It’s been a year since Peter MacKenzie from Britain and his wife Marianne from Switzerland came to Bangalore. Coming from Japan, where they lived for six years, India has been a total contrast for them. “Our first thoughts on landing at the bustling Bangalore airport was how efficient it is.
But what we have found is that India is surely a country with extremes,” say the couple, who have travelled extensively. While many expats are apprehensive about coming to the country, for Peter and his wife, the choice was their own. “Having lived in Africa previously, we already had an idea about the Indian community as we were acquainted with Indians in Africa,” they say.
So is there a difference in the work culture? “Actually, not much,” says Peter, the director of Stonehill International School. “Sometimes, it takes a long time to get things done. But we’re not complaining,” says Peter.
Though the couple still has to get used to the sense of timing of Indians, they don’t seem to mind that.
“Although, I’m from Switzerland where people keep to time, I like the flexibility here. Honestly speaking, we haven’t really faced any issues with regard to punctuality,” says Marianne.
They are pleasantly surprised to see a large number of English-speaking people in the City. “If we were to have this conversation in Japan, we would have to have an interpreter,” says Peter. However, in order to integrate with the local community, Marianne is making an effort to learn Kannada. “When I knew that we were coming here, I bought Hindi books to learn the language. After coming here, I got a tutor to teach me Hindi. But soon I realised that it would be more useful to learn Kannada. Now, I can read and write in Kannada. But it’s quite a challenge to understand the language since it is spoken so fast,” she says.
The couple who enjoy dine-outs say that their favourite restaurants in th City, which they frequent are Toscano, Caperberry, Shiro’s and Samarkhand. “We also like the Royal Orchid and Karavalli at Gateway,” they say. But don’t they find the food spicy for their taste? “Well, I’m from Britain where there are several Indian restaurants,” quips Peter while Marianne says, “Although, I was initially taken aback by the spice levels, it didn’t take me long to get used to it.”
But what they do find a nuisance here are the potholed roads. “It’s always a bumpy ride. Getting to the City sometimes take two hours and that drives me crazy,” says Marianne. While some of the place they have visited include Nandi Hills and Mysore, Marianne explains, “Probably, if we were better adjusted to the roads, we would have travelled more.”
Talking about Yelahanka, where they reside and its surrounding, they say, “There’s so much greenery and no pollution at all in this area. Although, a friend who grew up on MG Road, says that Bangalore was not like this before, we don’t miss what we haven’t seen,” says Marianne. Peter, who is a wildlife photography enthusiast, says that whenever time permits, he enjoys heading out with his camera. “I enjoy being with nature. In fact, near our house, I have spotted more than 100 different kinds of birds and seven species of snakes,” he informs and adds, “the first book I bought in India was ‘Snakes of India’ and I loved it.”
The couple is impressed with the City. “Bangalore has such a wonderful weather. At this time in Europe, it would be grey and cold,” points out Peter. Marianne, who calls herself a ‘city girl’, is more than happy with her shopping activities. “I’ve been to the malls here. But Commercial Street is just fantastic. Whenever we have friends from abroad, I take them around to different places here,” she says recalling a visit to the ISKCON. “It was amazing. We’ve also been to the Bangalore Palace, Lalbagh and Cubbon Park,” she adds.
When Peter is busy with his work at school, Marianne who plays tennis and golf connects with the expats, NRIs and Indians. “People here are so friendly and easy to interact with,” she says pointing out that even connecting with neighbours here is easier than in Japan.