The Leela Palace hotel sprawls over nine acres of lush gardens, an extravagant structure of gold-leaf domes and ornate ceilings. On Sundays, the hotel's Citrus restaurant serves its "Grand Sunday Brunch Buffet" smorgasbord of international cuisines and gourmet desserts. A feast fit for visiting royalty. Except the people waiting 30 minutes in line are definitely not royalty. They look more like high-tech workers. Which, in fact, they are.
Each Sunday, the Leela brunch attracts a crowd of expatriates from all over the world: America, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Brazil. Most have followed the high-tech outsourcing boom here, chasing jobs that are disappearing in their home countries. Aside from steady employment, such relocation has other privileges. An IT employee can't begin to afford such luxuries back home. But in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, it's perfectly normal to wake up after a night of discos and enjoy a four-hour feast at a five-star hotel. And that's a typical weekend for Jeffrey Vanderwerf.
The 28-year-old American moved here last September to work for Microsoft as a communications trainer, helping call-center staff improve their English and phone skills. Call a customer-support line, and you'll likely be speaking with one of his students. Vanderwerf knows outsourcing to India is a contentious subject, but it's been directly beneficial to him and has given him his job. In a sense, he has outsourced himself.
"To be quite honest, my life here is quite comfortable, since the cost of living is substantially lower than in, say, Minneapolis," he says. His annual salary: about $12,000.
Vanderwerf is not alone. Bangalore is said to grow by almost 4,000 residents every day, the majority working for multinational technology companies, from Infosys to Sun, IBM, and Google. Over the course of the next five years, U.S. businesses will relocate an estimated three million jobs to India.
The media is filled with cautionary news stories about outsourcing. Politicians berate each other over the sucking sound of jobs lost overseas. For Americans caught in this global economy crossfire, moving to Bangalore could be a bittersweet experience. But it's not. Life in Bangalore is just different.
On first impression, the city of more than seven million can be overwhelming. But for IT workers, this is the land of opportunity.