'People here have an open mind'

'People here have an open mind'

It’s been 18 months since Benjamin Hallam, head of competence groups and IT delivery with Philips Innovation, moved to the City with his family. He hails from Sydney, Australia and has worked across the world.

The first thing that caught the attention of his three children - Kindra, Jacob and Piper - when they landed at the airport and hired a cab, was animals – cows and sheep roaming free on the roads. It took them a while to realise that it wasn’t a rare sight in the City.

Another thing that struck the kids was cement and construction material dumped on the road. “It is so spick and span back home that the kids were shocked to see cows and construction debris on the road. Bangalore is an IT City or that is what we heard back home but we find the traffic jams and garbage incorrigible,” says Benjamin of his first observations of the City.  

But he certainly thinks that Bangaloreans are a tolerant community who are warm and friendly in welcoming new people. Benjamin and his wife Nicole Hallam have had their share of hiccups settling down in the City. It wasn’t an easy one and Benjamin recalls, “I think my wife faced the most problems because she had to manage the house and ferry the kids to and from school. Initially, settling into our new home did throw up a lot of challenges.”

Nicole points out that the challenges they faced after moving were in sourcing fresh groceries, fruit, vegetables, wine and finding reliable help. “We had to manage our three children’s reaction to the relocation. When we moved here they were still very young, and their emotions showed in different ways. Our then five-year-old was loud about her fears, our three-year-old was very quiet for about six months, and our 18-month-old just continued, as if nothing had changed in his world,” recollects Nicole. 

But that phase passed on rather quickly and now the Hallams are comfortable with the City and seem to have found their circle of friends. Talking about what they like about the City, Nicole shares, “People here have an open mind, heart and approach every day with a smile. Bangaloreans are very welcoming and helpful people.

They want you to love India as much as they do.” Benjamin points out that the skill and talent that some of the professionals have here is second to none. “It is important to handle people and their attitude the right way. There’s so much potential here that needs to be tapped,” he reasons. Nicole also shares that sometimes she is surprised by the gap between the rich and the poor in the City. “The gap between the top of the pyramid and the bottom is large. This is very different from what we are used to,” she adds.

The Hallam family takes the weekends off to explore the City. Nicole says that after ballet classes for the kids on Saturday, the family heads straight to a mall. “We usually head to a mall or to a grocery shop to pick up supplies and treat the kids to ice-cream or a doughnut. Sunday is our ‘no chores’ day, so we either stay at home or head to the Bangalore Club for some swimming and lunch on the lawn,” she says. 

The family has pretty much settled down to Indian ways and the food here is what they enjoy the most. Benjamin likes the Indian gravies, especially in chicken and he confesses that he never misses a chance to gorge on the sweets. Nicole states that she hasn’t cooked much after moving to Bangalore, thanks to two excellent cooks at home.

“The kids’ favourite Indian food is chapati and butter chicken. They love watching it being made, and often they make their own chapati out of the dough. If we go for a vacation on a beach, they make ladoo out of wet sand and line them up along the beach,” she concludes.

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