'It's nice to learn a new language'

Expat zone

'It's nice to learn a new language'

It was work that brought Michiel Hendriks and his family to India in 1992. Back then, Michiel was working with the United Nations and was deputed to India for a two-year stint. During his stay in India, he came in touch with pranic healing to cure himself of multiple sclerosis. Convinced with his own experience, Michiel took to pranic healing in a big way and began helping other people. Michiel’s wife Joos is an educationist, trained in higher professional education for youth welfare and has been working with children of all age groups for the last 33 years.

Natives of Madagascar, the family shifted to India almost two decades ago and now looking back at the time spent in Delhi and Bengaluru, the couple say that they would certainly have missed out on a lot of good experiences if they hadn’t decided to settle down in India. It’s the vibrant nature of the place that has held them here for so long and continues to do so.

Michiel and Joos live in the heart of JP Nagar and say that they don’t have to venture to the City either to buy groceries or for shopping. “Bengaluru has many sub-centres that are self-sufficient. We get almost everything that we would require in Jayanagar 4th Block or around where we stay. So there isn’t any need for us to drive into MG Road or Commercial Street where it’s always a challenge to find a parking space,” observes Michiel. Joos seconds her husband’s views and points out that even the tiny shops stock the most essential things. “You don’t have to go to the malls and bigger stores for shopping. The smaller places also have some really interesting things to offer,” she states.

Quite surprisingly, Joos says that she would rather walk through markets like Avenue Road and KR Market than spend her time in malls. “These markets reflect the essence of India. I not only end up shopping what I need but also invariably befriend the shopkeepers and we part ways only after a cup of tea together. Such is the warmth in these markets that you don’t really find in malls,” notes Joos.
This family had no problem adapting to Indian ways. The couple has an Indian cook who makes the choicest of Indian dishes but avoids using a lot of chilli. “Michiel loves ‘channa bhatura’ and I can never get enough of ‘palak paneer’. Our boys are fond of ‘bisi bele bath’. They also always find an excuse to have a bite in the shop — Cake Walk. They love the food there,” states Joos.

The couple has three children. Seventeen-year-old twin boys Jorian and Yannick and a 23-year-old daughter named Anouk. The boys are in class 12 in a City school while Anouk is pursuing her higher studies in The Netherlands. Michiel and Joos have always believed in helping their children strike a balance between work and play. “The children have never been put through any kind of pressure. They are in schools that help them balance academics and extra-curricular activities,” states Michiel. Joos pitches in, “I’ve always encouraged our children to pursue some hobby like music, for instance. This would not only ease their stress but also help them handle their ups and downs in life.” Joos says when she finds that the boys are a little stressed, she sees that she keeps them back home for a day just to help them unwind.

Michiel and Joos have not only worked towards bringing up their children as independent, confident and compassionate individuals but also taught them to respect other cultures. “We focus on the all-round development of the children,” she adds.

Jorian and Yannick have made it a point to learn Kannada and speak it rather fluently. “It’s always nice to understand and learn a new language. Kannada is a little difficult and some words can be quite a tongue twister. Most people are surprised when they hear us speak in Kannada,” explains Yannick. The boys are in their 12th grade and say that theydevote just as much timeto playing a sport or singing as much as they do to studying. “We are in the 12th grade so there is a little pressurebut we try manage a lot of things together so that we don’t get stressed out,” concludes Jorian.

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