'I love how vibrant the markets are'

'I love how vibrant the markets are'

Exploring new places always excites Irene van Zeeland. An opportunity to learn dance in a different format is what brought her to the city. Born in The Hague,  The Netherlands, this young expatriate considers Amsterdam her hometown. She is excited to be here as a visiting faculty member for the diploma programme with the  Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts.  

As a freelancer,  Irene has also worked in New York and Paris for a bit. "I  love exploring new places. So, moving here wasn't a challenge.  It was when I was in New York that a friend from Britain, who had been a part of  a programme with  Attakkalari, suggested that this would be a place I would like to visit. I connected with  them and it worked out well," she says.

"I was offered a programme where I can teach and  shape the curriculum accordingly.  This opportunity to explore my interests on a personal and professional level was exciting," she adds.

Having been briefed by her friend about Bengaluru, Irene was told that it  would be easy to live here. "I was told that the  students were very dedicated and had the eagerness to learn. I found that to be true. Students here are like sponges, they absorb everything well," she says.

Since last  September, the expatriate has grown to  love different things about the city, be it the culture or the food.  Recollecting her initial few days, Irene admits that she was completely lost. "I had no idea how to reach the city and what was where. Since I was used to the subway system in New York and Paris, I found transport here challenging. But I  started using Google Maps and I slowly found my way around," she says.    

Irene feels that Bengalureans have always reached out to help. "I stay in a place where one doesn't find a lot of expatriates. My accent is weird for the local people but they still help me out. Everyone did whatever they could to help me settle in," she says.  

She feels that Wilson Garden, where she stays, is like a town within a city. "Everyone knows everyone there. From the shopkeepers to the people near my street, many have made my stay here interesting," she says.  

"Another interesting thing is  the importance one gives to their families here. Despite work schedules or anything else, people give great importance to family. How people care for each other is very impressive," she says.    

Talking about her observations in the city, Irene says it was a different experience to see cows on the roads. "Back home, there are designated spaces for cows, like fields," she says with a laugh.    

About how things work here, she says, "It's very unorganised here. I am used to getting ready for things in advance. I am not used to getting things done at the last minute."

Every new place adds on to one's own character and Irene says that she has now learnt to slow down. "I've learnt to go with the flow now. I have become less obsessed with organising things and have started to appreciate the flexibility here," she says.    

Irene enjoys Indian food and doesn't mind the spice level at all. "I have always loved the spice in the food here. I am used to Indian food from my childhood as my father used to prepare Indian dishes. I love different  items like 'Palak paneer', etc," she says. She enjoys 'dosa' and 'idli' quite often. "I love going to 'Nagarjuna'. In fact, when my friends try to take me to Continental places, I always suggest smaller and local places," she adds. She also likes hanging out at 'Phobidden Fruit' or at 'TOIT'.  

Though Irene isn't a fan of shopping, she loves heading to Commercial Street when she wants to buy some fabric or knick-knacks. "The shopping areas here can be insane but fun. I love how  vibrant the markets are here," she says. To relax, she loves heading out with a book to either Cubbon Park or Lalbagh Botanical Garden.  

When she  has time to spare, she  goes for  dance or art-based performances, likes watching plays at Ranga Shankara or spending time at  1 ShanthiRoad Studio Gallery. "I've learnt a lot about the culture over a cuppa coffee.  I've also noticed that the youngsters here are not very different from elsewhere. They  all have similar interests and hobbies, face the same situations and problems. I've been able to gel in well," she says.  

"It has been a fun ride till now and I want to stay on as long as I can," she says.    

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