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The new global workplace

The new global workplace
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First Published: Sat, Feb 16 2008. 01 21 AM IST

Alison Brown finds the traffic crazy. (Hemant Mishra / Mint)
Alison Brown finds the traffic crazy. (Hemant Mishra / Mint)
Updated: Sat, Feb 16 2008. 05 48 PM IST
Allison Brown, 35
Melbourne, Australia
Program manager,Hewlett-Packard
I have been here 10 months. Bangalore is full of surprises; the people can drive you crazy one day, but the next day you think about it and laugh. When I first landed, I was asked to complete a great deal of documentation. Nobody here knows why things have to be done but I’m told that they just have to be done.
Bangalore traffic is the craziest; it’s really funny to watch people jump in and out of buses at traffic signals. I have never been conned but if you are white, they do quote 10 times the price.
The thing that I love most about Bangalore is Sunday brunches at Olive Beach (and the infamous chocolate martinis). Karaoke at Opus on a Sunday night, I think, will always be my all-time favourite memory of the city.
At work: There is no sense of urgency. But I also notice that it is not uncommon for people to work up to 14 hours a day. They seem to start late and work late. I am used to starting early and ending my day by 5pm.
Bradley Bismark, 30
Harare, Zimbabwe
Assistant vice-president, HSBC
Napier loves the fried fish at Dewar’s Bar. (Hemant Mishra / Mint)
India is not very different from Zimbabwe. The traffic rules and the schooling have been influenced by the British. My wife and I are an interracial couple and I must say that I get fewer stares here than I would in the UK. I have been here for two years and have never felt threatened.
The city has a lot of energy and a vibrant middle class that does not pay much attention to class or race. If I were to leave, I would surely miss the Kheema Dosa at the Taj Residency.
At work: My colleagues have a great deal of potential but I took a while to bring them to the same mindset as mine. They tend to be laid-back and work longer hours.
Ingo Hofmaier, 32
Salzburg, Austria
Managing director, Wienerberger Ltd
I have lived in Bangalore for two years now; before that, I lived in Mysore for two and a half years. I wouldn’t call it a global city, but it is certainly well connected to the world because of its IT presence. I find it quite impressive that the city still functions with the number of migrants coming in every day and the lack of infrastructure to support them.
It is sad that the city shuts down at 11pm but Indians have a way of working around things, so we party at home instead. The young crowd is very well travelled and liberal. But the city, although still honest, is becoming very greedy in the area of real estate. The most thrilling parts of my stay in the city are my visits to City Market or Russell Market. These places have a lot of flair!
At work: Work starts very late here, as does the city. People don’t seem to mind working late hours as long as they get to come in late. It’s probably one way of beating the traffic.
Joel Scholtens Lindsay, 34
Sydney, Australia
Bartender, Taj West End
I have been working and living here for one year now.
Rickshaw drivers are always trying to overcharge me and I give in after realizing that I am arguing over a few cents, but there was this one time where an auto driver actually started by asking for Rs10,000 to take me home!
I would miss the fact that something is always happening; everywhere you look there are people. That can be troubling considering I come from Sydney where the population is well spread out, but it is interesting. But what I would really miss is the masala chai they serve at the Taj West End. Now I can’t seem to start my day without it.
At work: I have noticed that Indians make an extra effort to put their customers at ease but do tend to be a little less efficient.
Clare Harman, 30
London, England
Learning and development officer,an information technology firm
Alison Brown finds the traffic crazy. (Hemant Mishra / Mint)
I have lived here for 16 months now and think that Bangalore is a straightforward place, very easy to adjust to because even the Indians here are not from Bangalore. So most people, Indian or otherwise, are just trying to get to know the city.
We chose to live in Whitefield and assumed that the Marathalli flyover would get done soon. It has been 16 months since we have been here but I am told the flyover will take another year or so; by then, we will have to leave the city.
If I were to leave, I would miss shopping on Commercial street and stopping at Woodys for a masala dosa.
At work:There is a great deal of politics here. If senior persons take a bad decision, it is just accepted because of the position they hold.
Brandon Aitken, 34
Durban, South Africa
Vice-president, operations, Bank of America
I have been here for two years and three months. It’s really funny to see even the policemen pee on the streets. The infrastructure in Bangalore has a lot of catching up to do, most of the authorities don’t seem to have much understanding of governance.
Being an expatriate is a great experience in Bangalore because you meet so many cultures at the Bangalore Expatriate Club. Even if I did shift out of the city, I would surely come back to eat brain fry at the Empire Hotel and to take a walk down Commercial street.
At work: I think people try too hard to do well. They do a fantastic job in a short while but still work for 14 hours a day. But I would much rather work here than work in the UK.
Barbara Nolten Ifju, 29
Budapest, Hungary
Consultant, Ten Foreward
I have been here 10 months now and every single day in Bangalore has been a surprise. One day a monkey steals your underwear and the next, you find a squirrel on the wall. People in the city seem to be very used to foreigners and appreciate different cultures. I love the rickshaw rides, the climate and, of course, chicken at Fanoo’s.
At work: I think there is a great willingness to learn and people are trying to improve constantly. I do find the time flexibility a little uncomfortable. While you make an appointment in about an hour, you also have to be prepared to meet people at short notice. At my previous workplace I noticed that hierarchy is very important; it even showed in the way people wrote emails.
Winifred Tin, 35
Vice-president, Bharti Channel and Rural Insurance, Bharti AXA General Insurance
I have been here eight months. People told me that Bangalore is very polluted but I came here and saw a blue sky! There is no blue sky in Hong Kong. I actually took pictures of the sky and sent them to friends. When I first walked into the Bangalore airport, I thought it was chaotic. But once I entered the city, I figured that it is a great place for a foreigner.
I have grown to love spicy Indian food and am a great fan of rotis at Umerkot in Indiranagar.
At work: People are more aggressive and vocal in meetings than I am used to. They also have a habit of committing to a particular time and then stretching the deadline according to convenience.
Will Scobie, 29
Cork, Ireland
Training consultant, CW Solution
I have been here two years and still can’t seem to get a hang of the one-ways! One day you drive by and the next, it is a no entry. I would miss the trees. It is not often that you see so much green right in the centre of the city. I do hope the authorities maintain it.
At work: I worked in Japan before this and the difference is that in Japan you have to be seen doing a lot of work—here, people seem to be spending a lot of time at work and not necessarily working. They just don’t seem to want to go home. These youngsters seem to be under a great amount of pressure to succeed.
Robert Nolten, 33
The Hague, Netherlands
Project manager, Cargill Health and Food Technologies
William likes spending time at Lal Bagh. (Hemant Mishra / Mint)
I have been here for a year and it is amazing the kind of things that people carry on two-wheelers; I once saw 15 children in an auto rickshaw.
There is a lot of understanding of foreign cultures in Bangalore, and there are many opportunities to get food and entertainment for both business and personal requirements. That is what I would miss about the city if I were to leave.
At work: There isn’t a sense of urgency at work, but I guess Bangalore is a bit relaxed as a city, and that doesn’t change in the workplace.
James William, 44
Surrey, England
I have been here four years, and there always seems to be a festival. I find that amazing. I have lived in the Philippines too and I think most Asian cities are very similar in terms of traffic, so the cars and roads did not surprise me. The effort to con me since I am a white man is always there but, having lived here for four years, I have become wiser. I would miss the bird life and the large forest area in and around the city. There is nothing like spending a few hours in Lal Bagh.
At work: I do think people tend to work long hours and the concentration levels are not very good.
Kevin Napier, 36
Los Angeles, USA
Bangalore is like New York mixed with a very old city. It has flashy new buildings and old British-style ones, all on the same road. As a film-maker, I have shot all over the city and have faced no problems with permissions, and most people on the streets are very friendly. I have been here just 11 months but I do know that if I were to leave, I would miss the fried fish at Dewar’s Bar. It is made from an 80-year-old recipe.
At work: I can’t really comment on the work culture, but I do know that 5 minutes usually means 2 hours.
Vahid Berenjian, 49
Stockholm, Sweden
Chairman, US Pizza
Bangalore is unique. There is nothing here that is the same as anywhere else in the world. One thing that struck me was that it is alright to turn up at somebody’s house without prior notice. In Sweden, you will have to make an appointment a week in advance. Yes, Bangalore can be laid-back, but you learn how to live with it. I would miss the great interaction I have with people every day, and after having lived here for about 15 years, it has become home now.
At work: I have been here so long that the work culture does not bother me anymore. But I guess starting late and the slow pace does affect productivity.
Ville Kuusisto, 33
Oulu, Finland
Managing director, Citec Information India
Bangalore doesn’t have what we call a downtown area where we can shop for anything. The first time my wife and I got here, we had a tough time looking for shops and places where we could find the things we wanted. I have been here 14 months and am just beginning to get used to that. I think the city would be more efficient if there is a proper transport system in place. If I were to leave, I would miss the great weather combined with the Sunday brunches at Olive Beach, something we never had in our home country.
At work: You will hear the same thing from me as from the others. The lack of pace is what is most striking. It takes a lot of getting used to.
Carol Haynes, 34
Macon, USA
Software engineer, Bridgeline Software
I moved to Bangalore with my boyfriend 11 months ago. It took me a long time to understand that when people were bobbing their heads, they were agreeing with me and not emphatically saying no! I would really miss eating and drinking a large Kingfisher beer at Koshy’s after work.
At work: It is a whole new world here. People just don’t say no when they can’t do something. There is a lack of aggression and I have had to learn to be really soft-spoken.
YU Weinjing, 39
Beijing, China
Chef, Memories of China, Taj Residency
I have been here just two months and have already grown to love the trees, but I do wish it wasn’t quite so noisy.
I meet people of such varied nationalities in Bangalore, and many Chinese too. If I were to leave, I would miss the large number of temples and, of course, the trees.
At work: I find the work culture here very positive. Most people in Bangalore are very quick to accept change, and are keen to learn. They seem to be all set to work hard.
Flavia Bandeira, 44
Recife, Brazil
Medical consultant, Pharmac Analytic Solution
I have been here for a year and a half. When I first came here, I expected a cosmopolitan city, but was still surprised by the great crowd and the different types of cultures here. But what I do appreciate is that when you tire of the crowd, you can always escape to the country.
I love shopping on Commercial street. You get normal stuff, you get fancy stuff, it is all there on that street. If I were to leave, I would miss the grilled salmon at Olive Beach.
At work: I cannot digest the way men and women segregate. Even at teatime, the men are on one side and the women on the other. There is no intermingling. Another thing that gets to me, especially since I am in the BPO sector, is the timings. In Brazil, I started at 7am and finished by 4pm.
Young Jasserand, 35
Pusan, South Korea
Freelance real estate agent
I have been here six years and the first time I entered Bangalore I liked what I saw, and still do. But I do wish people were more hygienic and didn’t dump garbage on the streets. What I enjoy most about the city is the fact that you can organize a quick trip outside the city very easily. One thing I would miss if I were to leave the city is taking the kids to Lal Bagh on the weekends.
At work: There is lack of commitment and punctuality. It’s impossible to work according to a schedule.
Hayley Lalsingh, 34
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Vice-president, communications, Overseas Women’s Club
I have been here for a year and nine months. When I first came in, I did have a couple of challenges, the same way anybody who enters a foreign land does, but then the city grew on me. What’s amazing is that Bangalore has a population four times that of my home country, Trinidad.
I have been able to do a lot of volunteer work ever since I have been in this city. I enjoy a good cup of coffee and I enjoy it best when it’s a cup of filter coffee from South Indies in Indiranagar.
At work: The day starts a lot later than I am used to. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s just different.
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First Published: Sat, Feb 16 2008. 01 21 AM IST