Q: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF
I am Rajan Thambehalli from Bangalore, India. Interestingly enough, I grew up in a family where my mother was the rule-maker, more educated and earned more than my dad. What it taught me as a young boy in India is that there is no power play between parents. My dad supported my mother in his own way and together they showed my younger sister and me that there is no such thing as the ‘traditional’ man of the house.
Fast forward to now, I run a start-up while my wife works 100%.
Q: WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am comfortable wearing different hats. Be it that of a chemical engineer, a sports manager, a researcher, a part-time writer, a quiz host or a project manager. In the last few years, I have struck a balance in juggling my different roles.
I have my own consulting firm. My areas of focus are sports consulting, writing/researching and event hosting.
Sports event consulting and grassroots development are key areas in the sports industry. Over the past three years, travelling for sports events has taken a back seat (with our child). A few writing assignments and a growing quiz business are what I am excited about. That’s precisely what the next step of Qwizzeria is – to reach students, kids, and adults of all age groups and including businesses as to how to make learning effective and fun. In parallel, I am pushing myself to come up with a ‘fun’ book for expats and expand the sports consulting side of my business.
Working for myself doesn’t mean I have loads of time. It means I have the freedom to choose my working hours. I am lucky that I can do what I love professionally – thanks to the encouragement I receive from my wife, family in India and friends.
Q: WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE TO SWITZERLAND?
I live in Oberrieden with my wife, Tripti, and our three-year-old son, Abhinav. My journey to Switzerland was for studies and – somehow, looking back, I feel I was at the right place, at the right time. I was meant to be in Switzerland.
Coming to Switzerland entailed giving up the corporate life with AkzoNobel. It was there that I learnt the art of researching through practical work, the ability to influence a change, and the way to face clients when business was at stake, negotiating the technicalities and, of course, the art of travelling.
My travelling increased with my work and, in a way, I found myself an opportunity to know and discover myself. It was in those moments, I realised, ‘sports’ is what I always had my eyes on since my childhood.
I hate when I am in ‘comfort zone’ and with time I have come to understand that’s an essential part of who I am. If I sense, better is possible, I go for it.
My Swiss life started in 2009 in Lausanne and precisely one-year later, on a snowy January, I had my first sports job contract and it was with a firm based in Huttweillen, Thurgau.
Working in sporting events took me to different countries and to different cities within India. While Tripti was in Zurich since 2009, I was in and out of the country until 2013.
Q: DO YOU LIKE IT HERE? WHAT DO YOU LOVE AND WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
I completed my masters, and I also met the love of my life here in Zurich. So, it is a special place and we love it. Zurich also happens to be the birthplace of our son. There is an emotional bond with this city. Switzerland will always be ‘the place’ where I discovered myself and for the better.
As humans, we are evolutionary creatures and hence we are attracted towards bursts of revolutions now and then. Switzerland is well-positioned to tackle those changes with the concept of direct democracy. In that way, we can be rest assured there won’t be sudden changes overnight.
What I would like to change is my equation with German. I would like to be fluent in German by the end of 2020 as I am currently stuck in between. My hearing sense and understanding parts of Swiss German have improved, so that’s a plus.
Q: AS THE FATHER OF A PRESCHOOLER, ANY PARENTING ADVICE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE FELLOW EXPATS IN SWITZERLAND
It is rare to meet an expat father who’s primarily involved in a start-up and works from home. I believe spending time with my soon-to-be three-year-old has made creative, taught me how to look at life and enjoy it. My advice is – stick to your own formula. I try and avoid parenting advice online and instead prefer to share experiences over a conversation.
Ensure you spend quality time with your partner and not everything is about the ‘child’.
If possible, try and send your child to a ‘krippe’, ‘Kita’ or ‘Play School’ so that you can focus on your work and have some personal time. Trust me, it is needed! It also provides the child with an opportunity to learn the local language and set the foundation for the Kindergarten.
You can make up for time, so don’t panic at any stage and ensure the preschooler has a smooth transition to the school. That’s half the job well-done.
You are truly settled in life when you are finished with life! So, go ahead and carve the life you wish and be disciplined when things are not going well for you.
Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM TO HELP FELLOW EXPATS INTEGRATE?
Volunteering is one of the key things I invest my time into. Be it with TEDxZurich, Swiss Volunteers, Cricket Switzerland, Ironman Zurich or in a dance theatre company, there is something humane about it. It is a platform where I contribute, learn and network.
Language plays a key role. Basics into one’s culture will go a long way in understanding the subtleties and open the door to the local culture. After all, there is more to Switzerland than money, chocolates, cheese and its natural beauty.
Travel – there are few better teachers than the experiences gathered through travelling.
And, ignorance is not a bliss anymore. Silence is.