'I feel weird when I visit Latvia now'

Expat zone

'I feel weird when I visit Latvia now'

It was different from what I had heard; everything was so interesting.” These are the words Aigars Liepins chooses to say when asked about his first impression of India.

Hailing from Latvia, it was a job opportunity that first brought Aigars to this country. “I was riveted by every aspect of India. Even after seven years here, I still feel like a tourist when I set out to explore places,” he says. But apart from that, he has settled in so well that he does not even miss his hometown. “It may sound strange but I don’t. I feel at home here.”

Aigars is now married to Maya, a designer and the owner of Peepletree Gallery, Sadashivanagar. “I worked part time at a college where he was also teaching,” says Maya. “He was teaching graphic designing and I was taking classes on interior designing. This was in 2012. We went out for some time and in 2013, we got married at a temple in Ulsoor.”

So was she worried about him being able to adjust to a place so starkly different from his own? “Not at all. We kind of knew each other well by then and I knew he liked the place, he liked the food...I was sure there would be no adjustment issues,” she says with a smile.

“I was used to having spicy food even before I came here so the cuisine did not come as a surprise for me. Even now, we mostly cook only Indian dishes at home. My favourite is ‘Kaju chicken masala’ but you find it only in very specific places,” Aigars says. Though there were some initial hiccups, in terms of language and getting around, he has no complaints. “I have picked up a little bit of Kannada, though some sounds are difficult for me to pronounce. Also people here do not understand accents so they don’t really get my Kannada. For that matter, some of them don’t even understand my English,” he says with a laugh.

Overcharging by auto rickshaw drivers was another issue; one that was solved by buying a motorcycle. “I did not know how to ride one but that seemed to be the best way to travel here. And soon enough, I fell in love with it,” he says.

This is proved by the fact that he has covered more than one lakh kilometres on his bike, having rode to places as far away as Mumbai and Kanyakumari. “I go on frequent short trips to. There are so many beautiful places near Bengaluru that are unexplored. Even the locals don’t know about some of these locations.”

When not travelling, the couple can be found in their garden. “I love gardening as well as taking photos and videos of my plants. I even had a greenhouse in my apartment in Europe. Maya too is interested in it but I am kind of the professional,” he says.The only thing that he finds annoying is the lack of perception of personal space in public places and people’s reluctance to follow the queue system. But India has managed to charm him sufficiently for these to cease being irritants.

“In fact, I feel weird whenever I visit Latvia now. It looks kind of empty. I am used to seeing gloriously crowded places and my hometown looks like a scene after the apocalypse to me,” says Aigars with a laugh.

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