The first thing Stuti Basu noticed when she moved to Ireland was how quiet it was compared with her home country of India. The change was a “big and bold move”, she says, forcing her to leave the comfort of what she knew.
“On July 12th, 2012, we left India and arrived in Dublin with eight bags and big dreams. Upon arrival, I was shocked to note how quiet it was at Dublin Airport, there were no queues and the silence was deafening,” she says.
But that difference is one of the many reasons she loves her new home. Basu, originally from the small town of Meerut in north India, studied commerce and software engineering, and moved to New Delhi with her husband, Manish, in 2004.
After they had their son Adi in 2005, Basu made a “conscious decision” to focus on her family instead of work outside the home. Then, in 2012, her husband was given a work opportunity that led them to move to Ireland.
“For the first few months we lived in Dublin and got the basic things done like getting a PPS number, registering with immigration, and house hunting – which was quite easy compared to the current situation,” she says.
“From the very beginning anywhere I went I was delighted to note how friendly and welcoming the Irish people were. I will be honest, it was a bit of a struggle to understand some people at first but then we got used to things.”
It was like you were in a different country. The weather in the west is wild. With that said, the west is stunningly beautiful— Basu on her family's move to Galway
The family has great memories from the first year in Ireland. “We rented a house in Ashbourne [Co Meath], Adi started school, we survived the first Irish winter, and we went to Wexford to buy a second-hand Skoda, which can be termed a proper banger; we even named her Betty. We explored Dublin and the surrounding areas and started to mingle in the community,” she says.
But by 2014, they wanted to explore and live in a bigger town, leading them to Drogheda, Co Louth. Three years later, her husband got a different job and they moved to Galway.
“It was like you were in a different country. The weather in the west is wild. With that said, the west is stunningly beautiful and the two years we spent in Galway were memorable as we explored some of the remotest parts of Galway and Mayo,” she adds.
In 2019, the family moved again, this time to Mullingar [Co Westmeath], where they have remained since, having bought the Esquires coffee shop franchise in the town.
Although there was a lot of excitement in the early years of their arrival in Ireland, there were also challenges. Feelings of loneliness was one of the biggest things Basu contended with.
“I coped by regularly meeting up with a few other Indian families we knew. One thing that really kept us going was the close bond I have with my own parents, my siblings, my in-laws and my friends; we speak nearly every day to keep in touch,” she says.
“Being brutally honest, it was difficult to understand the Irish accent, especially the Dubliner accent but with time [I got used to it].”
Irish names, as well, were another difficulty. “Oh yes, how can I forget the names? Niamhs, Aoifes, Siobháns, Diarmuids – the list is endless. I struggled – sometimes still do – to pronounce the Irish names.”
If you are attentive and listen to even the most common everyday conversation, living in Ireland is like being in a 24-7 sitcom
But the winters and weather each year continue to be challenging. “My first winter I had frostbite on my hands and toes, it was miserable to even pick and drop Adi to school. That’s one thing I still struggle with a bit, especially when it gets extremely cold and frosty.”
Despite these challenges, Basu says there have been many wonderful moments during their time in Ireland.
“The simplicity and friendliness of the Irish is a class of its own. They say what they mean to say and are so funny,” she says.
“If you are attentive and listen to even the most common everyday conversation, living in Ireland is like being in a 24-7 sitcom. People in Ireland are genuinely happy and always want to have the craic.”
Given they have moved around a number of times in the State, they have met different neighbours and communities, all of whom, Basu says, have been curious to know more about her and India.
Though there are many differences between Ireland and India, there are also similarities, says Basu.
“Both countries have deep bonds with their families, strong religious beliefs and values. Purely looking at things from a historical perspective both Ireland and India were subject to British rule for a considerable period of time,” she says.
“Both the Irish and the Indians are hospitable, caring and generous by nature. One thing I am always amazed with is how much the Irish love Indian cuisine. Both the Irish and the Indians are heavily into sports – the way GAA drives Ireland, cricket gets everyone excited [in India].”
Ireland for us is the land of limitless boundaries, limitless growth and limitless happiness. We are Irish by heart and will always be
She has got to know the Irish community particularly well since she began to run her coffee shop. It is more than work for her, she says, but now a part of her identity.
“I know all my regulars by name and always make it a point to connect with them when they visit. Most of our regular customers let me know in advance if they are travelling or are going to be away; that’s the bond I have with my local community,” she says.
“The people of Mullingar never stop to amaze me. They are one of the nicest and humblest you will ever meet, always ready for a chat and funny beyond belief.”
Now, 12 years after their arrival, Basu and her family call Ireland their home. They arrived with hopes and dreams and have spent the time since then seeing those things come to life.
“Over the last 12 years not once have we thought of going back to India. Ireland for us is the land of limitless boundaries, limitless growth and limitless happiness. We are Irish by heart and will always be,” she says.
“I read about people calling the US the land of opportunities and dreams; they have obviously not heard of Ireland. We came to Ireland with eight bags and have built a successful business and become a part of the most happy community of the world.”