Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be calling China home. Hello everyone! My name is Meeta Bhagtani and I am from India. I am a teacher and I have been living in Xiamen, China for over 5 years now.
即使我的梦境再疯狂，也从未想过中国会成为我的家。大家好！我叫 Meeta Bhagtani，来自印度。我是一名教师，在厦门居住了 5 年多。
My husband, Nitin Karamchandani was based in the US for a decade. His best friend, famously known as Xavier, was Chinese. Xavier was a junior in his college who could not speak any English and had come to the US to study at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Only Nitin could understand his broken English, and he helped Xavier survive college. Xavier’s parents often visited the US and were very happy to meet Nitin. After graduation, Xavier moved back to his hometown Xiamen in China. They lost touch. Life moved on, and we got married. Nitin still regrets that his best friend could not attend our wedding, but he’s also happy, as Xavier was blessed with a baby girl that very day.
我的丈夫叫 Nitin Karamchandani，在美国工作了 10 年。他最好的朋友 Xavier 是中国人。Xavier 当时是一名大三学生，就读于美国罗得岛州普罗维登斯的约翰逊与威尔士大学，几乎不会讲英语。只有 Nitin 能听懂他那蹩脚的英语，也只有他能帮助 Xavier 适应大学生活。Xavier 的父母经常来美国，他们见到 Nitin 很高兴。毕业后，Xavier 回到他的家乡厦门，Nitin 便和他失去了联系。生活依然继续，我和 Nitin 结婚了。最好的朋友不能参加我们的婚礼，Nitin 感到非常遗憾，但他也很高兴，因为我们结婚当天，Xavier 喜得千金。
After two years, Xavier called: “Bro, I’m getting married! You and Meeta have to be here.” Xavier was getting married to his high school sweetheart, Carol. Of course, we were going to attend his wedding. All the arrangements were done, the flights were booked, and we were ready to travel. We landed in Xiamen and Xavier was at the airport to receive us. We met his family. All our friends were there too. It was a reunion for us. There was amazing hospitality, traditional rituals and ceremonies that we got to see, and most importantly, his beautiful daughter.
两年后，Xavier 打来电话：“兄弟，我要结婚了！你和 Meeta 一定要来。”Xavier 要和他高中时的女友 Carol 结婚了。我们当然得去参加他的婚礼。一切安排妥当，机票也订好了，准备出发。飞机降落在厦门，Xavier 在机场迎接我们。我们见到了他的家人，所有的朋友也都来了，真是一场大团聚。我们感受到了他的热情好客，领略了中国传统婚礼，见到了他漂亮的女儿。
Xiamen was breathtaking. It was beautiful, clean, and green. It had clear blue skies with beautiful landscapes. The air was fresh and pollution-free, far better than most cities. There was excellent connectivity throughout the city with affordable transportation. Our stay here was amazing. The people were so warm and welcoming.
Xavier’s parents knew Nitin very well, and this time they offered him a job here in Xiamen. It was a very good opportunity for him in his career. Nitin was ready to move, but I was hesitant, scared, and apprehensive. Was it worth moving to another country? Nobody there speaks English. The food is different. And there was so much more on my mind. I was nervous, and the first thing I googled was if Xiamen has Walmart, Carrefour, Sam’s Club, Costco, and all the possible grocery stores I ever knew, or else how was I going to cook? I was so reliant on homecooked food, and guess what? The answer was yes, and half of my worries about basic survival vanished. We were one step closer.
Xavier 的父母认识 Nitin，他们在厦门给 Nitin 找了一份工作，这对他的职业生涯来说无疑是一个很好的契机。Nitin 已经做好搬家的准备，但我依然犹豫不定，内心充满恐惧与忧虑。搬到国外真的值得吗？那里的人不讲英语，饮食也很不一样，我担心的事情还有很多。我感到非常不安，连忙打开谷歌搜索厦门是否有沃尔玛、家乐福、山姆会员店、好市多，以及所有我知道的超市，因为巧妇难为无米之炊呀，我依赖在家做饭。你猜怎么着，答案是肯定的，厦门能满足我们基本的生活，我的忧虑消散了大半。我们离厦门更近了一步。
Slowly, we got to know Xiamen better. It was all thanks to Xavier; he was extremely helpful and assured us that we’d be fine here. We trusted him, and the rest is history.
His parents were so loving and caring. His family became our family. We even knew his extended family, his uncles, aunts, cousins, and even his friends. They were all very friendly, always ready to help, and would go the extra mile for us especially knowing that we couldn’t speak their dialect. Even though we are far away from our families, they never let us feel alone. They have always been there for us, laughing, sharing, and making more beautiful memories with us.
We even learned Mandarin and taught them some English too so that communication would be easier and more fun. I learned to use Taobao and I cannot imagine my life without it now. I got used to cashless transactions and home deliveries. The public transport was so convenient. The infrastructure and the G trains cut travel time in half; it was astonishing then, but it’s a part of our lives now. We have gotten so used to these comforts. Every time Nitin used to travel back to the US, I didn’t have to worry, as Xiamen is a very safe city, and if I needed anything, Xavier and his family were always a phone call away.
我们学习普通话，也会教他们英语，这样交流起来就会更容易，更有趣。我学会了使用淘宝，现在我无法想象没有淘宝的生活。我已经习惯了无现金交易和送货上门服务，公共交通真的非常方便。完善的基础设施和高铁将旅行时间缩短了一半，这在当时令我十分震惊，但现在它们已经融入我的生活。我们已经习惯了舒适。每次 Nitin 回美国的时候，我都不必担心，因为厦门是一个非常安全的城市。如果需要的话，只要一通电话，Xavier 和他的家人就能来帮我们的忙。
We wanted to be here in China for our first Chinese New Year to experience the rich culture and traditions. We spent the Chinese New Year with Xavier and his family in their hometown in Pinghe somewhere near Zhangzhou, Fujian. We even visited the famous Chinese temple with them as a part of their religious customs. Everyone in his hometown came to visit us and welcomed us to their hometown. In no time, we knew all his family in Pinghe. We were no longer “laowai,” meaning foreigners. We were just “Nitin 和 Meeta”
我们想在中国过农历新年，体验丰富多彩的文化传统。我们和 Xavier 一家在他们老家漳州平和欢度春节。我们还一起去当地著名的寺庙拜拜，他老家每个人都来拜访我们，欢迎我们的到来。我们很快就认识了他在平和的家人。我们不再是“老外”，而是普通人“Nitin”和“Meeta”。
Then came COVID-19. We were traveling to India to meet our parents during the Chinese New Year holiday. The situation here in China got grim, and we had to extend our stay in India for 2 months. That was when we started missing Xiamen: the perfect sunrise from my apartment and the beautiful beaches, quick getaways and the hot springs, our long walks, the serene mountains that enhance Xiamen’s beauty, and the family that we had here. We started missing home! And it was then that we realized, Xiamen, had become our new home!
然后疫情爆发，春节假期我们回印度见父母。中国的疫情越来越严峻，我们不得在印度多呆 2 个月。我们开始想念厦门了：在公寓里迎接的美妙的日出，在美丽的海滩玩耍，来一场说走就走的旅行，泡温泉，进行长时间散步，还有幽静的高山，在厦门的家人，这些都令厦门更加美好。我们开始想家了！那时，我们意识到，厦门已经成为了我们的新家！
We have so many wonderful memories here and each one of them is dear to me. We have met amazing people who then became our friends and are now a part of our family. They say that home is where the heart is. Xiamen is where my heart is.
We moved to Xiamen, China in May 2017 from the US, and since then we have called Xiamen our new home.
2017 年 5 月，我们从美国搬到了中国厦门，从那时起，厦门成为了我们的新家。
I was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. Mumbai is the financial capital of India. It is home to three UNESCO world heritage sites, namely, the Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and the distinctive ensemble of Victorian Art Buildings.
It is called “The City of Dreams,” as migrants from every part of the country move here in search of a better life. The city is also home to the famous Bollywood cinema industry. The city has a multicultural vibe, a thriving nightlife, and access to food from different cultures of India. The local trains are best known as the lifeline of Mumbai.