'The culture of any place is in its language'

'The culture of any place is in its language'

Expat zone

'The culture of any place is in its language'

It is after living in several countries that Philippe Gasparini, director of Alliance Francaise de Bangalore (AFB), and Maria Gasparini came to Bangalore. Originally from France, they migrated to the City on work but admit that they love their time here.

One of their children, Leandro, stays with them here and attends the Canadian International School. In a tete-a-tete with Metrolife, they reveal their experiences in the City over the last two-and-a-half years.

It is Bangalore’s cosmopolitan lifestyle that appeals to them. “There are so many people from abroad and different parts of India who are here,” says Philippe. Like most Bangaloreans, Philippe despises the traffic and pollution in the City. However, even with these grouses, he still says that Bangalore is his first choice to live in.

“Life here is better compared to other cities. It’s also relaxed. In the two-and-a-half years that I have been here, I have spent time discovering the place and collecting
information,” he says.

 “I love cooking and the best part about Bangalore is that I am able to find all the ingredients I require,” he adds.

Like many expats, he enjoys meeting people at UB City and Jayamahal Palace. When he’s in a lighter mood, he catches up with friends at venues like BFlat and Opus. “After a hard day’s work, I like to relax at Jayamahal Palace. It is a beautiful building.

Plus, it’s a place where I can relax, away from the noise of the City,” he explains, adding, “I enjoy the variety of cuisine at UB City.”

Although Philippe loves the mélange of cultures in the City, he hasn’t picked up any of the locally-spoken languages yet.

“When I was living in other countries, I did not find it difficult to communicate. Here, there are so many languages that are required. I started learning Kannada and know it a little bit. However, you can’t speak the same language with everyone. It’s difficult to start learning a new language every few months,” he explains, adding that it’s better to speak in English here.

At the same time, he says that not knowing the local language causes him to miss something. “When you don’t speak a language, you miss a culture. The culture of any place is in its language. I feel sad about it because I will not be able to understand the culture completely. When I leave India, my only regret will be that I did not have enough time to soak in the language and culture,” says Philippe, whose contract with AFB will be coming to an end in 2014.

Ask him if he connects with the French community in the City and he replies in the negative. “I like it this way since I get to meet others. It’s a good integration,” he says. While everyone complains about the public transport, particularly autorickshaws, Philippe says that he faces no issues.

“In fact, since I travel the same route everyday, I am acquainted with many of the auto drivers,” he adds.

Maria admits that she found it pretty easy to adapt to life in the City, since it isn’t so different from what she was used to back home. “India has not been as different as I thought it would be.

Bangalore, in particular, has made the transition easier,” she says.

However, what she dislikes about the City is the lack of cleanliness and infrastructure. She explains that although she likes walking from their apartment to the gym and surrounding areas, walking in places like Vasanthnagar, where there is no footpath, is something that she avoids. “Some areas are lovely to walk in, whereas you encounter garbage in others. The general feeling is that it is not consistent,” she explains, adding that she appreciates the fact that she feels safe in this City.

Philippe and his family enjoy spending time at restaurants, strolling through Cubbon Park and Lalbagh, appreciating art at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and relaxing at the Bangalore Club.

“It’s lovely to walk through Malleswaram, especially on Sunday mornings,” he says.
Otherwise, he spends time in the quiet neighbourhood of Richards Town, where he plays badminton with his son.