'We realised Bangalore was the best option'

'We realised Bangalore was the best option'

Expatriates love Bangalore for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, salubrious environment, food and people. Pejman Altafi, an expat from Iran, shares his experiences here.

Most expats come to Bangalore to take advantage of the IT boom. Of those who don’t, a large portion capitalise on the City’s growth and set up their own entrepreneurial ventures. There are very few who come here to try to make a change, and help the City’s local population — but Pejman Altafi is one from that select group.

Pejman, who is originally from Tehran, Iran, moved to Stockholm when he was nine years old and has grown up there. Seven years ago, he made a major decision — that of shifting to India.

“I met a Swedish industrialist and philanthropist, who had started an NGO in Tamil Nadu. He offered me a job there, and I thought it would be a learning experience. The next week, I was on a plane to Chennai,” he recalls.

His own area of expertise is in training, especially of the soft-skill variety, something which he feels has a lot of scope in this country. “After all the time I’ve spent here, I think I have an insight into the country that others don’t. I’ve worked in many rural areas, and in the North-East as well. I wanted to take advantage of this benefit and help people,” adds Pejman.

After living in Chennai for three years, he decided it was time to make a move. And although his first thought was to shift base to Delhi, he eventually decided that Bangalore would be a better option. “The climate in Chennai just didn’t suit me. I happened to come to Bangalore in May last year for a couple of meetings, and realised that this is the perfect place — especially since the climate is wonderful. My wife and I have travelled across the world, but we realised Bangalore was the best option,” he explains.

This doesn’t, of course, mean that the shift was entirely smooth sailing. There were many changes that Pejman and his family had to adapt to — but they soon learned the ropes of living in the City. “I had heard, before I came here, that the traffic in Bangalore is quite bad,” admits Pejman, going on to add, “but then again, I come from Tehran where the traffic is worse.

The pollution is pretty terrible here too, but again, the greenery in the City is lovely. And barring a couple of months in the year, the climate is wonderful.”

His family and he have begun to set out their roots in the City, creating a friend circle for themselves and indulging in all the local delights. “The people here have been very friendly. I think it’s easier to make friends when you have kids, since there’s a lot more interaction with other families. My daughters Sarah and Mariah, who are three and five years old respectively, have settled down here very nicely.

They go to school and have started speaking English with a South Indian accent! I think they’ve enjoyed the move even more than my wife and me,” smiles Pejman.

He’s also developed a taste for South Indian cuisine, particularly steamed fare. “I love idli and sambar,” he confesses frankly, adding, “and of course, I love masala dosa as well. The spice isn’t much of an issue — in fact, I’m very fond of pani puri.
What Pejman is really passionate about, though, is his work. He’s astonished by the amount of talent that he has seen among students in India, and distressed that many of them — despite being very intelligent — don’t get the kind of opportunities that they deserve.

“There’s a huge demand for skill in this country, and many talented people as well. But they don’t always have access to the really good companies, or have the professional and communication skills that will get them good jobs. All that’s needed to bridge the gap is a little training,” he explains.

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