'One can only learn about India layer by layer'

Expat zone

'One can only learn about India layer by layer'

Nicolas Mirguet and Johanne Barbier, a young expatriate couple from France, have been in the City for a little over two years. Having spent time in Mumbai earlier, the two came to Bangalore for business reasons. They run a company called Titri Digital Services.

“I worked with an advertising company before we set up our business. Bangalore is a great city for start-ups and we wanted to explore this opportunity,” says Nicolas. 

He explains that the name of the company is inspired by their flat number ‘T3’. “Our friend also told us that it sounds like the Hindi word titli which means butterfly,” he says. Johanne and Nicolas say that working in India isn’t as difficult as they had assumed.

“We were told that people could be unreliable, employees wouldn’t stick to an organisation and some wouldn’t even turn up to work,” says Nicolas. He adds that they have had an efficient core team which has been with them right from start and other than some initial hiccups, it has been a pleasant ride.

About the work culture, Nicolas says that while candidates chase companies for jobs in other places, it’s the other way round here. “It could also be because ours is a new company. Once we had shortlisted ten candidates for interviews. We had mailed and informed them to come the next day but none of them came. After this, we learnt that emails do not work here and the next time, we emailed, called and texted them,” says Nicolas with a smile.

The couple, who got married last summer, say that they held a big party for their friends in Goa. “We thought it was the right time to organise a get-together for our friends and we were influenced by the fact that weddings are huge here,” says Nicolas. And much to their surprise, their French friends in the City gifted them with a private autorickshaw as a wedding gift. “I am passionate about vintage and rustic vehicles and thus, this was one of the best gifts I have received,” says Nicolas. 

Ask them where they go with the three-wheeler and Johanne says, “We travel around the City and even go shopping. When some of the family members are here, we take them around in it.” She adds that people are pleasantly surprised when they see the couple driving around in the autorickshaw. “Sometimes, the local auto drivers look at us and when we smile at them, they also smile back as if welcoming us into their fraternity,” says Nicolas. 

Having studied one semester in Mumbai in 2006, the couple says that the city is very different from Bangalore. “Mumbai takes people along with its fast-paced nature. But Bangalore is a much easier place to be in. It is a relaxed city. We do miss the dynamism but it is a casual city and a great one to start a business at,” say the couple together.

There are things like garbage which still shock them. But the couple say that Bangalore is still a great place to be compared to the other cities in the country. “It is only when you leave Bangalore that you understand that it is still a very green city,” says Nicolas.

The couple hang out mostly in Indiranagar. They say that the place has everything from across the country to offer. “There are restaurants with different cuisines in Indiranagar. So we feel content there itself,” says Nicolas. 

They have learnt that family values are very important here. “I was warned by a friend that when you hire someone for your organisation, you are actually hiring the whole family. The family is so important that it cannot be kept away. This is not the scenario in France, where personal and professional lives are never mixed,” says Nicolas.  

There are many things to learn about here, they say. “One can only learn about India layer by layer,” he adds. Johanne and Nicolas say that the festivals in India have amazed them. “The best part is that there are so many festivals that not even the people here know which one is which sometimes,” says Nicolas.
The couple say in unison that their stay in the City has been a blessing and that they want to stay on for a longer time. “It’s a well-connected city. The people are great and the weather is absolutely lovable,” they wrap up.

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