'The City is going through growing pains'

Expat zone

Pleased: Avril Bayer DH Photo by Vishwanath Suvarna

When it comes to expats, Bangalore has its fair share of people who have been here for a really long time and seen the changing faces of the City. Avril Bayer, a Kerala-born French expat, has been around for close to 20 years now. A freelance translator by profession, Avril can best be described as a free soul who has tried her hand at multiple things. Singer with a jazz band, occasional painter, writer and web-designer, Avril has given all of them a shot.

Reminiscing over the Bangalore that was, she says, “I remember, as recently as 10 years ago, the City wasn’t as crowded as it is now. Traffic planning was definitely more coherent. I have literally seen the City devolve over the past few years. After IT boom, the number of open spaces in the City too have drastically reduced. Although business has improved because of the IT industry, the change has not been accompanied by proper planning and infrastructure which has just led to a lot of chaos.”

According to her, the slow pace of infrastructural projects here is a sore spot. What she misses the most is the nightlife in the City. “There was a time when you could walk into any restaurant or pub in the City any evening and dance the night away or meet friends for a late dinner, but there are hardly any places in the City now where you can do this.

After 11 pm, the City is as good as dead. The only option is a coffee shop of a five-star hotel, which is a ridiculously expensive affair. They have international prices in all those places and have completely alienated themselves from the local clientele.”

But isn’t the cafe culture, which is similar to France, growing in Bangalore? “Yes, in France, people go to a café to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. In Bangalore, you do see the growing popularity of cafe culture among the young but there are not many options for the older generation,” she adds.

Though she is quick to add that the City is great culturally. “There are a large variety of artistic and cultural events in the City which are fun. The programmes at ‘Koshy’s’, ‘Urban Solace’ and the ‘Alliance Francaise’ are examples. You also get to meet a lot of interesting people at these events,” she elaborates.

Describing a fond memory of the City, she says, “I remember sitting on the steps of the Vidhana Soudha with a group of friends at three in the morning, eating mangoes. But now, sadly, there are barricades and guards that shoo you off. It’s unthinkable now.” In terms of cuisine, Avril says, “I love South-Indian food and relish it, especially masala dosa!”

What is it about the City that she has decided to make it her home? “In spite of all its flaws, the City does have its charm. It is going through growing pains and the administration just needs to catch up with all the development work. The outskirts of Bangalore are really wonderful and it still has its greenery in tact.”

Avril divides her time between Bangalore and Paris and describing the difference in atmosphere, says, “As soon as you get out of the airport in Paris, the first thing that hits you is the silence! In Bangalore, you are overwhelmed by the noise! It is impossible to compare the two cities and each has its advantages and disadvantages.”

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