Andre Ruche, Deputy Head of mission, Head of consular operations in Consulate of France in Bombay completed his four years tenure. He is recently transferred to French Embassy in Singapore. He enjoyed his stint in Mumbai and shared various experience. In candid chat with Award Winning Journalist Sitaram Mewati, held at The Sofitel hotel in Mumbai, prior to his departure to Singapore.
How was your tenure in Bombay?
Mumbai is very well known for its fast paced lifestyle and the citizens of Mumbai are believed to be the most active in the entire country. My tenure in Consulate of France in Bombay (Mumbai) was outstanding and enjoyed it thoroughly. We have good teams of staff whether they are French or Indians. The consulate office has a good work culture; everyone is proficient into their skills they are assigned to.
How did you find Mumbai?
There are many cities in the world that you go for work, to meet friends, family and sometimes just to explore them. But, there are some cities which leave a bigger impression and influence on your life; they teach you something which you’d never experience anywhere else. Mumbai is one of those cities which teaches you reality of life. Mumbai is a vibrant city; people from Mumbai are always smiling. They are helpful to foreigners and always at the forefront to guide them. Mumbai is like another International city which is open to welcome all with open arms.
What have you learnt from Mumbai city?
I have learnt patience in Mumbai city. Generally, people don’t turn up on time to scheduled appointments, but smilingly say sorry, at that point of time you can’t do anything but smile. I am not saying that they are intentionally late, they are late due to unavoidable circumstances and one of the foremost reasons is traffic jams. Initially I didn’t like it, but over a period of time I could realise that everyone wants to be on time but situations compel them to reach late.
Which is your favourite place in Mumbai?
I believe one should take time to get to know Mumbai, appreciate the city for what it has to offer. Every nook and corner of Mumbai is lively and worth visiting. It may sound weird but I liked “Chor Bazar” the most. I personally loved walking all around this market and exploring the small alleys, shops, and explored some hidden treasures. This market is in a conservative part of Mumbai. It is almost like Aladdin’s genie for lovers of art and artefacts. From antiques to new-age art deco cabinets, Chor Bazaar is definitely an antique hunter’s heaven.
Have you purchased anything from Chor Bazar?
I am fond of antique articles which attracted me to visit chor bazaar many a time. I have purchased many items that includes various statues, idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, Mahalaxmi, various wooden carving. I have also purchased few carpets of Rajasthan, many paintings, pictures and souvenirs. Whenever I will come to Mumbai, I can’t resist visiting Chor Bazar.
How about local shopping at affordable price?
You have too many options to pick your favourite piece of clothing, bags, footwear and what not! Fashion Street, Hill Road, Colaba Causeway and Linking Road are some of the ‘go to’ places in Mumbai. Unlike other cities, Mumbai gives you a chance to be at your stylish best without going broke.
How about Indian food?
The Indian food is more diverse than any other food in the world. It is spicy but I have developed liking for it, I don’t regret chilly. I prefer mutton over chicken. Indian dishes which I like are, Paneer Butter Masala, Tandoori Sheek Kabab and many more, which I don’t remember off hand. Even fruits and vegetables like cucumber and tomatoes are too good for salads.
Which is your favourite dish and where did you relish it?
Nalli Nihari served in ITC Maratha is my all time favourite dish. There are many dishes which I liked in various hotels in Mumbai but relishing Nalli Nihari gives me immense pleasure. I would never miss out to relish Nalli Nihari at ITC Maratha whenever I get an opportunity to visit this vibrant city.
How did you find Mumbai’s medical services?
Mumbai is one of the finest medical destinations for any kind of treatment. I am not exaggerating but sharing my personal experience. There are excellent professional and talented doctors available to take care of patients. I was impressed and surprised when my whole routine medical check up was ended in less than two and half hours in Lilavati hospital. Even the medical reports were handed over to me in few hours on same day. Beside Lilavati hospital I have also done several medical tests at Surya Hospital at Santacruz, where I found similar prompt and efficient experience. I must admit that both hospitals have very good panel doctors, are well equipped with most advanced machines. The charges of both hospitals are most reasonable. In France it is impossible to get so many medical tests done in single day, medical tests are time consuming and they are very expensive too.
How open is France government to Indian students?
France has always been a favourite destination for scientists, managers, engineers, thinkers, artists and writers from all over the world. It has a very special place for Indian students. Our country invites Indian students with open hands to take admissions to learn medicine, finances, engineering and other fields. In 2017, over 5, 500 Indian students and scientists chose France for pursuing higher education. The world’s sixth-largest economy, France is also the third most popular destination for international students.
Author: Sitaram Mewati
Award winning journalist