'I moved over 4,000 miles to Lancashire for love... but then something weird kept happening'

Kathakoli Dasgupta runs Katha’s Indian Eats and Treats
Kathakoli Dasgupta runs Katha’s Indian Eats and Treats -Credit:James Maloney/Lancs Live

Soon after Kathakoli Dasgupta moved to Lancashire, she started to notice something strange.

She was a long way from home. Around 4,000 miles from the humid weather, busy streets and vibrant colours of Delhi, where she grew up.

Her partner, Dave had made efforts to help her acclimatise to living in the UK. They pair had gone on trips to Indian supermarkets in Preston.

But near their home in Freckleton, something was off. People kept saying hello - like they knew the 44-year-old. They'd even strike up conversation about, of all things, the weather.

"I used to find it very strange that people walking past me in the village would smile, stop and ask how I was. I remember feeling extremely awkward, not knowing what to say. I would also wonder if I knew them but couldn’t place them which naturally embarrassed me," she told LancsLive.


""Then my husband, who has been living here for over 25 years, said that’s the way up north, especially in small villages like Freckleton. Before I knew it, I was smiling and talking about the weather with complete strangers!

"My parents received that warmth when they visited us from Delhi, India, last summer. They went for walk round the block twice a day. There was never a day that someone or the other did not stop to have a friendly natter with them. My mum is quite chatty and sociable so she would come back home very happy after their walk."

Talking about weather was one thing Kathakoli had to get used to in the UK, but experiencing it was another.

Coming from the scorching, humid heat of India and into grey, gloomy England was a culture shock she didn't expect. Previously, she only really saw heavy rain during monsoon season - something she describes as "soothing and a relief from the scorching summer heat."

Kathakoli and her husband, Dave
Kathakoli and her husband, Dave -Credit:Kathakoli Dasgupta

Certainly not the case here. She said: "I had never witnessed anything like the rains here. I remember my Indian umbrella, a hen do present, broke when faced with the first instance of horizontal rain!

"Then it was clocks changing which meant it got dark by 3:30pm - imagine coming from sunshine country to this! I felt terribly homesick.

"Though I was like a kid again when I first witnessed long days in the summer. I had only read about it but never actually understood what it would be like to have light at night time."

Anyone making such a drastic change in culture and way of life would have to do so for a very valid reason. For Kathakoli, the reason was love.

Around seven years ago, 44-year-old Kathakoli made the decision to move from Delhi, where she had lived for over 30 years, to Freckleton, a small village completely foreign and unfamiliar. Since then, she's thrived and has even set up her own small business, Katha's Indian Eats and Treats - but the transition from one continent to another wasn't an easy one.

Kathakoli Dasgupta at her door at her house in Freckleton, near Preston
Kathakoli Dasgupta at her door at her house in Freckleton, near Preston -Credit:James Maloney/Lancs Live

In the UK, only familiar thing for Kathakoli was her husband, Dave who she met whilst he was seconded in Delhi for four years.

Whilst running with friends, the pair met after some 'match-making' and "hit it off" on their first date. "Dating a foreigner, forget marrying one, was never on my radar," Kathakoli recalled. "But we hit it off on our first date.

"Dave decided that day itself I was the one! I was obviously a bit more cautious.

"But after a few months we just knew that we wanted to be together. We both knew we were taking a huge leap of faith. We had been dating only a few months when Dave proposed."

Working as a health journalist with Indian Today Group, Kathakoli made the difficult decision to leave her friends, family, home and career for love. She added: "But you know when you know and you’ve got to go with your heart.

"Dave tried to make it as smooth as possible by bringing me here a couple of months before our marriage to give me a sense of where I was going to be. He also took me to the Indian supermarkets in Preston and to check out the gym facilities at Ribby Hall to convince me!"

Kathakoli Dasgupta started Katha's Indian Eats and Treats
Kathakoli Dasgupta started Katha's Indian Eats and Treats -Credit:Katha's Indian Eats and Treats

Settling in, Kathakoli started volunteering at Lytham's Cancer Research charity shop on Market Square within a month of moving to the UK. Volunteering on and off for three years, she found herself a friend and began building her own life in a different country.

Although things were looking up, the biggest hurdle Kathakoli experienced was finding a job. Knowing she wouldn't be able to continue her career in journalism she was keen to pursue something in a similar field.

Unfortunately, this wasn't as easy as it seemed. Kathakoli explained: "Everywhere I applied I got the same response, ‘no UK work experience’. Often, due to automated systems software that didn’t ‘recognise’ a resume like mine with an Indian qualification and work experience.

"I would get a disheartening automatic email immediately upon applying. I did get a short term role, but it wasn’t enough evidence for the competitive market. I was in a catch 22 situation. I needed UK work experience, but how was I to get it without a job here!"

Eventually, Kathakoli was able to find herself an entry-level communication role after completing a course, but after a bad experience she resigned within a few months. Frustrated with the trajectory of her career life, she decided to take matters in to her own hands.

An early retirement dream for Kathakoli was to start her own food business, but why not do this earlier? After deliberation, Katha’s Indian Eats and Treats was born at the end of 2019.

"The business has faced several challenges since we started— Covid, the ongoing cost of living crisis, but they only made me more resilient and determined," she said. "It’s not easy to run a business - that too in a country not your own.

"The laws, the regulations, the processes are new and different. I have had to navigate the systems on my own, plus, without a background in professional kitchen, I have been on a steep learning curve.

"Though I must say, I was inspired in this journey with encouragement and support from family, friends and well wishers. But as they say, the greater the effort, the sweeter the reward. Every five star review, every gushing feedback, every repeat customer is our sweet reward."

Find out more about Katha's Indian Eats and Treats here.