regularly. Once in a while, I meet other expats in Pune, who are married or working here. But the distances and schedules make it difficult to get together regularly. Pune has very active expat group on Facebook, organizing monthly meetups; also there are multiple Whatsapp groups. Locals in Pune are welcoming and comforting as well. I have many Indian friends in office and across design industry as well.
RC: What do you enjoy most about Pune, how’s the quality of life?
MS: Pune is a modern city, rooted in traditional Maharashtrian culture. It reminds me Europe in disguise of Indian surroundings. I like that society here is not conservative, so besides kurta pajamas, you can easily wear western outfits. Pune is known for great weather and all the comforts of a big city with much more relaxed lifestyle to compare to Mumbai, Bangalore or other metros. Juggling between home, office and parents place, I immensely enjoy the convenience of online shopping. Restaurant food, groceries, consumer goods, movie tickets, clothes, and accessories are bought within seconds.
RC: Is there anything that you miss about Ukraine?
MS: I miss family and friends, of course, and charm of my city. Kyiv suggests more active lifestyle to compare to Pune. If here leisure time is focused more around home, in Ukraine it is opposite. People enjoy theater, jazz festivals, street performances and art exhibitions. Also, it’s very easy to be close to nature in Kyiv. There’re parks, lakes, beaches and even island in the middle of Dnipro river, crossing the city. I miss flavourful Turkish coffee and reading a book on the bench in the park. I miss wandering around the city, getting lost in the crowd of strangers, with absolute comfort of being on your own.
RC: You are not a typical Indian housewife. You pursuit your professional career and as we know – the Indian logic puts women only in the kitchen. How do you deal with work life balance here in India?
MS: My husband runs his own brand design consulting firm in Pune and print magazine on contemporary Indian design. I help him in business, leveraging my knowledge of strategic, graphic and digital design. When you’re an entrepreneur (or you are married to one), the edge between work and life is getting blurred, so work becomes life and life becomes work. It’s almost impossible to set the boundaries, as the well being of your family and the other colleagues too, depends on how well the office does. For me, it’s an enormous responsibility, and at the same time, freedom to do, what is right.
RC: How does the work culture differ from Ukraine?
MS: They are not comparable at all. In Ukraine, the work environment is competitive and encourages to pursue, achieve and be better than other team members. Indian work culture is focused on leveraging team performance with everyone contributing to final result. This way the output doesn’t belong to anyone but helps you feel a part of something bigger. It took me a while to learn how to work as a part of the team. But I feel, it teaches to be more empathetic and keeps your ego balanced.
RC: How tolerant are the local Indians to foreigners? What is your experience? Is it different from professional and personal perspective?
MS: I love people of Pune. Hardworking but not show-offs, Puneites carry the sense of pride for who they are with simplicity and dignity. It feels good to be a part of this community. People are helpful and attentive, no matter is it work or something personal. For example, my colleague used to accompany me to FRRO many times to support and talk to officers, who often do not speak English.
RC: Is there anything that I could wish you for the nearest future plans? Dreams?
MS: I want to dedicate more time to writing. For me it’s sheer joy of being present in the moment, of being in touch with myself. When I write, I meditate, there are no distracting thoughts which come to my mind. I would love to write a column, or a book one day. Other than that I wish to be balanced and fulfilled.
RC: I hope all will get fulfilled shortly! Thank you so much Marianna for sharing your story with us! I keep my fingers crossed for your Indian life. All of you who would like to get to know more about my wonderful guest – feel free to check her click-> blog or click-> Instagram.