The backside view from the residence hall

The residence hall

"The Washing Machine"

Central courtyard

The Pyramid

Bicycles on a path

Another futuristic building

The Lotus

Just outside the gates

Fountains on during the daytime

The Pyramid and a reflecting pool

Life on the streets

A cow grazing on garbage

The main road and elevated highway

Entrance to the neighborhood off the main road

The backside of the Washing Machine and people collecting water

A guard tower along the main road

An electric fence protecting a modern building inside

Modern buildings behind the livestock

The Pyramid behind a busy side street

Electronics City, India

On Campus

June 16, 2013


Do you feel singled out, do you feel less than all the rest

You know it's interchangeable, the spotlight and the pain

- Buckcherry

After a two hour flight from Barcelona to London and an extremely hurried connection at Heathrow’s new yet still inefficient Terminal 5 I boarded the 10 hour flight to Bangalore. Bangalore, or more precisely Electronics City, about 10 miles south of the city, will be my home for 10 weeks during a summer internship at Infosys, one of the leading IT companies in India.

Infosys has a large campus, which during the week is bustling with about 30,000 workers. The sleek and unique buildings have exotic names like “The Pyramid” and “The Washing Machine.” Leafy pathways and roadways are filled with pedestrians and people on the free bicycles that speed the commute between the numerous buildings. There are multiple food courts serving all types of Indian food and even a few Western options.

There are gyms, a pool, basketball and volleyball courts, billiard tables, a library, convenience store, and almost everything else that a self-sustaining campus would need. However, on the weekends, without all those thousands of workers scurrying around, it feels a bit like an ultramodern ghost town. The perfectly manicured grounds, still pools, and non-operating fountains make the campus seem like a corporate resort in the dead of the off-season.

The peaceful and serene nature of the campus is a stark contrast to the real India that lurks outside the walls. Beyond the 8,000 volt electric fence a harsh chaotic world abounds. Exiting the back gate after passing through the X-ray baggage scanner and metal detector is a dusty street lined with run-down buildings and piles of trash. A lone cow grazes on heaps of trash as commuters file by.

At the junction with the main road a colorful entrance gate announces the beginning of the madness. A large highway with access roads on each side that are usually clogged with traffic creates an obstacle, with the surrounding air filled with exhaust fumes. Pedestrians weave through the mess of street-side stores, vendors, motorcycles, and cars. The ever-present din of honking coupled with the bad smells, poor air quality, and general chaos can be overwhelming.

In the background the top of the modern buildings from the Infosys campus can easily be seen. The juxtaposition of this and the real life on the street is startling. The views of people collecting water in containers behind “The Washing Machine” and children playing barefoot with the tip of “The Pyramid” towering above a palm tree are very unique. Seeing the closeness of these two worlds makes you appreciate the heightened security: guard towers, surveillance cameras, electric fences, and patrols of guards armed with automatic weapons.

I will be spending a lot of time on the Infosys campus this summer and the company’s success, and others like it, is certainly one thread of the Indian story. The Indian economy has made great strides in the last 20 or so years and this has meant a world of difference for a large number of people. The emergence of companies like Infosys and India’s growing role in the global market should continue to propel the country forward for years to come. But as much as India is modernizing or attempting to modernize, there are still huge disparities, as these pictures from inside and outside the campus walls attest. In the coming weeks I hope to get outside those walls and explore as much as possible, seeing for myself what India has to offer and perhaps get a glimpse into what the future holds.