'This city helps in building character'

Expat zone
Last Updated 10 October 2010, 10:47 IST

It was serendipity of sorts for Christopher Schafer when he first encountered yoga in India. The two-week yoga course that he took on one of his trips to Kerala got him hooked on to it for life. “It was one of those life-changing events. Yoga answered many things for me, till then I had felt so incomplete,” says Christopher, who now runs Atmayaan Wellness, a small yoga-cum-spa in J P Nagar.

After experiencing the many benefits of the course, Christopher left his job in California and moved to Bangalore in 2007. “I had first come to Mumbai for a week to do some market research for a yoga spa. I found the City to be rather vast and complicated. It was during that time, I had to attend my guru’s course in Bangalore,” he says.

Taking advantage of the situation, Christopher decided to look around here as well. “I really liked the City. I found it to be more economical and people were far more open to the idea of an affordable yoga spa. I also found Bangalore more logically planned than Mumbai,” he states.

It was in this City that Christopher also met his wife, Yoshita. And both describe that day to be memorable for a lifetime. “We actually met in a yoga class where I was a student and the teacher was a common friend of ours,” says Yoshita, who is from Japan.

Currently, working in a small business enterprise, Yoshita says that it was the friendly nature of the City that first attracted her to move in here. “The first thing I noticed here, apart from the traffic noise, were the cows on the streets and how kind people were to them. I love animals and I knew that I would really like the place,” says Yoshita.

Unlike Japan, she says, the working culture in Bangalore is far more relaxed. “I don’t think I have ever felt like an outsider. People are rather helpful, generous and caring but in Japan, it’s not like this,” she says.

Apart from yoga, the duo enjoys doing a lot of things together during their free time. “One of our favourite spots in the City is Lalbagh and the Ragi Gudda Temple. We go there very often,” says Christopher. But when it comes to eating out, the couple say they find Indian food rather spicy but they do have a few favourite places like Herbs and Spices and the cafe at Atmayaan. “I love dosas. A few of them with some coconut chutney’ and sambar and I am good to go,” says Christopher while Yoshita adds, “we generally find the food a bit spicy but no doubt, we have our favourites. I personally like the Paneer Butter Masala and Upma.”

Having adjusted their way to the Indian lifestyle, ask them if there were difficulties adjusting to each other’s culture, and they simply smile. “Our cultures are very different and it was difficult at first because he was leading a yogic lifestyle which was unknown to me. But as time went by, we adapted to that as well,” says Yoshita.    
“That’s the beauty of the City,” says Christopher and adds, “the place helps in building character. As far as any problem is concerned, I see it as an opportunity to experience a whole new culture which I must try and understand.”

If there was one word with which he would describe the City, it would be santosh, he says.

“People in the West are discontent with everything in life which makes them hungry for more. But out here, I see this contentment or santosh of being what they are and doing what they do. The kind of tolerance and the richness of cultures one gets from this place is amazing,” he adds.

(Published 10 October 2010, 10:47 IST)

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