'Bangalore has the right dynamics'

Expat zone
Last Updated 31 August 2014, 14:35 IST

Eelco and Maartje Jorritsma, with their three kids, five-year-old Rick, three -and-a-half year old Kaat and one-and-a-half year old Duuk, moved to Bangalore from The Netherlands, around two years ago.

While it’s their jobs that brought them to the City, the family also wanted to interact with people from other places. 

Eelco, a senior metallurgist and Maartje, a development manager with Shell, have not lived in their home country much. They have mostly been out for expatriate assignments on work. 

   “I have lived in Russia, USA, Japan, and Scotland among other places,” says Maartje, adding, “I had been on a backpacking trip to India 15 years ago on a ‘dollar-a-day’ budget. It was overwhelming but I liked it. So I knew that when I came back with a bigger pay, it would be a great experience. I didn’t research too much before coming. But we had heard that it was easier to travel to any other place from Bangalore.”

Maartje says that Bangalore was not only an adventurous location but also a feasible option. 

“We knew that there was a large expat community here. People had told us that Bangalore is similar to Aberdeen in Scotland. We knew that most people here aren’t from the City but from across the country and world. Bangalore has the right dynamics,” she says.

Maartje says that her work covers the Asia-Pacific region. 

“The project I work on is related to Iraq. It is a major project with all the engineering support coming from Bangalore. I also have to travel often to Dubai on work,” she says. Eelco says that his travel consists of places like Philippines, Russia etc.

While Maartje says that every place she has worked in has been a different experience, what she loved about the office here is that it is a ‘young office’. 

“In the Houston office, I had worked with people who were there for a long time. Now I’m in an office full of energetic and smart people,” she details. 

   She adds that there is a good sense of humour among the employees here. 

“I’m very happy at work. I have worked with Indians before and had an idea about their calibre. I was worried about being perceived as a working woman and a boss but I’ve got positive reactions so far,” says Maartje.

Respect is one of the core values at work, says Maartje. Eelco agrees as he says, “I’ve always felt welcome here.” Eelco, who does engineering for existing assets from Shell, is a technical specialist. 

   “I have worked in places that Maartje has worked in. Here in India, I’m the only non-Indian in my group. 

People are willing to learn from my experience and that is a welcome sign,” he says.Eelco says that from a technical perspective, the Indian way of working is very theoretical and not pragmatic. “People respond to any situation first by turning to their books and not practical examples. However, employees are open to learn about practical ways,” he says. Unlike most expatriates, Eelco says that keeping deadlines is not an issue here.

Speaking about his office, he says, “Relationships at work are restricted to the office here unlike the UK or The Netherlands.”

Eelco finds it difficult to adjust to the traffic here. “Initially, it’s very overwhelming. Also, getting things done here is not always a simple task. Though everything is there, getting it organised and finding out what is available where is a tedious task,” he says. 

   Having stayed in the USA, Eelco says that he’s used to finding everything from hammer and nails to the machines required for woodwork at one place. “But the scenario is different here. People are very helpful though which makes it easy to tackle the situation,” he says. The couple has to balance work with family life. They enjoy going to spots like Bannerghatta National Park. But they get occupied with the kids’ friends’ birthday parties and their work. “We also love travelling but since we move around a lot, there is hardly any time nowadays. We have travelled to some parts of the country like Goa, Jaipur, Agra, Ajanta and Ellora,” say the two. 

The fact that Rick has opted for Hindi as an extra language at school shows how much the family loves India. “Kaat loves Bollywood dance costumes. She is fascinated by them,” says the proud mother. 

   Summing up, the family says together, “It has been a comfortable stay in Bangalore.”

(Published 31 August 2014, 14:35 IST)

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