Projekt Nina English má mezinárodní přesah a velkou část mé klientely tvoří ženy. Proto ve chvíli, kdy jsem se chystala překopat svůj web, bylo mým velkým přáním spolupracovat s někým ze zahraničí, nejlépe se ženou. Avneet Jirman, Indka, která se provdala za Čecha a před pár lety se za ním přestěhovala do Brna, byla proto takovým malým zjevením. Během těch několika měsíců, kdy jsme s Avneet a jejím týmem web tvořili, mi došlo, že spolupracuju s velmi výjimečným člověkem. A tak jsem se rozhodla první článek na mém blogu věnovat právě jí.
Avneet by ještě nezvládla tak rozsáhlý rozhovor česky, proto teď, prosím, přepněte do angličtiny.
Hi Avneet, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself? Who is Avneet?
I’m a self-driven woman, an entrepreneur and now a new mom who is enjoying life, learning to balance all these three aspects of myself.
Have you ever lived abroad?
I’ve travelled a lot and lived for short durations abroad, couple of months here and there. Brno though is the only other place I’d call home after Chandigarh, India.
What did you do before moving to Brno?
Before moving to Brno, I was living and working in Chandigarh – a city I love. In 2005 I co-founded CueBlocks there, a web design and development agency, with two of my best friends. That, along with traveling and meeting people from different parts of the world, had been my life and passion till I moved to Brno.
How long ago and why did you move to Brno?
I moved to Brno in second half of year 2014. I got married in 2013 to a Czech fella who loves Brno so if it was anywhere we were going to stay in the Czech Republic, which we decided to do for a while, it was going to be Brno.
What do you do here in Brno?
I’m a working mom of one (with the second on the way). I work remotely for CueBlocks.com India office and run the branch office here. I also help manage Ovegano, a vegan bistro that recently opened up on Zelný Trh 14, in Brno.
How different is your life here from the life in India?
It is difficult to compare for me because of the city I come from. For example, Brno has amazing public transport infrastructure compared to Chandigarh but in Chandigarh it is super convenient to travel by car and find parking! Even though we are 1 million of us in the city, you can still find parking, but not in Brno! More people in my city speak English than they do here. So I’d say travelers will probably find it easier to communicate and get by in Chandigarh than they would in Brno. Personally, my life here is quite different considering I have totally different responsibilities now. Life is slightly quieter here. In India my life revolved a lot around my work, travel and my dog.
You are now a part of a multicultural family. How do you all deal with the cultural differences?
I’d say it is easier because of my background. I come from a family that is well-travelled, open-minded and accepting. In college, I was part of an international student organization that conducts exchange programs, which exposed me to different cultures. As a company, we have been largely multicultural and always had people from 3-4 nationalities working together under one roof. We feel such an environment is super healthy and creative. Also my work related travels have resulted in frequent interactions with people from different nationalities.
When we got married, I think we just merged our cultures as well. Our families and friends have been super enthusiastic and mutually accepting of both cultures. From food to clothes to certain celebrations and rituals, both families have enthusiastically participated. If at all, there are only two very amusing differences that stand out. I’m from a Punjabi family and we love to talk, and talk loudly; and also love to give gifts. On the other hand, my Czech family is very soft spoken and is not very comfortable receiving gifts, especially when there is no occasion as such. A few times I had to reassure my Czech family that we weren’t fighting with each other, just talking loudly . And we had to calm my Indian family and get them to cut down on all the presents and gift giving.
How is your Czech? Is Czech necessary to get by in Brno?
I can speak A2+ level Czech. I understand that it is not great considering I’ve been living here for almost 4 years now but I just haven’t had the time to further my Czech language lessons. I think Czech is necessary to live in Brno. Even if it is just A2 like mine because a lot of offices (for example post office, place where you apply for driving license etc), hospitals and emergency services will not be able fully assist because of language barrier. I gave birth here in Brno and while the doctors spoke English, many nurses didn’t and I really did wish I’d spent more time learning the language. It definitely helps to have basics in place.
Do people speak enough English so that foreigners can feel good here? What could improve?
It would make life super easy for foreigners and bring more business and travellers to the city if people spoke enough English.
However, I don’t think people should speak English to make foreigners feel good. I think it is the foreigner’s responsibility to learn the language if they are going to travel to a country that doesn’t have English as native language.
I feel that to be part of the international community, the city people might want to invest in themselves and learn the most spoken language in the world. There is so much to learn from people from different cultures. You can’t do that if language is going to be a barrier. Knowing English would open so many doors for the locals – it’ll make traveling easier, provide more job opportunities, bring in more business and travellers to the city.
How do you feel in Brno as a foreigner in general?
Safe, happy, welcomed and I can finally say, at home 🙂
Do you have any Czech girlfriends? Are there any differences between Czech and Indian women?
I have lots of Czech girlfriends and they are super amazing. I have girlfriends from all over the world and apart from skin color, I would say we differ only in personalities which would be true for any two people, even from the same country.
I feel that Czech women think more independently than women do in India. Indian women are still in the process of learning to break away from socio-cultural expectations in order to put themselves first.
Would you like to tell Czech people anything about Indians that we don’t know about?
India is very diverse though there is way too much stereotyping. Our cultures, food, language, skin color, topography etc everything changes every few hundred kilometres. We co-exist happily even though we might believe in different religions and yes we celebrate all religious festivals! India doesn’t equal spices, snakes, elephants and yoga, though we love our spices, snakes, elephants and yoga ;).
Tell us more about your new bistro Ovegano, please. I am a big fan of your food and would love to spread the information about it!
Ovegano is the result of passion for food and cooking. Everyone knows plant based food is good for health, for the Earth and the environment but it is not easy to make the switch. Food brings people together and we use it not only to keep ourselves fed but for socialising, celebrating and sometimes to make ourselves feel good. When food tastes good, can keep hunger away, bring friends together and tingle your tastebuds, you don’t care whether it has diary, eggs or meat in it. Ovegano’s focus is just that. To help you make delicious (albeit plant based) choices, one meal at a time. And it feels great on days when people come back and are surprised when we tell them that the waffles or pancakes or the meal they just ate was meat, diary and egg free. And to hear them say, ‘wow, that was great and I would definitely come back for it.’ or ‘I’m definitely going to try it at home, I didn’t think it could be done without eggs/diary/meat’; brings us so much joy.
Are you satisfied with the offer of bistros and restaurants in Brno? What is missing?
Brno has lots of cafes and bars and not much diversity when it comes to the kind of food being served. So many Indian restaurants and I still can’t find proper south or east Indian food or food from so many other countries. There is a lot of opportunity and I feel people are hungry for diversity as well.
Which 3 places in Brno would you recommend for dinner? And for an afternoon snack?
La Strada (Italian), Go (Vietnamese) and Die Kuchie for dinner. Afternoon snack I’d suggest Ovegano 🙂 or café Skog.
I know you support equality in the workplace. Can you tell us more about it? What is the situation in India and in your Indian company?
I firmly believe talent is gender blind and because of that, so am I. I love surrounding myself with talented people and it is no different for me back in India. Women just need to shed the need to fit into the box that society seems to have created and go for what they truly love to do. My tech lead is a woman and so are many of the designers and developers.
What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to stay and raise your kids here?
For now, Brno is home. I would love for my kids to be able to travel a lot and live in a very multicultural and accepting environment. I’m hoping Brno will grow as a city into the same and Czech Republic as a country will move forward and not backwards. That will definitely affect our future plans.
Do you have any message for women who are learning English with us?
This language will take you to places! If it wasn’t for English, I wouldn’t have met some of the most amazing people who are now my lifetime friends, or my life partner, who I am head over heels in love with. English will allow you to travel more comfortably to different parts of the world, interact with people of different cultures and ask them questions and get answers that will open your mind and heart. Learn it because it is bringing the world closer and will definitely enrich your life. And what better way than to be able to do it without books!
Thank you so much, Avneet, for the interview, the patience you and your team had with my ideas for this website, and for all the support. I wish you all the best!