Personal Blog

The thrill of Bangalore

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Wed, Nov 29, 2006 @ 09:11 AM

It's been a long time since I've written and much has happened.  I'm working on a web "micro" start-up, planning a trip to SE Asia, and training for a fundraising bike race.  But I don't want to skip over some of the best of the past, so first I'm going to finish describing the Sloan Fellows trip.  In my last MIT blogs, I described our stops in Beijing, Shanghai, and Kunming. 

We arrived in Bangalore at about 2 am.  The contrast with the gleaming new Beijing airport was dramatic.  The image fixed in my brain is the small strip of dirt between the end of the linoleum floor and the luggage carousel; I wondered if the floor had been laid on bare ground.  I later learned that plans for a new airport are stalled in a political wrangle. 

Next, I was stunned by the crowd waiting outside the building.  Like the red carpet gauntlet at the Academy Awards, thousands of people pressed against the barricades.  Probably nowhere is there greater evidence of the breadth of outsourcing than the vast array of international technology company names on the placards of the drivers meeting arriving passengers.  The energy was mesmerizing. 

We met an array of IT professionals -- owners and management of companies big and small -- who expressed a lot of enthusiasm for the work and the lifestyle.   Many had spent time in the US or Europe and were happy to be back home and for the opportunities now available there.  Those who earn the equivalent of a good professional salary in the US, can "live like kings" we were told, with large homes, many servants, etc.   We also had a great visit  with Professor  Sadagopan, the founder of the International  Institute for Information Technology,  a dynamic, interactive speaker.

Bangalore is a visual jumble – ranging from the super-elegant British colonial Leila Palace Hotel; the modern and expansive Infosys campus with its own power and water infrastructure and its own apartments and hotel; and the shanty lean-to buildings with uncollected trash in piles all around.  On of my biggest surprises, while walking around, was that the trash didn't smell.  Having lived through
New York City garbage strikes, it took a while to reconcile what I was seeing with what I wasn’t smelling.  My best guess is that every last scrap of food is eaten, so there is no decaying biomass. 

Traffic of all sorts (cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, and the tiny green and yellow motorcycle-based open taxis) moves in every direction at once.  Like a Nascar race machine, signs seem to be affixed to every available square inch.  And, of course, women's saris offer a kaleidoscope of color.  For me, it had the same exciting overload of the senses as Manhattan a week before Christmas. 

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Topics: IIITB, MIT - Sloan Fellows, global outsourcing, technology, Bangalore