Nane Artstruny can hang upside down from an overhead bar and effortlessly carry on a conversation.
She glides up and goes into a complex posture with the ease of a snake on a tree. “Shall I show you my yoga moves?” she asks, excited, and adds, “Yoga is why I came to India.” Well, yoga and the Julia Roberts starrer Eat Pray Love. “I always wanted to visit India, Bali or Brazil. Then I watched this movie where the protagonist was trying to find herself and I could relate to it,” says the 32-year-old from Armenia. She logged on to the Internet and found a youth programme in India in 2015. “I actually have two Masters degrees — one in Chemistry, the other in Economics. I worked for three days in a lab in Yerevan (the capital of Armenia) and got bored. Then I worked at the Ministry of Finance there for six months. I realised what I really enjoyed was dealing with people,” she says.
Chemistry to hospitality
So, she joined the hospitality sector. And that helped her land an internship as a Guest Relations Manager here at the Taj Connemara. Ten days after the Skype interview, she found herself in Chennai. By the end of Artstruny’s six months the hotel renewed her contract and she got to extend her stay. Then with Connemara undergoing renovation, Artstruny was shifted to Taj Coromandel. “I enjoyed my tenure with the Taj group, and during that period got to travel a lot within India to Delhi, Goa, Kolkata and Puducherry and learnt yoga at various places.”
Artstruny’s interest in yoga was sparked back home in Akunq, when she was a child. Her father used to practise yoga. “My father always encouraged my siblings (two sisters and a brother) and me to play sports. We were always into fitness,” she says as she gears up for a workout session at F45. Her workout buddies mock protest as she joins their fitness challenge: they are sure she’ll beat them hollow.
Thanks to her supermodel figure, she has also been part of photo shoots for Calonge and did a fashion show for Karun Raman. While she admits that was fun, what Artstruny finds more enjoyable is a process where she has to apply her mind and creativity, like playing the piano. Artstruny hopes to release a CD of her own some day, and start a yoga studio where they play her music and serve healthy food.
Her other passion is dancing. As a 22-year-old, Artsruny attended one salsa class in Armenia, and never went back. “I believe dance is a feeling the music creates. The movements come automatically to me, so I don’t want anyone telling me how to move,” she adds. In Chennai, she’s spent numerous evenings dancing at Q Bar, Radio Room, Winchester… places she’s now so familiar with that they almost feel like home.
“I love this city, its people, the ocean — I often go there in the mornings and run on the beach or meditate. I like the fruit here, they are much cheaper than my village, I don’t mind the warm weather either; Armenia is too cold for me. The movie halls here are amazing. I find the interval strange because we don’t have that in my country and I find it funny when people bring infants for late night shows,” she grins and adds, “The only issue I have is my regular fight with tuk tuk drivers who don’t turn on the meter.”
Most of all, Artstruny loves Chennai because here is where she found love. “I had never been in a relationship before,” she giggles. She doesn’t mention the mystery man’s name, but keeps bringing him up in the conversation, recounting how she met him at a party two years ago.
Dosa is the other love of her life, and she believes filter coffee is the best coffee in the world. “There are so many elements that make this city what it is. I may not live here forever, but I’ll miss it wherever I go.”