In 1998 I went to India. It was a crazy time as I was just out of college and new to my career. I lived for two months in Andheri, a suburb of Mumbai. We were in a free trade zone with a bunch of technology companies. In a lot of ways it was like working in the Alpharetta of Bombay.
It was an amazing experience, especially for a young man in his early 20′s. I learned a lot about business, getting a valuable and early taste of offshore software development. I certainly learned a lot about myself in the process.
But more than anything, I developed a deep respect for Indians. I learned to appreciate their cuisine, even though it was difficult to overcome some picky eating habits I still clung to at that age. I enjoyed their unique festivals, celebrations and traditions.
I also experienced Indian hospitality in so many ways. I truly believe the spirit of hospitality ingrained in Indian culture rivals that of Southern hospitality. If you’ve ever been invited to dinner in an Indian family’s home then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Today there are over ten thousand Indians living in north Fulton county, drawn here by an abundance of information technology jobs. Surely anyone who’s wandered Alpharetta’s cubicles has worked with these guys. It has been my experience that Indians are intelligent and highly skilled technologists with a solid work ethic.
Outside of the office Alpharetta’s Indians have created vibrant local communities. It’s not hard to find observances of Indian holidays and festivals in this area. We’ve got Indian grocery stores, places to rent Bollywood movies, even dance clubs spinning Indian tunes. And let’s not forget their amazing cuisine. There are four Indian restaurants on Windward Parkway alone. We’ve got so many Indian restaurants that some specialize in individual regions of the sub-continent.
You don’t have to travel to Asia and brush your teeth with bottled water to gain an appreciation of Indian culture. I’ve developed some great friendships with Indian co-workers right here in Alpharetta. I even get invited to play cricket from time to time. It only took a few overs and a quick wicket for me to realize how terrible I am at India’s favorite pastime. It’s an awesome sport though.
I tell of my experience with Indians to hammer home one point – Alpharetta’s Indian community is vitally important. They are significant in number, perform important work for local industry and bring unique cultural diversity to this area. I wanted to take the time to lift them up today, especially in light of recent events in Alpharetta. I’m better and more rounded because of my past experiences with the Indian people. Alpharetta is too.