'I don't feel like an outsider'

Expat zone

'I don't feel like an outsider'

Relaxed : Natallia, Anastasia and Ajay.

Bangalore houses a large number of extremely talented expatriates. Musicians and artists form a large part of this community. Natallia K Khanna, a pianist from Belarus, an eastern European country, is part of this largely talented bunch. She has been in Bangalore for the past two-and-a-half years and considers it her favourite city in India.
“Culturally, Bangalore is very rich and the best place for someone like me, as the audience for Western classical music is growing by manifolds,” she says.

Natallia specialises in the works of Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven and has given the people of Bangalore, an enthralling evening or two. Her previous performance in St Mark’s Cathedral this September to mark the 200th anniversary of Frederic Francois Chopin was very well appreciated in the musical circles.

“I am looking forward to giving more performances in the City. As a musician, I want the people of Bangalore to appreciate my music. I am not selfish with my music. It is just not for me to enjoy but for everyone to cherish,” she added. When asked, while not preparing for a concert what was the other thing that kept her hands tied, she smiled and said, “parenthood takes up most of my time, I have my six-year-old daughter Anastasia to look after.”

Natallia is married to Ajay Khanna, and is part of a mixed cultural union which is a paradigm of love beyond boundaries. “We met while she was working as a pianist in Bahrain and then I followed her all the way to Belarus,” says Ajay Khanna, about their straight out of a romantic novel love story.

“I mainly love the weather in Bangalore; it is pleasant all the time. It is a luxury other cities do not offer. Apart from the weather, I love the cafe culture in Bangalore. It is extremely close to my culture and I feel at home the most, in the cafes of Bangalore,” she says when asked about the things she loves about the City.

On what she thinks about the people of Bangalore she says, “people of Bangalore are extremely cosmopolitan and open to newcomers, they are also very kind and receptive to a foreigner.” She loves the Indian food in Rajdhani at UB City. “It feels very authentic and is delicious. I also relish the thali in Nagarjuna, it suffices both in terms of taste and quantity,” she added.

About her favourite cuisine, she says, “I love South Indian food, masala dosas are my favourite. However, my daughter on the other hand loves rice with gunpowder along with papad served specially on a banana leaf. It is a wonderful experience to eat South Indian food like that. My favourite South Indian restaurant is Kamat - Yatri Nivas. We always stop there while on our way to Mysore.”

Describing her typical weekend, she says, “We as a family, usually avoid crowded places like malls and movie theatres, you will find us in a quiet little cafe like Costa Coffee or Matteo on Church Street catching up with friends.” For a family outing, she loves ‘Wonderla’, or places in and around Bangalore like Mysore, Coorg and Chikamagalur.

“It is the cultural diversity of India that leaves you in awe of it; I don’t feel like an outsider in the City and quite honestly don’t miss my country. Apart from my family not being here, culturally, I feel completely at home,” she says.

When asked about the one thing, she doesn’t like about the City, she said, “people litter here too much, and sadly this phenomenon is only in the cities, where the educated people stay. People should learn to respect the area around them and keep it clean.”

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