TechnoparkToday.com(April, 2018): It was through one of our friends that we came to know the untold story behind Oracle setting up facility in Trivandrum and about the person behind the initiative, Mr. Hari Gopinathan. It is a thrilling story of great planning, perseverance and patience. We were bit surprised that being in Technopark, we never came across this story. So when we decided to write about people who relocated to Trivandrum from outside, we zeroed in on Hari for the first article in the #Move2Trivandrum series.
We met Hari at his century old Travancore-era Bungalow in Kaimanam to hear from him about why he relocated from US to Trivandrum, and what he feels about the city. If you don’t know about Hari, here is some background. Hari is a senior manager in Oracle. It was his hard work that got Oracle to Trivandrum in 2011. He moved to Trivandrum in 2014 with family from US and is now happily settled here. He works from his home office, as a trouble shooter for Oracle Business Intelligence Applications. Though it was him who got Oracle to Trivandrum, he doesn’t work much from Technopark office and probably that explains how he managed to stay away from public glare. Hari’s wife Rekha is a VP at Suntec. They have two daughters, Aparna and Archana, doing their schooling at Trivandrum International School.
Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
It’s not very common to see people who have spent decades in US deciding to come back. What were your reasons for moving to Trivandrum?
Silicon Valley was kind of getting mind-numbing for both of us. Since we both did our studies in India, our initial circle of friends in San Francisco were almost always from IT field. We hardly knew anyone who is a non-IT person, until we started taking up some private hobbies etc. But even then, being around school mates we grew up with and who are in different fields was always lacking, like I have in Trivandrum. Another aspect is to give our kids a good social and cultural input about contemporary India, since the country is well on its way to become a world power. Then there is a need we felt, to be with both our parents during their golden years, so that we can mutually support each other, as well as provide more time for our kids to be with the grandparents and vice-versa. Having our parents around us in Trivandrum, where they bought me up since birth, is always fun. Their own support networks that we could tap on to, adds to the pluses.
How did you and your family manage the change?
The key thing for us was happiness of our two wonderful girls. The elder one was in Seventh grade and younger was in third. Since they were born and lived till then in US, we used to discuss each and everything about our move with them, however big or small. We had to renovate an old house we bought and it took about an year and half to move-in, due to renovations. So we had to stay in a small apartment, which was sort of a first for the kids but they enjoyed the stay there.
Our most difficult part about moving were our pets. We had two wonderful Belgian Lion-head bunnies, that we could not bring without various permits. We had to work out lots of applications and permits, but still there were months of delays and finally got the help of Trivandrum MP, Dr Shashi Tharoor and also Smt Maneka Gandhi, who helped out with quarantine procedures. Both bunnies are doing fine, despite having a thick fur-coat in the warm Trivandrum weather
My wife is from Kannur, but grew up in Maharashtra and did her studies there. She had no issues in relocating to Trivandrum, having a fulfilling job at Suntec and finding friends across the spectrum.
Ultimately, I feel, if parents show confidence in dealing with daily situations at a new place and not get over-protective, the kids will get used to any new environment.
What about your kids’ education? Did you find it difficult to get admission here?
We decided on Trivandrum International School, after we did a tour of the school. It was a great choice, in that the school management has been very responsive to a lot of our feedbacks and requests. The school provides lots of opportunities for our kids to go on Mock-UNs, Student exchange with other countries in addition to providing a good environment for study. There is a good and active body of parents(particularly moms), who communicate with each other and provide lots of inputs to school management. Our children has been actively participating in the school band and other cultural activities. Our elder one got ten out of ten A-stars for her 10th IGCSE exams (including in the challenging Art elective) and is currently doing IB for her high- school diploma. So we felt they did not miss out on academics too, since the move
We understand that your kids were very active in their extra-curricular activities in US. Did the transition affect that?
They used to do well in music and dance over there. The younger one’s team won the American Nationals for Jazz dancing. So we inquired with the acclaimed modern dance choreographer, Smt Daksha Sheth, who runs a school called Natyashram on the banks of scenic Vellayani Lake in Trivandrum . Our kids loved the classes, since it was a really challenging
mix of Indian classical dances, Kalaripayattu and Malakhamb. For music, we got references for a good piano teacher and also for Indian Carnatic music training. They have been giving the UK-based ABRSM exams in Trivandrum, for piano and the elder one is planning to complete her diploma this year. They both are hooked on to Veena nowadays and their grandmother has gifted them a coveted “Trivandrum Veena” (one of the four Veena designs of India, with a fretboard made out of single piece of wood)
What do you think of Trivandrum’s future?
That Trivandrum is a city with a mind of its own is an understatement. The city and its residents never gave a damn about fads or “latest trends” or what people think of it. It never wanted to ape Singapore or Dubai or any other apparently cool places. Its greatest festival, the Attukal Pongala, is a women’s festival with many millions of participants offering a culinary tribute to a very angry lady. And its greatest hero is a king who stood upto European colonists, defeated them in a decisive battle and yet honoured the defeated European commander by giving him a prominent role in his own army. Its greatest edifice is the world’s richest temple, that stands as a symbol of the honesty of the city’s people, who persevered the treasure over centuries. A place that gives you warm hug or a kick in the back, as you wish
It will do exceedingly well, as a refuge for those who want a great mix of modern family life, with a dash of tradition. As a city with centuries of history, it is not going to change because “some other city has it”, it is going to change because its citizens feel a need. Cities like Austin, Portland and Seattle in the USA or Kyoto in Japan comes to mind.
Any message for those thinking to move to Trivandrum?
Come on over and have fun!
Feature Desk, TechnoparkToday.com