I don't find myself out of place here'

Expat zone

I don't find myself out  of place here'

Ophelia, an entrepreneur from the United Kingdom, came to Bengaluru seven years ago to teach English at an orphanage.

She says that this changed her perception of the country that she had earlier. She was not aware of how the rich and poor co-existed in one space. But over the years, she has begun to understand the socio-economic conditions of the country and now looks at India with a more open mind.

“I did very little research before coming to India. I wanted to experience the country without any pre-conceived notions. India is vibrant, colourful, exciting and adventurous,” she says.

Although Ophelia, who hails from Yorkshire didn’t  want to talk about her life in the UK, she is excited when she talks about India.

She terms her stay here as a wonderful experience and meeting new people and making friends come easily to her. “I found it easy to meet people and make new friends by volunteering and just getting out. I don’t find myself out of place as there are a lot of expatriates who live in Bengaluru,” she says.

Ophelia loves travelling and has visited many places in the country.  However, she feels that the people of Bengaluru are easy-going and broadminded.

  “They are friendly, welcoming and helpful. Of all the cities in India, Bengaluru is the best as it is diverse and cosmopolitan. What I really like about India is that each state is different from the other and the people from each place are rooted to their traditions and culture. It is amazing to see how people live in sync despite such socio-economic and cultural differences. However, the country needs to rid itself of corruption and push for equality among people. It is saddening to see that female foeticide still exists and how education is seen as a luxury and not a basic right.”

Although she has adjusted to the country now, initially she came across a few barriers, the foremost being cultural shock. Hence, to make the lives of other expatriates easier, she launched a website called ‘This is Expat India’, which is a one-stop portal that has all the information for an expat living in India, especially those in Bengaluru.

   The website also helps them cope with culture shock, provides travel suggestions and has a unique map of the City with business recommendations and city guides.  “Through my website, I want to convey that India is a wonderful country to stay in if one understands the dynamics of it,” she says.

When asked what brings expatriates to Bengaluru, she says that it is the standard of living and the ample business opportunities available here. Unlike others who complain about the traffic here, Ophelia actually enjoys it.

“Bengaluru traffic is fun and adventurous,” she exclaims. “There are a lot of people who hate driving here but for me, it is unpredictable and anything can happen at any given point of time – it keeps me on my toes. There is a certain sense of calmness in the midst of chaos,” she says.

When she isn’t working (which is a rarity), she spends her time reading and travelling. Ophelia loves Indian food, particularly Kerala cuisine.

 She relishes the variety of dishes made from fish. She also loves cooking Indian food and has tried her hand at ‘meen curry’. She is also fascinated by the sari.

  “I find women in saris very elegant and graceful. India is colourful and you discover new things at every corner,” she adds.

How does the work culture here differ from that of the UK?
    “It is completely different here – in terms of efficiency, time, accuracy and ethics. I have been an employee and an employer and on both the fronts, I see the difference,” she says.

Ophelia finds it impossible to compare the United Kingdom with India. “There is a lot said aboutthe poverty but when you stay here, you will realise why the country is the way it is. India has broadened my mind and now, I think twice before passing any judgment on it,” she says.  

As of now, Ophelia is relishing her life in Bengaluru. She is grateful for the lessons that she has learnt here.  She hopes to be here for a long time.

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