Sep 30, 2011

Sunshine behind the clouds without a Silver lining

A friend once said - "India needs people like us - those that have seen the other side of the world". At that time, I brushed off the remark as a cliched saying to entice me to come back to India. Within a couple of months after my return, I realised the value of those words. At work, I had to go through the usual "new employee training programs". And sitting there, listening to all those 20 somethings speak about what they want to do with their life and the sometimes misguided, sometimes intelligent plans for their future, it was exciting.

India has a huge potential. I am not the first to say it nor am I the last. What I now realise is, returning back can help you see the potential a lot more clearly. You can see the gaps at the individual and organizational level. And the most exciting and challenging part is, you can help fill that gap! Imagine that! There is nothing like being able to shape something to take it to a better standard.

Putting that into action requires finesse though. Most people discard us as prodigal sons and daughters who think we have come back from heaven and therefore consider ourselves a cut above the rest. And when that preconceived notion exists, it is hard to make headway even though your intentions and vision are right. I was warned to not act as if I dropped from heaven and everything here is sub-standard and needs to be improved (courtesy - that same friend).

So we are back to the basics. First, 'Change' requires you to understand and appreciate why things are the way they are. Always. Whether in India or abroad. And that understanding helps you bring about change with a lot more empathy. But foremost, your vision has to be selfless. You are not trying to bring about a change for yourself. But for a larger good. This is true again whether India or abroad or in any work that we do for that matter. That gives you the everlasting satisfaction and enthusiasm to keep it going.

Clouds will pass - you dont have to search for the silver lining in them! There is sunshine beneath - give it time. (does that rhyme?!)

Sep 29, 2011

The thing that is most annoying...

We are all social beings. We seek other people for simple transactional purposes leave alone communication. One of the first things I had to do was to get the basics - telephone, internet, TV connection. So after finding out from neighbours and nearby store owners the numbers for the different utilities, I call them and get them to come to discuss their wares - pricing packages etc. There isnt much choice - either because the rep doesnt know and can't answer questions or there simply aren't too many options. But I do manage to get a rough idea of what the bill will be. The rep assures me that it wont exceed X amount. So we pick a package and set a date for installation. My son is waiting eagerly for the TV connection, so he can watch the World cup. I am waiting eagerly for the internet - so I can get on with my other search for things like furniture stores, music class etc.

The appointed day comes and goes - no one has called to say they are late or can't keep the appointment. It seems mundane now, but having been used to the punctuality and preciseness of things in the US, not having people show up, was quite jarring. I made some calls and these guys were not in the least bit apologetic! They simply give me an excuse that I can't penetrate and simply fix a different time. I decide to give them a chance. The next date comes and goes. The worst part is, you have to stick around at home waiting for these guys since they dont give you a good window of time. This time I am on short fuse. Remember, all along we've been getting by without these basic utilities. It is a bigger let down when you expect something to happen and it doesn't. So I call and give them a ear full. And they show up. Connection set up, TV, internet and phone all working. Everything is fine.

A month later, I get the bill and there is absolutely no correlation between what I asked and what's on the bill. I call them to get an explanation- I am on eternal hold and finally the person I get, simply raises a trouble ticket for a billing question!! No one bothers about the trouble ticket for days although I keep getting text messages to my cell phone with the trouble ticket number and that it is assigned to so and so etc. Then I realise - people here dont value their own words and most importantly, there is no penalty or incentives for (not) keeping appointments!

It is very frustrating even now. I dread having to deal with maintenance guys, furniture delivery fellows - anyone who has to show up at your doorstep for something. I am learning to lower my expectations and not plan things as well as we used to in the US.

So what is the silver lining on this cloud you ask? I stopped looking for it. Is that a good answer?

Sep 28, 2011

Life in India - the first few months

I am back again after a long time! Move back to India in Mar 2011. And a lot of friends have asked me to write about my experiences here. I can't necessarily guide anyone but can make observations that may be useful.
Overall, I find myself complaining, comparing, more complaining, reasoning and accepting in that order. And that cycle repeats with every encounter and with each stage lasting varying lengths of time depending on the situation. In the meantime, I evolved my philosophical self - that has added another dimension to all this adjustment.
The good thing and bad thing about this is - I get to compare the work and non-work aspects of life here due to first hand experiences. Good about it is - it is first hand experience, bad about it is - it is that much harder to adjust in all spheres. At the end of the day, there is a peace - the peace that one has when one is close to their final destination. So look out for more.