'I've heard the local bands'
Expatriates love Bangalore for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, salubrious environment, food and people. Curtis Gage, an expat from the USA, shares his experiences here
When he came to Bangalore, Curtis Gage knew that his stay here would not be permanent — originally from Ohio, in the USA, he had been sent to the City on a four-year contract. However, he was determined to make the most of his stint here, which is why he has gone out of his way to experience the different facets of living in a place like Bangalore.
From sampling the local cuisine — a delight, he explains, since he is partial to spicy food — to roaming the street markets and even watching a movie or two — with subtitles — Curtis has made it a point to acquaint himself with life in the City.
“I’ve been here for three years now — I was sent here on work. I had been here a few times before. So, when the opportunity came up, I was happy to take it,” recalls Curtis, who lives in Kadugodi.
Perhaps because of the enthusiasm with which he took to life here, the City has more or less treated him pleasantly. But that doesn’t mean, he adds, that he didn’t face his own share of problems while adapting to the way of life here.
“The one major difficulty I had was adapting to the processes here — getting things like a SIM or PAN card can be very difficult. It’s as though to get anything in this City, you need to produce three passport-sized photographs and a bunch of documents,” he says, with a laugh, adding that during his initial time in Bangalore, the language posed a bit of a difficulty as well. “I’m much better at understanding it now. Of course, English is enough to get along with — but the accent is sometimes hard to deal with. Sometimes, though, I’m out with all my Indian friends and they suddenly start speaking in Kannada or Hindi — that can be a bit of an issue,” he laughs.
While one may assume it’s tough to draw any comparisons between Ohio and Bangalore, he surprisingly points out that this isn’t the case. “For instance, the springing up of malls and restaurants in Bangalore — the sudden development, that is — really reminds me of home. It reminds me of how Ohio used to be years ago, when it was still developing,” he expresses.
One of the aspects of the City he’s really taken to is the cuisine — for the simple reason that he loves spice. “In fact, one of the problems I face here is that when I’m out with friends at a restaurant, they always ask the waiter to cut down the spice on my food. And I have to tell them to let me decide! I love the local cuisine — although I prefer North Indian food, I love to indulge in vadas dipped in sambhar,” he states, adding somewhat ruefully that although he is partial to the dishes here, he has never attempted to recreate them at home. “I think the problem is you need so many special equipment to make Indian food — grinders and some implements I haven’t even heard of. Of course, I’ve tried some basics like chilli chicken — but I’m more of a ready-made food kind of guy,” he reflects. Curtis hasn’t spent enough time here to pick up the local language, but he admits that he does enjoy Bollywood movies — if they are subtitled. “Mostly, I end up watching them on the airplane when I’m flying to Ohio and back. I don’t always understand them, but I do like them,” he admits.
He’s also spent a bit of time acquainting himself with the music scene in the City — but surprisingly, it isn’t Bangalore’s rock talent that he is partial to. “I have heard some of the local bands. But it feels like all they play is American or British imitation music. What I do like is Punjabi music — I don’t know the names of any of the songs, but I’ve had the same driver for the last three years and he’s made me listen to a few,” he laughs, adding, “I’ve been to some of the concerts in the City, though — I went to ‘Metallica’ last year and watched Santana live this time around — and they really remind me of concerts in the USA: a bunch of people having a good time.”