I’m Paul van der Logt, a Dutch expat (53 years) living in Bangalore, India for the past 12 months, along with my wife Petra and our two dogs Amy and Joey. I’m working as a Program Director in Discover in the Unilever R&D lab in Bangalore.
Why did you decide to begin this adventure?
For a number of years, I was fascinated by Asia and had an interest to live and work in India for a few years to experience a totally different way of life in a totally different environment and culture. Then finally, mid 2015 the opportunity offered itself to turn this ambition into reality. Changes within the program priorities of my organisation required a stronger link between activities in Asia and Europe which were especially pressing in my area. We had already seen exchanges from Asia to Europe and now I had the opportunity to go in the other direction!
Was this your first expat move? Have you lived abroad before?
Although I had lived abroad before (7 years in the UK) I never truly looked at that as an expat experience since there are more commonalities than differences between NL and UK. I can’t really say the same about our experience in India: You can say a lot about India, but one thing it is NOT is boring: not a day goes by without a new experience, a new insight or a new learning. Both professionally the environment is quite different but also personally, experiencing Indian culture already had a deep impact on us. The big differences in socio-economic status means that there are 2 different types of India; a growing very much Western type society and a very traditional (but also far less effluent…) ‘local’ community. We like to experience both to the full!
How is a typical day for you here?
Since the temperature is quite different from NL, the seasons are not that extreme and the daylight is always from ~6 to 6 it has a big impact on your daily routine. I’m a keen runner so the temperatures dictate that I schedule my runs early in the morning. I normally get up around 6 am, have a coffee while dealing with the mail from Europe from the evening before and then go for a run and a swim which is a great refreshing start of the day! After a day at the office we normally like to have a relaxing evening, but the weekends tend to be more action packed. Since we arrived we tried to see as much of India as possible so we have already been on a fair bit of both short weekend trips and week-long tours!
What are the main differences with your home country?
I will not mention the weather as that is too obvious, but there are very big other differences. For example; I can’t drive here so we have a driver which sounds great but also brings its own challenges. Similar for my wife; we have a maid and a gardener which means all weekend chores are done before the weekend thus giving us a lot more extra time to enjoy. On the downside, we were used to a lot of freedom to go where we want, when we want, how we want (walk, bike, and car). Living in a big city like Bangalore makes that a lot more difficult and always requires a lot of planning so the sense of freedom is definitely restricted.
Which challenges did you face during your relocation and how did you overcome them?
The relocation itself went fairly smoothly when you ignore the incredible bureaucracy in India. In the few months around our relocation I completed/submitted over 250 documents of various sorts! What we have learned is not to get frustrated or panicky; ‘in the end it all works out’ but it will require a couple of forms/copies to get there… Crown was great in helping us to find suitable accommodation and taking care of all the rental paperwork and transporting our belongings; we just had to sign a few forms (…) and we could move into the house a few days after we arrived in India.
List three positive aspects of your new country
Experiencing the Indian culture and our privileged life is changing us to become more relaxed and reflective; we have started to appreciate what we have a lot more!
The ‘sensorial’ diversity; colour, sounds, smells, everything is so intense!
The weather (at least for 10 out of 12 months per year: April/May are too hot…)
How do you spend your leisure time here?
Lots of physical exercise and travelling to explore the country. But my wife also enjoys her time in the sun!
Which is your favourite local dish?
I personally like all types of Indian food but especially the simple dishes like Biryani and the many types of Indian bread are my favourite
Do you miss anything from your home country?
If mentioning one thing we miss it has to be ‘freedom’. We live a very privileged and luxurious life, but sometimes it does feel a bit like a ‘Golden Cage’
Have you had any funny or interesting story to share about your expat experience?
Even though Bangalore has a sizeable expat community we (as tall Caucasians, I’m 6’4”…) do stick out a bit. Especially when we walk our dogs outside of the compound where we live, people come up to us and make pictures of us and our dogs. Although we are the tourists, we sometimes feel more like the tourist attraction when total strangers approach us, put their arm around us and make selfies…..
Which advice would you give to any expat?
Enjoy and value the differences, look for new learnings and experiences every day and make the most of your time abroad. You will have plenty of time to enjoy your ‘home’ pleasures when you’re back home…..
How can we stay in touch with you?
I’m a Whatsapp and email person, never really got into Facebook and other social media.