'There's always something happening here'

Expat zone

'There's always something happening here'

Marieta Restrepo and her son Nicolas Vasquez Restrepo, from Colombia, South America, love the City and anything that is associated with it. Marieta, who’s a Montessori teacher, came to Bangalore on her sister’s recommendation.

Soon, she got an offer to work with the Trio World School for a year; she loved the place and stayed on. After five years, Marieta is still as excited about the City as when she arrived. “I joined Trio World School for a year initially in 2009, but then I stayed on for three more years. I moved to another school but a year later, I came back to Trio and here I am,” she says.

Having travelled to Delhi, Chennai, Pondicherry and Kerala, she feels that Bangalore is the place to be. “I really love the City. Anything can happen here. People are not so warm in other places as they are here. I feel very comfortable,” she comments.

“People are very friendly. They open their hearts and homes, invite you in and offer food to you. Besides, there’s always something happening here. There’s cultural stuff — musicals, theatre etc.” She also appreciates the fact that the City is safe. “It’s pretty secure here. The only complaint is that everything closes early. Back home, the nightlife is on for much longer,” she laughs.

Ask Marieta to compare her experience in Bangalore with other cities, and she says, “In most cities, the weather is extreme. Bangalore is just perfect. Also, the traffic in many other cities seems much crazier than here.”

It took her a while to feel comfortable driving here. “Initially, I used to feel like everyone was staring at me, and trying to ask me ‘why are you driving like this?’ But now I’ve got used to it. People say that if one can drive in India, then they can drive anywhere.”

She likes the fact that the City welcomes expats from across the world. “Bangalore is open-minded. People receive foreigners with open arms. I’m convinced that Bangalore is an expat-friendly city, especially given the increasing number of foreigners in the City,” she says.

Recollecting some observations across the City, Marieta says that the cows on the road were a big surprise.

“Cows back home are seen on farms. To see a big animal like that on the street was a different experience,” shares Marieta.

She was also fascinated by the bright saris, temples at every corner and the different smells in the local markets.

“This is what makes India special. The impression one has of India outside is that it is a poor country. But after my experience in Bangalore, I clearly understand that it is a city like any other,” she says.

She also loves the different jewellery and the accessories here.
“I bought my mom a fancy pair of shoes and took them back home. She looked at the shoes and then at me and said ‘they’re pretty but do you think I’ll be able to wear them? Everyone will be making fun of me’. But that is more of a cultural
difference,” she says.

Family values are very important here and that has impressed Marieta. She says, “A cousin’s a cousin back home. But here, a cousin is more like a sister or a brother. The way people care for the elderly and have a big circle of friends is beautiful.”

Talking about the work culture here, Marieta says that she’s often noticed that expats are more committed to work, whereas Indians are more relaxed.

“I’m not saying that everyone is like that. But I’ve had to cover for other teachers, when they’re finishing up their chores,” she clarifies.

Ask her what she would change about the place, and she’s quick to answer, “The garbage on the streets. Nothing else. It’s sad to see people flinging things off vehicles right onto the road.”

Marieta’s son Nicolas, who is 17 years old, loves the food here. “I love the butter chicken and the chaat,” he says.

Ask Nicolas what he likes about the City and he adds, “The people are really
friendly here. When I came here, I wasn’t that fluent in English but I slowly adjusted and made friends.”

For Marieta, who’s clearly in love with the City, Bangalore is a continuous journey of new experiences.

“I plan to be here for a few more years,” she wraps up.

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