There was certain image of India that American citizen Judy Redder nurtured before she decided to make it her home in 2008. “I have a cousin living in Kodaikanal, who came to visit us once a year, who told wonderful stories about the beautiful town, so most of the images of India I had were completely romanticised,” explains Judy, who moved to Bengaluru eight months back.
“I avoided listening to other Indian friends who tried to ‘warn’ me. I didn't want to come here with any bias or pre-conceived ideas,” she says. The Indian people and their culture was something Judy was keen on experiencing. She goes on to say that she didn't know much about India or its culture — it had never interested her until she thought of moving to Kodaikanal. I just knew it was something I wanted to experience. I still romanticise it, and embrace the experiences....there is rarely a day that I am not charmed by India,” she says.
Judy was born and raised in Cosmopolis, Washington, USA. She attended college at Washington State University. “I had a chance meeting with a well-known fashion designer and was encouraged to move to New York City and immediately started working in the world of fashion photography,” she says. “My best memories of school are my friendships. I am still in touch with friends that I have known since the first grade,” she recollects.
Her first stop when she decided to relocate to India was Kodaikanal in 2008.
“Following a life-changing sudden loss in my family, I was looking for a different situation for my two daughters and me. Moving to Kodai was a thought that came to me quite out-of- the-blue,” she says. She soon found herself a job on a three-year contract at Kodaikanal International School. After a six-and-a-half year stint there, Judy moved to Bangalore.
She finds people here warm, smart, confident, open-minded and sophisticated.
She is currently the head of communications at Inventure Academy. “It has so far been a wonderful experience. Before I knew it, I had settled in rather peacefully except for a few initial glitches that come with apartment hunting,” she says. She adds, “Once, I secured an apartment in the neighbourhood and building I wanted, everything else fell into place quite easily. I have great co-workers, so making friends here was easy.”
Her oldest daughter Lulu who works as an artist, recently got married, and is currently travelling in India for six months with her husband. Her second daughter Josey attended Raffles School of Design here but found living in Bangalore difficult to cope with.
Last spring, she moved back to New York It hasn’t been easy for Judy to start life afresh in an alien culture but the cosmopolitan feel of Bengaluru made her feel that she totally ‘fits in’. “In some areas, people stare at me as if I’m a space alien....the blonde hair does stand out and I still dress like a New Yorker, so that also draws curiosity,” she says.
Strangers often approach Judy to make conversation just because she’s a
“It is funny how many personal questions people ask a foreigner....but sometimes it's a nice opportunity to start a conversation with someone I wouldn't have otherwise,” she says.
Judy and her children love Indian food. “The spicier the better,” she says.
“I haven’t learnt to cook traditional Indian food, but I like to experiment with spices and masalas, and have added an Indian touch to all of my favourite Western recipes,” she says gleefully.
It’s not just Indian food but the Indian festivals too have fascinated her. “I love visiting temples, and learning about the festivals and traditions – the culture is so vast,” she says.
Her rather hectic schedules leaves her with little time to socialise but she and her daughters are fond of hanging out at Pyramid Valley near Kanakapura for a relaxing outing and prefer to shop at Pheonix Mall.
The family reserves the weekend for exploring the hangouts across the City. Judy is quick to list her favourite joints BFlat in Indiranagar, Barleyz in Koramangala.
“We really like the Cafe Noir in Pheonix Mall for its good music, ambience and food,”she sums up