Of Bharatnatyam, Bollywood and Bangalore - in Belarus

Vijay Satokar

Minsk (Belarus), Aug 31 (PTI) As many of the residents of this Belarusian capital head for their dachas on weekends, a group of girls, young and not so young prefer to stay back home and head in the evenings for a special class that would help them achieve their dreams- to learn the classical Indian dances.

The teacher is not Indian but a Belarusian.

For many in this tiny country which was known as Silicon Valley of the earstwhile Soviet Union, India has always been a mystery. They avidly watched Hindi movies that were received, dubbed in Russian, from Moscow. None, however, dreamt of visiting India.

The meagre incomes just didn't permit the luxury of foreign travel. Things, however, changed after Belarus became independent in 1992. More of India can be seen- thanks to the exhibitions of Indian goods - sarees, shawls, handicrafts and apparel that are being held regularly. An ISCON temple too has opened and aroused interest among many in th is former communist culture. New avenues have opened up.

Tiny advertisements in the city's buses featuring the Taj Mahal are enough to drive hoards of Belarusian girls to the exhibitions that he has been organising for the past few years says Navin Kohli. Settled in Minsk for over a decade, Navin has married a Belarusian girl. Business is good, he says as he directs his sales staff to look after the customers in the exhibition that has Indian consumer goods for sale.

Their natural inclination towards technology has drawn the Belorusians towards Bangalore. As many Soviet day statues and street names remain unchanged, a busy traffic junction and a huge park in the capital have been named after Bangalore which was made a sister city by Minsk. PTI



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