Interview with Sonia from India living in Maastricht
About 6 years ago, one evening I was relaxing in the verandah of my apartment in Pune, India. My husband returned home from work and mentioned that he was being transferred to Maastricht, Netherlands. That was the first time I heard the name Maastricht. Being an inquisitive person, I immediately Google-d about the city, its whereabouts, its culture etc. It seemed very different from what I had experienced till then in India. However, something was there in those pictures and write-ups which allured me to this city. I was tremendously excited on starting this new episode in my life.
My first moments in Maastricht
The day when I reached Maastricht, I fell in love with the city. In the first few days, my mission was to walk and explore every corner of the city center. The first day when I went out for a stroll, I was awestruck by the simplicity, the traditional look, the laid back but yet vibrant atmosphere of this city. I walked to all the landmarks – Vrijthof, Markt, Helpoort, Stadspark to name a few. I found some of the streets like Hondstraat, St Pieterstraat also pretty picturesque in its own way. Being from a French school, I had conjured in my mind the picture of a typical European city based on the text books from which we were taught. Maastricht absolutely fitted to that picture – the narrow cobble stoned lanes, the 400-500 year old houses, the stone bridge (Sint Servaasbrug). My favourite spot was sitting by Maas river in Charles Eyck Park. I could sit there hours and enjoy the calmness and beauty of the river and view the old city. I had the many “my first moments” – my first moment in Albert Heijn where I tried to understand where lies what, my first moment trying to eat hutspot in which I thought why had not anyone added some salt, my first moment in having traditional Dutch homemade bread which was absolutely amazing, my first moment of understanding that “Goede Morgen” meant Good Morning. Within 3 months since I came to Maastricht I had to move to Eindhoven due to work. My stay in Eindhoven was also good but it did not feel any different than what I had experienced when I was in India. Deep in my heart I knew that one day I would return to Maastricht. So after 5 years, in the summer of 2015, I returned to Maastricht.
During my second tenure in Maastricht, I discovered new aspects of the city. People were talking more in English than in Dutch. Lots of tourists flocked the city and there were many International restaurants which had come into place. Also a lot more expats had come to the city, making it pretty cosmopolitan. The city with its love for food, culture and different ethnicity inspired me to start with an initiative named HomeHandi – an online platform where passionate cooks can sell their food. Thanks to this startup, I have been moving around the city, meeting new people, visiting new places and also getting to know various cultures. I am really amazed by the fact that there is so much left to explore in this city. Everyday I am pleasantly surprised by getting to know something new about this city.
I have been living for 6 years now in the Netherlands. I have had the good fortune to travel to many cities in this country. But I never felt so at ease and so at home anywhere other than Maastricht. My introduction to Dutch culture, food and weather happened here. My journey from being a professional to being an entrepreneur also happened here. I look forward to more such learnings coming my way while living in Maastricht.
We would like to thank the International Women-Club South Limburg for their support!