'Why do people overtake from the left?'

'Why do people overtake from the left?'

When Heather Ramaswamy set foot in the country in 1992, she felt that she had landed in the middle of a riot scene. Her misplaced luggage just worsened the situation. But somewhere amidst the confusion, Heather felt at home. Hailing from Scotland, it was Heather’s first visit to the City to meet the family of her husband Balaji Ramaswamy. 

“My first stop before Bangalore was Mumbai and there was a lot of confusion around me. What struck me at first was how noisy everything was. Cab drivers were bustling around asking if I required a taxi. I must say that I did have a cultural shock initially,” she recalls. 

But that didn’t stop her from making the City her home in 2003. “Something about the place struck a chord with me and I knew that I wanted to come back and stay here. The transformation that the City has gone through is just unbelievable. The culture here has become so cosmopolitan,” she says, adding, “When I came the first time, there were many food items that were not available here. But in 2003, European food was available here in plenty.” But even though Heather was ready to face all the challenges here, an apprehensive Balaji preferred to keep his anxiety to himself. “I wanted her to experience the country herself. On my part, I was apprehensive but I didn’t want to influence her impressions of the place,” he says. 

Now, the expatriate has adapted herself extremely well and even loves Indian food. “I did find it a bit spicy initially but I’ve learnt to prepare authentic South Indian dishes from my mother-in-law. I tone them down a bit to suit the palate of my family,” she says pointing out that she makes rasam, sambhar and usli among a host of other dishes. 

But there are some issues which still bother her. “The traffic is absolutely ridiculous. I drive around and don’t understand why people overtake from the left. It really frustrates me,” she explains, adding, “even after spending so many years here, I still wonder why people walk on the railway line.” Although she would get stressed initially when workmen didn’t turn up on time, now Heather says that she has gotten used to the fact that the people here aren’t punctual. “When labourers said that they would come at 10 am, I would be ready for their arrival. But they either wouldn’t turn up or come later. It really used to bother me. But that’s not the case now. I don’t expect them to come at the time they have promised,” she laughs, adding, “I don’t even worry about what has happened to them. I know that they will turn up eventually.”

Incidentally, Heather, who lives with her two children — Neelima and Sairaj — hasn’t gone back to Scotland since 2003. “My family is here. I haven’t felt the need to go back. I have visited my brother, who lives in New Zealand, and he too has come over,” she says. Heather, who repeatedly emphasises that she doesn’t “feel like a foreigner” points out that she hardly connects with the expatriate community in the City. During Deepavali, she loves draping the sari. “I thoroughly enjoy the festivities. Like I’ve been saying, I don’t consider myself an expatriate. Actually, I don’t like it when people call me a foreigner.”  
 Heather is well-versed in Kannada and Tamil. “I’ve taken Kannada classes and taught myself the Tamil script,” she says while Balaji chips in, “Since I can understand and speak Tamil and Heather can decipher the script, it is particularly helpful when we go to Tamil Nadu.” 

Heather, is particularly fond of the old areas of Bangalore like Avenue Road, JC Road and Shivajinagar. “When you are in Phoenix MarketCity, you could be in any part of the world. But the older areas give you the typical flavour of India,” she says, adding, “I think that is why I love taking the auto. It gives me a feel of the City.” 

The family also likes to spend time together at malls and restaurants. “We like going to Toscano, The Osteria, Orion Mall and Brigade Road. While we like to go for movies, we sometimes watch them at home,” exclaim Neelima and Sairaj. 

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