'There are many spices here'

'There are many spices here'

Expat zone

Bangalore has time and again emerged as the best Indian city when it comes to the quality of living for expatriates. Metrolife interacts with Jacques, an expat from France, to find out about his life here.

Foodie : Jacques Dominitz dh photo by janardhan b k

It’s tough to imagine switching from the serene, faintly romantic environment of Paris to the somewhat chaotic streets of Bangalore. But Jacques Dominitz, who migrated to the City around two years back, seems to have mastered the art of adaptation.

Like many others, he came here on business — and although he unapologetically states that Bangalore was ruthlessly overwhelming at first, he doesn’t seem to regret his relocation in the least.

As a part of the food industry — not surprising, considering he’s from the gastronomic capital of the world — he came to Bangalore because he had heard that the City is receptive to international cuisines. “I was told it is the best city for restaurants, because people love to eat outside.

There are lots of new kinds of restaurants here, which serve Chinese, Lebanese and Italian food — but not so many French ones,” he says. He capitalised on this gap and set up his own eatery, which specialises in the subtle flavours of France. But the move, he admits, was anything but easy.

“It wasn’t like coming to a different country — it was like another planet. The way of life, thinking and mentality are completely different here. I’ve met many French who stay in Bangalore, and they all say the same thing,” he says.

There are certain similarities though, he confesses. “Like Bangalore, Paris also has people from many other European countries staying there,” he says, describing both cities as ‘melting-pots of culture’. He adds, “Also, many people come to Paris specifically to work — either to join companies, or run their own businesses. And it’s the same with Bangalore.”

Not surprisingly, one of his favourite topics is food — once Jacques begins talking about flavours, textures and spices, it’s tough to get him to stop. “There are so many different kinds of food in India. Even when you look at biryani, there are so many types. I had biryani in Kerala, which was good, but I find Hyderabadi biryani too spicy.

I also love Bengali food and fish,” he admits. Jacques doesn’t seem to have a problem with the heat of Indian spices, but admits that the way Indian cooks blend them has always aggravated him. “There are many spices here, but too many are mixed in a single dish, and you can’t make out the taste. I love saffron, but here, people put in other spices with it and you can’t sense the flavour,” he complains.

Ask him about the other two staples of Parisian culture — art and fashion — and he insists that he’s been impressed by both. “I’ve been to a few exhibitions here, and I think that Indian painters aren’t very different from the European ones. Their style is quite the same,” he says.

And what about fashion? He may not be particularly taken in by the cut or style of Indian clothing, but explains that he’s fascinated by the colours. “In Europe, people tend to wear dull colours like brown and black. Here, the fabrics are so bright. You wouldn’t see anyone in France wearing pink, yellow or green. But sadly, the men here still wear dull colours,” he observes.
Interestingly, while he agrees that language has been a problem here, he doesn’t believe this is exclusive to him — or to the expat community, for that matter. “It’s a problem for other Indians here as well. In my restaurant, some people speak Hindi and others speak Kannada. I also have some Manipuri employees who don’t speak either. Language is a problem for everyone,” he points out.
His issue with Indian languages is one of the main reasons he doesn’t watch many Bollywood movies. But he’s quick to add that he has no problem understanding the daily soaps which air on the television. “I don’t actually understand a word, but I get the meaning — they all have the same story,” he quips.