If you are a techie lured by the great Bangalore IT rising — here are some points you should review before you decide to move to Bangalore from US or Europe and get the shock of your life.
1) Be ready for a salary cut. The news media loves hype. Ignore it. Despite the crazy hype — only a few companies pay near equivalents of a Dollar or Euro salary in Bangalore. Such salary packages are normally reserved for CXO level managers or totally super-duper mind bogglingly talented programmers or some crazily lucky individuals. If you fall in the rest of the gang — just talent, a good track record, international exposure — won’t get you your current dollar equivalent salary.
2) Avoid South Bangalore for your residence: The infamous Bannerghatta Road (BG Road) is “currently” in good condition. But it is so narrow that it cannot take the over load of traffic that seems to continue to grow. On a normal day expect a traffic-jam between 8:30 am and 9 pm. On a bad day — rains, accident, or a marriage procession — be ready to spend a few hours in agony and pain jammed on the road.
If your office is in South Bangalore and you decide to live somewhere on or near BG Road — forget about enjoying evenings and eating out in other parts of the city. The traffic will so badly frustrate you that somehow reaching home is all you will ever desire to do. Finally, around South Bangalore — Koramangala and Jayanagar have some nice localities but rents could be crazy due to demand and supply problems.
3 A) Commuting — Get a Car Insurance without fail: If you plan to drive your own car — spare yourself the agony of adjusting between the traffic rules followed normally in US. Some auto rickshaw or a bus or a truck will find your bumper and dent it badly at a certain point of time. You can’t prevent it. It is your ordained Karma if you decide to drive a car in Bangalore. Accept your unalterable fate and get car insurance asap; without fail.
3 B) Commuting — Hire an experienced car driver: Lane driving does not exist in Bangalore. This is the reality. period.
You will go crazy if you expect disciplined traffic. Let an experienced driver save you the headache and some extra car dents if you can afford it. There are no specific bus lanes in Bangalore. If they exist no bus driver follows them. Several buses and autorickshaws have non-working indicators. These two vehicle types can take a turn or stop whenever or where ever the driver likes. Also, be ready to accept some cows and dogs to share road space with your vehicle — besides traffic police sometimes cows and dogs like to check whether the traffic is behaving well.
4) Review your goals for moving to Bangalore: India is a colorful country. I love it. The varied food, culture, people — its amazing. If you are an Indian desparate to come back home — closer to your relatives and friends — plan to try Bangalore for 1 or 2 years — instead of taking a spot long term decision. Keep all options open.
If you wish to work as an ex-pat and plan to put experience in India/Bangalore on your CV — this is a good idea. But before you move your family to Bangalore — read some of my other posts. All tips I mentioned above apply. Bangalore is chaotic but a lot of fun. I love this city. You might decide that the fun is so good that you would stay here for a long time!
5) Be ready to discover work related disappointments: Once you start working in Bangalore you will discover many other issues related to quality of projects, time of conference calls etc.
For example from the techie community in Bangalore I keep hearing the complaint that several projects are not on the cutting edge. There are late night / early morning conference calls that will disrupt your family life. Be prepared for a big change if you decide to move to Bangalore from US or Europe.
What makes Bangalore as nice as US Silicon Valley?
Bangalore has excellent weather, lots of greenery, cosmopolitian citizens, and avenues for all kinds of activities. If you are a foodie, Bangalore has plenty of places for you to go. If you like to pub or shop you won’t get bored either. Bangalore overall is a very liveable city because its citizens & businesses have made the best of the weather and other natural resources to create a vibrant city.
So in case you are planning to shift to Bangalore for work, consider this: you will find a loveable city which has a sadly pathetic administration. The concentration of IT industry in the city would ensure that you will find jobs fairly easily if you are at the top end of the job-seeking competitive pool. IT salaries in India tend to be on the higer end in Bangalore.
Bangalore also has two of India’s elite academic institutions: Indian Institute of Management or IIMB for management programs and Indian Institute of Science or IISC for programs in science and technology. These two institutes would ensure that you have access to ample executive or part time programs to continue to update your skills.
On the practical side, the administration will tax you heavily. Petrol prices in Bangalore are amongst the higest in any Indian City. The government also levies some other taxes. Corruption ensures that public money ends up not for public good but for filling the pockets of the rightly connected. If you can ignore the administration and bad roads, you will love Bangalore.
How fair is the Bangalore & Silicon Valley comparison?
Bangalore has been projected as India’s Silicon Valley. The similarity between Bangalore and the US Silicon Valley, however, ends with the concentration of IT and other Hi-Technology companies in both these places. Bangalore in fact is much more concentrated, because Silicon Valley in the US comprises of several cities.
If you have never been to the American Silicon Valley but only to Banglaore then you will get a completely mistaken picture of the Silicon Valley in the US. The pothole you see in the accompanying picture is in Bangalore and is fairly easy to spot on various lanes / roads of the city but is difficult to find in the American Silicon Valley.
On the other hand, If you have never travelled to Bangalore but have been to the Silicon Valley on the West Coast of United States you might form a mistaken notion about Bangalore from this comparison.
Where is the US Silicon Valley? The name “Silicon Valley” was termed by journalist Don Hoefler in 1971 according to Wikipedia
Silicon refers to the high concentration of semiconductor and computer-related industries in the area; Valley refers to the Santa Clara Valley, located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay.
Wikipedia further explains the area that roughly is considered a part of the Silicon Valley:
Silicon Valley encompasses the northern part of Santa Clara Valley and adjacent communities in the southern parts of the San Francisco Peninsula and East Bay. It reaches approximately from Menlo Park (on the Peninsula) and the Fremont/Newark area in the East Bay down through San Jose, centered roughly on Sunnyvale. The Highway 17 corridor through the Santa Cruz Mountains into Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz County is sometimes considered a part of Silicon Valley.
Bangalore’s Infrastructure woes non-existent in US Silicon Valley
Besides pot holes, Bangalore has a problem of small roads and haphazard growth. Housing projects are mushrooming all over. Without a seeming broader view of the impact of the housing projects. For example there is a 5-10 km long road in South Bangalore called the Bannerghatta (BG) Road. Alongside BG road are major housing projects and commerical establishments that ensure that traffic snails every day on these roads. Result? Loss of time and productivity for the thousands who commute to work. Problem: The administration didn’t realize that having housing projects and offices along a single road will lead to this problem!Whats the proof that Bangalore administration missed the point? A second road that is heading to the same disaster as BG road is Hennur Road. Big Housing Projects are mushrooming along Hennur Road. The road is not getting modernized or enlarged. Result: Commuters will suffer yet again.
The Bannerghatta Main Road, which is nothing short of a glaring blot on the face of India’s Silicon capital. Forget tech-gizmos: it is endless bumpy rides on an almost non-existent road, ended up pulling IIMB students on to the streets. After all, it was Wipro chief Azim Premji’s harangue last year which got some action on the Sarjapur road!
All the administration has finally managed is to improve the road condition. But it has not learnt the lesson from the BG mistake — dont let development happen alongside a long road without providing solid alternate travel routes from houses and offices to connecting main roads. Hennur Road is another traffic and infrastructure time-bomb ticking to explode soon.