When you live in a city other than the one you’re comfortable living in, and if you have a lot of disposable income, you try to live like an expat. By that, I mean you will try and use your disposable income in order to insulate yourself from the parts of the city that you’re uncomfortable with. You basically try to take the city out of your lifestyle, and try and live in a way that wouldn’t be different from the way you’d live in any other city.
So for example, two years back I had to relocate to Gurgaon since my well-paying job took me there. And I knew that water supply, electricity supply, security and public transport were major issues there. So the first thing I did when I got there was to find myself a comfortable apartment with assured water supply and “100% power backup”, with round-the-clock security. I also transported my car to Gurgaon to hedge against the bad transport system there. All shopping was done in malls, so I could avoid the heat and dust, and the unreliability of the traditional markets there. As long as I wasn’t driving on those roads in my air-conditioned car, I could have been living just about anywhere else. I had tried my best to take Gurgaon out of my life.
You find people like this wherever you go, except perhaps Bombay (where the cost of living is so high that very few people have “disposable” income), but is perhaps more pronounced in Gurgaon where there are few natives with disposable income so most of the people you’ll meet turn out to be fellow-expats. So essentially a lot of your income goes in just hedging yourself against the city.
Like in Bangalore, you’ll find that “expats” always want to take a “Meru cab” wherever they’ve to go, while us native folks prefer to take the humble auto. I don’t blame the expats – they are yet to learn the skills required in finding an auto here that will take you where you want at a “fair” price, so instead of choosing to learn the system, they get around it by using their disposable income. “Expats” usually shop in malls, try and travel only to those places where they can easily take and park their cars, live in the outskirts where they can get big houses with “amenities” like the one I had in Gurgaon, send their kids to “international schools”, and the like.
So this tendency to live like an expat shows up the cost differential between living in your “own” city, and living in another where you would rather prefer to buy your way around the parts you don’t like rather than trying to blend into the city. And this tendency to live like an expat means that expats will always be expats, which is an accusation (not unjustifiably) thrown at the Koramangala types.
When I returned to Bangalore from Gurgaon about two years back, the thing that struck me was about how comfortable I suddenly was. So many of the worries that had been worries in Gurgaon ceased to be worries now. I was comfortable enough with the system to not bother about any of those. And as I ran across my road and jumped on to a moving bus to take me to the city centre, I realizeed I was back, where I belonged.