The Hurst family, Naomi, David (serving) and two-year-old Dorothy share a slice of their army life in South Asia…

How long have you been an army family?

Nearly six years.

Time in India?

One year at the Defence Services Staff College, located three hours from the nearest city, at 2,000m, surrounded by tea plantations and eucalyptus forests in the Nilgiris Mountains in Tamil Nadu.

Are there any other military families there?

There’s us and a Royal Navy and RAF family. There are lots of Indian military families and forty international officers, about half accompanied by their families including from Iran, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and Bhutan.

What’s your quarter like?

It’s a large ground floor flat with plenty of space and a lovely garden, however, it’s definitely not water-tight!

The human waste drainage leaves a lot to be desired. When the weather is good it’s fine, but terrible in the monsoon.

We have a lovely peach tree, but the monkey troop hasn’t let us near a single one! It sounds worse than it is, we love it.

Are there any employment opportunities?

Unfortunately not. There are great sporting activities that are really cheap such as tennis, golf and equestrian lessons.

Naomi went further afield to Mysore and qualified as a 500-hour yoga instructor.

What about schools and childcare?

Dorothy is pre-school age, but there’s a great international school 45 minutes away in Ooty. There are no pre-school type activities, but the house has a live-in nanny/maid who is incredible.

The Indian parenting style is very different, but the nanny has had many years of experience with British children.

Where do army families get together?

Indians love to party, but they generally start around 10pm and go through to 4 or 5am! There’s generally always a
festival at the weekend, which is a blessing and a curse. Many of the international families host parties on a national day. We hosted a Guy Fawkes’ night, which was great fun.

Who supports families?

You’re very much out on a limb as the Defence Section and British High Commission is a flight away in New Delhi. The support network between the international families is hugely important to share stories of daily challenges and victories!

What are the best things about living in India?

David: The mountains, food and every single day feeling like it’s a huge adventure.
Naomi: Yoga, travel, food and the constant sensory overload.
Dorothy: Monkeys, tigers, leopards and elephants.

Would you recommend it as a family posting?

Definitely. We’d make the same decision in a heartbeat.

It isn’t for every family but if you have a genuine sense of adventure and can handle a little discomfort, then it’s fantastic.

Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing editor@aff.org.uk

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