The TOI’s Bangalore edition calls them techies which is rather irritating. But the large number of migrants who have landed in Bangalore from North/ East/West to work in the Silicon Valley, have developed dollops of attitude in a short span of time. Sample the following conversations:
Smita Upadhyay Rangacharry is married to a Tamilian. She has one son. They were living in a 3-bedroom hall kitchen in Ulsoor but Smita wanted nothing less than a 4 or 5 bedrooms, hall, kitchen for their family consisting of 3. “I can’t imagine living in a flat that is less than 4- bedroom hall kitchen” she comments nonchalantly.
Last month, Smita moved to a spacious 5-bedroom hall kitchen near Big Bazar on Old Madras Road along with her family. A Maruti Wagon R, Hyundai i10, two bikes, a Honda Activa scooter –these are the prized possessions of the Rangacharry family. A week ago the Rangacharrys added a Mahindra SUV to their collection of vehicles. That they have a huge parking bay allotted to them in the building is an added advantage.
Janani Harikrishan, another home maker living in Old Airport Road says, “I work for 2 hours in a school for the deaf and dumb. My husband is in Cognizant. We live in a 4 bedroom hall kitchen. My in laws live in their own bungalow in Indira Nagar. We change our vehicles every three years. Last week we purchased a Mahindra SUV.”
There are scores of such couples in Bangalore who simply grapple with the amount of wealth that they have accumulated by working in the IT sector. One of the chief managers of Indian Bank says, “They simply do not know what to do with the obscene sums of salaries that they earn. I met a couple last week. Husband is in Infy while the wife works for Google. The husband earns something like 8 to 9 lacs take home per month while the wife draws a salary of 3 to 3.5 lacs per month. They have 2 flats on Old Airport Road and now they plan to buy a plot of land near Vimanapura. They have applied for a loan. I am flabbergasted that the IT sector pays so much. I don’t think that the IT sector in Mumbai pays so much as Bangalore”.
Recently a school in Bangalore pleaded with parents not to crowd the school’s parking bay with their oversized vehicles that are too big for Bangalore’s narrow roads. Another school discovered to its horror that some mothers were dropping their wards dressed in diaphanous nightwear’s that left little to one’s imagination. A week later, the school had to issue a dress code for parents who were dropping their kids in hot pants, shorts and what not.
Even in those cases where the husband is the sole earning member, the wives have precious little to do at home. They have a cook, a driver at their beck and call, a housemaid to complete all the chores. So what do they do till the children come home from school? Shop, shop till they drop. Arrange for kitty parties and book reading sessions. These neo-rich women only know the dining table and scoff at cooking in the kitchen as something down market and not commensurate with their status. Cooks are therefore much in demand in the Silicon Valley. Some cooks also double up as servants and run errands like buying vegetables, fruits, groceries.
A high school teacher who teaches in a school in C V Raman Nagar found one parent struggling to find his son’s classroom during one of the PTA meetings. He had forgotten the class in which his son was studying. There are also some house-husbands who call themselves self-employed but the only employment that they seem to be having is to drive their stylish four wheelers to drop their children to school and tuition classes. Some of them who have two kids are literally on the road the whole day as they have to synchronize the tuition and school timings of both their wards. Did someone say – “What about school bus?” to which the answer would be– “When we have our own vehicle, why do we need the school bus?”
The weekends are something that these couples never tire of. The weekend actually begins on Friday afternoons. Saturdays are reserved for a lazy brunch followed by a visit to a mall or a multiplex. On returning home, they have the home made food prepared by the in-house cook. Some of them prefer to do an encore on Sunday too and label this part of the energizing process.
Clearly, those who are from the non-IT sector find themselves at a loss as much as those who have lived in Bangalore long enough to discern between the good and not-so-good things that have happened to this once charming city. There are people who refuse to negotiate with vendors giving them Rs. 500 note and asking them for fruits in return. “Keep the change”, they reply curtly as they roll up their car windows.
The tons of attitude and ego are not the only issues with these IT geeks. They also show total lack of civic sense whether it is throwing the trash bang in the middle of the road or parking haphazardly. A bachelor working in a networking company like Juniper Networks in Bagmane Tech Park can afford to lease a 2 bedroom hall kitchen flat for a rent of Rs.18000/- per month and also furnish the flat to his heart’s content. Smoking among girls employed in the IT sector is on the rise.
Now everyone is crying hoarse that economy is in a recessionary mode and that there is recruitment/hiring freeze in the IT sector. But can someone tell on what basis these salary structures were framed in the first place? An employee working in IBM said, “IBM pays well only to those in the middle level and senior management level. Juniors aren’t paid that well. But the impression is that IBM is a great paymaster”.
Wipro is another firm that supposedly pays its middle management and senior management handsomely. But when it comes to paying the juniors, Wipro looks the other way. So say some of its employees speaking to me on condition of anonymity. Infosys is another culprit which pays exorbitant salaries to its employees most of whom have hit pay dirt after they availed of the ESOP scheme.
Most of the old residents of Bangalore who have redeveloped their property are smiling all the way to the bank. They earn rental incomes anywhere between Rs.1 lac to Rs.5 lacs every month. Some of these landlords have set up Xerox shops, stationery shops, and boutiques – simply to while away their time.
At the other end of the spectrum are thousands of citizens of Bangalore who travel long distances by buses, trains, bikes and autos. They have no time to develop attitude as they have an excruciating work schedule that leaves little time for anything else. The ecosystem of Bangalore has truly become a paradox of sorts.