'I've never felt that I'm an outsider'

'I've never felt that I'm an outsider'

Tomoharu Oe and wife Yuki Fukushima Oe, with their three-year-old daughter Tamaki, came to Bangalore from Japan more than two years ago, but they seem so settled here that it would be difficult to call them expatriates.

Tomoharu, who’s the managing director of Elematec, a Japanese trading company, also does caricature and runs marathons.

He proudly shows off a caricature he did of Puneeth Rajkumar recently.

“A few days back, I saw him at the airport, and my colleague pointed out that he’s a superstar here. So I attempted to do his caricature,” he smiles and adds, “I am also teaching a girl in the apartment caricatures, and having lots of fun with it.”

Having scored the 22nd position in a 2012 City marathon, Tomoharu hopes to win a better position in the coming one.

“I sprained my ankle just before the 2013 marathon. So I’m looking forward to taking part in the next one,” he says hopefully.

He and Yuki say that like most expatriates, they are in love with the City’s weather. But it’s not just the weather, they also like Bangaloreans and the way people here include others in their lives. Yuki, who’s involved with a bridge club and the Overseas Women’s Club, meets people of all nationalities here. “I’ve never felt that I’m an outsider. The City has such flavour and colour to it. There are people from all across here,” says Yuki.

Tomoharu has travelled to Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, and comparing Bangalore to these, says, “Bangalore is a sophisticated city. It has a balance to it, compared to other cities, which are overcrowded.” Yuki adds, “It’s like Tokyo or New York. It’s a happening place.”

 Yuki, who’s stayed in Pune for three years and taught about Japanese culture to people there, shares, “When I was in Pune, I was single but, now here in Bangalore, I have a family. Thus, the cities have different memories for me. India has a warmth that many places don’t. I’ve always had pleasant experiences here,” she says. “What I feel comfortable about the City is that here, one can easily survive with just English. In Pune, Marathi and Hindi have a big presence in the day-to-day life,” says Yuki. 

About the changes the City has undergone since their coming here, Tomoharu says, “There are more malls across the City now, and the Metro work has progressed. The City has been growing. But the garbage on the streets is a blotch.”

   “Waste segregation is still a myth,” comments Yuki.    
                         
While sharing their Bangalore experience, Tomoharu and Yuki agree that family is very important for everyone here. “I cherish the fact that I get more time with my daughter, and this only happened because I’m in Bangalore. In Japan, everyone is caught in the rat race and most people don’t get time to spend with their family,” he says. About the work culture in Bangalore, Tomoharu feels that  people are very professional here.

Yuki and Tomoharu also enjoy the festivities around them. “All festivals here
involve a lot of flowers and colours, which just amazes us,” says Yuki, to which
Tomoharu adds, “Festivals are important for people here. Everyone gets involved in them in full gaiety. But in Japan, festivals are only for some.”

Yuki and Tomoharu don’t understand Hindi, but they do watch Bollywood movies. “I saw ‘Chennai Express’ recently. Deepika Padukone is so beautiful,” says Yuki. She adds, “I’ve also seen Barfi and Om Shanti Om. I find Hindi films very interesting as songs just pop up from anywhere.”

Yuki wears kurtis and salwars regularly, and is well adjusted to Indian culture. “Our house-help cooks Indian food for us. Our style of cooking differs a lot and I’m not able to figure out what to make with Indian vegetables but my maid helps out. Chapathis, dosa, idli, sabji, bhindi, lemon rice are some of the food that we’ve had,” says Yuki.

The couple with their daughter love to go for the Sunday brunches, or visit malls during their free time. “We also visit the zoo often, as the safari there is great,” says Yuki.

Despite the ‘funny autorickshaw wallahs, the shocking cows and the stray dogs on the street’, the City is home for the couple. “We love this City, which holds on to its tradition while taking its steps to being modern,” the couple wrap up.

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