Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interview # 9: Lopa Mehta

Today a sweet blogger and multi talented young woman who came from a country that fascinates and intrigues us all: India. I have talked to Lopa Mehta in the virtual world and here is what she has to share with us:

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your blogs.

I am a Project Controller in the oil, gas & petrochemical sector of a company in the Rotterdam area. And I am in Netherlands since June 2008, so it will be 2 years now.

Blogging is a way to share my passion towards life to all the people around. When moved here in 2008, after initial excitement started missing family and friends who were no more at "a stone thrown away"distance. That resulted in a search for a medium to vent it out and blogging came out as a perfect one.
I have three blogs right now. One is my personal blog in which I write about day to day events whatever struck me, some thing I experience or something I come across and sometimes just sharing the thought process. Another is my painting blog where I share my passion for painting. I am trying to consolidate all the work I have done until my school days and continue sharing. Third one is on cooking. It is not impossible but still a bit difficult to be vegetarian in Europe which I had never realised can be the case until we moved here. I keep looking for different things to try my hands at and during one of those moments it struck me "why not to document it in a proper way?" Then it will be useful to myself in future when I want to re-try something I had tried for the first time with trial and error and loved it...hehehe

In India we have a tradition on putting henna before wedding...there is a pic of my henna design before my own wedding.

And why the NL ? Love or work ?

Let’s say: both, hahaha ! Actually, because of my husband’s work. He had been traveling to Netherlands on and off for various projects. Too much travelling didn't allow us to spend as much time together as much we would like. After our marriage in 2008, we decided to accept the offer to move here in stead of continuous traveling so that we can enjoy the new phase of our life with more time with each other. So that's love and work that we are here.
Above: Lopa and Ashu during their wedding day.
Below: after marriage reception.
Indian weddings are very bright events, which lasts traditionally for 5 days but nowadays it can be more or less depending on how one wants it. Celebrations last for days.... music, dance, good food... you are bound to put on considerable weight in wedding season and which is normal in India.
Our wedding ceremonies are traditionally conducted in Sanskrit, the language in which most holy Hindu ceremonies are conducted, but now a days it is mixed with local language for better understanding for people involved. (We learn the language in school, but it is not practiced in routine life and so most of us don't understand it all, like my Dutch ! )
There are so many rituals that if write about all it will take a long post (may be several posts) and also rituals vary with different states of India. For different rituals from the part of India I am from:
here !

We compacted pre-wedding ceremonies in one day in stead of 3 days and had a after-marriage party for all the friends and a marriage reception for all the relatives by my parents. (For which they distributed 1500 invitation cards, and we were standing greeting everyone for more than 3-4 hours, so tiring...hehe) So in the end it tuned out 4 days affair even after all the compactness !
(Some more links on Indian weddings? Click
here and here and here.)

What surprised you most when you arrived In Holland?

There isn't anything particular which strikes me as a surprise, considering my love for reading and also global excess through media. But... yes, the first thing that struck me after moving here was that it is so beautiful ! I loved the way we can experience the four seasons here, in India we never noticed spring or autumn the way it paints everything here. When we used to walk in the evening we would see those wonderful colors, flowers and houses at canals and people sitting beside it in their yards enjoying sun, we used to think we would like to have a house like that one day and it was a dream come true when we got one !

Have you lived out of India before moving to the NL ? Have you had a cultural shock in the NL ?
No, I haven't lived out of India before moving to the NL. But if you consider India, every state has a different culture and different language. So idea of totally different culture and unknown language wasn't that frightening. I didn't have a cultural shock in that regard but yes I had to make some adjustments in new surrounding. One is weather, never faced such short and even long days ! Then Language, it's one of those difficult languages which one might start understanding over the time but still takes lots of practice to speak and pronounce correctly, something I am still struggling with.

How do you cook here ? Can you find all of your favorite ingredients ?
To be honest there isn't much comparison here, as I hardly cooked back home. It was only after moving here I started realizing passion for cooking which I hold. So my cooking is more like a fusion cooking with whatever available. But, yes - at times we get craving for that typical food we used to eat back home and which is not possible here to get even in Indian restaurant ( which I will say not very much Indian. In a way, it is a bit of customised taste to suit European tastebuds), in that case we get almost all the ingredients from Indian stores. But still sometimes it's impossible to ignore the bit of difference which spices bring... like same spices if we buy here and we buy back home, they are different. There are so many spices those are used in Indian cuisine ( ) and I was delighted that we could find almost everything here but still i prefer some spices which I feel noticeable difference in taste from back home, sometimes mom parcels them and always when we go India, we bring with us.
Above: a vegetarian main course... that's probably what you will eat if you come to my place for a party ... some Indian food.

What do you like most about your "Dutch life" ?

What I love most of this "Dutch life" is balance ! Balance between professional and personal life. The way everyone understands the fact that "You work to live and don't live to work". It is expected that family will always be first priority for everyone. Also the fact I have more time for my hobbies and I am able to pursue so many things I have always wanted. The Dutch are very friendly people and I have found them always very helpful.
Being vegetarian I have not had much luck with the Dutch cuisine. In fact whenever we are out dining it was always a surprise to see all the international cuisines and hardly a few restaurants serving only Dutch cuisine. I like peasoup - the vegetarian version of course - applepies, different vlaais and also potato Bram (frites) if you call it part of Dutch cuisine. I will consider it as I was never a fan od fries and I normally avoided it, but once I had them here with mayo, I crave for more whenever I come across them. They are fresh and different than all the French fries available anywhere else in the world.
Above and below: pics of Navratri ( nav = nine, ratri = nights), that is an Indian festival in which people dress in traditional dresses and do traditional dance for nine nights... That's a pic of me and my brother, ready for the festival and other pic is my sis with her friends in the open grounds enjoying the festival.

What do you miss the most from your homeland ?

Family, friends, food, sun, language :)
And also culture of no appointment any time for friends... hehehe

What have you learned about yourself after living here in the NL ?

Lots of things. I understand more the uniqueness of every culture, I understand how all the different cultures can prevail side by side in harmony.
I appreciate people putting efforts in learning something new more than ever now. When I hear some funny pronunciations from a foreigner it is no more a bit funny but it strikes me more clearly now that it only means their edge over us, that they know one more language than us !
I also learned my potential to manage issues, to learn new things, to adopt new habits.

Above: Rangoli... that's designs people make in front of their house on new year... this design was made by me and my sis during my last diwali back home.

Next pics: some touristical places Lopa would like to share with us. I would like to add that all photos and links in this post were provided by Lopa herself. Thanks a lot Lopa !! And also big thanks to Ashu for pemitting me to post here their wedding photos.

Above: Khajuraho Temple. Check info here.

Above: Orchha. More here.

Above: Banaras ("Varanasi"). Probably the oldest city of India.

Above, Dwarka city: Indian God Shiva

Above: balloon flight, in Rotterdam. Woohoo, bye guys !!


A Touch of Dutch said...

Wow, what a lovely post! Beautiful photos! It's been so nice getting to know more about each other, so thank you for sharing & having her share in this way :-)

~ Lopa said...

Awwww Anita.... thanks a lot for the interview once again. I loved reading it once again... It was fun reading it as Ashu didn't know about whole post and we read it together right now. Thanks from both of us :o)

EfruTik said...

Thank you Anita for interviewing Lopa! I am going to comeback to read the post tomorrow as my night is busy with visiting my cousin at the moment. The pictures look lovely and I am bound to comeback read and find out more about my lovely friend Lopa.

Cheers :)

Achados de uma Perdida said...

Adorei essa tag de entrevistas!!! Super interessante a cultura indiana e a visao dela sobre "Dutch life",

Lu_Russa said...

Parabéns pelo post !!!

Well, as fotos são lindas, a cultura Indiana é muito rica, muito tradicional referente aos rituais, como o de casamento que vc mostra aqui no blog, mas...

Teve uma época q eu queria visitar a India e tal, mas já faz um tempo que a vontade passou, nem sei te dizer especificamente o por quê disso.

É realmente uma cultura muito diferente da cultura ocidental, e te digo uma coisa , tenho um amigo da India que acaba de se casar "forçado" - estava prometido com essa menina desde quando nasceu, e ele vive na Europa fazendo mil viagens e traindo sua esposa feito doido. Do que adianta casar sem amor ?

bjão !!


Anita said...

Ue'... Mas tb nao tem os que casam por amor e ainda assim aprontam mil e uma ?

~ Lopa said...

Hi...Thanks everyone for the nice words :o)

I don't understand comments in Portuguese here, but i think it is about Indian weddings.

I get that question quite often, about arrange marriages. Honestly i knew i was never going to be a part of that tradition and so did my parents... So it was easy for me... 4 years of dating and then wedding....but yes still it's there, custom of arrange marriage (which are not forced normally, wherever it is, i will say it's social nuisance ) and once you live there you don't find it weird being there as it comes automatically as a traditional thing, you have grown up seeing that and when all do that, noone even thinks that is not okay or not natural.
More so because Indian culture is more about families and so whenever there is a wedding it's not two people getting married, but it is two families getting married and marriage is considered a life-long commitment.

And yes i agree, there is a lots of difference in Indian culture and western culture. (Which won't be that noticeable in metro cities, but very clear in rural areas) But i guess that is culture which makes every country unique.

Anita said...

I think it was arranged that Lex would meet Max in that Sevillan party. I think it was calculated. And you know what ? I think they love each other and the marriage goes very well, thank you.

Gabriela Andrade said...

Olá Anita, obrigada por me seguir =)
seu blog está fantastico, sempre venho nele pra dar uma olhadinha =)
e gostei desse post sobre a cultura indiana! moro em Groningen a 1 ano, você está em que lugar aqui na Holanda?

Anita said...

Oi G.
Me manda um emeuzinho esperto.
Nao encontrei o seu no seu perfil.

Life Begins said...

That's a beautiful and well written post Lopa :)
So nice to know so much more about you through this.
And that's very sweet of you Anita to have an interview like this.
Simply Lovely!!

sm said...

lovely post
like the photos

Presépio no Canal said...

This is the second time that I come to this post. It is so beautiful and rich of details and information, and specially over love and passion for life.
Thank you so much for this sharing! The photos are ESPECTACULARES ( onde more portuguese word, Lopa), amazing fotos!!! De cultuur, de words!!no words!!
Thank you too, Anita!
Ah, what a beautiful bride!
Beijinhos ;-)


Very nice interview! Great job, anita!