[Indians in China] Xi’an: Land of Opportunities

I really hope the relationship between India and China, two great civilizations, will become stronger, and we can have more trade and cultural exchanges for the benefit of our young generations and business fraternity.
by Dev Raturi
People celebrating Diwali at an Amber Palace restaurant in Xi’an. Courtesy of Dev Raturi

When I came to China in 2005, I never thought I would spend such a long time here. During my initial struggles in building my career, I learned a lot about this country. I started as a waiter in a restaurant and I rose to become the general manager of a hospitality chain after a few years of hard work and dedication. Now I am both an entrepreneur and an actor.

It certainly was not an easy journey, but the business environment in China was so favorable that it gave a common man like me opportunities to pursue my dreams and ambition. After traveling to various cities across the country, I finally settled down in Xi’an where I opened my first Indian cultural theme restaurant.

I had been to 18 cities for scouting trips before first visiting Xi’an in 2012 when I was mesmerized by its magnificent culture and history. I always wanted to live in such a place surrounded by natural beauty and equipped with modern facilities and amenities. My first Redfort branch in Tang West shopping mall is located at the starting point of the ancient silk route demonstrating different Asian cultures.

Xi’an, known as Chang’an in ancient times, is the capital city of China’s Shaanxi Province. As a designated central city in northwestern China, Xi’an is home to not only ancient cultural monuments but also high-tech industries and technological development zones. It is a good place in China for any expat like me to start a potential business. The processes are set and streamlined by the government, which aims to support entrepreneurs.

Dev Raturi (middle) runs two restaurant chains, Redfort and Amber Palace, serving authentic Indian food in Shaanxi Province.  Courtesy of Dev Raturi

Xi’an is highly developed and full of opportunities for people with dreams and vision. There is a big expat community running different businesses in the city and contributing to its development. I faced quite a lot of challenges when starting my first branch. However, I always received overwhelming support from the local government at every step whenever there was any hindrance. They offered a lot of help in licensing and promoting the restaurant to locals and tourists. Thus, I would recommend Xi’an among the best places to start your venture not only in hospitality but in other industries as well.

The industry base of Xi’an is sound and strong which boasts electronics, machinery, chemicals, materials, surveying, automatic controls, aerospace, aviation and other fields at a first-class and world-leading level. Xi’an, a transport hub and open frontier, is an important fulcrum city on the routes of the Belt and Road through the Eurasian continent. Shaanxi Province is also known for apples and kiwis and has overtaken Shandong Province in eastern China to become the country’s biggest fruit production base. There is also surplus production of other fruits including red dates, oranges, peaches, and pears, which provides great opportunities for people looking to invest in fruit trading.

I also love Xi’an because it is a beautiful and livable city with mountains and rivers. It is one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations. I would recommend that my brother and sister to visit Xi’an whenever they get an opportunity to visit China as it is a perfect cultural and cosmopolitan city that they will fall in love with. And for me, it is like my second home and my two children were born here. For them, this is their first home. They speak fluent Chinese and study in public schools which maintain very high standards of education.

The people in Xi’an are very friendly and helpful. I never faced any antagonism even when there were border scuffles between India and China. Chinese people are very warm, hospitable and progressive. We celebrate Indian festivals such as the colorful festival Holi and the light festival Diwali at the restaurants. We are usually joined by 400 to 500 guests, the majority of whom are Chinese. Now, there are four Redfort and Amber Palace restaurant branches in Xi’an and the fifth, another Amber Palace, is planned to open in mid-2021.

Dev Raturi plays the role of a detective in the TV series My Roommate is a Detective. Courtesy of Dev Raturi

China also made me realize my childhood dream of becoming an actor. I have always been inspired by Bruce Lee since my childhood, and I watched all his movies when I was in India. I always wanted to work in the film industry, but even after struggling in Bollywood, I could not make it. Twenty years later, I got an opportunity to work in a Chinese movie, and since then I have played a part in more than 20 different movies, TV series and web series. I did diverse roles, for example, a detective in the TV series My Roommate is a Detective and an astronaut in the film The Ark: An Iron Sky Story. There are more productions coming out in 2021. This gives me great opportunities to work with and learn from the finest actors and big stars of China.

Bollywood movies like 3 Idiots, Dangal, and Secret Superstar have done great in China and received overwhelming responses from the audiences. The film industries of both India and China can join hands for many projects in the future. I also dream of working in a cross-cultural movie which represents the culture of both countries. I really hope the relationship between India and China, two great civilizations, becomes stronger, and we can have more trade and cultural exchanges for the benefit of our young generations and business fraternity. I am sure the leaders of both countries are visionary and will pave the way for building peace and harmony for Chinese and Indian people.

A true Indian at heart, I have dedicated myself to promoting Indian culture in China for years and will continue to do so in the future. I would love to see the bonds between India and China become stronger since both countries have so much to offer each other.  

The author Dev Raturi, hailing from Uttarakhand in India, is an entrepreneur and actor who now lives in Xian, Shaanxi Province. He runs restaurant chains in China and has been cast in several movies and TV series.