'Everyone in India is an Indian first'

'Everyone in India is an Indian first'

Expat zone

'Everyone in India is an Indian first'

It’s the love for the country and her past experiences that made Signe Bokaer Wilkinson from Copenhagen, Denmark come back to India. Though Signe visited the country for the first time in 1986 and again in 1994, she and her family moved to Bengaluru in October 2014 when she was posted as an offshore manager of KMD Operations.

   She lives here with her husband Jason, who is from Auckland, New Zealand and their children Inia and Toki.

And one can decipher that her love for the country is quite strong. “I was deeply charmed by the country. It was just after my trip to India that I met my husband and when our daughter was born, we named her Inia, which means ‘India’ in Maori, the language spoken by the indigenous people of New Zealand.”

Having done backpack travelling and voluntary work trips to India earlier, Signe was familiar with the culture. “When I got this job, I knew this was it. But I was worried as to how different it would be,” she says.

India has developed largely and things were nothing like before. “The Bengaluru I saw 30 years back was not what it is now. The IT boom has brought huge changes to the city — it has become very modern,” she says.

“Bengaluru has grown so much but the infrastructural system hasn’t kept pace with that. You also see a lot of foreigners and youngsters coming and work here,” she says.

She finds the people here  much warmer than those  back home. “The people I meet at work are very committed, focussed and talented. There is a huge community feeling where we stay,” she adds.

Back in Copenhagen, cycling was a big part of their lot. “But this is close to impossible here. It’s not safe to go biking here,” she says.

The weather also is starkly different she points out. “The winters are extremely cold in Denmark!”

Elaborating on the  lifestyle there, she says, “A family has  both the parents working. Hence people are extremely busy.”

Jason, who does voluntary work here, finds life in Bengaluru quite relaxed. “Things are very structured in Denmark. It is known for its high standard of living. One might say that the system is a bit rigid, but things are just done in a prompt format,” he says.
However, the family believes that India is a beautiful country.

“It is so vast and varied. There is beauty in everything. I work with the government schools here and love the smiles on children’s faces. They love meeting foreigners,” he says.

 Jason also practices yoga and thoroughly enjoys it. He loves the fact that despite the diversity, everything is in place here.  “Everyone in India is an Indian first, despite their varied backgrounds.” 

Jason adds that life in Auckland, which is known as ‘The City of Sails’, was different. “There are a number of boats there, thus the name,” he explains. “The food is very international and includes a lot of lamb and fish.”

“Danish food is less spicier compared to Indian food. We eat a lot of meat there. During our stay in Denmark, Jason tried to turn vegetarian but it didn’t work out. Now in India, he has actually succeeded,” says Signe.

The family loves spending time in the gated community, where they live, and is in love with the summer.

“We love visiting the pool and restaurants here. The ‘dosa’ at one of the places is phenomenal,” says Signe. They also like visiting restaurants like ‘Chung Wah’ and Inia loves ‘Shiro’ in UB City. “The ‘crispy avocado sushi’ at Shiro is very inviting,” she says.

The children go to Indus International School and love the friends they have made there.
“The school has a nice campus. We love the school and the lovely people we have met there,” says Toki. He is also happy that he has learnt English here. “The curriculum here is entirely based in English unlike back home,” he says.

Inia loves having the juicy tomatoes here. She also enjoys observing the colours around.
“Women here look beautiful in any colour, be it screaming yellow or bright pink,” says Inia with a smile.

The Wilkinsons’ have “had an interesting stay” here. “In the beginning, lot of adjustments had to be made. But once that happened, we have enjoyed everything here,” says Signe. She also says that she has become more patient. “You can’t rush things up here. There are a lot of new things here and we have learnt to embrace them with each passing day. We have adjusted well,” says Jason.

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