Another frustrating adjustment is the local concept of time. In Bangalore, hours are fluid. "There is a completely different pace here," says Vanderwerf. "When someone says they'll meet you at 1 p.m., for example, they might show [up] anywhere between 1 and 3 p.m."

Setting up one's house is another shock to the system. Things taken for granted in the U.S. require more effort in Bangalore. When an apartment is advertised as "unfurnished," that means no refrigerator, stove, or washing machine. Expats must either purchase or lease appliances, along with basics like chairs and beds. Preparing meals at home means that all food and dishes must be rinsed in bottled water. And despite the city's reputation as a high-tech hub, Internet access is alarmingly slow.

"It may sound silly, but for two people in the software profession, having a good connection is pretty high on the priority list," says Chopra. "In our first apartment, we had a broadband connection that, in actuality, gave us speeds less than that of a modem connection."

Many of the high-tech jobs are concentrated in industrial parks like Electronics City or the International Tech Park Bangalore, both of which house more than 100 companies.

Commuting to work means a daily journey through horrendous traffic. Some expats drive scooters or take taxis or public transit buses. Others, like Cecilia Villalon, take a three-wheeled auto rickshaw.

Those who can afford it will buy or rent a car, and then hire a driver to navigate the labyrinth of roads. Arman Zand, a vice president with Silicon Valley Bank India Advisors Pvt. Ltd., owns his own car and hires a driver for daily traffic, but he drives himself at nights and on weekends.

Formerly of San Jose, California, Zand sees the city as having some similarity to the Bay Area's high-tech boom. "The level of energy and entrepreneurialism reminds me of Silicon Valley, 1999," he says. "Venture capitalists, service providers, financial institutions, and young entrepreneurs are constantly roaming the coffee shops and hotel lobbies."

In some districts, Bangalore eagerly embraces the tech generation in the manner of cities like San Francisco and Seattle. The air is rife with the chatter of cellphone conversations, and laptops fill the Café Coffee Day shops, India's equivalent of Starbucks. Invitations for web design and programming classes flutter on bulletin boards. But outside the gates of the gleaming tech campuses, it's back to India. "The obvious difference is the infrastructure," says Zand. "It's hard to ignore what goes on outside of the business climate."