Jasper Fortuin – Traveler with an assignment, Pune-fan and blogger

Expat_in_India

It was a sunny Saturday morning in October 2017 when my phone started to play a very popular
Punjabi song. I like Punjabi songs; they usually make me very happy. But unplanned phone
calls in the morning are mostly not the best ones; being here in India for more than one year
now I must have had hundreds of calls from Marathi-speaking sales people, wanting some
share of my local Indian money. When I picked up the phone to look at the home screen I felt
lucky and relieved: no unknown number. It was Preeti Roongta, the wonderful owner/director of
Lexagent Expat Relocations and Co-Founder of the Pune Expat Club. Living here as an expat, it
is very hard to miss out on Preeti. She knows everybody, and the expats, all know her! She
kindly asked me if this was the right moment for a brief call. I just finished my morning ritual,
doing a run of 45 minutes in and around my society. ‘It’s ok’, I said. She immediately addressed
the topic that she wanted to discuss: my blog.
After signing my assignment letter from my Dutch employer (Telecom Provider – ‘Telco’ in slang
– KPN) I immediately started to make plans: I initiated more than 50 meetings with in- and
external stakeholders to understand their goals and objectives. I wanted to learn more about what
I meant for them to have more than a thousand people in India. I also started to make some
private plans: where should we live? How do we spend our weekends? Is it easy to make new
friends? Generally, we had a lot of thoughts about our time there; for example, a regular
Tuesday evening: what do you do if you don’t want to hang in front of the TV during a large part
of the evening? One of the things that came to my mind was to start a blog about Pune. It was
the adventure and the willingness to understand the country that brought me to this conclusion. I
had been thinking about the objective of the blog very long before we took the plane. I’m an
agile enthusiast, which taught me to break up big things in smaller ‘sprints’.
And it also brought me a very strong principle: don’t think too long, just start. My current blog is a
result of one year in Pune. I’m proud of some of the articles (not all) and giving myself a clear
assignment to dig up some insights about a certain topic helped me to understand this
magnificent country.
Preeti approached me to complement me about an article that I posted about the Shivaji Market.
She was touched by my words. She said: ‘The fine words in which you described the unseen
beauty of something so normal, It made me very happy’. Without any preconceived idea or
strategy, she asked me to blog for and on behalf of Lexagent and Pune Expat Club. I felt
honored with the invite and her kind words also made me smile: my positive view on India is
reaching an audience and they like it! I told her to give me some time, but decided to say yes to
the offer later that day. Saying yes meant something: the obligation to write something every
now and then, will take more of my time. But it felt good and I immediately told her to move
ahead. We also made an agreement about the blog: there will be no financial compensation, no
briefing and no marketing of their services. I’m free to write about anything. The only thing I
asked her is to mention my personal blog: www.bustlinpune.com. For the rest, I’m fine. And if
you invite me for one of your wonderful events, I don’t need a front seat. A Kingfisher Ultra will
do…From today onwards, you can read some posts about India and Pune on this blog
(exclusive). I will write and post exclusive.

My personal blog will continue with other work. Within the posts for Lexagent/Pune Expat Club I want to focus a bit more on living here, dealing with authorities and finding your way in this magnificent country. My approach is very straightforward: I don’t like to word ‘expat’ and I also want to avoid some of the expat gatherings. You won’t find
me in Phoenix Mall a lot, unless it’s time to buy new shoes. I do like Shopping, but I’m not a big
fan of the Indian mall concept. Moreover: don’t like to (only) hang out with foreigners. The main
reason is that I get irritated by the stories of early morning tea meetings with western women,
sharing horror stories about dirty markets and not performing drivers. My message to them is –
again – the objective in my blog: yes, India is a poor and undeveloped country. But it’s also a 2-
sided country.

There is always another side of the story. You could focus your views on all the
dirty in this country, but I want to encourage the non-permanent residents to focus on positive
things: it’s very colorful, the people are open and with your western expat salary you could live here as a king! I want to mingle around with a mixture of people, doing Indian and western
things. Yes, it’s fun to talk with mine like people and laugh about inefficient Indian logic, honking
cars and cows on the roads. But I also do like the Indian people. They are kind, always
interested and very open. In my daily life, I want to look at things in a positive way.
In the upcoming blog, I want to share my views with you about a specific topic and I already
have some ideas.

The only thing that I want to share with you now is the enthusiasm and fun
that it will give me to write about India on this new platform. And before I close this first write up,
I want to introduce myself to you: I’m a 49 year old creative marketing professional from the
Netherlands. I have been with KPN for over 14 years now, the former incumbent in the
Netherlands. As KPN, we offer a wide range of IT- and network services: mobile (4G),
Interactive TV and broadband (for residential customers and for small and large companies). Prior to
that I had been working in advertising for long, as an accountmanager and strategist.  I’m here
in India with my wife Marie-Gon, an International acclaimed interior stylist with a long list of
International projects. She is self-employed and therefore it is not possible for us to move to
India on a permanent basis. I’m here for a long-term assignment (minimum duration of two
years, one year completed) while Marie-Gon spends time with me in Pune as much as possible.
However, she needs to travel back to the Netherlands (or other countries) a few times a year,
mainly to work on large interior- and design projects. We both like to travel. Asia has been one of our most favorite continentals. During the past 20 years, we have traveled to Sri Lanka,Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Our list of must visit Asian countries is long and India has been our favorite country for long. Our first visit to this country was in ‘99, with Goa and Hampi as the primary stops.

We later traveled through the north, south, east and west and We fell in
love with this country! We both like Good food. About my approach of this blog: I want to look at
things in an open and encouraging way. I want you to inspire readers to look around and
broaden their spectrum. Natures Basket is convenient a store, but there is so much more to
explore! I hope that I pull out at least one expat out of his or her comfort zone! If you want to like
my blogs  and to contact me, please feel free and reach to me: digitalepostbus@gmail.com

2 Comments

    Renu

    It wa fun to read your post here – KUDOS!!!

      Lexagent

      Thank you for taking the time to write your comment Renu. We are glad to know that your liked the blog. 🙂

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