People Arnila Gunaratne loves the mini-world that Bangalore holds in all its warmth
“I think the education part of the city is just an excuse for me to come and live here,” laughs Sri Lankan expat Arnila Gunaratne who has been living on and off in Bangalore for about six years now. She first came to Bangalore from Colombo to do her undergraduate studies, after which she completed her Masters in English literature, and is now pursuing her M.Phil, which she hopes to finish sometime this year. She adds: “But with my track record of living here, I will probably continue with my PhD as well and then I just might find something else to study! I am thinking of teaching here.”
Arnila first visited the city in 2003 for her college admissions. “The first thing that struck me was the weather. I come from a place with an extremely tropical climate and I couldn't believe that it could be so cool in August here. By October the weather was pleasant and things were much slower than today,” she observes.
Pace of life
Ask her about the ways in which Bangalore has changed and the young expat responds: “Apart from the weather, the pace of life here has changed. People had time to do aimless things, like sit on a sidewalk for a chat with a stranger, but now, I think that charm has started to slink away. People are always busy now and it seems as though they all have places to be in and people to meet. The traffic and roads are also chaotic.”
What appeals to her the most about this place, Arnila believes, is “definitely the people of the city. For me it is a continuous love affair with all the people in Bangalore. Not only is India a country so colourful, the people are too. They are so talented and have so much to offer. It is the people who make Bangalore what it is. I also love that there is so much to do in the city. From the second-hand book shops to juice bars, there is something to do for everyone, even for those with the smallest wallet. Bangalore makes it possible to enjoy almost anything. I also love the ‘Vasanth Habba' and ‘Bangalore Habba'. The all-embracing attitude is amazing.”
In her free time, Arnila enjoys the quaint second-hand bookshops. “I also love roaming about in Chickpet and other local markets, because they are thriving with energy and there are different rules of the jungle there! Of course I still have not completely discovered Bangalore and that's probably another aspect which keeps me enthralled.”
“I like the music scene around here, so whenever there is local talent I try to drop by. I also enjoy shopping and the multitude of restaurants and bars that keep cropping up and disappearing just as fast. I love the warmth of the city, despite its persistent coolness,” she opines.
On the flipside, this Sri Lankan expat says she dislikes the autos here and how people drive. “The sheer disregard for traffic rules is appalling. I am getting concerned about how the roads are being affected with all the building projects that are on. Mostly the hustle and bustle is nice, but sometimes it just gets beyond me.”
Despite the downside, what makes Bangalore a good place for expats to settle? “It has so many people from so many places, that it's become a mini home to everyone. The people are welcoming and warm, and accepting of almost anything,” she concludes.
For me it is a continuous love affair with all the people in Bangalore