Skip to main content

The Punekar - In Conversation with Benedicte Le Bris

This was my first published work for The Punekar. This website is a great resource for someone new to Pune and just about anyone who wants to make the most of their time in this lovely little city!

I met Benedicte through some official work and we kept in touch. Her unassuming nature and simplicity is quite enduring and I really enjoyed presenting her story of settling into Pune being an expat. Hope you enjoy the read. Here is the link: http://www.thepunekar.com/in-conversation-with-benedicte-le-bris/2014/09/


kurta over denims. That is not what I expected to see a French lady wearing when she walked into the cafĂ© for our tete-a-tete. Say Hello to Benedicte Le Bris; simple-looking, comfortable in her skin, and blending in with the crowd – she is an atypical expat. Originally from Plaisir, a small suburban town, a 40-minute train journey from Paris, Benedicte’s tryst with Pune began in 2013 when she accompanied her husband, a Maharashtrian, to Pune from London to set up his own business.
Fate brought together the couple in Shanghai where they worked in the same restaurant. Work then took them to London for five years. Moving from the bustling cosmopolitan city to Pune was something Benedicte never imagined would transpire. “No way!” she exclaimed when her husband first proposed the idea of shifting base to Pune back in 2010. Two years of consistent convincing and a post graduate degree later, Benedicte finally prepared herself for a new and different life.
It was a culture shock!” she explained when I asked her about her initial reaction to life in Pune. Having lived in different parts of the world (Australia, Shanghai and London), Pune was an entirely new experience for her. I was overwhelmed – I didn’t take too well to the weather and spicy food.” One accustomed to starting a new life, Benedicte did not come to Pune with preconceived notions. “My exposure to India was very limited; also I had never seen any Bollywood movies; in a sense, I only found out about India and Pune through my husband…but yes, I was aware of the typical cows-on-the-road stereotypes associated with the country!”
Benedicte Le Bris03Thankfully for her, settling down in Pune was not very arduous. For one, she did not face a language barrier. Even though she could not speak Hindi or Marathi, she got by comfortably. In her initial days in the city, she frequented The Cultural Centre (TCC) in Mundhwa and got involved with recreational activities at InterNations. This helped her foster new friendships with both the locals and fellow French expats. She did not find it difficult to bag a job either. Benedicte has been working with Virasat Pune, using her time and energy towards promoting the heritage and culture of Pune. As a non-local, her passion for another city’s past, present and future is quite remarkable. “On a personal level, it is very enriching to learn something new; I enjoy understanding new cultures and observing human behaviour”, she shared.
Benedicte has nurtured a soft spot for Pune – dotted with old structures, she finds the peth areas visually stunning; enjoys the tranquility of Deccan with its parks and proximity to the hills; and fancies the cosmopolitan streak of Camp. She reminisces about Paris at the sight of the Mula-Mutha rivers – “there’s something very Paris about the locals gazing at the changing colours of the river while the sun sets.”
Her regret if she ever bids adieu to Pune is that she never pursued learning Marathi – a reason she believes she has missed out on fully exploring the depths of Pune’s culture, particularly Marathi theatre. Not much of a foodie, she would miss the modaks but certainly not the spicy misal!

Popular posts from this blog

INSIDE THE GO CHEESE FACTORY

Last weekend, I got a unique opportunity to visit Gowardhan Cheese Factory in Manchar district, a good two hour drive from Pune city. The owning home-grown company Parag Milk Foods brand portfolio includes Gowardhan and GO boasting of a range of dairy products that have been retailed across Mumbai and Pune over the last decade. I first started using their yoghurt when the local kirana store ran out of my usual preference of Amul, Danone and Britannia. One spoon of it and I instantly found it so fresh, light and 'unprocessed'.
I have always loved cheese but now I even prefer it over chocolate. So when I was scheduled to visit the GO factory, it bore semblance to winning the golden ticket and entering glistening gates to its factory much like the popular Roald Dahl's Charlie. Except that it was not all that dramatic! 

Shashi Tharoor's 'An Era of Darkness' Illustrates the Rapacity of the British Raj in India

It was August 15, 2016, I was having lunch with someone. Gazing at the news on the television screen behind me, she asked, "It's India's Independence Day today! Independence from whom?" Independence from the British, I answered, shocked. Shocked, because this someone in question was British and she had not a clue about the crimes of her country's colonial past.  Like millions of Indians and non-Indians, I was left aghast and despondent when I heard the viral Shashi Tharoor Oxford Union debate (if you haven't seen it yet, you've been living under a HUGE rock, and I suggest you watch it before you proceed to read the remainder of this blog). Tharoor in all his articulate and intellectual glory spoke in motion for Britain owing reparations to her former colonies. Tharoor's well-researched facts on the brutality of British rule in India for over two centuries left me astounded, and a sense of shame dawned on me - I knew so little about my country's p…

10 Ways to Ditch that Drastic Plastic - An #EarthDay Appeal

Did you know...
...Plastic waste takes anywhere between 500-1000 years to degrade.
...50% of the plastic we consume is single-use plastic.
...Only a very small percentage of the tons of plastic that is produced ever gets recycled; most of it ends up in our oceans.

That plastic is detrimental to our planet and is already encroaching into our food chain is common knowledge. But have we done much to reduce our contribution to the trash? Despite more and more people becoming aware about the adversities of plastic pollution, so few actually do anything to reduce their plastic consumption. I think thewar we are waging is against habit. That old darn habit. Walk into the supermarket, walk out with a can of soda...in a plastic bag... habit. That old darn habit.

The other hurdle that companies like Avani (founded by an entrepreneur from Bali) are trying to cross is the cost factor. "The cost of biodegradable cutlery is about 30% higher and that is the single biggest challenge for operator…