'We hardly had any adjustment issues'

Expat zone

'We hardly had any adjustment issues'

Penny and Uco Vegter were in for a surprise when they moved to Bangalore four years ago. Having backpacked through the country individually in the early 1990s, they were taken aback by the transformation India had been through when they returned with their children, Amelie and Daan.

“Whether it were the ATMs all across — without those massive queues behind a typewriter at banks — or the accessibility to telephones, the way India had moved on was striking,” explains Penny, who is English. She adds that it was a ‘soft-landing’ since their first stop was the UB City, where they initially stayed.

Having lived in different parts of Asia, Uco — who is from the Netherlands — feels that the cosmopolitan culture of the City helped them integrate easily. “We were already prepared for life in Asia, especially after having stayed in Taiwan and Korea. Plus, Bangalore is so westernised and with most people here speaking English, we hardly had any adjustment issues,” he says.

While families of many expats are apprehensive about those coming to India, Penny and Uco say that their parents, who have visited them, have enjoyed themselves. “Us being here has given them the chance and confidence to come visit us. Even when they knew we were to come to India, they were hardly worried,” say the couple.

Ask Uco, who works with a private firm, whether he finds any differences between the work cultures here and in other places and he says, “People speak good English here, so communicating is not a problem, which means half the battle is won. This wasn’t the case in the other Asian countries we have stayed in. I really enjoy working with Indians.” He adds, “The only issue is that people here are not direct, which means that it’s important to understand what’s not being said. Sometimes, things tend to get shoved under the
carpet.”

While Penny says that the traffic congestion has been a challenge to get used to, Uco insists that it doesn’t bother him much, since he utilises his time in making phone calls and completing work. “What bothers me is the noise level here,” he rues. As a getaway from the City’s noise, they enjoy visits to Club Cabana, Gold Shark and Kabini in Mysore. “We travel quite often and some of the places we have visited are Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Rajasthan, Hampi, Kerala and Pondicherry,” they say. The family, which loves Indian food, have local delicacies two to three times a week. They say that they love butter chicken and parathas. When they go out, they have a number of places they love. “Each of us has our favourite places. But some of those we frequent often are Taj West End, Oberoi, Lalit Ashok, Smokehouse Deli, Olive Beach, Toit and Caperberry,” they say. They point out that there has been a sudden rise in the number of independent good quality western restaurants. “Previously, it was only the five star hotels where quality was assured but now, places like Portland Steak House, Sunny’s and Fava are good too,” explains Uco.

The Vegters, who live in RMV 2nd Stage, say that they prefer the area to gated communities. “In gated communities, we could be living anywhere. But here, we feel that we are getting a taste of the Indian culture,” they say. The family, which does not speak the local language, say they have never felt the need. Amelie and Daan chip in and say that they learn Hindi at school. “We can get away since many people who live in Bangalore are from outside. In fact, most of those I work with are from outside the City,” says Uco.

Amelie and Daan, who are in class seven and five respectively, attend Stonehill International School and are enjoying their time. “There’s a lot of independence we get in secondary school,” Amelie says. Daan, who has taken to a number of sports, is glad about the large playground the school offers. Pointing to Daan, who has started playing cricket, Penny says, “He probably wouldn't have taken to the sport if he was in Europe since it’s not that fashionable.” The family is looking forward to visiting Sri Lanka in the near future, while short trips are also on the agenda.

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