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Republic Day: Here’s what makes India a cool republic for these diplomats and expats who call the country home

From its colourful culture to the cuisine and people — here’s why India is a potpourri of inspiration.

more lifestyle Updated: Jan 25, 2018 19:50 IST
Etti Bali and Nikita Saxena
On Republic Day, HT City talks to expats who’ve made the country their home.
On Republic Day, HT City talks to expats who’ve made the country their home.

As we celebrate India’s 69th Republic Day, here’s a look at the lives of those who have made the country their home. Be it the ever-growing expat community residing in the Capital or the families of ambassadors, there are many who came, saw and fell in love.

VERONIQUE ZIEGLER

Veronique Ziegler says that for her, India’s youth embodies its coolness.

“For me, India’s dynamic youth, so open to the world, embodies its ‘coolness’. What strikes me is the interest young persons have shown every time I’ve had the opportunity to interact with them. I arrived 18 months ago, “ says Veronique Ziegler, wife of ambassador of France to India, Alexandre Ziegler.
“Being an avid photographer, I love train journeys across the country, capturing colours, moods, the sheer cultural diversity and moments of shared joy with welcoming people. It’s been absolutely amazing. As general secretary of Main Tendue Charity Action, which supports 11 Indian NGOs, I have very precious memories of my time spent with the children and women that these NGOs take care of. This year’s annual fundraising dinner for Main Tendue will take place as usual in March at the residence of the French Ambassador,” she says.

JENNIFER GRAHAM

For Jennifer Graham, the warmth of the people makes India a cool republic. (Raajessh Kashyap/HT Photo)

Jennifer Graham has called India home for three years, and has led and advised charitable organisations and supported fashion designers, particularly those who promote the use of crafts and textiles. Married to High Commissioner of Canada in India, Nadir Patel, she loves the amazing diversity of India and the warmth of its people . “India is a multi-faceted, inter-woven tapestry of people, religions, cultures, cuisine and geography, synthesising rich traditions with a modern India,” she says.

ALEX MOSER

Chef Alex Moser says experiences in India are very intense.

“I have been here for two years and the experience is very intense,” says German chef Alex Moser, adding, “The energy is so positive. Everyone is very welcoming.” Ask him what he thinks make the country a cool republic and pat comes the reply, “The diversity! The landscape, culture, food, traditions, and everything else is so unique! So much about this country is still undiscovered,” he says.

WILLIAM DALRYMPLE, AUTHOR

Author William Dalrymple fell in love with India pretty quickly. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

“I don’t regard myself as an expat; this has been my home for the past 35 years. I fell in love [with India] pretty quickly. It is the most wonderful country in the world. I arrived partly through an accident after another set of plans fell through. My friends, writers in London, complain about writer’s block, but here, I have got enough material for another nine lives. Every day, something wonderful happens. I love the food, beauty of the people, the landscape and the history. I hope to spend the rest of my life here,” he says.

VESNA JACOB, FITNESS EXPERT

Vesna Jacob loves the diversity that the country offers. (Shara Ashraf/HT Photo)

“Diversity is one of the most fascinating things about India —the effortless mix of old and new, traditional and modern. I’ve been here for 14 years now and this is my home. Coming from Bosnia, the country that has seen war and destruction and so many years later people still have not gotten over it, what fascinated me the most about India is it’s people and their capacity to love and forgive and move on. I think that is something very special,” says fitness expert Vesna Jacob. “Interestingly enough, I’ve always felt a connection to the country and wanted to visit, and the first time I came here I just felt this is where I was meant to be and there was something I needed to do here. There was a purpose to it...I fell head over heels and that love is still going strong,” she says.

YURIKO LOCHAN, ARTIST

Yuriko Lochan says India is an artist’s delight.

“India is a cool republic in terms of what she has as heritage. I have been living here for 30 years. I have to say this country is artist’s delight! You can see the whole evolution of art of mankind lively existing in India,” says Japan-born artist Yuriko Lochan. “From the time of hunting to agriculture, to industrialisation to internet... the remote island to rural village, regional cities to metropolis. In all ages and periods, the reflections are seen in art, visual culture, craft, literature and music and dance. You can still see the living examples in several parts of India. That makes this country where you can seek the ‘living wisdom’. The only thing is,we have to be intelligent and sensible enough to recognise the wisdom,” she adds.

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