My name is Simone. I come from Switzerland. I was born in Kenya, where I spent the first four years of my life. Perhaps it is because of this that I have felt a wanderlust for hot vibrant countries all my life. The first time I visited India, I was 20 years old. I accompanied my school friend Sanjiv, who like me was studying fashion design in Paris. My trip ended after five weeks because I wanted to go home after I spend a week in hospital in Mumbai. I came back in 2019, to Jaipur to be precise. I was hired by a Swiss-Indian company to train teachers for two months at a school, which in turn trains destitute young people in various professions. After these two intensive months in Jaipur, I travelled to Rishikesh to complete a yoga teacher training. That's when it happened - I fell in love with India, especially this region. I loved the energy of the country and the people and didn't want to go home. The following year I came back to Rishikesh with my son to visit friends. We had to end our trip early because of the lockdown. I missed India very much and in November 2022 I was finally able to go back to Rishikesh. I painted the dancing Shiva on a wall in the ashram where I was and felt happy and free. Then I realized that it was time to get out of my difficult 20 year marriage and I also felt a deep urge to spend at least one year here in North India. And so it came to pass that I did indeed separate from my husband. Fortunately, we were able to settle everything amicably and my very happy, independent and self-reliant children gave me the blessing to move to India.
The first question that both Swiss and Indians ask me is why do I want to live here in India and what do I want to do here? The reason why I want to be here is first of all a deep gut feeling. I am simply drawn here, an inner call. I like the wildness of this country, the colors, the smells and the liveliness. The great contrasts from abysmal ugliness to breathtaking beauty and the possibilities that hover in the air. Switzerland is without question very beautiful and safe, but also a bit confining and too structured for me. India is the exact opposite of Switzerland. As for my work, I finally have the freedom to devote myself fully to painting and writing. What an incredible oportunity. I am also involved in a project in a rehab clinic to train addicted people on a volunteer base. I am a trained tailor, fashion designer, ran my own interior business with shop for six years, am also a college teacher of carpentry, art education and textile work. It is very close to my heart to help underprivileged people to have a better life.
I have worked a lot in Switzerland as a college teacher and accepted commissions for paintings. Then my father died after a year of illness, God rest his soul. It was a very intense six months, but on 24 October I was able to board my plane to Dehradun and now I am here. I am staying in Dalanwala in a bungalow flat. The owners live on the same property and they are like a second family to me. I feel safe and cared for, surrounded by big lychee trees and pleasant silence I am more than at home. The great adventure has begun and I am full of anticipation of all that awaits me.