Anal Nayak – To Paris And Beyond!

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Within the framework of the 80th Anniversary Celebrations of Alliance Française de Bombay, the organisation had organised the Win a Trip to Paris writing competition. Anal Nayak, a B1 Student of the institute, walked away with the Grand Prize of the Jury – a return ticket to Paris ! Given below is an interview with him :

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello! My name is Anal and I am an Engineer and MBA by qualification. Currently, I work in the domain of Finance. I was born in Mumbai but grew up in Bhopal where I completed my graduation. I worked in ICICI Bank (Mumbai) for almost ten years in Real Estate Finance and Risk Management. Since the past year, I have been associated with the Investment Trust of India Group where I handle credit for the Affordable Housing Sector and Alternative Investments, especially in the Warehousing Segment.

Anal Nayak, the winner of the 'Win a Trip to Paris' Writing Competition organised by AF Bombay, at (L to R) the Monument of Leadership near Utah Beach (Normandy), at the Eiffel Tower (Paris), and at Disneyland (Paris)

Anal Nayak, the winner of the ‘Win a Trip to Paris’ Writing Competition organised by AF Bombay, and his wife at (L to R) the Monument of Leadership near Utah Beach (Normandy), the Eiffel Tower (Paris), and Disneyland (Paris)

Why did you choose to learn French at Alliance Française de Bombay?

I wanted to learn French for a long time but could not start due to various reasons. However, two years back, I finally decided to take the plunge and enrolled at AF Bombay. For me, the choice of Alliance Française was obvious as some of my friends and acquaintances had studied the language at Alliance Française de Bhopal. I remembered that they were always full of praise for the teachers and the pedagogy.

At AF Bombay, thanks to the innovative methods of teaching coupled with qualified professors who are genuinely concerned in the progress of every student, I fell in love with the entire process of learning the language. In addition to classroom learning, the opportunity to participate in various cultural activities enabled me to discover, understand, and experience a culture which is rich in history, heritage, art, literature, gastronomy, cinema, and music.

Can you tell us a bit about your submission for the competition i.e. the poem Un fantôme à Bombay?

The theme of the contest was Mumbai – 80 years ago, today, and 80 years in the future. I decided to ‘present’ our city through the eyes of a ghost who had initially visited Mumbai 80 years back as a living being. In the poem, he revisits the city in the current day but as a ghost. Being the city of my birth, Mumbai has always held a special position in my heart. But the everyday problems of a Mumbaikar weigh heavily on us and this is what I tried to highlight in my poem – the fact that the challenges are severe enough to affect even a ghost!

Regarding the form, I chose to write a poem because Poetry helps one to express a lot in a few words. I have never thought of becoming a professional writer. In fact, it was only during A2 that I started writing poetry and realized that it helped me learn French as I had to find new words and expressions that rhymed while being in accordance with the rules of grammar. Since then, I have continued to write poetry along with learning French.

Sunset at Mont Saint-Michel

Sunset at Mont Saint-Michel

What are your favourite memories from the trip to France?

The time that we spent in France (including Paris, Rouen, Mont St. Michel, and Bayeux) was full of great experiences and beautiful memories. My wife and I will look back at it and smile for many years to come. For someone who recently became fond of History (another subject I fell in love with after I started learning French), it was amazing to be in a place where, for instance, Jeanne d’Arc had walked or where the liberation of an entire continent had begun. We were fortunate to see a 97 year old war veteran who had fought in the battle of Normandy being honored in the American Military Cemetery near Omaha Beach. Visiting the Abbey of Mont St. Michel at night was an extraordinary experience.

In your opinion, what difference did being able to speak the language make to the trip?

Since it was thanks to AF Bombay that we were able to go on this trip, I decided to speak exclusively in French. The results were occasionally embarrassing and probably hilarious in retrospect. For instance, when I was looking lost at the train station in Bayeux and an elderly gentleman asked me in English if he could help me, I gingerly asked him in French if he spoke French. He gracefully responded <Bien sûr, je suis français>. People everywhere were happy to speak to us and I was able to complete our trip without resorting to English.

The highlight of our trip was the kindness of the people that we encountered who were genuinely happy to see us trying to speak the language. They often went out of their way to give us information, explain things, and help us. In short, being able to speak the language, even with all the errors and imperfections of a student in the process of learning, made the foreign country seem a little less foreign to us.

Anal with his wife visiting Jack Sparrow's 'The Black Pearl' at Disneyland

Anal with his wife visiting Jack Sparrow’s ‘The Black Pearl’ at Disneyland

How important is it to participate in the cultural activities proposed by Alliance Française?

I believe that it is very important to participate in the cultural activities because it is then that the language ceases to be limited to the pages of a book. It manifests itself in its true form as the medium of communication of an entire culture that is not just limited to one country of Europe but spread throughout the Francophone world. For example, during the Mois de la Francophonie in March last year, I had attended the Poetry Reading of Quebec Poems as well as a Canadian Hip Hop Performance. These experiences were highly enriching and helped us share stimulating moments with interesting people. For students like me, who normally do not have any association with French outside the classroom, participating in the cultural activities provides a very useful input in the exciting journey of learning the language.

Siddharth Bhatt

Rédaction, AF Magazine Inde-Népal

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Rédaction

Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...