This time, Karumbunathan talks about his decision to make Switzerland home over 30 years ago, while his daughter tells us more about life as a second generation Indian in the Alps.
It was a cold wintry Switzerland that greeted Karumbunathan in the early months of 1987. It wasn’t his first visit. He narrates, “I had already been exposed to this country, the people and culture here during my practical training in 1973-74. After my post graduation in Foundry Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, I had started my career at M/s Lakshmi Machine Works Ltd. in Coimbatore, in 1968. I also went on to do a part-time MBA from PSG.”
His qualification and professional experience as a Foundry Engineer led him to be selected by a collaborator of LMW, Rieter Machineworks at Winterthur to undergo intensive on the job practical training at their foundry here.
Karumbunathan reminisces, “I learned the manufacturing methods of new textile machinery castings. And, since first time in my life, I got to really work with my own hands. I was able to learn much more than I had by way of my theoretical studies in India.”
He adds, “My most important learning was the discipline that I picked up – both in my professional and private life. Themn, in 1987, my professional expertise, educational background and experience, coupled with the best contacts that I had previously met brought me back here in 1987.”
He says, “ I was very proud and happy to migrate here. My business and professional experiences in India had not been good, really.”
On moving here, the main challenge for Karumbunathan was communicating at work in Swiss German. But he overcame that with the help of his colleagues and single-minded motivation to learn the ropes of living in Switzerland. “It took me five years! But it’s something that had to be done.”
Swiss acceptance – then and now
Referring to acceptance within Switzerland, Karumbunathan says that the Swiss people are and have always been very friendly. “They accepted us very happily.” He continues, “I do not see much difference in their attitude,” and defining the magic formula of acceptance, he adds, “It all depends on how and to what extent you integrate with them.”
Further, he shares a valuable tip, “It’s more about integration with discipline, the style of living here and learning the Swiss languages and community living.”
Bringing up kids
“In our opinion and experience, both my wife and I believe that bringing up children here is very easy when compared to other countries – and even India. It all depends on the time invested and interest shown by the parents. Nobody forces culture here and the Swiss respect Indian culture a lot. Personal development is considered very positive. Self-confidence and exposure to disciplined family life are key drivers to balance life here.”
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