Phase 1: Arrives and complains. Battles with the infrastructure, dust, chaos, housing, transport, and the language. Tries to adjust to the fuzzy work ethic and the long work hours s/he needs to put in to compensate for it. Complains ceaselessly but quietly so as not to ruffle too many feathers.
Phase 2: Settles in and slowly makes friends in an effort to blend in. Starts developing an interest in the curious Indian cultural ethos. Being from a dissect-analyze-resolve culture, is amazed at how many unresolved cultural nuances India has. Makes politically overcorrect cultural observations at every opportunity, much to the amusement of local friends. Is pleasantly surprised at Bangalore's colonial hangover. Enjoys hanging out at local pubs, junta restaurants and Koshy's and is delighted at how friendly India can be.
Phase 3: Awesome times, parties, clubbing, trips out with friends. Falls in love with a few. Has a great time at work with enthusiastic colleagues, parties and offsites. Is the center of attention at the lunch table. Continues friendships outside of work. Travels to Goa, Rajasthan, Agra and Pondicherry and loves it all! Looks at other ghettoed expats with pity and is convinced that s/he will never be like them. Emails jealous friends back home about all the awesome times had, and considers living here forever.
Phase 4: Slowly tires of the socializing. Cannot handle travel any more. Begins to develop culture related problems with the office management. The initial keenness to understand Indian family, social and value systems wanes away. Feels embarrassed by overpersonal Indian friendships, and has no idea how to handle them. Fixates on negatives because of the insurmountable cultural barrier. Hangs out more and more with other expats at Leela brunches to share woes that local friends cannot relate to. Suddenly realizes s/he is one of them, and panics.
Phase 5: The social strain begins to tell. Has huge fights with office management. Realizes that a lot can be achieved by capitalizing on Indian docility. Turns arrogant and yells at acquaintances, hotel staff, drivers and office admin. Local friends, outraged but too timid to react, begin to back off silently. Is infuriated with hot-and-cold Indian friendships and doesn't have the energy or the inclination to handle them any more. Wants to beat everyone up and run away screaming.
Phase 6: Make or break. The majority leaves quietly, unwept, unhonoured and unsung, with bell curve stories to tell. Most of those that choose to stay, do so for a love interest, or because they managed to find a sustenable social circle. The few local friends that survived phase 5 are secretly relieved to be at one arm’s distance.
Hats off though, to the tiny number of expats that refuse to get on the bell-curve, and have pleasant times and friendships all through their stay in Bangalore. They make the best of friends, and are very welcome to tell me exactly where to put my theory :)