'We've learnt a lot about life'

Expat zone

'We've learnt a lot about life'

Lars Olson has been here with wife Chanda and sons Jorgen and Henrik since December 2012.

Hailing from Minneapolis, USA, the family came to the City when Chanda got a job at Target Corporation as a senior group manager in human resources. Having been in the City for more than two years, they have learnt a lot about the country and had a number of endearing experiences.

The family had undergone a cultural training session before coming here and that helped them understand the country better. “We also had friends who helped us. We were looking for a place with a good weather and Bangalore turned out to be the best option,” says Lars. They had also heard that the City is the IT capital of India.This is the first time that the Olson family has moved to another country. “What stands out here is the number of people. We thought that life was busy back home but it is ten times busier here. Even at 2 in the morning, it’s busy out here,” says Lars. The family has visited a number of places in the country and outside. “We’ve been to Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and South Africa. And within the country, we’ve been to Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Darjeeling, Kerala, Pondicherry and Chennai,” says Lars.

The couple agree that the weather in the City is fantastic and that they have enjoyed all the time spent here. “In most places, there is either extreme heat or humidity. But one thing I’ve noticed about Bangalore is that the traffic is crazy here. The infrastructure here is not enough to handle all the cars,” he says.

The family has had a chance to try out the different types of Indian food. “We’ve been to different restaurants in town and sampled different flavours. I’ve had masala dosa and onion dosa; and puri palya is one of my favourite breakfast items. I’m a big fan of butter chicken, pepper chicken and tandoori chicken. I am so impressed with the tandoor style of cooking that I bought a tandoor oven so that I could prepare chicken and naan,” he elaborates.

Talking about Indian culture, Chanda says that she loves Indian fabric and has ten saris. “I don’t know what I will do with them when I go back. But I love the fabrics here. And I often wear kurtas to work,” she says.

The couple say that the people here are great. “We’ve always had nice experiences with them. We are lucky to have a driver and maid to help us. We’ve learnt a lot about life here from them. The driver and I went around the City to  places where most expatriates wouldn’t go,” he says.

Lars shops at Shivajinagar, Commercial Street and Avenue Road for cooking equipment or motorcycle parts, and loves finding little shops in the alleys there. “The experience is totally different — it’s fantastic to be in the middle of everything with the sights, sounds and smells! It stimulates all senses at the same time,” he adds.

Ask Chanda about her name and she says, “It’s a kind of serendipity that I came to India having such an Indian name. My parents love the meaning of the name, which is moon, and that’s how I got it.” Sharing her experiences, Chanda says that Westerners are more explicit when it comes to communication. “I had to make some adjustments at work. I don’t think these were cultural.

They were more to do with understanding what my team needs and keeping them motivated,” she says. Dealing with different people, she observes that family relations are strong here. “Most people are very close to their parents. It’s a very unique and admirable feature. Many people are shocked when I tell them that I talk to my mother once a month,” she laughs. 

Chanda notes that the one that is totally different here is friends dropping by unexpectedly while in the US, one has to make an appointment or wait for an invitation. “The spontaneity here is appreciable,” she points out. She also adds that there is flexibility in everything here. “I’ve been very relaxed here. In terms of reaching somewhere, I’ve always got extra 15 minutes to finish up something because nothing starts on time,” she says. 

 Chanda says that she has noticed that there is often a time lag when a meeting is scheduled but she would plan the extra ten minutes accordingly. “I’ve learnt to not start on time now,” she says.

She shares that the people here have a sense of pride about where they come from to. “Everyone is proud of the state that they come from and that is really cool,” she wraps up.

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