Arindam Bagchi – Croatia is new HIT destination for BOLLYWOOD movies

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I was talking with some important people from goverment of India and they asked me: “Why don’t you write something about India? We will pay you a lot if you say that India is better summer destination than Croatia.”

”I like my country, but not as much as money” Did I say that or someone from Croatian parliament?

I have contacted the Embassy of India in Zagreb and arranged for an interview with Indian ambassador, Mr. Arindam Bagchi at Indian restaurant “NAMASTE”.

NAMASTE restaurant: Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for poor people and Arindam Bagchi
Photo: Flash.hr

When did you come to Zagreb and was this your sentence or did you ask to come to the capital of Croatia? Where did you work before? Why Zagreb? Por que? 

I came in November 2018 after a posting in Sri Lanka. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about this part of the world, which I had not seen. And it is a beautiful country and nice place to live in.

How Big is Indian community in Zagreb/Croatia? Do you have some secret society here, maybe a spy network, someone like Indian 007 or Indian Batman…? 

The Indian community in Croatia is around 100 but is increasing due to an increasing number of workers that come to Croatia. Of course, there are a lot of “secret” Indian societies in Croatia and they are active during various Indian events and festivals such as the Festival of India in Croatia or International Yoga Day (in June) which for instance was held in 40 cities in Croatia.

Shaktimaan is one well known Indian superhero. He attained his heroic powers through deep meditation and is capable of activating certain chakras which gave him strong powers – but we have no information if he is active in Croatia!

I saw that ambassador’s was thirsty so I called the waiter and said: ”Give me something realy expensive, give me one Indian beer!”

NAMASTE restaurant: Indian beer
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

The ambassador eventually decided for Mango Lassi, a popular Indian drink: mango, yogurt, sugar and a little bit of cardamon. I drinked his beer:)

NAMASTE restaurant: Arindam Bagchi
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

India has more than 1,3 billion people, and most of your population is below 30 years old. We have less than 4 mil. people and most of them are with one leg in the grave.  What’s your secret? Are you better lovers than Croatians? 

Haha, you know that Kamasutra is Indian. But jokes aside, we are a much bigger country than Croatia and hence we have a larger population.

Can you compare life in Zagreb/Croatia and India: minimum wage, life costs, people, food? How did you like our gastronomy or you just ate in Indian restaurant’s in Zagreb? 

Life in India is less expensive than in Zagreb and Croatia. I like Croatian food very much. It tastes very delicious from seafood to pastry – my family and myself enjoy it very much. There are a few Indian restaurants in Croatia and I would recommend trying them out (Google is an easy way to locate them). We Indians take pride in our food which is very flavourful, colourful and diverse. Each region has its own cuisine and taste so I invite your readers to try it.

We ordered a couple of Indian dishes. Emphasis was on couple, we did not want to exaggerate:)

NAMASTE restaurant: Paneer Tikka
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr
NAMASTE restaurant: Butter Chicken
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr
NAMASTE restaurant: Chicken Tikma
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr
NAMASTE restaurant: Rogani Mutton
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr
NAMASTE restaurant: Butter Naan
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

Tourism – Before Bollywood made Dubrovnik and Croatia famous in India, average Indian maybe heard of TITO and some football players. Now we can expect more Indian tourists in Croatia. What’s the name of that movie and do you have some advice for us  to help attract more Bollywood studios to shoot here and what can we offer to Indian tourists except sun, sea and high prices? What would you recommend to Indian people to see in Croatia and for Croatian tourists to see in India? 

Croatia’s World Cup success helped a lot and recently Mr. Igor Štimac was appointed as the Head coach of the Indian National football them – this makes Croatia increasingly known and interesting in India. In 2018, Croatia received around 65000 Indian tourists, up from around 10,000 only five years ago. 

Croatia’s beautiful scenery has a lot of potential and Bollywood has discovered that. For example, the famous Shah Rukh Khan shot his movie “Fan” in Dubrovnik. We hope that such projects will continue.

I would recommend to Indians to visit the beautiful Adriatic coast and also the mountainous region of Lika and Gorski kotar. For Croatian tourists, India is a vast country and nature, cities and people are very diverse, so best to choose one or two regions. Goa is nice start, right?

Tourism 2 – I recently won a trip to GOA. Goa tourists board had a prize game in hotel Hilton in Zagreb and they picked my name. Some people sad that I paid them to pick me. They will burn in hell:) Do you have any tips for me when I visit GOA? I want all of my poor friends in Croatia to be jealous of me when I start publishing my photos and videos from India:)

Enjoy the great vistas, beaches, rich wildlife and especially the people. The friendly people are a treasure and I am sure your friends will be jealous. I hope that they will follow you and visit India too.

GOA Lucky Winner – Dear Leader Joe, aka Vin Diesel for Poor people
Photo: Flash.hr

India is a multicultural country but majority of your population are Hindus. Do they have problems when they see so many tourists in your country that are not living by their beliefs or are they as tolerant as 10% of Croatians? Basically, would someone kill me if I order a cow stake in one of your restaurants? 

Indian has always been know for its openness and tolerance, which is the essence of our civilization. The diversity of our people in terms of religion, language, ethnicity, food, festivals, etc. is unparalleled. I don’t think tourists find India a problem. Everybody is welcome in India and we are very proud of that. I would like to hear your first hand experience when you return from your trip.

Economy: What does India export to Croatia and do you invest in our economy? What do you import from us? Is it hard for someone from Croatia to buy property in your country and open a business there? For example, if I would like to be an Indian Gigolo or act as Indian Vin Diesel in Bollywood, would I have problems with bureaucracy?

Key sectors for cooperation between India & Croatia include Pharmaceuticals, Tourism, Automotive, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Food Processing, information technology, Startup and Innovation, Medicine, Engineering and Construction. Indian total direct investment into Croatia is around Euro 29.74 million, while Croatia has Euro 5.55 million of direct investment in India. I hope more Croatians will open businesses in India – our jump of 65 places in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index over the last four years is a record and reflects the changing business environment in India. I am sure you will face no bureaucratic difficulties in pursuing your plans, but whether the Indian audience will like it, one can never tell!!

How would you say in Indian:” I’m not expensive, you are poor!”

India is a diverse country so there is no “Indian” language. In fact, we have 22 official languages and many more languages are spoken across the country. But in Hindi you could say: मैं महंगा नहीं हूँ, तुम गरीब हो

Maybe I’m Vin Diesel for poor people but not so poor to drink only one beer. I ordered an Indian cocktail:)

NAMASTE restaurant: Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for poor people
Photo: Flash.hr

I don’t know a lot about Indian culture. Do you maybe organize Indian concerts in Zagreb, food or movie festivals, Saibaba nights…? Recommend me some Indian movie, book or band/artist that you like. Ps: You are friends with author of Slumdogg Millionaire. Can you introduce me to him so he could write book about me:)

Yes, an Indian diplomat wrote the book that was made into the film- just shows that diplomats can be very creative. We try to organize numerous cultural events all over Croatia whenever possible. This year, we are celebrating the first “Festival of India in Croatia”, and a number of cultural events took place in Zagreb, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Rijeka, Umag, etc. More events are being planned for later this year. I would recommend that people follow us on social media for updates – facebook, twitter and our webpage.

Do you have hipsters in India and are they also allergic on gluten?

India’s urban culture has always kept pace with trends worldwide, and with a unique mix between modernity and ancient Indian customs and clothes. So, I suppose hipsters are also present in India, although I would find it hard to recognize them.

3 most popular Indian names, meals and drinks?  PS: Give me one Indian name that fits me. Something like JOE BABA:)

As I have said, India is a diverse country and names of people too, vary from region to region. In North India, for example, for boys Rahul, Amit or Aditya are common names. For girls Priya, Priyanka or Anjali are some common names. I think Joe suits you well, but maybe Raj would not be bad. 

Indian food is also very diverse. Again, some famous dishes from North India would be Biryani, Tandoori meat or vegetable, Samosas etc, while Dosa and Idli are popular dishes in South India. Popular drinks are Masala Chai, Lassi or Chaach.

We have eat half of India. The food was amazing, but one of the meals that I was especially delighted with was the Indian Desert Gulab Jamun.

NAMASTE restaurant: Gulab Jamun
Photo: Dragi Vođa, Flash.hr

We all heard stories about arranged marriage in India. What does it look like? What if your parents choose a woman for you with a shorter leg?

Arranged marriages by parents were very common in India in the past. Usually, the parents selected somebody for their daughter or son but the final choice was left to the bride / groom. It was like matchmaking by parents. Of course, India is changing rapidly, and many young people now find their own life partners, perhaps online in many cases. 

Is this interview for Flash.hr the peak of your diplomatic career? If it is not, feel free to lie that it is.

This is definitely the highlight of my career – I will probably never do it again!

Most important question in Croatia for the end – Where were you in 1991?

Studying at University for exams. How about you?

Author: Josip Novosel aka Joe Baba, Vin Diesel for poor people and self proclaimed Dear Leader Joe, a corresponding member of the “Yoga is the work of the devil, says Vatican’s chief exorcist” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a Gastro snob but above all a human.

www.instagram.com/dearleaderjoe

www.facebook.com/dearleaderjoe

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