Wednesday, November 14, 2007

By Gary Duncan, Assistant Director of Marketing

Arriving in the southern city of Bangalore, India, you have the sense that you have been transported back 100 years to the time of British colonialism. Unlike northern India with its marble palaces and red sandstone forts, Bangalore appears to the visitor to be a colonial town that you might see in southern England-- not India. With tree-lined street and bountiful parks, the Gothic-like churches and government buildings are designed and built of solid granite blocks with traffic policemen in crisp khaki uniforms and pith helmets adorn with large flowing feathers. Ye gads, you would think the Queen’s Regiment was going to come marching down the street at any moment!

Everything is orderly and yet totally disorderly in Bangalore. Yes, I am reminded that this is India where reality is seen through a slanted prism that never gives you the true picture of what you are observing. First, the residents of this proper town do not call it Bangalore-- it is now called Bangalooru! This changing of names of cities has become quite a fad in India as it struggle to shed its’ British colonial history by returning to its true heritage before the Brits decided that the ‘sun never sets on the’... well, you know, blah, blah, blah. So we now have Mumbai instead of Bombay, Chennai instead of Madras, and Bangalooru instead of Bangalore. Still, the residents of Bangalooru have retained some very good traits from this era of commercial British imperialism and incorporated them into their culture and norms. Just listen to the cadence and structure of the spoken English-- close your eyes and you will swear that you are listening to an elegant lecture at Oxford. Bangalooruians or whatever they choose to call themselves, have a love for parks, gardens, statues, and tea time. Ah, tea time, we Americans could never understand the true value and personal enhancement of an engaging afternoon tea time, but the people of Bangalore relish their tea and pleasant conversation.

Our study tour group of sponsors are transfixed in a time warp as we explore this wonderful city of old and new. You can almost hear the sounds of carriages on cobblestone streets although visually all you see are thousands of cars going in all directions like ants in panic mode. There is new construction everywhere in Bangalooru as this city becomes a mecca for the high-tech industry of Asia. In less than 15 years, the population of this city has doubled along with the need for housing, transportation and medical care. International technology companies have established very modern ‘corporate campuses’ attracting well-educated and trained population of professionals. You have probably talked to some of them who are employed by call centers serving such companies as Sears, CitiBank, Home Depot, and Lands End. So when you call to complain about your Black and Decker drill that will not work properly, “Jimmy" will calmly handle your questions as if he where just down the street from your house. He has practiced his ‘American accent' and can correct the problem you are experiencing-- from 9,000 miles away! Quite a feat for this little city that was originally called ‘Pot of Beans’ by the original inhabitants. It is quite remarkable to see how technology businesses have changed the demographics as well as the culture of this city. Our sponsors see the real ‘promise’ and hope the growing Indian economy in the faces of these young professionals who are reshaping customer service and technology innovation throughout the world.

We are going to stay three days in this city and our sponsors are going to be very surprised by what they see and hear from our CCF hosts in India. More about all these activities later, it is now ‘tea time’ for me at my office in Richmond, Va., and I brought back a few packets of strong black tea from southern Indian. A touch of milk to your steaming cup of eyelash-curling tea and you’re all set to relax and reflect on the day. Cheers!

1 comment:

Muhammed said...

Nice comment on bangalore.. though I am an India... not from bangalore.. currently in Blore.. your words jusify my impression on this loving city :)