I have lived in many cities like New York, Doha and Paris but gets the real joy when I eat ‘Missi Roti’ and ‘Lassi’ a symbol of Haryanvi cuisines. We may proceed to any culture but we always remember ‘Janani’ and ‘Janambhoomi’ are our real paradise.
Sat Singh (email@example.com)
HF: Tell me something about yourself or introduce yourself?
Savita: I am Savita Jakhar, France based Contemporary artist and Educator hailing from a small village in Haryana. In the years gone by, I have produced countless works for Art Galleries , agencies, corporations, institutions and as private commissions. I have exhibited my work at numerous art galleries in different countries and other cultural institutions.
I also participated in several educational programmes, presenting my work in many schools, libraries and various cultural organisations. My Artwork has been featured in Magazines and as book cover. I am an artist with experience of working in India, France and Qatar and the US. My artistic work extends to Painting, Prints, Installation, Sculpture, Murals, Ceramics, Fibreglass, Metals and Crafts encompassing virtually every artistic genre.
HF: Your story of immigration?
Savita: Neither myself not my husband initially wanted to immigrate out of India. Consequently I joined the job of an Arts teacher in Navodaya Vidyalaya & subsequently in DAV Public School.
My husband joined a job in a France based Multi National Company and he had to visit the head office of the company at various occasions. I wanted to pursue my Phd from Mexico with a scholarship, but my husband ultimately posted in Paris & myself and my daughter had to shift to Paris after resigning the teacher’s job in India. But more opportunities were waiting for me to exhibit my skills in the field of Art & Painting in Paris.
HF: The building of a new life on a new land?
Savita: As both me and my husband were good at Hindi and English but we had to face a major challenge to learn a workable French. In starting we faced many problems in conversation, reading & writing French. But as we belong to a hard-working farming community we toiled hard and soon became conversant with this foreign language. I was surprised that it was very easy for my daughter, she picked up the language within a couple of months, it’s easy for kids to learn multiple languages.
French is the only medium of instruction in schools. In this way they had to cope up with three languages at the same time.
But a better environment and cooperative & helpful nature of European people helped us in solving many problems at various occasions. Yet memories of Haryanvi culture always haunted us time and again.
HF: Explain connection with the native Culture and how do you connect via social media or other media?
Savita: It is natural & rather impossible to forget one’s own cultural roots but it has become easy to remain connected with family and friends via social media and due to this we were able to keep our relations alive with parents, relatives and friends in Haryana.
Nobody can deny the powerful role played by social media nowadays in connecting peoples of the same culture. So I created a facebook account so that I can be contacted with family members, relatives & other people in our country.
Lately due to social media we were able to celebrate the ‘Teej’ festival in Paris.
HF: How do you balance two cultures-Native culture and Adopted Culture?
Savita : Unlike the US and UK there are negligible Indian families (esp Haryanvi/Punjabi families) living in Paris. Although some Sri Lankan & South Indian families (From Pondicherry) were there but cultural bonds were different.
So we had to celebrate all the festivals alone or with only some selected European close friends.
But basic cultural things cannot be forgotten. For example eating rice with ‘Ghee’ and ‘Boora’ with hands instead with spoon & fork. The french culture was a big shock for me in the beginning years as people here have a tradition of greeting here with a peck on the cheek. It took me some time to adjust and strike a balance in the french culture but now I can say with pride that I am among the finest souls on the world map.
HF: How do you celebrate your native culture, name of festivals and other occasions on foreign land?
Savita: We celebrate Diwali, Teej and Holi festivals and invite our Indian friends as well as French friends. Interestingly French people take a keen interest in the way we celebrate festivals & like our sweets & other eatables we prepare on these occasions. Like Christmas we also start preparations of Diwali festivals many days in advance. As Christmas is the main festival in Europe we celebrate that too.
HF: Are you educating your coming generation about culture and
language and heritage? Please explain.
Savita: Our own language is an inseparable part of our daily routine which is spoken and understood by our children fluently. The culture and heritage is also understood by them when we see old Hindi/Haryanvi movies and listen to songs of these movies. These are also equally seen & listened to by our children along with their French serials.
There are few institutions that impart education of Indian classical dance & our children also want to learn classical Indian dance. My daughter also attended these dance classes.
HF: How often do you cook native cuisines and do you share it with others?
Savita: Native cuisines are very much liked by us & by children. Beside festivals and birthdays we also prepare these on weekends & holiday trips.
Indian sweets and eatables like ‘Gulab Jamun’, ‘Halwa’, ‘Kheer’ and ‘Pakoda’ are favourite foods of our children. We also invite our French friends on these occasions for which they praise these with open heart but French people do not like chillies and too spicy food, so I cook accordingly.
HF: Anything you want to tell us more?
Savita: Living on a foreign land is full of struggles & challenges and no goals are achieved without strong will power and hard work.
Some people think that the US and Europe are paradise to live in but I think it’s like a myth. We have to face numerous problems and have to do hard work to overcome these.