'Things here fascinate me'

'Things here fascinate me'

Expat zone

Having been in the City for more than two years, Jonathan Iverson feels much at home in Bangalore. His apartment at Bhuvanagiri main, where he lives with wife Maggie and daughters Annie, Lily and Ada, is always pepping with energy as the little ones run around.

Although Jonathan’s parents hail from New Jersey and his mother from Virginia, in the USA, Jonathan was exposed to other cultures from the very beginning as
he grew up in Tokyo and Sri Lanka. “This in turn made me excited about alien cultures. After being in Sri Lanka, I always wanted to explore India,” says Jonathan. Prod him further and he says, “There’s always something fascinating about what one cannot fully understand. Things here fascinate me.”

Why Bangalore? “I’m here because of business reasons. I help other entrepreneurs set up businesses,” he explains.

Going back to talk about Indian traditions, Jonathan compares it to other cultures he’s seen. “The Japanese are very nice people too. But here, people have just been more than helpful. We have been invited to every birthday party in this apartment, and when we moved in, people were more than inviting.”

Maggie’s quick to add, “When we reached here, I was pregnant with Ada and sick. People were ready to cook for us and help us settle in. It made me rethink about how I treated people from outside when I was back home in Florida.”

People would ask the Iversons about how they adjusted with the weather, and Maggie would laugh and say, “Bangalore has the perfect weather. I come from Florida, which is almost like Chennai’s weather. We love this City’s weather.”
So, how was it to adjust to a new city? “Since my dad was in the military, we were
always on the move, going to different places and exploring different cultures. So the adjustment process wasn’t that hard apart from the regular issues that any other person has,” says Jonathan.

Maggie’s quick to add, “I see people from all across here, and it is a lot like
Florida. People keep moving there too.”Jonathan feels that Bangalore is a global city.
He refers to ‘Culture Shock India’ by Gitanjali Koland, and explains that there is a lot about India that he cannot understand. For example, how people he knows can identify people by their caste and region by just looking at them. He feels that there is extreme wealth and modernism as well as an interesting blend of culture and
tradition here. “It’s amazing how people can mix that and keep it all together,” he says.

A typical week for this household is Jonathan at work while Maggie spends some quality time with the girls at the Lalbagh or any other place. Jonathan loves to take the girls for rock climbing in Kolar. “I’ve never been bored here. There’s just so much to explore,” says Jonathan, to which Maggie adds, “Since I’m at home, things might not be as exciting but I’ve learnt to take things slower, and take the day as it comes.”

“Sri Lanka helped us prepare for India. It was a hard process to know how to go about setting up a business. Things like getting an Indian licence has been a hassle. Every time I go to the RTO, there is some or the other paper that I need to bring,” says Jonathan.

Jonathan feels the festivals here are beautiful and amazing but getting used to the banks being closed for so many days took time.

Talking about the festivals, Maggie gets excited and says, “I felt really proud when I got to celebrate Deepavali and felt like a true Indian. The fireworks were just amazing. The way everyone joined in together to celebrate the festivities was a very different experience altogether.

Jonathan recalls being surprised by the gusto of the people around.
He says, “The day India won the World Cup, there were people distributing sweets and bursting crackers. It just looked like another festival that sprung up.’’

Ask Jonathan about any interesting incidents they have encountered in the City and the country and he recalls. “When we go out with the girls, some ask us about how we are going to pay for the weddings. I jokingly tell them that I’m not paying
Rs 50 lakh and above each to get them wedded.”

Jonathan and Maggie feel that India is very eclectic, with five main languages spoken just in Bangalore. “There are multiple gods, languages and cultures combining here. That just makes the experience interesting day by day,” concludes Jonathan.

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