The strong connect

Expat zone
Last Updated 25 September 2016, 18:29 IST

Consumed in the world of technology, John Chacho from the US hardly realised how eight years passed by working at Oracle. When that realisation finally struck him, he decided to take some time off and try his hand at screenwriting.

He says, “After a year of doing that, I realised I wasn’t too good at it. It was time to go back to the corporate world, but I didn’t want to continue working for the same company and I also wanted to work abroad. That’s when a friend I hadn’t spoken to since long called and asked if I could help manage his software team in India.” John came to Bengaluru in 2007 and worked with the company for the next two years. Then he went back to the USA to give screenwriting another shot.

“I still wasn’t good enough to make it big and I realised that I should pursue it as a hobby. Soon, I got a call from the Indian company to come back and help with software for mobile gaming. I’ve been in Bengaluru since 2013,” he explains.

He grew up in the small town of Charlotte Hill in New York that has a small population and a lot of dairy cows around. When he was 13, his family moved to Florida and have been living there since.

He says, “Charlotte Hill, where I spent most of my childhood, is closer to my heart than Florida, where I felt like a small fish in a big pond.” As a teen, he spent time on horse farms, hunting, fishing and driving around pickup trucks.

Before he first moved to India, he imagined the country to be a tropical land with elephants walking about and occasional snake charmers on the road. “There have been a few surprises. As soon as I open my door, I am presented with a whole new environment. Everything right from the roads and the sidewalks (if there are any) to the number of people on the roads and how the telephone wires and cables are strung to the trees...it’s very different. I like it here,” he says with a smile. Presently, the entrepreneur is developing his own software and spends most of his time in front of the computer. When he’s not doing that, he likes hanging out with friends, travelling and brushing up his Kannada.

With his ‘Swalpa Kannada’, he travelled on a state bus to northern Karnataka recently. “I always carry a Kannada-to- English translation dictionary. During my travel, a group of college students started asking me questions. I was referring to my dictionary to reply. After they got off, a little boy came and sat next to me and we spent the next hour learning Kannada and English words. Such instances are rare in the USA. I like the openness to strangers that India has,” he shares.

He has learnt to read Kannada and Hindi phonetically. “I can say ‘illi side-alli stop maadi’, ‘oota aayitha’, ‘subha raathri’ and ‘heg iddira’. Even if I am wrong, people are delighted that I’ve made an atte­mpt. But the problem is most people want to show off their English,” he says, laughing.

Though eggs in different styles make up his breakfast, he usually eats out for lunch and dinner. Restaurants like ‘California Burrito’, ‘Shiro’, ‘Farzi Cafe’ and ‘Blistering Barnacles’ are some of his favourites. Ordering ‘Chicken 65’ and ‘Daal fry’ from ‘Nandhini Restaurant’ is also an option for him.  He enjoys walking and taking in the smell of the leaves in different parts of the city. He has even purchased books with information on the trees in the state. However, he wishes there was a better waste segregation system here. He opines, “I don’t think many of us know where to throw garbage and where it goes afterwards. It would be helpful if there was transparency on this.”

Over the years, he has adjusted to how the city works. John claims that there’s a possibility his friends might find him “too Indian” when he goes back, especially with the head bobbing he denies having. He says, “I feel very lonely back home. I’ve become so used to seeing lots of people on the streets. I would like to stay here as long as I can.”

(Published 25 September 2016, 15:40 IST)

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