'Everything here has its own charm'

Expat zone

Expatriates love Bangalore for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, salubrious environment, food and people. Thomas Teo, an expat from Singapore, shares his experiences here.

For Thomas Teo and his wife, Molly Koh, coming to India from Singapore was both exciting and challenging. Despite all their preconceived notions about the country, the couple seized the opportunity and headed straight to Bangalore.

What they didn’t realise was that they would find a beautiful home here, make lovely friends and acclimatise to the local culture. In fact, they have become one with the City and all their preconceived notions about it have disappeared over time.

It’s been two years since Thomas came to the City. Working as the CEO of Ascendas India, Thomas says that Bangalore was not alien to him.

“I grew up in Singapore but was exposed to Indian culture, tradition and cuisine. Also, I had some exposure to India and Bangalore during my previous employment, thanks to my association with our flagship project, International Tech Park Bangalore. Singapore has a huge Indian diaspora, especially from Southern India. Hence, we have been exposed to the culture, customs and food of southern India,” he adds.

He describes the country as vibrant, colourful and full of life. But, he adds that considering the City is far bigger than Singapore in terms of population and area, it is easy for an expat to get a little intimidated. “But India grows on you slowly. As one starts seeing and experiencing things, one comes to realise that everything here has its own charm,” he adds.

Thomas goes on to say that he is fortunate enough to live in a place like Whitefield, which is peaceful, friendly and very convenient. “Our movement in Bangalore is largely restricted to the very self-contained Whitefield area. I travel frequently; hence, my wife has learnt to be independent in this City. Bangalore is a friendly city for expats, so that’s never been a challenge for her,” he says.

So, adjusting to the culture and lifestyle here has been relatively easy for the couple. “Adjustments become easier once a person understands the culture of a place, its way of doing things and managing expectations in terms of services, qualities and standards,” he explains.

Thomas, in fact, sees many differences between Singapore and Bangalore in terms of the lifestyle, people and even the work culture. “At the same time, I share an excellent rapport with my Indian colleagues, just as I do with my colleagues in Singapore or any part of Asia. However, it is important to bear in mind that while we appreciate each other’s culture, what one believes to be ‘common sense’ in one culture may not be ‘common’ to another.  Hence, I always give importance to clear and frequent communication,” he says.

Thomas enjoys his work here so much that some of his best memories of this City have been with his company, at the IT Park. “I have so many good memories of Bangalore, including the talent and cultural competitions that are held across the City. One can really feel the enthusiasm, spirit and competitiveness among the participants. It’s awesome and hilarious,” he adds.

Over the last two years, he has come to enjoy many elements of the City. “I like the people and enjoy the salubrious weather. The City has an urban, cosmopolitan feel and the weather is the best I have experienced in India. While Singapore may score in terms of infrastructure, Bangalore scores high on weather,” he says.

Maybe that’s why, when asked if there is one thing he wishes Singapore had that Bangalore does, he says, “It has to be the weather. You can be a developed nation and have the best infrastructure, but you cannot change the weather."

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