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Haris Osman

senior vice president of research and development at imec, Leuven, Belgium

Haris Osman
“Though I miss my family and homeland dearly, I find comfort in the new experiences and opportunities that have come my way, paving the path for fresh encounters.”

From the Taj Mahal to Kerala’s Hidden Treasures

Haris Osman has had a remarkable journey through life, filled with moments of growth and adaptation. In 1995, he boldly decided to leave his home country, India, which was quite difficult, as it meant leaving behind his friends, family, and the culture he held dear. He spent a decade in Singapore, followed by four years in Malaysia, where his family grew with the arrival of two children. Unexpectedly, a job opportunity in Belgium arose in 2008, leading him to relocate once again. Initially planning a short stay, fate had other ideas, and his time in Belgium has extended to 15 years and counting.

Finding enrichment in other cultures

Arriving in Belgium in March 2008, Haris and his family faced an inaugural encounter with a brisk winter climate. Their initial excitement was dampened by their unpreparedness for the freezing cold, having packed winter clothes suitable for Malaysia’s warm weather. Nevertheless, as time passed, Haris started embracing the changing seasons in Belgium. However, despite growing fondness for the new climate, he still cherishes India’s warm and sunny weather and the nostalgic memories of monsoon rains in Kerala. Houses in Kerala have a courtyard in the middle, surrounded by rooms. This design enhances the experience of enjoying the openness and the soothing sounds of the rain while staying dry indoors.

onam sadya - traditional south indian food
Onam Sadya - Traditional South Indian food

Another striking difference between Belgium and India is the work-life balance. In Asia, work and family care usually overshadowed personal time, and holidays were luxuries reserved for a limited number of people. However, in Belgium, taking time off was encouraged, and managers valued the importance of employees’ recharging. This shift in perspective allowed Haris to relish a better work-life balance and seize opportunities for travel and relaxation. Along with the proximity and accessibility to different cities and countries, Haris and his family joyfully explored various destinations within Belgium and Europe.

Haris’s love for Indian food and the joy of embracing Onam

Indian food holds a special place in haris’s heart. The spicy and flavorful nature of the cuisine creates unique tastes that are hard to match elsewhere. While it’s occasionally possible to find a dish that comes close to how it’s made in India, the flavors are rarely authentic. However, in Belgium, Haris’s family easily finds all the ingredients needed to make their favorite Indian dishes at home, allowing them to savor the flavors they cherish even far from their homeland.

While Haris may not have a strong attachment to many cultural traditions and festivities from his homeland, there is one celebration he wholeheartedly embraces: Onam. This yearly festival symbolizes unity, harmony, and prosperity, uniting people from all communities and religious groups, making it unique. As a harvest festival, Onam also signals the start of a new year in the Malayalam calendar. Onam not only holds cultural significance but also carries emotional value for families who come together to celebrate, strengthening their bonds.

Must do

Witness the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti at Varanasi’s ghats in the evening.

BlurHashvaranasi - evening ganga aarti ritual
Varanasi - Evening Ganga Aarti ritual

From Taj Mahal to Kerala’s hidden gem

India is a vast and diverse country with incredible things to see and do! One of the must-visit places is the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, a beautiful white marble building representing eternal love. There are also colorful cities like Jaipur, known as the Pink City, and Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world.

jaipur - hawa mahal 59
Jaipur - Hawa Mahal
agra - taj mahal
Agra - Taj Mahal
kerala - backwater houseboat
Kerala - Backwater houseboat

Haris’s hidden gem lies off the beaten path. For an unforgettable experience, venture to Kerala, his beloved home region. It’s a green paradise with three amazing areas to be discovered. Along the coastline, picturesque fishing villages and mesmerizing vistas await. Across the level plains, vibrant agricultural activity fills the landscape. And for those with a penchant for adventure, the hilly terrain features dense forests and awe-inspiring panoramas. However, the aid of a local guide is recommended to navigate the thick woods.

Kerala has something magical called the Backwaters, which are peaceful canals and lagoons. A leisurely journey aboard a traditional houseboat allows for immersion in the serene beauty of the surroundings. In India, tranquility remains ever-accessible. Whether one visits a temple to savor the early morning melodies or discovers serenity at a lakeside while engaging in sunrise yoga, numerous chances exist to unwind and revitalize in this multifaceted and culturally abundant nation.