Expat advice for Bangalore

Relatively speaking

Expat advice for Bangalore

Under its five-year-old sister city partnership with San Francisco, BBMP recently inked a deal for cooperation in waste management and recycling.

But beyond these official agreements lie a vast, unexplored pool of expats in the city exposed to both worlds and experienced in how the two manage issues of critical importance such as traffic and waste management.

Abidjan, former capital of Ivory Coast in Africa might be too distant from Bangalore. But for Jean Steve, it was home till he came to this city as a student three and half years ago. Drivers here, said Steve in all frankness, lacked respect and the roads were lawless. “There is no regulation. In my city you have to take a number of tests before you drive, here you can have a driver’s licence within a week.”

His solution: Let the traffic get more priority with enhanced personnel, and improve the signages. Bangalore’s garbage management too compared poorly with many African cities. Albert William, a Ugandan student based here for the last five years, had endured the stink raised by the city’s garbage menace firsthand. “There is garbage everywhere, and people spit. May be they are used to it,” he said. A change could happen only in the schools, at the grassroots level, with the kids.

Attached to Alliance Francaise here as a French teacher over the last 18 months, Lise Desceul knew a comparison between her native city, Paris and Bangalore would be unfair. Yet, she could not figure out how the city could mix its cosmopolitan identity with a “working anarchy” on the streets. “I get into an autorickshaw here and just believe that the driver will take me to the destination somehow,” she quipped, recalling a recent experience.

Impose heavy penalty

Heavy penalty, that is what Lise recommended to reign in the rule violators. “That is the only way you can force them to respect the rules, like they do in Paris. Here, the traffic cops don’t seem to know what they are doing. I feel it wouldn’t make a difference even if they weren’t there.” But her biggest wonder was why traffic in Bangalore comes to a complete halt when it rains. 

Alejandra Macias, an interior designer from Barcelona had moved in a year ago. For Macias, the main difference between here and the Spanish city was accessibility and efficiency of the police. “In Barcelona, if at any time you have any problem, you can call the police. They will be there in 10-15 minutes max. Here, it is much more difficult to get in contact with the police. Besides, the police have a reputation to be corrupt.

You don’t feel that someone will be aware of you when you have a problem.” In the city for the last six months, Brando Valencia from Hamburg, Germany was struck by the filth on the streets here. “When I was growing up my parents taught me to act responsibly towards nature. At school, once a week one class would have to collect all the rubbish on the street. It was not pleasurable and of course very boring, but after a while you are attentive of people throwing rubbish on the street because you needed to clean it.”

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