'I've always felt at home'

Expatriates love Bangalore for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, salubrious environment, food and people. Fanny Delannoy, an expat from France, shares her experiences here

Fanny DelannoyWhen Fanny Delannoy visited India in 1993, she was only 12 years old. On this holiday with her parents, her father told her that these were the people the whole world would work with in the 21st century. Little did she realise that the developing peninsula that prominently stood out in the world map would one day draw her back to find work, a life partner and a reason to settle down.

“I came to Bangalore in March, 2003, after finishing my fashion-designing course in France. I just wanted to get some experience outside my native country in both my personal and professional life. I honestly believe that India’s the best place for both,” shares Fanny.

After working for 15 months at a firm in Bommasandra, she returned to France for a short while, after which she came and explored New Delhi for four years. Whatever the reason — whether it was the pleasant weather here or the warmth of the people — she found herself work and moved back to Bangalore in October, 2009.

In 2007, she and her partner — now her husband — started a private limited company, which manufactured and exported garment to the European market. “We love to run it like a family rather than a corporate. We’re planning to start our own brand and started selling them at flea markets like Kitsch Mandi and Soul Sante,” notes the designer.

Being a foreigner, she has faced her fair share of challenges. “Working with people has been the toughest thing. I have to work with tailors who don’t speak English and unfortunately, I don’t know any of the local languages. Even the time aspect is different from France. Back home, when you say five minutes, it means five minutes. Here, it could mean three days!” she says. “But when you get used to it, you tend to fall in love with the place,” smiles the 31-year-old.

Language has been a big hurdle for the French expat. “When I was in Delhi, everyone spoke Hindi and I learnt some basic words. But in Bangalore, I tried to speak to rikshawallahs in Hindi but they mostly spoke the local language or preferred English. So, learning just one language in South India turned out to be quite pointless. I don’t mind picking up one South Indian language. But in my factory, some people speak Kannada, some speak Tamil, while my husband’s mother-tongue is Telugu. I just can’t figure out which one to learn!” laughs the confused Fanny.

She was lucky enough to find her husband during her first week in India itself. Without divulging too many details about their initial days, she gladly describes their double-wedding in February, 2010.

“It was amazing and just like a dream. There was a Hindu wedding around the fire on a beach in Goa, for which I wore a sari. Next day, we had the Christian wedding for my French friends and family followed by a banquet,” says Fanny.

“I enjoyed my Indian wedding more because I think I felt more accepted into the Hindu religion than my husband felt in the Christian one,” she admits. The couple also has a seven-month-old son, who they plan to raise here itself.

 Ask her about Indian food and a wide grin spreads across her face. “I love it! I love the naans, yellow dal, kadhai paneer, coconut chutney and the biryani. I wish I could cook Indian cuisine well but I have a feeling it’ll just be really bland,” she confesses.

Living in India is not so easy but if you love the culture, the people and accept the way how they live and work — then it’s easy to adapt.

 “Indian people are warm and welcoming. Having interacted with all kinds of people, from the rich to the poor, I have never felt insecure and I’ve always felt at home,” she wraps up.

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