'We don't miss home'

Expat zone

'We don't miss home'

Karin and Stefan Berglin couldn’t wait to come to India. Always ready for a surprise, the couple say that they love their time here. It was Stefan’s job with Volvo that brought the couple from Sweden to India. Although his work used to bring him to the country once or twice a year, it was only seven months ago that the couple got the real taste of the country.

 “We just loved it the minute we stepped into the country. And we still do. Everybody is always smiling here,” says Karin. The couple, who love exploring new countries, say, “We really wanted to come here as it was one of our preferred destinations. And we came here with an open mind. It’s important to be willing to adjust to new things in a new country.”

Pointing out that Bangalore is a cosmopolitan city, Karin says, “In all honesty, we don’t miss home. That’s because the place is so westernised. And there is so much of our cuisine that’s available here.”

She adds, “Since we also travel a lot, India is strategically located. Whether it’s travelling to South-East Asia, the Middle-East or Africa, we find it convenient.” However, the couple still has to adjust to the gridlock in the City. “It can really be a pain. But we’re not the ones to complain. We are getting used to it,” they say. Karin adds, “Besides, the dust and pollution levels are quite high here.”

Recalling what took him by surprise here, Stefan explains, “The number of women at any workplace is few in number. Now, that’s not the way it is back home. Be it in restaurants or pubs, there are more women. But here, I find that there are just one or two girls and around 10 boys.”

Pointing out the difference in work culture, Stefan adds, “The working hours are really long. That’s also because a lot of time is spent in travelling. What happens is that on a weekday, no personal chores can be accommodated. That’s not how it is in Sweden. Since the time spent on travel is minimal, we have some spare time to pursue other activities.”

But the biggest advantage of working in India, he says, is that most Indians speak English. “However, there are a few differences in the work culture. I find that there is a lot of following up that has to be done. When a job is assigned to employees, one has to keep checking what the progress is like and ensure that they reach the target. Sometimes, they have to be redirected and corrected. But it’s not such a big problem and I’ve got used to it,” he explains.

The couple, who connect with the expatriate community in the City, say, “That’s another reason why we’ve been able to settle here easily.”

Stefan and Karin, who were not used to having any domestic help, say that it took some time for them to get used to having maids and drivers. “Back home, we do everything ourselves. In fact, I was initially nervous when I knew someone would be entering my space. I wasn’t used to instructing others about what they have to do for me,” says Karin.

At the same time, Stefen adds, “Sometimes, I feel that we don’t have much independence, especially since we don’t drive. We can’t make those spontaneous movie plans because the driver would have retired for the day.” That reminds Karin of her fondness for the autorickshaw! “They are so convenient. I love using the autos,” she exclaims.

The couple, who have three children studying in Sweden, say that they enjoying dining at restaurants at the Leela Palace, ITC Gardenia, The Oberoi and UB City. “We like trying out different restaurants, especially since they are very inexpensive and nice,” says Karin. Stefan adds, “I get to eat Indian food at work.” Their favourite places to relax are the Windmills Craftworks which is close to their place of stay, Toit and Biere Club.

Karin, who has picked up some phrases in Kannada, says that she is hoping to learn the language. “But here, we’ve found that there’s really no need to learn the local language since people are well-versed in English,” she says. Although Stefan visits home once every six weeks, Karin who goes back less frequently, says, “This is my home. The children come here once in a while and they also love it here.” 

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