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My Expat Story: One Year In Bangalore – Relationships

In April, 2012 I completed one year in India.  Welcome to #2 in a series of articles recounting how life has really been for me in Bangalore.  Article #1 was all about the work stuff.  Article #2 sums up dating, relationships and being a single, white woman in Bangalore.

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When I first moved here I used to stop almost daily to take photos of all the wonderful sights around me. Now, a year later I’ve lost that passion for hopping out of the car with my camera … I kind of want it back. Hints on how to reignite that drive are very welcome!

Moving to a new place is never without its challenges.  I count my blessings that I am an extremely outgoing person and adapt well to new environments, two gifts that have made moving to Bangalore a pretty easy transition.  Not a perfect transition, obviously, but I’m truly proud that I don’t bitch and moan incessantly about the ‘differences’ or stock my fridge with food from my homeland or spend all my time in expat world.  Although I DO still ask people headed from the states for a box of Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts and anyone heading back from the UK for Aeros mint chocolate … I mean, I’m only human!  But for the most part, I’ve adapted to my new home and for the most part I’m really happy.

Making friends topped my priority list when I moved to Bangalore and I had made a conscious decision before I moved over NOT to join expat groups or clubs and not to network only in expat-focused scenarios.  I knew from the net that it would be a super way to make friends quickly – kind of like the cool social equivalent to those sponges that are dehydrated but when you pour water on them they instantly expand into the shape of Hello Kitty or a t-rex.  I could have had an instant network of like-minded foreigners to socialise with but in the back of my mind I knew that I’d make friends with foreigners organically over time so I really wanted to try hard to build a life in India with Indian friends.  And I tell you, I’m really happy that it’s all worked out.

The first five weeks I lived in Bangalore were probably the loneliest of my life but because everything else was so exotic and fresh and new I was able to get through it.  Aside from one Saturday night in Chennai, I ate alone every single night with Eduardo (that’s my laptop’s name) writing a blog post – with no social life, dang did I used to write a lot back then!  None of my work colleagues invited me out for happy hour or dinner because they were all married and it really isn’t appropriate to do that here in India unless someone is single – and even then it depends on how liberal their family is.  I know from my driver Shiva and other people I’ve spoken to that for MANY people going out to restaurants and bars is simply not done – EVER!  Or in Shiva’s case, maybe once per year (the restaurant part, not the bar! He never goes there).  So, it was me and Eduardo alone every night at a different restaurant until I made my first friend.

At the end of May, 2011 I was so lucky because my first friend was the sweetest DJ at the hottest club in town, Skyye.  He introduced me to people around town, introduced me to several people who are still my best friends in town and basically explained and exposed me to the Bangalore scene.  After that, I made more friends through friends, started to make a couple of expat friends and life perked up!

Today I have so many acquaintances who I’m always happy to see out and about in town.  But more importantly, I have a few wonderful friends who I know that I can count on day or night if my daughter and I ever needed them.  I’ve only been here a short time so I’m still missing a “best friend” in town who I speak to daily and share life’s ups and downs with but I love that I have wonderful friends who will bring over food and medicine and will watch a DVD with me if I’m ever sick.  Or friends who are always there as my +1 when I need someone or friends who are there to talk and cry to when something crap happens and I need them.

Having a social life also meant I was no longer living a sheltered existence only being driven between work, home (or at the hotel the first month) and my dinner dates with Eduardo.  I was now in the Bangalore social scene and started to experience my first taste of what it means to be a white single woman living in Bangalore.

Honestly I think I’ve covered most of what I have to say in other articles on the finer details of  being a single woman here but I will sum it up briefly.  I’ve written about what it’s like being a tall, blonde, white woman here to the insanely high percentage of Indian men already in relationships who try to make a move on white women to the cultural differences of dating an Indian man.  Frankly speaking, I was completely 100% ill-equipped in many ways to deal with the experiences I’ve had over the past year in India when it comes to being a single woman.

When I moved here I hadn’t been on a date since December, 2009.  That was almost 18 months!  And I haven’t had a boyfriend for around seven years.  So you can imagine how great I thought it was at the beginning to receive so much attention and so many offers to go on dates (and for the first five or six weeks after making that first friend, I turned them all down).  Going from being invisible in Spain to having the top Indian models, millionaire entrepreneurs, famous cricketers, musicians and more asking me out was sure the polar opposite to my life back in Barcelona.  The thing is, it doesn’t take foreign women long to understand that 99% of the attention isn’t real.  Well, I mean, it is real in that it happens all the time but it doesn’t really have anything to do with us as INDIVIDUALS.  For the most part, guys don’t care WHO we are, just that we have white skin or western roots.

That is my least favourite part about living in India so far.  Well, maybe it’s a tossup between that and the horn blowing.  Not only is it insulting to me as a professional who moved here for work but simply as ME – Angela – it hurts my feelings to continually be treated this way.  At the end of the day, I simply don’t trust Indian men anymore when they start to pay attention to me, so even the nicest guy in the world has the most amazing uphill battle with me now.  It’s a bit sad.

The most surprising relationship for me has been with my driver, Shiva.  I never had a driver before moving to India and he has been with me since my 3rd week in town.  At first, he was a short-term benefit from my company until I settled in and bought a car but since July, 2011 I pay for his services out of my own pocket (I don’t work for a foreign company but as the only foreigner in India for an Indian company).  I spend more time with Shiva than anyone else in India, including my daughter.  He knows all the details of my life, all my secrets so-to-speak, and I trust him with all that.  I’d sort of be lost without him, actually.  And my blog would certainly not be as good!  He is my Indian moral compass and the person I turn to for a glimpse away from my circles and to another side of “real India” (because my Indian friends also live a “real life” but night and day different to Shiva and his world) and I like being able to add in another perspective and learn from him.  I will be quite sad when the time comes for either of us to move on because I don’t believe we could be friends beyond our employer/employee relationship – although maybe I’m wrong.  But I don’t see an easy transition from being someone he calls madam.  However, again, I really hope I’m wrong about that.

Truly I don’t mean what I’m about to write any way other than how I write it.  I’m not fluffing up my own feathers but in the spirit of full-disclosure I want to state one thing.  Because of who I am on the OUTSIDE, I am fully aware that I have been able to make connections and build relationships quicker in certain circles and even in some business situations where I have had doors of opportunity open for me.  At first this bothered me because I’m aware of how unfair it is but to be honest I’ve flipped on this one recently.  It is what it is and I can’t change it – just like I can’t change the horn honking.  And since I have to deal with some negatives being a white woman in India…well, this one I’ve now inked onto the “win” column and run with it instead of feeling bad about it.

I don’t know what it’s like to live in other parts of India so I don’t know if my experience so far with relationships is Bangalorean or Indian – but I can say that I feel fortunate.  I adore my friends, I love how easy it is to meet and chat with Indian women…even in funny situations like restrooms and shopping.  I adore the guys on my team and how nicely they treat me and I couldn’t be luckier with my colleagues at work who are a joy to work with.  I’m having a grand time … so thanks, Bangalore!

XOXO Angela

© Angela Carson, all rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without written approval from author.

I started Angela's Bangalore from my hotel room on the very first day I moved to India in 2011, while struck with jet lag! It was my very first blog, the country's very 1st luxury travel blog. Now I'm rocking YouTube as @ExpatAngela, hope you'll subscribe.

This article has 41 comments

  1. Animes

    Heyy Angela~~
    Its good to see that you are fishing out articles from your own old articles and experiences..atleast its better than hitting the dry run and stop writing……which many do after a year or so….So Thumbs up for that….
    I loved the “sponges that are dehydrated” metaphor you gave…simply wow..
    Well Everything you have experienced in India is quite normal for a ‘Tall Gorgeous Blonde’ 😉 …and it seems you have got your life adjusted in case of having to deal the indian social society…which is really commendable as its one of the hardest part to deal….and i really wish that you get to travel and stay in other parts of India and I would love to see if really Indians are same all around which i bet they are hehe….
    I so much wish you travel to Jaipur(Rajasthan)..its a lovely city..or if you have travelled goa its awesome….Well those are long shots…
    I really wish you keep writing:)
    lots of luv!!
    -xoxo Animes 🙂

    • angela_carson

      Thanks so much for your overly generous comment, really a nice thing to read first thing in the morning 🙂 I hope to start traveling more too, there definitely is way more to see than this urban jungle 😉 xoxo angela

  2. anamikaa

    Just on that point you make of putting your heritage into the “win” category because it is a benefit in Indian society … Agreed. I heard an Australian politician yesterday saying “you don’t have to apologise for wanting to aspire” – with regards to having goals and ambitions while being a mother. I reckon that fits in with you being non-Indian and working in India: don’t need to apologise, just find what works best and celebrate your achievements. 😉

    • angela_carson

      I like that quote you mentioned, will try to remember that! Thanks for taking the time to comment for the first time and for your encouraging message, I hope you will keep reading and come back to the comment board again. ==angela

  3. nithin

    I guess you live and you learn. But It might be good to have a few single girlfriends over and share experiences they had with guys (good or bad), so you are up to speed on dating and guys in iIndia and what you might expect.

    Nithin

    • angela_carson

      ahhaha yes, perhaps…but sadly after a year I think there’s not much new I could learn. 🙁 Almost all my friends are Indian MEN so I’ve had it all explained and seen them dating first-hand. But I DO appreciate the suggestion 🙂 -ange

  4. saqib (zak)

    You are simply AWESOME U know writing became such a process of discovery that u couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning u wanted to know what you r going to say……. If there’s a book i really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it…..!!

    • angela_carson

      OMG please come back and comment whenever you wish. the book is my DREAM and I’m really trying to sort out how to simply get organised and make it happen. I really appreciate your super jazzy message! YOU ROCK! -ange

      • saqib (zak)

        🙂 If you DREAM then DREAM BIG because you never knew when that dream will come TRUE…. your words (simply get organised and make it happen) has power and honesty…. best of luck !!……….. add me on facebook sqbiftekhar@yahoo.com

  5. Rhonald Moses (@rhonaldmoses)

    Well, for the most part of India, you might get the same special treatment (on both ways), but for all other purposes, each state is different and the way people interact with one another is different as well.

    For example, Bangalore is a bit liberal (my friends’ definition of liberal is the number of pubs the city has) while Chennai is conservative. Chennai still sleeps early and wake up ealy. Even the people from Chennai are a bit geeky while Bangalore/Kerala are a bit social.

    I hope your current job pays you enough (with respect to money and challenge) so that you could stay with your current best friend Shiva coz once you leave a company, it’s hard to be in touch on daily basis with your colleagues.

    Well, honking is something India is fond of. Bering crowded, loud, India is used to such and the people don’t mind the constant honking. Not sure whether you will adapt over the period of time, but am sure you will learn to tolerate soon 🙂

    Hmm… more than a year since you have been in India! Well, hope India continues to treat you well 🙂

    Adios 🙂

    • angela_carson

      Hey Rhonald, thanks for your 2 cents. As for the job, I’m still in need of a ‘normal’ full-time job but I do love where I am so it helps 🙂 And yes, I do actually tolerate the horn blowing more but still hate it soooo much, haha. -A

      • Rhonald Moses (@rhonaldmoses)

        hey, yep true… full-time job is required in the long run 🙂

        Based on what I’ve read so far, I believe you have good people-skills and India is definitely a place where it can use people with such skills (we Indians respond better to foreigners than locals).

        You will soon find a good full time job that suits you and makes you happy.

        Adios 🙂

  6. randomguy

    Hello…
    This comment is not regarding this post..
    I have been reading ur blog for da past few days..and have a random point to make…
    Don know if u r familiar with da song..’the tide is high’ by blondie(don know if its da band name or artist)…well i think it best suits da whole vibe u give off thru dis blog(with regards to life, not a guy which i think da song’s about)…
    So yeah it automatically starts playin in my head on opening da blog..
    Rock on…

    • angela_carson

      I can’t quite figure out if you like my blog or not but appreciate that you’ve been reading it and it has a theme tune 🙂 That does rock 😉

      • randomguy

        I knew i should have put a smiley in there somewhere….
        🙂 yes i like ur blog very much 😀

        • angela_carson

          ahhhhh PHEWWWW, haha. I really wasn’t sure so didn’t want to say too much and seem stupid in case you thought it sucked 🙂 Thanks for follow-up comment. Keep reading and YES please insert a smiley or two when appropriate since I can’t see your face through my monitor 🙂 –ange

  7. bombaysun

    You write as lovely as always!! Keep it up girl and keep your heart open too, I’m sure there is a handsome Indian gentleman waiting for you out there 🙂

  8. Christina

    Hi Angela
    You have a lovely blog here 🙂 I came across this when i was googling something like ‘how do i live a single life in Bangalore’ 🙂 I have just moved to Bangalore from Chennai, and although its not the same context as yours, I still understand what you say; esp the stuff about Indian men 🙂
    And yes, it is so much easier to meet and chat with Indian women.
    Love your optimism. Inspiring 🙂
    Good luck!

    • angela_carson

      Hi Christina, that is a very sweet message. Glad you found it and it makes you smile. I like your writing as well, the chess piece you wrote is fantastic. -angela

    • Sammy

      When I see a white female here, I wonder how I could strike upp a conversation,so I just leave it at that because somemetimes A) In my brief “wantingto just be good friends with a foreign woman,I have met with blank stares and looks of suspicion..So man what do I do.Everytime I walk up top a foreign woman to talk ,she turns away and my heart missess many a beat.With Indian women its not the same.They are more friendly.But I must say the western girls I have encountered abroad are much more open minded that the ones that come to India. All the same I can read a lot of things about Angela’s insecurities in India with Indian men and some of them may be actually true, but it could be the same for different cultures anywhere in the world

  9. jayan

    to most Asian men, white women are conquests not so much relationship. Indian men are especially noxious in this instance. They fool around with other women and settle down with Indian women. ( The small percentage who date anyway).
    But by and large Indian men are just simple and basic type. Like you said people who go to temple every morning cant be all bad right?
    Enjoy thyself in India- and you will not get this kind of diverse, kaleidoscopic, colorful, varied stimuli anywhere else in the world.
    And oh yes, keralite food not that spicy

  10. deepak

    hi angela
    ur articles are really nice and from the heart , u look like a very nice girl / agree with jayan . but u look like an exception to the indian rule- flirt with western girls marry an indian , wish u get some one who makes u happy.

    • angela_carson

      Thanks, Deepak. And thanks for calling me a GIRL 🙂 Love you!! hehe yes, I agree too about the flirt with westerners and marry an Indian for 99.9% of the men here. It’s really sad to find someone who I have so much chemistry with but I know there is no reason to even “try” because there is no future. But I’m sure that everything happens for a reason and one day my prince will come when I’m ready for it 🙂 Thanks for your kind comment, hope you will continue to follow along and add your comments whenever you wish. –angela

  11. Nash William

    Angela,

    All Indian men are not as depraved as you make them out to be. Indian men from the Indian side of my family are married to tall, gorgeous American blonde girls just like you and these couples have been together well over 15-20 years now.

    Looks like you met all the wrong Indian men till now. You will have to look farther than you have!

    There aren't all black sheep in the flock!

    • AngelaCarson

      Hi Nash, I do know this… and I hope I haven’t said that all Indian men are that way in the article?  Will have to re-read it 🙂  I have lovely work mates and men who I’m friends with and men I’ve met though my business dealings with the website — including strategic partners I have for the biz — who are wonderful, nice guys who’ve never tried to make a move.  But the affluent, socially active men who I deal with out and about in town – and some I’ve had business dealings with – have really surprised me at times.  Only once had I been propositioned in a work environment in my entire career before moving here and it has suprised me every time it happens here.  Anyway, I do know that all Indian men are not created equal, and that it is the environment I’m in that has exposed me to so much of “the same” here.

      Thanks so much for adding to the conversation and for your 2 cents — you are absolutely right and I often wonder if I will meet a wonderful single Indian man one of these days and end up with an Indian (a somewhat lofty goal since men in their late 30s and early 40s are mostly all married off by now).  Cheers, angela

      • Nash William

        Angie,

        Can we help the fact that God created men as we are, testesterone laden egotist pigs?

        The definition of propositioning someone varies subtlely from country to country. A nice, sweet compliment to a male or female co-worker is harmless, people do it all the times here in India or in Europe, US, Canada.

        I really don't find anything wrong in asking a woman I like, out for dinner or for a drink after work. 

        I dated an Indian woman 9 years older than me and she had two daughters and was divorced. The toughest part for me was she would attribute small things to cultural differences whereas in reality, it was her who was different from me. I gave her lot of personal space in my company, so much so, I took care of her two daughters when we dated.

        She just felt awkward which was beyond me.  

        For the most part, I found a majority of Indian women to be quite conservative and mundane, not so much bcoz of their so-called Indian traditional values, culture and morals but more so as most of them can't think beyond a certain plane.

        Just to give you an insight, I love to take out girls whom I date, along with me, for a round of clay pigeon shooting or rifle shooting on the range, go skydiving and yeah, there's the normal wining, dining and shopping.

        Most Indian girls seem to shy away from the unconventional. Some even get shit scared when I tell them I have been a regional shooting champion.

        They seem to prefer the mundane just like they are!

        Bangalore is a pretty city but I never liked it all the while I was there. There are many more avenues for me here in Hyderabad where I stay, especially for an active professional sportsman than in Bangalore.

        It's just me, to each his own I believe!

        Frankly though, most Indians, males or females are boring, even the socially affluent ones!

         

         

        • AngelaCarson

          Hey Nash, I can’t really agree with you on the “boring” idea because my friends ROCK and i adore and love them and think I would have moved home long ago if they had been boring.  BUT I’m glad you love your new home in Hyderabad.  Personally, I don’t find Bangalore pretty — I’ve said this a few times in other posts — because I’ve lived in too many other breathtaking places and this just isn’t it.  But again, with that said, I love th gardens and parks and trees…. but that’s not enough to make a city  pretty for me.  I need clean streats, the sea, wide avenues, pedestrian zones, architecture that makes your jaw drop, etc….  I adore that you added your 2 cents to the conversation and I’m glad to hear your tales … please pop back in to another post and share again 🙂  All my best, and thanks… not sure if you liked my article but I do like that you contributed 🙂  🙂  –ange

          • Nash William

            Angela,

            I couldn't agree with you more. The scenery around has to vibrant and idyllic. All this pollution and smoke in Indian cities really snuffs the life out of a person.

            Paved roads, clean streets, bright painted houses with white picketed fences, a vibrant cultural and musical scene, all this and more.

            That's what my heart cries out for.

            I am headed for Canada next fall for my Ph.D in clinical psychology, just undecided between Montreal in Quebec or St. John's in Newfoundland.

            There are lot of sports enthusiasts like me out there in Bangalore. It would be really cool to have a section in your blog on sporting venues and sporting activities for people in Bangalore. People in this country do not value their sports activities that much. Cricket seems to be their staple diet.

            What happened to good old Olympic sports? No wonder, a billion people can't seem to get more than a few medals at the Olympics every time.

            We, shooters, are hot commodities wherever we go, with the females as well. Everywhere but here in India!

            For now, I am going off the market for a while. Hard to meet a girl here in India who likes a professional shooter and adventure sports enthusiast like me.

             

             

             

  12. Nash William

    Angela,

    This is NOT home, home is where the heart finds solace. A picturesque and idyllic Western or European city is more to my liking.

    Heading to Canada next fall for Psy.D in clinical psychology, got St. John's in Newfoundland and Montreal in Quebec to pick from.

    I am going off the market for a while, it is really hard to find a girl who appreciates and loves being around me and who enjoys all the activities that I indulge in. Am I asking for too much? All you girls out there, if you ever want to hook up with a professional sports shooter who's a Frenchman, just hit me up. I am a lot of fun.

    P.S.: Angie, include a sports section in your website for current sporting venues and events in Bangalore for enthusiasts.

     

     

  13. Nash William

    Angela,

    We both seem to be stuck up in the wrong city. Check this out.

    http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/ThingsToDo

    • AngelaCarson

      Hi…. I really don’t understand your comment 🙁  I love living here and am not “stuck” anywhere.  If I wanted to move, I would 🙂 -ange

  14. Nelson Thomas-Raja

    Hi Angela we just moved couple of months ago from N.Ireland. I am married to a blonde Irish girl for the last 13 years. I would love to you to meet up with my wife Janet she will be very good friend and awesome girl.

    • AngelaCarson

      ****Nelson, I removed the email ID for Janet’s privacy.  My email ID is on the About Angela page (on left side navigation of Blog pages).  Please pass her my email :-)

  15. Azad sumon

    Just arrived at bangalore. Lets see what is here…. Any suggestion from you?

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