Common nationality, different fate - the tagline could well sum the contrasting experiences of two Russian women in India.
For Olga Efimenkova, the Indian odyssey led to domestic acrimony in Agra. Efimenkova alleged abuse by her in-laws in Agra and sat outside the house of her mother-in-law, demanding her husband’s share in the property.
She was “united” with the family on Sunday after the intervention of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
A Russian dentist, Tatiana Zhurilova’s desi stint, however, culminated in the so-far blissful matrimony.
The quest for yoga drew Zhurilova to India and turned her into a traditional Indian bahu (daughter-in-law). A native of Ivanovo in Russia, she married Banaras Hindu University (BHU) research scholar Manoj Kumar about a year ago.
“I developed an interest in yoga after coming to know about the basics from an expert in my country. He is a Russian who advised me to visit India to learn advanced yoga,” Zhurilova, who applies vermillion in the parting of her hair and puts a bindi (red dot) on her forehead, said.
She is now keen to find a guru who will teach her advanced yoga.
“Yoga gives one peace of mind. It is a wonderful ancient knowledge. I am in search of a yogi from whom I can learn the advanced stages,” she said.
Zhurilova landed in Delhi in early December 2014 and went to Rishikesh where she met a few yogis and sadhus, who regularly practised yoga. “I told them that I have a deep interest in yoga and want to learn its advanced stages, including asanas, pranayama and meditation,” she recalled.
An expert did agree to teach her advanced yoga. But Zhurilova returned to Delhi on December 6, 2014, because she was determined to go to Varanasi in the hope of finding the right teacher. Her friend Anna Tovt accompanied her to the holy city.
She met her future husband Manoj Kumar, who was returning to Varanasi after attending a seminar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, on the New Farakka Express.
“When Tatiana came to know that I am a research scholar at BHU, she asked many questions about yoga and the city. We exchanged emails and telephone numbers. I also helped her in exploring Banaras. She stayed here for a few days,” Kumar said.
“Then, she decided to fly back to Russia. I went to the station to see her off. We chatted on Facebook for about five months. After that, I proposed to her. At first, she refused and asked for a little time to think the matter over. Later, she said yes,” Kumar added.
She came back to India and the duo tied the knot in July 2015.
“My quest for yoga led me to discover true love—Manoj. I have learnt English to communicate with Manoj since he doesn’t know Russian and I don’t understand Hindi. Now, we communicate in English,” Zhurilova said when asked what drew her to India and made her marry an Indian.
“I have adjusted to Indian culture. I will join yoga classes soon. As of now, I am enjoying Banaras,” Zhurilova, who likes visiting temples, said.