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Letter from Bangalore

Life in Bangalore [Bengaluru] has changed a lot since I first spent about six months here in 1995. It’s been said to have been – and maybe still is – the fastest growing city in Asia. Everyone has heard about all the service and software outsourcing to India – Ground Zero of that is Bangalore.

Beautiful climate still, although it has changed immensely due to all the concrete, tarmac and high-rise buildings. I’ve seen it myself since 1995. Many natives say it has changed greatly in the last 20 or 30 years.

It is also not so laid back as it was even ten years ago. But there is a lot of vitality (especially during the seasons when the wind blows away the pollution, composed of smog and lots of pollen and dust; that appears to be less and less often, though). Lots of people get sick quite often with respiratory problems.

I am amazed at the revolution among the young people, especially the young women. I was quite used to people’s conservative and elegant manners, but now in the new coffee house chains I often see 20-something women in spaghetti tops with bare midriffs, tattoos and low-rise jeans, smoking cigarettes and putting their arm around some young man. Quite a change, to say the least!

Maybe it is a good thing if they can at least interact with a few males before marrying one. Anyway, most young people haven’t rebelled as much as the ones I just described; they still look like they did 10 years ago, maybe a bit more affluent.

I don’t really know what goes on privately, but I suppose the biggest change is Internet matchmaking and dating (especially the former). It seems more efficient than the newspaper ads, but a young, male Indian friend of mine seemed to have struck out pretty badly in his own, basically arranged, marriage.

His wife looks like a good catch, but they are very unhappy together. I really suspect he takes way too much for granted about women – like they should automatically fall in love with their newlywed husband. I’ve seen similar attitudes before among Indian men. I think Khushwant Singh, the 80-something Sikh journalist, is right when he says young people should get to know someone before marrying her/him.

The “information technology” companies here (such as the one I work for) are growing so fast now that they can’t find engineers with the right qualifications. I’m working with my boss on a way to improve the situation using testing and training.

Bangalore offers tremendous possibilities for business and it gets better all the time. The main drawbacks of the place are the high pollen count, the dust, the vehicular air pollution, and the poor electricity, water, sanitation, and road infrastructure.

Some of these problems will be addressed, but probably not before the present government falls. The previous government did great things for Karnataka and Bangalore, but the people did not appreciate that by bringing wealth to the state capital, the whole state is benefited.

All in all, life is good for an expat here. I hope this gives you a flavour of things.

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