Mrs. Ramnani receives everybody in her family restaurant with true Romanian hospitality. Originating in Mumbai, Anita Ramnani arrived in Bucharest in 1994, one year after her husband opened an electronics shop here. The couple has two daughters, 24 and 18 respectively, and they have all recently received Romanian citizenship.
Their first years here were difficult because neither of them spoke Romanian, and the price of the dollar was increasing so much that whatever they made in Lei was getting lost. After 1998, after the dollar stabilized, the family had a good period, that she remembers fondly. That’s when the family purchased the estate on the Căuzași alley, where they have a beerhouse now. At the beginning they were a Connex dealer, and the building was their office.
Anita and her husband had many Indian friends with whom they spend all anniversaries, holidays and other special occasions. “We used to visit each other for Divali, like Christmas here, we used to cook, play games, sing, have fun. We would cook the whole day, for everybody. After 2008, after the crisis, many left; we’re fewer now,” says Anita. They now have three families of friends who’ve moved to the Băneasa area. The crisis destroyed many businesses of those who came here from India, attracted by the business opportunities here.
After Connex was taken over by Vodafone, business did not go so well for the Ramnani family, who rented the office to a beerhouse and moved the dealership home, in Dristor: downstairs office, upstairs home. But the tenant did not pay the rent and the invoices and was evacuated, and Ramnani family took over the beerhouse and restaurant, which they have been running since 2013.
Berestroika does not remind you of India in any way, on the contrary, and the restaurant’s menu is international, the only Indian indication is the tandoori, but the Ramnani family does not intend to create an Indian oasis in the center of Bucharest; they want everybody to feel good and find something they love. “Indian food is international, anyway; there are tandooris everywhere. If you ask an Englishman, a German – they all know. I make the sauces home; we don’t have a cook. We bring all spices from London; you can find them all there,” says Anita.
Bucharest has won the heart of Mrs. Ramnani, although at the beginning of her stay here she’d wake up at 6 am to find bread, and she couldn’t find everything she wanted. Her favorite part is that people are friendly. She has seen that after the economic crisis, the pace of things is slower, at least economically. “People change too, if the money does – that’s what I say,” says Anita.
Mrs. Ramnani studied commerce in India and took a class to receive the right to open a kindergarten, but she abandoned the project and came to Bucharest, where her husband and uncle had come with their business with electronics from Dubai. Since there were very many Romanians going to Dubai to buy electronics, they figured it was best if they came here directly. And since there wasn’t an English-language school in Bucharest at that time, both daughters studied in India during the first years, where they learned English and Hindi. In Bucharest, they attended the International School of Bucharest, and they learned Romanian by speaking it in the family. Three years ago they all got the Romanian citizenship. Mrs. Ramnani says it took her two years to study for citizenship and that the Constitution was the hardest, but also history and geography.
The Ramnani family goes to India once every year or every two years, to visit their parents, siblings, friends and acquaintances. People in India are warm and friendly, and with every visit, Anita feels as if she’d left the country only a few days prior. Mumbai is alert, it’s a city that keeps going, night and day. “I wish we went back to India at some point; my husband not so much. Not now, because the restaurant is going well, but perhaps later. Anyway, the most important thing is family; if the family is fine, anywhere is fine,” says Mrs. Ramnani who tells me half-jokingly that she misses the fruit and vegetables in India, and the warm weather year-round. The cold of Bucharest got her sick.
The Ramnani spouses built a life in Bucharest from scratch and succeeded to overcome the times when they couldn’t sleep due to worries and thoughts. “We did what we could, and that’s how we got here. There were times when we couldn’t sleep, we kept thinking what to do. When we came here we said we’d stay for six months, then another six, then two years and here we are now. Now it’s fine, because people saw how hard-working we are. I believe in quality and in treating people the way you want to be treated,” says Anita.