'India gives me a lot of hope'

Expat zone

'India gives me  a lot of hope'

When engineer Sean Blagsvedt decided to move to India in 2005 from California, he found the prospect of shifting to a different country as a fun, shocking and eye-opening experience.

Now, after a long, interesting stay in the City, with his wife Archana and son Vyom, he doesn’t blink an eye when he says that Bengaluru is one of his favourite cities. “I have spent a lot of my time in Bengaluru than any other city in India. I feel Bengaluru is the place to be in,” he says.

Sean moved to India to help set up the Microsoft Research Laboratory. He recalls that back then, he didn’t know about the country very much and mainly wanted to work with a lot of people and understand the place on his own.

   “I was always attracted to places that are globalist and cosmopolitan. This is a welcoming place. I stayed back here because Bengaluru was in the midst of a transition. There was a growing, global middle class. I found that the majority of young people here were oriented to entrepreneurship,” he says, adding that he also loves the weather here.

However, Sean was also quite shocked to see a massive class inequality and analysed how the rich and the poor co-existed in the same space, unlike in USA. At the same time, he was motivated to use technology and see how it could penetrate into people’s lives. Thus, he founded ‘Babajob.com’, a web and mobile start-up which is dedicated to bring job opportunities to the informal and unorganised

sector by connecting the right employers and job seekers through the web, mobile apps, SMS and voice services.

Though his work keeps him busy throughout the day, he says that he works and sleeps late. Sean likes hanging out at the  restaurants on MG Road and Indiranagar with a few
close friends. He has also got a glimpse of the country and has travelled to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. He has also driven to Goa.

Sean was surprised to find the close-knit relationships among family members  and the hospitality shown towards guests in India. “It’s not like this abroad. There is a lot of social separation between generations. I find the family connection here very strong. I see my in-laws at home a lot of times and I like the bond we share.”

However, he was saddened that many students here prepare for exams by ‘rote learning’. “Students spend the entire year learning for an exam excluding everything else. There, a test is not the most important thing. It’s all about learning to become creative citizens.”  

Though he has tasted a broad spectrum of cuisines, Sean picks pickle as his favourite dish. As for his Indian wedding, he explains the marriage was a different experience altogether. “It was really hot during the wedding. Literally trial by fire,” he laughs.

One of his favourite festivals is ‘Pongal’, which he celebrates with his in-laws. He adds that he likes to trace Indian festivals to their histories and understand the stories behind them.

Though he has been to some of the major cities, he loves Bengaluru the best. “There have been many positive changes and improvements here. A lot of young people are into different activities, taking to streets and helping many people. I like the broad-minded nature and diversity in Bengaluru,” he says. However, the City has a long way to go. “The City still caters to an elite class.

I wish there were more business initiatives that catered to the poor. There are dynamic start-ups that are coming up but their target audience is the top strata of the society. Bengaluru is the seat of a civil society but I feel we still aren’t doing enough. We need to act more and have smart and dedicated people who rule the offices.”

With a mission to succeed in his job, Sean is not done here yet and wishes to grow further in his company. Hence, he doesn’t want to go back as ‘Babajob’ is in the brink of an expansion. “India gives me a lot of hope. Transitions have come about peacefully and not through violent revolutions or wars. The entire experience in Bengaluru has changed me a lot. It has been one of learning and growth. Marriage has changed me a lot and playing the role of a father has given me a new perspective on life,” he sums up.  

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