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Expat Mom in Bangalore
chillibreeze writer — Joanna Budelman
Are you a foreigner looking for tips and advice on living in India? Are you thinking of joining the global expat work life in Bangalore? What CNN calls the "outsourcing boom"? Maybe your spouse’s company is considering setting up a back office in India, and if you’re in the IT field, its more than likely you will be relocating to Bangalore, India.
If this is your situation, then this article is for you. I remember how I longed for any tangible, realistic, information I could get my hands on about what it’s like for an expatriate American living in Bangalore. Well here is one Mom’s description of what life is like for our family.
Expatriate Life with a working husband and a five year old daughter
Our home life is fantastic. We have a maid, a part time gardener, and wonderful Indian neighbors, who come from different parts of India, live at different lifestyle levels, and yet, almost all speak English well.
One of the reasons why our family life remains peaceful in the booming city of Bangalore is because we searched for a house with a yard, or as they call it here, a garden. (Get a laugh and read the stylusinc.com article on Indian English.) Our daughter enjoys typical backyard life with all her friends as they play in their two story fort, the clay house, or rope swing. None of these backyard goodies were there when we moved in. In fact, making all these simple contraptions is a bonus to life in India. You can get things done easily with the help of a handy-man who can make almost anything you dream up, for very little money.
We have placed our daughter in a local play school instead of opting for one of the International Schools. The name of her school is Promise Center and it is run and owned by an enthusiastic teacher who has adapted the Montessori Method with her own. Promise Center is just one of the many good play schools you can find throughout the city. Another reason we opted for Promise Center is to keep our daughter out of the traffic and pollution. We couldn’t see our 5 year old daughter travel daily in the congestion, not to mention the danger of the roads. We enjoy the 5 minute walk to school from our home. This could also happen for you as there are hundreds of great play schools to choose from.
Tip on how to select a school
Besides all the typical tips you read on selecting a school. I have tried this one. Whenever we go to the local club, or to a restaurant, coffee shop or bookstore; I often interact with the children, asking them which school they attend. I ask why they like the school, what about homework, friends, transportation, rules, sports and extra curricular activities. You would be amazed at the information I have gathered about the Indian schools in Bangalore. From this list, my husband and I have gone on tours of many of the institutions we found most interesting.
Back to family life as a foreigner
When I say that life is fantastic I am also referring to the benefit of having a maid. I was lucky to find a maid that cooks, cleans and also speaks English. This is a big plus for me, as I don’t have both a maid and a cook in the house.
We also enjoy the family values that are so strong in India. Since we are far from home, we enjoy the interaction with other families, especially the attention and interaction Indian adults and young teenagers give to children. This multi-generational interaction is very healthy and good exposure for our daughter as she learns to communicate with people.
Extra curricular activities and interests
There are so many opportunities for your children. It may not be American football, but there are lots to choose from. Right now our daughter is taking violin lessons from Gisela, who is a German living in India for the past 20+ years. Gisela comes to our home once per week and teaches our daughter. These private violin lessons, given in our home, would be considered a luxury in America. But here it is so reasonable, not to mention the excellent teacher we have found. I have friends whose children are enrolled in piano, ballet, horse riding, swimming, classical Indian, ballroom, tango and aerobic dance classes.
Bangalore is booming with bookstores. We treat the bookstore like a library. Last night we took our daughter, with two of her friends, to Oxford Book Store. We enjoyed coffee and browsing while the children played and sat at the kiddie tables. The day before I took our daughter and her friend to Crossword Books where they had a "Children’s Hour". They had invited a local professional potter and bags of potter's clay. All the children where taught how to make masks and coil pots. I was impressed with the entire event, not to mention 50+ kids molding clay pots in a book store!
The latest trend in Bangalore is indoor shopping malls and large grocery stores. We still don’t have anything like a Wal-Mart, but shopping for household and grocery items has become easier with new multipurpose grocery stores, which were an oddity four years ago.
Tips on a few good books you should purchase upon arrival
All these books are available at the Gangaram's Book Store or other major Bangalore book stores. Click here for my Complete Book List for Bangalore Expats.
Let me know if this article was helpful
If you are an expat living in Bangalore and have ideas you would like to add, then write them down and send them to me at I am sure all our fellow expats will be thrilled to read diverse ideas and comments. Hope to hear from you.
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