Foreign nationals who work in Technopark would love to have a long association with the city
Technopark is definitely a melting pot of nations. Many foreign nationals have started business ventures, some come on short visits as consultants or trainers, and many others shuttle between their home countries and Technopark. Catching up with a few in the crowd was indeed exciting.
Australian Rob Bisset, head of IT operations at Allianz Cornhill, has a five-year association with the place. Having lived in Delhi and travelled extensively within India, he says: “I found the city interestingly different from other cities I've lived and worked in, with a much slower pace of life that I am still getting used to. Short travelling distances make it an ideal place for striking the right work-life balance. Also, the organisation I work for is a great place to be. There is the advantage of being in a city with a high growth potential and world class organisations for neighbours.” He is married to a Delhiite, Pooja.
Sara Andreis, from Italy, is moved by the respect she gets as a teacher. She teaches Italian at Eteam Informatica India Pvt Ltd. She studied Hindi, spent some months in North India and has worked as an Italian teacher in Rajasthan before coming to Technopark last year. Technopark, to her, looks beautiful amidst coconut trees and greenery. “I like the people I meet here. Also, there are beautiful places to discover in and around Technopark and the city is culturally very interesting,” she says.
Dutch national Oscar Dekkers, managing director of Faes Packaging Solutions Pvt Ltd, still feels he is in a paradise. “Good facilities, highly qualified people, beautiful surroundings, clean air and city… truly God's own country, with all the green palm trees. It was only later that I came to know about the difference between palms and coconut trees as we don't have these trees in the Netherlands!” he says.
Martijn van der Spek is amongst the seniors of the lot. A Dutch national, he came to Technopark in 2001, for, “the combination of skills and costs in the city was unbeatable at that moment. I liked the friendliness of the people and their willingness to help.” Founder and Managing Director of ARS Software Engineering in 2001, he moved on to co-found Sparkling Design and Infotech, last year. “As an outsider, you are at a disadvantage anywhere, but less so here, where everyone tried to make me feel welcome,” says Martjin.
M.Vasudevan, Senior Manager, Business Development, still remembers Technopark's initial trysts with foreigners. “A Swiss couple had come down evincing interest. We received them personally at the airport. They started a company, Health Informatics, which functioned for five years,” he says. He also speaks about Toroid India (now taken over by a Belgian firm) run by K.J.Westman from Sweden in the Nila building, which, at that time didn't have a proper approach road or lifts. “They insisted on having the office on the sixth floor, since that gave them a great view of the place,” he says.
A major attraction for all the foreigners has been the tourism factor. Now that Technopark has established cross-continental incubation between the Technopark Technology Business Incubator (T-TBI) and incubators in other countries, the foreign presence is getting bigger.
Bonding in a big way
All of them would like to stay on, in spite of the drawbacks. Rob definitely would like to see some improvement in housing, food and entertainment, but finds a definite improvement in shopping options. Sara finds that everyone is “concentrated on their job and earning money and there is little space for social life, on the campus. People here, especially women, prefer to spend free time at home with their family. There are less opportunities for entertainment, going out, playing games, bicycling...” But she has got used to the food, the climate, likes anything that is vegetarian, and plans to stay for a longer period.
Oscar has had problems with the traffic. He says: “It feels like a jungle with mosquitoes (bikes) and bees (autos) and elephants (buses) and an occasional real elephant, which doesn't have lights at night.” But neither he nor his Indian wife, Vandana, has any intention of leaving the place, now that they have a new-born baby boy, Leon. “We like the weather, the food, excellent colleagues and the growing group of friends. We feel at home.”
Martijn, who lives with wife, Esther, and six-year-old daughter, Anna, has already purchased two properties in the city and his parents live here in their own house six months a year. “Our daughter speaks Malayalam now and will teach us eventually!” he says.
Keywords: Trivandrum Technopark