From Belarus, with love
Published: 29th August 2011 12:02 AM |
One look at Olga Rukhlenko tells you she’s a dancer. The grace and her expressive eyes are trademark Kalakshetra Foundation, where she has been learning Bharatanatyam for two years. It was a passion for dance, which has its roots in Belarus, Eastern Europe, that brought the 28-year-old to Chennai. She and husband Dmitry Rukhlenko, packed their bags and moved here for this four-year course.
Her first reaction to this city was, “I have seen few Bollywood movies. But when I reached here, I understood the luxury was exaggerated in the films. You can see extremes and that is shocking. Also, it is very hot and
She found everything about Chennai to be overwhelming — the crowd, sounds, people, flowers, animals, idols and movement, which is interspersed with constant chatter and yelling, a huge contrast to the quiet streets of Belarus. But she’s quick to add, “Such diversity you will never find anywhere.”
Her tryst with Indian food began long before her journey to Chennai. She experimented with Indian cooking back home, much to the chagrin of her husband, who gently told her it was not the best of ideas to make halwa, dal and biriyani. Olga loves dosas, parathas and paneer masala. Ask her if she can communicate in the local tongue — Tamil, she will tell you, “Punrinjitha?” (Did you understand?) and “Mudichacha?” (Have you finished?)
Rukhlenko narrates stories of being cheated by auto drivers and vendors. She finds it easier to travel on her bicycle and sticks to fixed price provision stores. She describes her experience in Chennai, “When I think I have learned something from every situation here, the next one teaches me that I haven’t learned everything,” she laughs, remembering trouble with finding a house, dealing with brokers, finding dead rats and worms in their water tank and trying to haggle with vendors unsuccessfully.
The couple has done a fair bit of travelling as well by exploring Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Rukhlenko wants to go back to Belarus after completing her course to teach yoga and dance. She believes the rhythm, music and stories behind the dance forms in both countries are very different and she needs to teach it in a way that will appeal to Belarusians.