Angela: Angela's Adventures in Bangalore
The title of Angela's blog already says it all: on Angela's Adventures in Bangalore, you'll get a good glimpse of exactly that! Plus, of course, tons of first-hand information on life as an expat in Bangalore and the local culture.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Bangalore, etc.
I am a native southern Californian but since the age of 21 I have lived briefly in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, then off and on for 18 years in a small seaside village south of Barcelona, Spain called Sitges. In April 2011, I moved away from Sitges and now live in Bangalore, India.
This blog shares the adventures of my life in India, my fun work with cricket public relations for the KPL (Karnataka Premier League) and my day job leading the MarCom team of a leading BPO company… and of course my nights in Bangalore.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging about my life in India the day I arrived in order to keep my family and friends back home in Spain and California up to date. I never imaged that one day it would be read by so many people all across the globe when I started it.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
A few of my favorites are:
- Tall, Blonde, Female: what it’s like living in Bangalore
- Are Men Who Play Cricket Hotter Than Other Guys?
- Braving Bangalore’s Oldest Goat Market
Tell us about the ways your new life in Bangalore differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Not everything is as different as people might think but that is primarily because of the crowd I run with and the lifestyle I lead, which is on par with the life I led in Barcelona. By that I mean that there is still wonderful wine, champagne, parties and fine dining in abundance… and an amazing amount of partners in crime with whom to enjoy it all.
What does differ and has been a challenge varies between small things like not being able to find a wide variety of lettuce or how I can’t show my shoulders in public any longer, to big things like not being able to walk alone at night because it is unsafe for women. As far as culture shock is concerned, it’s tough to see the disparity between the various classes and the shocking hardships that some Indians face in their quest to provide for their families.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Bangalore? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I hadn’t prepared at all and absolutely loved flying by the seat of my pants. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Where to begin? A simple thing that I still detest to this day is the Indian ‘geyser’ switch, which controls hot water. In the U.S. and Europe we have hot water heaters that are always on, and our hot water is there for us on-demand. But not in India. Here we are supposed to turn the hot water ‘geyser’ (pronounced gee-zer) ON 5-10 minutes prior to using it. But I am 41 years old and I’m like an old dog that can’t learn new tricks. The amount of cold showers I have taken since moving to India is mind-boggling and really does annoy the hell out of me at times. In fact, the whole first week I lived in a hotel when I moved to Bangalore was spent in cold showers, until I finally understood what the receptionist was saying about the geyser switch and they showed me how to use it.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Bangalore?
Honestly, I don’t have much advice for people PRIOR to their move…I didn’t prepare for my move at all (not even vaccines). But here are a couple of tips for recent arrivals:
- Housing – source out an expat buddy to flat or house hunt with you! Do not go with only an agent nor go only with an Indian who hasn’t lived abroad where you are from or at least a similar country. Having the advice of someone who’s been living in Bangalore and understands the ins and outs of the hunt, the neighborhoods and the special requirements of expats will save you money and time.
- Banking – the Indian banking system is the most unintuitive system I have ever seen in the entire world, with no signs to tell new customers where to go and often times staff that are less than helpful. Accounts are generally setup by your employer’s HR department but that is where their help ends. When you walk in for the first time ask for the manager and explain to them that you would like for a staff member to walk you through how to make a cash withdrawal, how to make a deposit, how to setup Internet banking and how to activate your bank card. I know this sounds idiotic but trust me…you’ll be happy you did. Tokens, sewing pins and lots of forms are involved and there are no how-to lists for expats.
- Food etiquette – ask a local to explain in detail how to eat like an Indian with only your right hand. An hour spent learning how to tear bread with 4 fingers, mix gravy with rice and then scoop it up with some precision into your mouth, and drink without touching your lips to a bottle or cup will make you feel confident and look fabulous around mealtimes.
How is the expat community in Bangalore? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Bangalore is the 2nd Silicon Valley and I am a high tech marketing executive…it was easy to find expats working in the world I’ve always known. There are lots of expat groups to choose from and there appears to be something going on for all tastes.
How would you summarize your expat life in Bangalore in a single, catchy sentence?
Fortunate to experience a constant stream of new adventures and enjoy the decadence that Bangalore has to offer, everyday.