'Optimism is the spice of life'

Expat zone
Last Updated 27 October 2013, 14:07 IST

No place is too far for Shane Krige, no culture too alien. Work may have taken him to places far away from his home in Durban, South Africa, but in the process, the world has become smaller for him.

In Bangalore with his family for the past 16 months, Shane, who is the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore, is treasuring every moment here.

With more than 15 years of experience, he was the general manager of The Plaza, New York, prior to coming here. But it was not tough to feel at home. “Every city has its own challenges. It is how you learn and adapt to it. I’m like a chameleon, and I make things work wherever I am,” he says.

“There are aspects that are unique to each city and that’s what moulds you into the person that you are. I’m from Durban and frankly, I did not know where Bangalore was before coming here. But there is a very strong Indian community in Durban and am used to the Indian culture. I remember mom making curry and samosas at home. So it was not really a culture change,” he says

Shane, who has also worked in London and Dallas and held a senior management position at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C, has been proving his leadership skills. “It is to be engaged with our teams and understand what’s important to them. I love meeting people and eating and drinking. What better place to be in than in the hospitality industry? Never did I, as a kid growing up in South Africa, think that I would be in New York, London and Bangalore. This industry can take you globally if you are doing a good job,” he says.

The job is not without its challenges, especially in these times. “Optimism,” he says, “is the spice of life. You have to be optimistic about the economy. In Bangalore, you have a very sophisticated crowd in the F&B arena, people who love to eat out,” he adds.
Meanwhile, his family has been incredibly supportive. About his wife Patricia, son Shane Robin Krige II and daughter Madeliene, he says, “My family is American. There were times when it was tough for them, but they have adapted themselves well.”

For Patricia, Bangalore represents the spirit of India. “Though it is geographically located in southern India, there is an amalgamation of cultures here. Everyone is warm and welcoming but my personal favourite is the weather of Bangalore,” she adds. 

Shane has also found it very easy to adapt to Indian food. “One of my favourite cuisines is Asian, I could eat it all day long. The job hazard that comes with this industry is, well, eating,” he jokes.

Among his favourite places, Cubbon Park tops the list. “I do a 45-minute run through the park. I also walk to work, in a suit, and people look at me, and I wave at them,” says Shane, who resides on Lavelle Road. Bangalore also has much to offer to fuel his passion for photography. “I’ve been to Russell Market with my family and taken pictures of it,” he remembers. “I was a competitive swimmer in South Africa. I also motocross — 60 feet in the air. But my cricket is not as good as it should be, living in India,” he laughs.

Ask Patricia how tough it is to live in a different culture, and she says, “It is always difficult in the beginning but it is about embracing the new culture and becoming a part of it. Our transition was relatively smooth as I was connected with my people back home and learning a new way of life at the same time.”

“I have relished everything that I have had in India. India is world famous for its spices and that’s what I enjoy and savour the most in the dish, irrespective of which region the delicacy comes from. I love vegetarian food  and I don’t think I could have asked for more since there are so many vegetarian options available here,” she says.

Shane is clearly looking forward to the opening day of the hotel. “It’s been 16 months of labour.” And as a parting note, adds, “One marathon ends when the hotel opens and another one starts when it begins

(Published 27 October 2013, 14:06 IST)

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