India was always on my mind'

Expat zone
Last Updated 29 November 2015, 18:35 IST

A couple of days after we met, Iria Iglesias flew to Pune for a music gig. She wasn’t the audience but the music itself. A business analyst from San Sebastián, Spain, she harbours an intense passion for music that she doesn’t bother covering up. Almost every weekend she travels to different parts of South and South-East Asia to perform, as a DJ, techno and deep house.

Calling herself an “underground DJ”, she says, “I don’t play commercial music. In Spain, I wasn’t a DJ but I connected with music in other ways — growing up, I’d either sing or play the guitar. But what started as a hobby has taken on another avatar over the years. I’m still taking it slow and doing it only to indulge my passion, but I travel everywhere for gigs.” It was India that gave her the push to take on this hobby by its head. “The music scene is not easy to penetrate here, especially with the kind of music I play; the genres aren’t very popular. But I keep at it for the love of it.”

Elaborating on this ‘push’, she says, “I’m from San Sebastián, which is the most beautiful place in the world! The town has the highest number of Michelin stars per square metre, so everywhere you go you get good food, beaches and mountains. But everyone in Spain does the same thing — go to college, get a corporate job and start working. I didn’t want to follow this pattern so I came to India, where I have the “safe” corporate job, but also get to follow my dreams of playing music! I am very happy here. Right now, I have small goals I want to fulfill so I think I’ll be here for a while.” So, while she has a nine to five job, she also gets to explore new places and meet new people.

Iria mentions that the party scene and day-to-day life in India are very different from those in Europe. “It is good but different. When I decided to come here, everyone said that I wouldn’t be able to go out and there isn’t anything to do. There are multiple sides to India and one of them is the modern society, and not many people outside India know of it. Since they are seeing it from afar, they only see the traditional side. But there are so many places to visit and festivals to play at. When compared to four years ago, there are a lot more opportunities for musicians.”

She first came to India in 2012, to finish her Masters. The initial plan was to stay for six months but since she had a one-year visa, she decided to make the best of it. In 2013, she went back to Spain but came back a year later for a new project.

Now, she handles marketing and development for The Music School. “When I was here the first year, it wasn’t enough to explore the country; I was busy studying. The country is full of opportunities and I like how dynamic it is. I love Spain, that is where my heart is, but life is more static there. Here, you meet people from different countries. So far, I have done a trip to North India — Jaipur, Udaipur, Varanasi — and visited Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai for gigs.” She has also travelled to Kerala and spent eight months in Goa.

Why did she pick India to do her Masters? “We had an option of over 100 countries to choose from in college, and India was always on my mind. There was a seminar/workshop we had where someone from India spoke about the country’s economy and that clicked somehow. Because of that exchange, I chose to come here instead of somewhere in Europe. I didn’t want to do the usual — going to some place in Europe, getting drunk and wasting my time. I wanted to come somewhere where I would learn things and do something I’d be proud of later on,” she explains. Although she doesn’t have a definitive plans, Iria hopes to open up a restaurant somewhere in Asia. “But not right now!”

The economic crisis also played its part in her landing up here. “People here, especially in Bengaluru, aren’t scared of taking a chance, which is why I love working with start-ups. Europe, after the crash, went a bit haywire. After my studies, I didn’t want to be in that negative environment. I’m growing more here,” she says.

When she first came, she didn’t experience a culture shock that most people warn you of. “Bengaluru is an easy city to adjust to. I came in thinking that I am a foreigner and whatever is different or not something I’m used to, is not the country’s fault. I’m the one who had to adapt to India and not the other way around. I know people who get annoyed with many things here but I explain to them that if they are giving you spicy food, it’s not on purpose. As an expatriate, you need to have patience to live here.” Iria mentions that patience is one of the biggest things India has taught her. “Back in Spain, people have less patience and get annoyed with small things. Patience is when you are trying to get an autorickshaw in the rain!”

(Published 29 November 2015, 14:27 IST)

Follow us on