Thursday, April 8, 2010

Job - hunting with India in my CV :P

AS some of you might know I am currently in the mad process of job - hunting. I was trying to do some statistics yesterday. Overally, I applied for 10 different companies (in some cases I actually had no hope of getting any response), I was invited for 6 interviews and successfully wrote 2 tests checking my "analytical skills".
OK, this is not interesting... I was planning to write about something else.
So, before going to India I was wondering what kind of the influence my internship there will have on my competetiveness on the Polish job market. Well, I can't say so far if all the companies respond because of India in my CV but definitely this experience helps a lot during the interviews! How?

1. Starting questions during each interview are like: "So, how was India?" or "I have seen you were in India, how is life out there?" or "What did you like about India? Do you plan to go there again?". Yesterday I actually spent 30 minutes of an one - hour interview discussing differences between Indian and Polish culture :-) And at the end they asked me: "So after all these interesting things you have been upto you really want to have an internship with us?" Fun!

2.I have real life examples to give when asked a question from a series of: "Tell me the situation when...?" I can give interesting examples to questions checking my adaptibility, flexibility, innovative thinking, analytical thinking, communication skills, innovation and creativity, assertiveness and whatever the competencies they can think of! It is really cool, nothing can actually surprise me :-)

3. I am really cool and relaxed during the recruitment processes. When other candidates shake and nervously pretend they are busy reading their CVs I am just most chilled out. Things happen for a reason I believe, so there is nothing to worry about. I am simply more confident so instead of interviews I mostly take part in nice conversations when both sides laugh, share some interesting stories and learn a lot about each other. Fun :)

4. Last but not least, I am actually enjoying the process. Although I happen to be tired running for one interview just after another I simply don't mind it. Every experience is an experience, no matter if it is good or bad. I am trying to learn from it.

5. This one is funny - when talking in English during an interview I actually laugh to myself! Why? I tend to talk with my Indian accent :P Lol!

Summing up, if you ask me about how my Indian experience is helping me to get a new job - I don't know, I haven't got one yet :-) But the process itself is definitely much easier and much funnier:-)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My life after India...with India in my mind and heart though!

Well, yes, it took me some time to write this post... In case you didnt't know - I am home yet ;-)
I finally decided to write something after watching “Singh is king” in the cinema today (with Polish subtitles, finally I understood everything! yay!) I guess I just suddenly missed my colorful Indian life! Additionally, I just realized I left Mumbai exactly a month ago! On 27th of February! Good day for some summaries!

I had some doubts… this is a blog about me in Mumbai, about me in India... not about my life in general... However, if you spend 8 months in one place, totally different from what you have been used to, amazing, scary, exciting, wonderful... you won't let it go from your life once you move to another place. Places like this stay with you. India will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life. And since for me places are about people - people I met in India will always remain the ones who were there during some of the greatest moments of my life...

India, people, me... so now about me. Have been recently reflecting upon what exactly has changed in me over this period of time. What have I learnt? What have I understood? Plenty of things actually.

Enjoy your life
There are billions of people in this world who are in a much worse situation than yours and...they still enjoy, they are happy with what they have, they are just glad they have something to eat or they found the place to sleep.

Enjoy your life. There are always some things in your life that should make you think you are the happiest and luckiest person in the world! They are not always obvious, keep searching!

Things happen for a reason
I wouldn't have gone to India if the PAI had selected me to his team. I keep saying he made the best decision in my life actually. I wouldn't have had such amazing flat mates if Maria hadn't been leaving India when I had come there. I wouldn't have had such an amazing job and colleagues if I had kept insisting on working for "the brand I know" (lol), I wouldn't have chaired NLDS if the actual chair had got his visa, I wouldn't have had some of the great adventures if the bus on the way to Goa hadn't broken down, I wouldn't have seen Shimla if Anca hadn't have found Sandeep on couchsurfing...

Whenever you think life sucks and all the things in this world are just against you - remember - things happen for a reason! Your turn will also come soon!

(In case it still doesn't work you can also check: - also learnt in India - thanks Meenal :))

Treat everyone equally
It's funny how I learnt this in India, the country which is built on the divisions. Different casts, languages, religions, states, cuisine, festivals - either you treat everyone equally or you keep fighting with the entire society because it's bound that each person you meet will differ from you by at least one of these factors.Amazing… It's not easy. I have seen many examples of people treating chai wallas in a worse way… But I just made this promise to myself I will never be like this. Leaving the country I knew people will remember me as a friendly person – not only my colleagues, bosses, friends… but also drivers, chai wallas, street sellers.

Treat everyone equally, although so different we are all people by the end of the day!!!

People are GOOD

I am not saying this because I am generally nice to people (this is what some of my friends say) but because I truly believe it is just better to assume people you meet are good. It makes you feel better and happier. Of course it's not about trusting everyone in 100% but it is about giving them a chance instead of assuming they are bad and stupid.

If you start with the assumption that people are good I am sure they will surprise you..because they actually are! It happened to me so many times in India! So many riksha drivers that turned out to be most helpful, my colleagues who were there for me all the time, people I met traveling (this is like a big group of the best people in the world!, people randomly met on the street who seeing me lost would just offer their help without me asking for it! Yes, people are GOOD!

Don't judge

Those of you who know MBTI test would understand what J in the sequence of four letters mean. So, this is what I had been before going to India - a strong J - judger. Yes, I would have judged people by the way they look, the way they speak, the work they do. I was like this, really. And then I took the test again, while being in India and you won't believe it - it turned into S - sensing!
If you were a judging person in the environment which is so different from yours you would just go crazy! You can't think guys holding hands are gays because this is a regular way guys in India behave when they are friends. You can't judge people by the way they nod their heads, by their language, religion. You can't!
Spend time with people before formulating an opinion about them. Give everyone a chance. Don't look at the world with your mindsets, your own lances. Open yourself. OK, I know it sounds very pompous now but I think open attitude was one thing that kept me going all this time in India. If I had been closed I would have run away after 2 days. If I had kept looking at things with my European eyes I would have gone mad! You have to try and understand how the others think, behave and why they do so. Only then you can say you like/don't like this, you agree/don't agree, you want to behave the same/you don't want to.

Well, I have definitely become less judging. I am not saying it is good or bad… but I think life is just easier this way.

Me – more interdependent

Going for an internship abroad you usually expect to learn how to be more independent, manage your life on your own, deal with your own problems or become more self driven... Funnily enough it has been quite opposite in my case...Knowing me a bit better you would know that I have always been very much self sufficient. Asking for help is not in my nature, making fuss about my problems is something hardly happening in my case... I would rather solve my issue on my own and once it is done I would inform everyone "there were some problems but they are sorted out already, so there is nothing to worry about". Being put in a totally different environment and facing problems you would never face otherwise somehow pushes you to ask for help…and it is actually nothing bad! There are people who just know some things you don’t know and can help you with problems you won’t be able to solve on your own!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not about showing you are weak. It is about accepting some of the very basic functions of the society - we live together for a reason, we have different skills, capabilities, we come from different backgrounds to support each other and to learn from each other.

Me - more self confident

It is really easy to become more self confident in the place where you are just a different one . Why? People will always ask you for your opinions, they will always look for this “different perspective”, they will usually include you in some discussion just to learn what you think about the particular topic or how it looks like in your country. Being put so many times in the situations when someone would just randomly ask you: “What do you think about it?” teaches you how to formulate your opinions, how to be able to sell and explain them better, how to say politely that you actually don’t agree.

If you have something to say – just say it! Voice it out! There is nothing wrong in being wrong…actually even if you are wrong maybe you can just inspire someone to look at the problem from another point of view!

On a less serious note (this is mostly for girls;-) being a white girl in India makes you also more confident as a woman :-) You are the admired one, being compared to Karina Kapoor and always being noticed in the club. Whenever you go out you can be sure there will be someone complementing on your “wonderful blue eyes” or “silky blond hair” (you don’t have to be blond actually to hear this kind of things ;-) Lots of fun! (And free drinks:P)

O.K. This post is getting to long, I hope you managed to get through the entire thing ;-)
What’s next? I definitely learnt lots of things in India… I miss my colorful masala life sometimes… How can I bring it here? How can I live my Indian learnings in Warsaw? That’s the challenge for now! Chalo!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Serious about Marathi

As mentioned somewhere in previous posts, although Hindi is an official language in India each state has its own, unique language. In Maharashtra (with Mumbai as its capital) it is Marathi. Maharashtra is one of these states which treats their language very seriously and makes sure that people maintain it and use it on daily basis. Therefore all the tables and signs on the streets are written in Marathi, all the numbers on buses as well (this is really making my life more complicated!) and finally all the official institutions operate in Marathi. If you go to the police station (luckily haven’t had such an opportunity… yet) they will examine you for sure in Marathi, if you are a politician standing for elections in Mumbai don’t even think of not knowing Marathi. Why? You can get slapped!! Check out this article and see what happens if you try and talk in Hindi here

And on the top of that The Maharashtra government has recently made it mandatory for new applicants for taxi driver permits to be domiciled in the state and be able to read, write and speak Marathi. LINK
Well, another obstacle to keep Maharashtra only for Maharashtrans and prevent immigration from other parts of the country. (Will write about immigration later) For me, another reason to get confused whether Indians are one…or not…?


Imagine you travel in a subway in Warsaw or any other European city. Suddenly, you spot someone who looks different. Maybe they have a different skin color, maybe they are dressed up in a weird way, maybe have a funny hairstyle. You can’t not have a look, you want to see more details… While you are enjoying your view, the person promptly looks back. What do you do? Whistle? Quickly start staring at your shoes? Search for something in your bag? Take out your mobile? Basically, you pretend you haven’t been watching this entire time and you are just normally busy with your life. I am sure all of us have done it several times in our lives.

Let’s analyze now how the same process looks like in India, assuming I am the one looking different. (I don’t know why someone would think I am different because I am a Mumbaiker ONLY :P) but let’s assume it for a second. I am getting into the bus, sitting on one of the available seats and of course I can feel hundreds of eyes looking in my direction. In most of the cases I ignore it, have been here for 7 months now so got used to this all. It was actually fun at the beginning because wherever I went I felt like pop star ;) But I got over it now :P However, sometimes, just for fun, I would look back to check the reaction… and you know what? People keep staring! No one even tries to pretend they haven’t been watching, they actually stare more because now they can see my face as well!! In some cases, when I am in a good mood I will start fooling them, making stupid faces, giving some of my biggest and brightest smiles or saying hi. This makes a staring person most excited and from then on I can be sure they joined my fans’ circle and I can enjoy their stares till the end of the journey!! :D Good fun!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Conversations with rikshawallas

I can't say I speak Hindi... I am not even close to speaking Hindi... In the office I don't need it because everyone speaks English... on the streets... well... I know a few basic phrases required to buy food, bargain about prices of food and clothes and of course explain to the rikshawalla how to get to my house.

These few basic sentences like: "turn left" or "go straight ahead" or "wait one minute" make these lovely rikshawallas think I can speak proper Hindi.
First when they realize that I speak to them in Hindi they stop their rikshas and turn around checking again if I am really a foreigner. Then they smile and ask: "Hindi?" to which my reply is: "tora, tora" (a little) which makes them smile even more! Then assuming they found an interesting person to have a conversation with they would start with thousands of questions. Typical dialogue:

RW: Madam, which country?
ME: Poland
RW: Which country?
ME: Poland
RW: Kya? (What?)
ME: (giving up) Europe
RW: (smiling) aah, Europe, nice country, nice country, Madam!
RW: Husband?
ME: No
RW: (smiling) Me wife and 1 daughter
ME: Nice
RW: Something, something,something (in Hindi)
ME: Bhaiya (Brother) HINDI Nei!
RW: Something, something, something (in Hindi)
ME: Hindi nei!
RW: Something, something, something (hoping that if he repeats 5 times I will finally understand)
ME: (giving up, pretending I understand) Ha (yes)
RW: Something, something, something (in Hindi)
ME: (laughing) Ha, Ha
RW: Something, something, something (in Hindi)
ME: (pretending I am surprised) Ha, ha

and we can go like this for 40 minutes :D

Ride in riksha: Rs 56
Smile of the RW (showing ALL the brown from tabacoo he has been chewing teeth): priceless!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Santa goes green!

The places where you can definitely feel the Christmas spirit are shopping malls! I went to one of them just a day before Christmas and it felt so much like home! I was however wondering why all the Santa Clauses were wearing green clothes there. In my head I was finding reasons – cultural differences, green goes better with darker skin or green is fashionable this year... but the reason was much more interesting and exciting! Santa goes green! He has become eco – friendly, he acts sustainably and he cares for environment! WOW! Isn’t it a creative way to approach two topics at the same time? And it links so well with my posts about environment! I was really amazed!

Merry Christmas!

It is a very funny feeling to celebrate Christmas when there is 30 degrees outside and 90% of the people around you don’t have a clue what this festival is all about. However they still try very hard and use the excuse of Christmas to take a day off, to do some extra shopping or to organize the celebration in the office. This is what happened in my department on 23rd of December. Suddenly someone came up with the idea of Christmas celebration and we all went mad! Lots of food, including Christmas cake, Santa Clause, Santa caps for everyone and Christmas game with prizes! When we were about to start the event someone realized that most of the people don’t know why exactly we want to celebrate Christmas and what is so special about this day, so they suddenly decided to call “an international expert” or “foreign consultant on Christmas” to give an opening speech! Guess who that was!!! I seriously don’t know what exactly I said, I guess something about how Christmas is celebrated in Poland and how I am missing snow but they were laughing and clapping so I am assuming it was pretty successful ;)

Aren’t we all looking cute in these caps?
Note how they made me bend because I was too tall and was not fitting in the picture ;)