Features Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 05:30
Written by  Benita Chacko Vijayta Lalwani

Although an expanding Bengaluru swallowed up the village of Kammanahalli two decades ago, the area has morphed into the city’s African and Middle Easter quarter, with both local people and the visitors enjoying the contact.   Kammanahalli acquired cosmopolitan character thanks to the opening of colleges such as Bangalore City College, Indian Academy and Indo Asian Academy at the turn of the century. These colleges have a high intake of foreign students, mostly of African and Middle Eastern origin. The Indo Asian Academy, claims to have students from 47 different countries. “This city is like a second home to me. Though I had some problems, on the whole I enjoyed my stay here." Although Bengaluru has seen some racially-motivated attacks in the last few months, directed against people from the north-eastern states as well as from African countries, Kammanahalli appears to have taken it in stride.   Most of the foreign students who spoke to The News Minute said that they were extremely fond of the city. Cote d’Ivoire national Stephen, who has been studying in Bengaluru for the last five years had this to say as he prepares to return home: “This city is like a second home to me. Though I had some problems, on the whole I enjoyed my stay here. I will definitely miss it very much.”   It is not unheard of for African and Middle-Eastern students to get into trouble with local residents on account of cultural differences.     American Bites, one the restaurants in Kammanahalli which is frequented by international students.   Sub-Inspector of the Banaswadi Police Station, Mirza Ali Raza, said that some international students indulge in gang fights, rash driving and deal in illegal substances. There have also been numerous cases of foreigners overstaying their visa. “Local residents often call on the emergency number 100 to complain against foreigners in their locality for creating a nuisance,” he says.      Al Amanah CafĂ©; Image source: Zomato   Despite this, Kammanahalli appears to have escaped a situation in which both sides view each other with suspicion. Many local residents said that they have no problems with their foreign neighbours and find them extremely friendly. Some even said that they are intrigued by their culture. When different cultures collide, there is a definite culinary benefit for all involved. Kammanahalli’s streets are a foodies haven.   Aioli, Aydah and Raidan have come up in the area to cater to the palates of the foreigners. Al Amanah CafĂ©, which has been serving Mediterranean cuisine in the locality for the last four years, has seen an increased number of foreigners become regular customers.   Sheikh Shabir, the owner’s brother, says, “Most of our customers are Afghani, Ghanaian, Iranian and Ivoirians. The food we serve here is quite similar to their native cuisine and this attracts them to our cafĂ©.   Praveen, the owner of American Bites also feels that the presence of international students has boosted his business. “Africans in particular love our food and they promote our business by bringing their friends along,” he says.