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I came here to give a series of lectures on Italian art to MA students. At the end of the series, I decided to stay on because I realised that Indian art was a totally different story - a very different art form. I wanted to learn more about it and Vadodara seemed to be the perfect place.
It can get tough for a single woman in a different country but here I feel absolutely safe. It's easy to get around. I travel in rickshaws most of the time and I've never felt threatened. In fact, they're friendly and helpful. The women's expat group has been a wonderful way of enjoying life here - they organise a lot of activities - we meet for lunch once every week - we explore Indian food and talk about Indian culture and our experiences. There are great restaurants here - once you get used to the spicy food here, you start enjoying it.
Vadodara is an interesting town because it consists of the old city, which dates back to the 18th century, and the new Vadodara which was begun by Maharaja Sayajirao III in the 19th century. He initiated a renovation program in the 1870s and employed two architects, Robert Chisholm and Major Charles Mant who were responsible for introducing Indo-Saracenic architecture to Vadodara. They designed hospitals, markets, museums, the palace, the university etc.
The central dome in the M.S. University campus, designed by Chisholm, is the second-largest dome of its kind in India. The Lakshmi Vilas Palace is also very fascinating - it's four times bigger than the Buckingham palace and is set in 700 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. All this makes the city distinctive and very interesting - it's not something you'd just walk past.
Berenice Schreiner
Art Professor and Curator
South African art professor; lived in Italy. Came to give a series of lectures on Italian art in 2009. Enchanted by the city, stayed on and has been rediscovering her love for art and architecture since.