In an exploratory mood

Expat zone

In an exploratory mood
Rolling the dice to explore a new country, Jeff Merkel landed in Bengaluru three years back. A Canadian by origin, he is from Calgary in Alberta. A passionate artist, he went to ‘Vancouver Film School’ to finish his course in animation. It is in this film school that he met a couple of Indians who influenced him to visit India. Taking their advice, Jeff landed in Bengaluru and now he heads a team in ‘Rolling Dice Studios’, a production house in the City, specialised in 3D animation.

“I got introduced to a couple of Indians at the film school in Vancouver. They soon became my friends and their talks about India fascinated me. I did my research about the country and learnt about its rich history. Canada has just 100 years of history. But India has an age-old history and also has a rich cultural heritage. All these things interested me and I felt that India would be a cool place to explore,” says Jeff.

Jeff, who has an interest in the history of our country, likes the story of Emperor Ashoka and says that it is interesting how a warrior quit killing and embraced Buddhism. A huge admirer of Indian culture, he says, “The history and the people here are very layered. They have shaped the culture.”

As an artist who has a keen eye for detail, he says, “People here are amazing. They definitely take time to open up, but they are very layered. They are to an extent conservative. I get smiles and weird expressions from people when they see me. Even after three years of my stay, I still feel like an alien here. But overall they are friendly.” He adds saying, “People here are very interested in expats. There are some who randomly come up to me and ask for a picture. There are also people who feel uncomfortable with my presence. They are very guarded and each day I get to see something new and unique happening. It is a different experience each day.”

Working for a production house in the City, he says, “The Indian standards don’t meet the Canadian standards as it is very hard to find a talented artist here. And also, there is too much stress attached with the work culture here in the City. I head a team here at my studio and my colleagues are not used to a boss like me. I am very easy going and casual. But people are used to a tough boss at work.”

He has his studio on Brigade Road and likes to hang out on Church Street and enjoys visiting Lalbagh to get a touch of freshness. A huge fan of Indian cuisine he says, “I love ‘Andhra chilly chicken’. I often go to ‘Nandhini’ and ‘Bheema’ to spice up my tastebuds.”

A curious explorer, he has travelled to Hampi, Mysore, Pondicherry, Gokarna, Chennai, Kerala and Goa. “I love Gokarna. The red earth and the palm trees...this is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen,” he informs eagerly.

He adds saying, “I enjoy travelling and exploring the country. I also love visiting temples.”
“I remember one funny incident during my visit to a temple. The priest gave me some kind of ash and I took it. Not knowing what to do, I ate the ash given to me and it is only later did I realise that it was supposed to be put on the forehead,” he explains with a giggle.

Coming from Vancouver, one of the cleanest cities in the world, he wraps up saying, “Pollution and garbage are the two things that I hate about the City. The City is so polluted that I want to run away for some fresh air. There are times when I want to take a deep breath of fresh air and save myself. Also, the roads in the City needs to be improved.”

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