'I'm a white-skinned Indian'

Expat zone
Last Updated 10 March 2013, 12:49 IST

Dominic Dube, a French who was born and raised in Quebec, Canada for the first 19 years of his life, is a man with a single passion — architecture.

His love for subject has taken him travelling the globe, from Japan, Greece, Rome, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico and France to India. Even within the country, he has spent large chunks of his time in Auroville (Pondicherry), Ahmedabad, Mumbai and New Delhi, only to finally settle down in Bangalore, which has been his home for the last ten years.

“I was invited to India by architect B V Doshi to work on some projects. From the first moment I stepped in India, I fell in love with the chaos. There was a time after my first contract expired when I was getting ready to go back home to Canada but I fell in love with Pondicherry and stayed back. At Auroville, I had met a few people who had good connections and got some projects in Bangalore.

Besides, after seven years there, I just knew that it was enough and I had to get out of there,” says Dominic.

Being the international city that it is, Bangalore ended up being a good decision with a series of interesting projects for him to work on — from farmhouses and houses to corporate offices and restaurants and night clubs.

“Bangalore allows me to do a lot of work but for me, it’s like a platform to travel and do work around India. It’s the headquarter for my work,” shares the French Canadian, adding, “here, business comes to you through word of mouth or by publishing your work, which makes it very satisfying.”

Asked about his experience of living here, he notes, “For me, India is India, regardless of whether I’m here or in Mumbai — it’s the mess and chaos that I love. Everybody can complain that it isn’t the Bangalore ten or 20 years ago. But population is increasing like crazy everywhere and you just have to adjust to these things. When I moved here ten years ago, there were a few beautiful bungalows, birds and trees. Now, all the big contractors have bought everything, demolished them and built all this crap! But what can we do? Society’s growing and a country like India is growing by millions at a time.”

He adds, “We’re not in a beautiful city like Paris or Milan where everything is in order. I have an office in Paris and when I go there, I get bored and I need to come back within a week. I need this energy that’s constantly moving. Something is always happening here which is very interesting — people are beautifully naïve here, in spite of the complexity and problems of a country like this. If you go to Europe or America, everybody is depressed, they’re tired. Then they come to India in search of spirituality and god knows what!”

On the food in the City, he says that he is glad to see the diversity of flavours.
 “I’ve designed places like Caperberry and it’s pleasant to design fine-dining restaurants and go to your own setup to eat their good food. I used to go often to night clubs too, but I was younger then. If I want classy Indian food, I go to the restaurant at ITC Windsor, which is excellent. But otherwise, the street food is just perfect. I love everything — the samosas, dosas and idlis,” smiles Dominic.

Does he enjoy the cultural aspect here? “Yes, I’m attached to groups like Attakkalari, for whom I sometimes design sets. There are some good plays and art shows too. But the culture that I enjoy here is the more contemporary kind. I’ve been to Indian classical performances like kathakali and bharatanatyam and am not the biggest fan. I’m happy that the performances are moving in my direction now — more modern and
universal,” he shares.

Dominic has been here for so long that despite his white skin and inability to speak the local language, he always finds his way around.

“I’ve been in India longer than I’ve been in my own country! People used to look at me weirdly but not anymore. I guess it’s all about your own attitude towards such things. I behave like them because I’ve moulded well. I’m a white-skinned Indian!” laughs the 56-year-old, who prides himself on knowing a few words in Gujarati, Tamil and Kannada though not enough of any to communicate in any of the languages.

(Published 10 March 2013, 12:42 IST)

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