Russian national Elena Barman landed in Delhi around 25 years ago and since that day she has loved every bit of her experience in the City.
Neither studies nor her career brought Elena thousands of miles away from her native town. A mother of two daughters now, Delhi became her home after she tied the knot with an Indian whom she had met in Moscow. “It’s in the blood of Russian women to follow their men wherever they go. So I am here. Delhi was the first place in India where I came and stayed and I have loved it,” she says.
From food to weather and people to architecture, Elena, who came here as a homemaker, got accustomed to everything but felt a sense of loneliness. “People were friendly. Where ever you go anytime, you are welcome but I still felt lonely and cut off from my country and culture.
Destiny took me to couple of jobs. I started meeting more people including Russians. I feel more connected to my culture now,” says Elena, head of Education section at Russian Centre of Science and Culture. She has been working in the Centre for the last nine years.
“Before I began working too, I was meeting people; both Russians and Indians but that was at a personal level and within a closed friend circle. My job gave me a chance to keep me connected with my culture,” she shares with Metrolife.
Having spent more than two decades in the City, Elena has seen drastic changes that Delhi and its people have gone through. “Spending even one year as a foreigner is a long time and I have been staying here for 25 years.
It’s a hugely different city compared to what it was at that time. Facilities have increased, people have become more modern. It has got more to offer on the front of cultural events also now.”
One of Elena’s daughters was born in Russia and other in India. Both of them are studying in school. “They are almost Indian. It is obvious that local people see foreigners differently but I believe that if you are friendly, nothing will happen to you. In fact if you open up, people also turn friendly,” says Elena.
Attracted by the bling and glitter of western nations, many Indians leave their own country. This is something that Elena doesn’t understand. “I see many Indians leaving their own country. I don’t understand why they want to run away. Nothing like staying in your own country, the country where you were born,” she says.
Elena never faced any difficulty getting used to Delhi, be it food, weather or people. While many outsiders and locals abhor Delhi for being over-crowded, this isn’t the came with Elena. “My father was in the Army, so we had lived at various places where ever he was posted in Russia.
For me, the shift to Delhi was an extension of the same. I like Delhi for various reasons. While in some cities of India, weather remains similar throughout the year, Delhi has a running weather. Also, it is so close to hilly areas and it is just as crowded as Moscow... so I like crowded places,” she smiles.
And after having lived here for so long, does she speak Hindi? “Bilkul, ekdum shudh Hindi, mere jaise koi Hindi mein baat nai kar sakta,” she replies. We believe you.