Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another Expat Blogger in India

I was doing a bit of research on a company I was interested in, the internet browser, Opera. Turns out, they have an office up in Chandigarh. If anybody knows me at all well, they know that I am the offspring of two architects - my dad being a huge fan of Corbusier.

The first time I visited the city was thirty years when I was 15 and going to college at Sir J.J.'s in Mumbai as an exchange student. I had already had countless hours of discussion with my father regarding Corbu's work elsewhere and the only knowledge he had of the Radiant City was from books. But being there, understanding the reasons Corbu designed the city the way he did, really didn't take into account the way the culture of the citizens lived. It seemed a bit sterile and every block looked the same. I was a bit disappointed until I saw Corbu's work at the Secretariat. At that time, we were able to access the roof and see the entire grid of Chandigarh at our feet. We then went to the Chandigarh College of Architecture (where I was mesmerized by a young Sikh student unfurling his turban and combing out his hair)... Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. Okay back to the story.

This past November, I managed to talk my parents into visiting India on their trip around the world by promising to take them the Chandigarh. This time the city had grown into itself. Trees were no longer saplings, and the city contains about 4 times the population it was supposed to hold. It was quite lively and interesting. My 15 year old son said the women in Chandigarh, were by far, the most beautiful so far that he'd seen in his travels (and well, I still vividly remember that Sikh). We also drove by the Tech sector and I was surprised at the amount of buildings. (This had all been fields 30 years ago.) Chandigarh was the highlight of my parents' trip in India. (They had absolutely nothing nice to say about Gurgaon.)

Back to Opera. I researched the company, and found out they just grew to 1% browser market share (it may seem like "who cares...", but options are important). I looked at where they are heading and they've made some shrewd choices in their long term strategy that could make them a big player (the kind of move made by Microsoft by adding IE into all Windows operating systems). They're actually taking on IE now in the EU for that behavior. I like the fact that you don't hear of them that much, but with Google falling from grace in the public's eye, and Microsoft being considered an evildoer, there's firefox, opera, safari and a number of smaller browsers out there that can pick up the slack. I, for one, never use IE, tried chrome, but like the add-ons for firefox. I've always had Opera on my system for testing, ever since I worked at Lycos, but typically ran Firefox over the past few years.

I'm becoming a convert after reading about the company. I looked up their web site and found out that they made a lot of other products, including email, and a couple of really robust mobile browser products along with another one for other devices (including your internet enabled video game players - Woot!). I applied for a Marketing manager position and received an email with a list of questions to answer, and of course, it's about three pages long - I really need an editor. That was about 12 days ago.

Of course, as I've said many times in my blog and elsewhere, learning how a company works from the inside, networking with current staff, understanding whether the company likes disruptive personalities and quirky, yet brilliant staff - it's important in making your decision to join. Kind of like visiting your boyfriend's parents. You're going to be spending a lot of time with these people - are you going to get along with them, or are you doomed from the start? While searching for bloggers, I found this interesting chap, Wolf, who works at Opera and seems fairly new to India as well. His blog can be found at:


He only has a few posts up so far, but that's par for being a busy professional trying to settle in to a new country. Give him a read and see what you think. So far, he's the only expat I've found in the Chandigarh area writing about his experiences there...

Enjoy. :-)

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