'I'm both a spectacle and a spectator'

Expat zone

'I'm both a spectacle and  a spectator'

Expatriates love Bangalore for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, salubrious environment, food and people. Helen Towers, an expat from the UK, shares her experiences here.

Every person who visits this City has his or her own story to tell. Some write about the place, while others capture their experiences in the form of photographs. For Helen Towers, exploring Bangalore has been a mix of all that and more.

A Britisher by origin, she moved to California in 1997 and finally settled down in Bangalore with her family in November, 2010.

“My husband got a job with Infosys and that’s how we ended up here. But it wasn’t like we were strangers to the City — we had made a trip here five years ago and liked it a lot because the temperature’s not too hot and there’s quite an international feel here,” says Helen, whose job here is to look after her two kids, Adams (13) and Wills (7).

“The first thing I had to do when I got here was to make sure that the kids were settled. Surprisingly, that was quite easy. After that, I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my time.

I joined the Overseas Women’s Club (OWC), became their treasurer and now, I look after the entire financial side of the organisation,” informs Helen. “The kids take the bus at 7.30 am and aren’t back before 5 pm. To keep myself busy, I do the OWC work, write my blog and take photographs whenever I can,” she adds.

For her, the charm of the City lies in exploring it in its candid form. “I love taking photographs. I love visiting Pottery Town, Cubbon Park, City Market and any other place where I can take photos of people going about their business,” shares Helen.
Travelling has also been something that she always enjoys, with the country having more than enough sightseeing to offer.

“We have travelled quite a lot – Shimla, Rajasthan, Kerala, Goa, Varanasi, Delhi and even for a wedding to Hyderabad. I love Indian weddings and have been to quite a few, including my maid’s sister’s wedding. I love the colour, music, and food at these weddings,” smiles the 45-year-old.

In fact, Indian festivals and traditions are something she has always tried to include herself and her family in. “We celebrated Deepavali and burst crackers with our neighbours, we visited an Indian friend on Dussehra and saw the dolls on display, we danced with sticks on the Dandiya night and during the Ganesh festival, we went to Ulsoor Lake to see the immersion,” notes Helen.

“The nice thing is that everyone is warm and welcoming here, making it easy to be a part of the culture.”After two years of being here, does she still feel an outsider? She ponders over the question and answers, “I feel at home here, but I’m obviously an ‘expat’. I’m both a spectacle and a spectator. I’m looking at people and people are looking at me. I think that’ll always be the case.”

She recalls her various attempts at being more Indian. “I try to be like an insider and take a bus now and then. We eat a lot of Indian food because in England, there are quite a few Indian restaurants. I’ve worn a sari once for the India Night at OWC. My younger son speaks a little bit of Hindi because he picked it up. That’s the next thing on my to-do list,” she laughs.

What does she dislike about Bangalore? “I think the hardest things here are the roads and traffic — you’re stuck in your car for far too long. Another problem is the trash. It’s a beautiful place with amazing weather, but
it’s full of garbage!” she wraps up.

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