Australian hockey coach Graham Reid and his wife Julia have been at the SAI campus in Bengaluru for months now. Their love for South Indian cuisine has only grown.
One of the most intriguing aspects of incredible India is its diversity of food. With every state having its unique touch, the huge spread of India food can leave a foreigner completely flummoxed.
From the north Indian tandoori to the Chettinad down south and from Mumbai’s ubiquitous vada-pav (potato in burger buns) to the staple fish curry and rice of eastern India, food is a romantic experience for anyone visiting the sub-continent.
Spicy, tangy, greasy or just sweet, Indian food can be tough to deal with but Indian men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid and his wife Julia are handling it pretty well.
The Australian husband-wife duo has been living at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru for the past year and has grown quite fond of the chefs there.
“The food here is fantastic,” Julia Reid tells the Olympic Channel. “The chefs here are really good.”
“I, for one, especially love the sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew) here. My lunch has at least one bowl of sambar every day,” Graham Reid chimes in.
“We have a few different chefs here and each of them add their own twist and flavour to it, so we also have some variety there.”
Graham and Julia Reid have lived in different parts of the world – they grew up in Australia, they have spent time in the Netherlands during Graham Reid’s time as assistant coach of the Dutch team and now have been in India for the better part of the past one and a half years.
Adjusting their tastes and trying new cuisines comes naturally to them, so the Reids adapted quickly to the novel Indian flavour.
“I think one of the most fantastic things about being in lockdown is that it allowed the chefs to experiment a bit with the cooking,” Graham Reid noted.
“We were lucky that the team had gone home so they did not have to adhere to their restrictions,” he chuckled.
While they have certainly enjoyed their time and food in India, one of the things that Graham and Julia Reid regret is not learning to communicate in Indian languages – be it the widely spoken Hindi or the local Kannada.
“We have absolutely not learnt anything since we came here, it is a big embarrassment really,” admits Julia Reid. “We are not doing well with it at all.”
Graham Reid saves their blushes because he feels it is more difficult to learn a new language as they grow older.
“I spoke Dutch when I was in the Netherlands but the thing is I already had a head start. I learnt some of it in my 20s because I played in the leagues there,” said Graham Reid.
“Having said that, learning the local languages is one of the top things on our wish-list. The beautiful thing about the Indian hockey team also is that there are so many languages spoken by different players, although Hindi may be most common.”
And Julia has made up her mind to do something about it soon.
“I think once things start opening up again, we will get someone to teach us. Clearly doing it by ourselves is not working,” she laughed.
Julia teaches English and communication skills to players in her husband’s camp - a vital role for Graham Reid as the Indian team prepares for the Olympics in Tokyo next year.