Hers is not a typical case of how she always dreamt of coming to India and one day she packed her bags and landed here. “Mine is a very boring story. I was born in India. Spent my childhood in Southern Kerala and was then sent to U.K. to complete my studies. Luckily enough, there I met my future husband, an Indian, came back, got married in Mysore,” says Christine E. Rai, sitting in Zaza Home, an upmarket home décor-cum-lifestyle store in Zamrudpur Community Complex.
Her father came to work for a coffee plantation in Kerala as was the norm since most of the plantations were owned by British. Post Foreign Exchange Regulation Act which was enacted in 1976 by Indira Gandhi government, much of the staff returned but Christine’s father decided to stay on. “Since we spent all our childhood here, when we went there for our studies or even during holidays, my sister and I felt like outsiders. We didn’t know how to use a telephone, we didn’t know how to catch a bus. Living by countryside, we didn’t have a television. Our pop-music knowledge was zilch and in the UK if at the age of 14 you don’t know anything about pop-music, it’s a big disaster. Our fashion sense was bad,” says Christine laughing.
The gap that existed between the two countries then was far too wide but still wanted to come back for it was here that she felt at home. So after staying there for 12 years to finish her higher education, in 1985, Christine returned to India and got married. “But even if I hadn’t got married to an Indian, I would have still found a way to come back. Good, bad?something keeps happening here. Unlike most countries, you have a lot of scope and freedom to do things. Small things done by you can make a big difference to somebody’s life here,” feels Christine.
That to an extent has been achieved by the export company IndianInc that she runs along with her husband Aman Rai. Products of rare craftsmanship and exemplary skills are exported giving exposure to the crafts and the people behind them. While exporting these beautiful objects d’art all these years, Christine felt the dearth of those very products back home. And that’s when she started Zaza Home a year ago. “We are now going to start a café which would be a great place to connect with our neighbouring offices. We have 40 corporate offices here and we don’t know each other. It would be great to do some community building,” she says enthusiastically.