'I'm surprised in a good way'

Expat zone

'I'm surprised in a good way'

You might have seen Vittorio Greco running in and out of the kitchen at ITC Gardenia’s Cubbon Pavilion, where he has been the Italian chef for the past 14 months. Vittorio had moved to Bangalore from Tuscany alone for his first year here. His wife Barbara Fazzi joined him this July. The couple lives with their three-year-old Doberman called Rene, whom they fondly call ‘the other daughter who’s part of the family’.

“When I got an offer from ITC, I found it to be a good opportunity. When I was in Australia, which was before Italy, there were many Indian employees in my restaurant. So I’d heard enough about the place anyway. When I came here, I looked at it like a holiday. But it’s been 14 months and I’m still here,” shares Vittorio. 

He adds, “When I was moving here, I had all the wrong stereotypes about India in my mind. It’s like how people think that Italy’s all about pizza and spaghetti. But it’s a very different country and I’m surprised in a good way. Each street has so many different stories to discover. Plus, the weather in Bangalore is amazing.” 

Barbara, who is beginning to learn English, says that she finds the City a lively place to live in. “You can see that there are a lot of poor people here. But it’s very lively. I feel safe here because I’ve lived in many different countries and always been careful,” she notes. She says that being a housewife isn’t something she’s used to. 

“If I get a work opportunity here, I might consider it. But for now, I’m doing an English course in exchange for the cooking lessons that I’m giving. It’s something to keep me busy,” she smiles. 

What the couple enjoys about the City is that there’s always something new to discover. “Bangalore is a fascinating place. With my wife here, we just take autos and go see new places. Sometimes we get lost too,” admits Vittorio, adding, “But there are some safety rules that we follow, like making sure that autos have their ID and documents. We do not take autos after nine pm. Auto drivers try and cheat us all the time but we insist on going by meter only.

It’s all part of the game. As they say in India, chod do (let it be).” Does his Indian vocabulary extend to any other words? “I’m working on my Kannada. But I’m 45 and picking up a new language isn’t easy. There are also some words that I can’t repeat because the first thing they teach you in a new language are the bad words!” he jokes. Barbara, however, finds language to be a barrier. “I’ve met some very nice people here. But my English isn’t great and so, communication is a problem,” she says.

Being chefs themselves, one can’t help but be curious about their take on Indian food and ingredients. “I love hot food and am very comfortable with the chilli. But Greco isn’t. We’re still experiencing new Indian food everyday. Also, the fruits and vegetables here are amazing because they’re seasonal and actually have a taste. Some cheeses aren’t easy to find but you just have to look around,” shares Barbara. 

Her husband adds, “In Australia, all the Indian dishes are the same and most of the time, they’re cooked for the Australian palate. Here, the cuisine is so huge. There’s always something to try that you’ve never had before. I love Italian cuisine — that’s my life. But when you try different cuisines, you understand that place better.”

Their common love for food often translates to exploring new restaurants around the City. “When I arrived, my problem was that I was having lunch and dinner at the hotel six days a week. So going out to eat would be like work for me. But since my wife moved here, I want to show her a bit of Bangalore. We’ve been to the Tipu’s Palace and a lot of restaurants. After Christmas, we’re planning to visit Kerala or Pondicherry as soon as we find someone to sit our dog,” he shares. 

The two are very diplomatic when it comes to talking about problems in the City. Says Barbara, “It’s hard to tell what the problem with a place is after such a short time. It could be cleaner as a city. Sometimes, it’s sad to see how they treat the street dogs or to see really poor people working in horrible conditions. But one has to understand the background. That’s why I don’t compare this to anything.”

“The traffic is crazy in Bangalore but that’s something everybody already knows. It’s easy to point fingers but we’re nobody to comment. At the end of the day, we’re just foreigners and don’t know the real problems,” concludes Greco.

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