It’s said that ‘home is where your heart is’, and for most of us, this is true. But what if your heart is pretty much all around the world; where would you say your home is then? This is how Leon Rajab feels when you ask him about where his heart is.
Though he was born and brought up in Spain, he finds it more relatable when one talks about Russia. He even holds a citizenship there. He says, “I don’t relate to Spain as much as I do to Russia. I left home at the young age of 14 for better education and life, so the only memories I have of Spain are of my childhood. I grew up to be the person I am because of my life in Russia and that’s one of the places that’s close to my heart.”
His heart calls out to Volgograd, Russia, where he spent all of his teenage and college days. He moved to India in 2014 for a better job. Though Mumbai was his first stop in the country, for the past six months, he’s been working as the floor manager at ‘Tippler on the Roof’ in Indiranagar.
When asked how he likes his life here, he immediately smiles and says, “Bengaluru is a great city, especially because of the climate. Though it’s starting to get hot these days, it’s much more bearable than anywhere else in the country. I also think that it’s a lot more developed and a progressive city and the people here are very open-minded. It’s a great place for a foreigner to live and I love how there are some great produces available for everyone here.” He goes on to mention how it was difficult to find the food that he wanted when he first moved to the country.
“When I was in Mumbai, it was extremely difficult to find the food that I liked. I would go to a restaurant and think I’m ordering something but it would turn out to be something else. I would often end up going to ‘McDonald’s’ and ‘KFC’ to fill my stomach and I didn’t like that either. But Bengaluru is better in those terms. There are plenty of restaurants at arm’s reach that you can opt to go to,” he explains.
Being a health conscious person, he says he loves ‘Tippler on the Roof’ for Russian food, ‘Byblos’ for Mediterranean, ‘Adyar Ananda Bhavan’ and ‘Udupi Park’ for Indian vegetarian and ‘New Kadai’ for Indian non-vegetarian food.
Talking about his life in Spain, he says, “I miss my childhood home. Those innocent times were some of my best memories and it’s sad that we can never have that again. I also miss the beach there — it was absolutely gorgeous.”
As for his life in Russia, he says, “Even though Russia has very heavy snowfall and it was quite a task shoveling it, I miss it terribly. It was wonderful to walk in the snow and see the entire country white — it would make you feel fresh. I miss how quiet it used to be there as well. Since I did my studies there, I made some great friends and it would be great to meet them again. I would love for them to come here and I’d like to show them how nice this city is as well.”
Leon is someone who keeps moving to find a better life and opportunities. He doesn’t have one place that he would like to go back to; he’d rather move to the next place that gives him a better life. However, with the time he has spent in the City, he says he’s very happy to be here as well. His father and mother are currently in the City.
During the weekends, they explore the City and learn new things. He says, “Weekends are very short for me because of the work that I do. But I love spending time with my family and exploring Bengaluru. We’ve been to Ulsoor Lake, MG Road, Lalbagh and most of the malls here. We also like to visit the different historical places, especially the mosques and churches.” Leon has also visited Delhi, Goa, Agra, Mysuru, Ooty and Coorg.
When asked if he’s had any problems with the language, he says, “It was actually very difficult for me to communicate when I went to Delhi because everyone speaks only in Hindi there. But thankfully, most of the people in Bengaluru speak English.” However, Leon has made an attempt to learn the language and recites words like ‘acha hai’, ‘bhai’, ‘maalum hai’ and ‘thoda thoda’. He’s also trying his hand at Kannada but has only learnt ‘Kannada illa’ so far. However, he claims that he speaks English, Spanish, Russia and Arabic fluently. He hopes to add Hindi to the list soon. Though he’s happy with the way things are in the City, he wishes that everyone followed a better system.
He explains, “We are known globally to be the IT hub, but we need to have a better system in terms of running things. We need to respect each other’s time and be a bit more organised. We need to reach a level that we will be known for more than just our technological skills.”
And if he were to leave this country for the next, what would he take with him? “Materialistically, I would pack some Indian ‘masalas’ with me. Though I don’t cook Indian food, I can definitely add a touch of India to the dishes I make. But otherwise, I’d like to take with me memories of the hard working people and their loyal attitude,” he adds.