Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
In reference to Gigis you know you are becoming a Parisian when.. here comes the How do you recognize becoming a Mumbaiker. The idea behind is that you certainly recognize that you adapt some habits and mindsets. If you live and work India and especially Mumbai this happens really fast, once you are over the culture shock you get used to certain things. If not you will leave the country soon.
So here is my list of how to recognize becoming a Mumbaiker
- everything beyond 30km/h is speeding NO
- 0.1m² is lot of space in a train YES
- you bargain everywhere YES
- if you sneeze, don't expect somebody to say "Gesundheit, bless you.." instead you say sorry YES
- you start liking Kinfisher YES (Kingfisher is my favourite brand now!!!)
- there is no need to use a blinker/ indicator/ side mirror, just horn LOL YES!
- you get new a perspective towards waste and pollution YES
- you are shaking your head like an Indian YES
- you start your sentence with "Hey Boss.." so much YES!!
- you can squeeze your lips to call a waiter etc. NO (will never do that! yaak!)
- 100 Rupies (2EUR) is expensive for one meal YES
- you don't consider guys holding hands and hugging as gay LOL YES
- you jump off the train while it is still running YES (really!)
- you can recognise stations by the smell (e.g Bandra) YES
- you finally pay the prize for an auto,taxi shown on the meter without discussion YES
- you have a bit of orientation in the city YES (still a bit though!)
I guess I am almost there!!!
How can you talk about human dignity when your restroom is just next to your bed and your bed is just next to your kitchen and all these is actually placed on the street, where thousands of people are driving their cars every day, traveling with rikshaws, walking by. How can you talk about having basic privacy when you brush your teeth, comb your hair, eat your dinner, sleep, feed your babies being watched by random pedestrians or travelers, when “your bed” is just there, just on the street but you only lie down after 9 pm, when the traffic is less and you will have to collect your stuff before 7 am when it starts getting crowded again.
Coming to India I was told I should expect poverty and a gap between the rich and the poor. I was thinking, I am not from the richest country in the world either, so shouldn’t be that shocked. However, things you can see here are really scary and you can’t by any chance prepare yourself for what you will see here. No one can really say how many people are living on the streets (especially in Mumbai this number will be huuuuge!) because no one is even able to track how many people are there in the country. Not everyone was born in hospital, not everyone is officially registered, not everyone officially works. Therefore if Indian government gives statistics about the size of the population they can never be accurate… neither they are able to say how many people are homeless. Most of the Indians I was discussing economic situation with said that the biggest issue hindering this country from growing even faster is its population. No matter how much effort you put into providing social services you can’t really feed everyone, educate everyone, and give work to everyone.
OK, I didn’t want to write about it as I was not really sure how the whole thing will finish, also I was laughing so much at these poor Indians coming to Europe, having their visa issues… until I ended up having my own, personal, exclusive visa issue and being scared I would be deported from the country!!!Applying for visa I knew I was supposed to obtain a business visa in order to be officially registered and employed by the company in India. I submitted all the required documents and was more than happy getting my visa, being sure that if you apply for the business type, you get business type and you don’t need to check it again… Well, never assume!!! Only after landing in India I was told that “V type” is not a business visa and it won’t allow me to get registered at FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office). Calling different people, looking for some help I was only told by the Indian embassy in Poland that they are very sorry and only thing they can do is to assure me that if I come to their office in Warsaw again, they can issue a new, proper visa for me! Wow! What a relief!! I knew I couldn’t go back home so I started searching for other options. Luckily Mahindra is a big and old company and if you tell them who they are supposed to know they for sure know them and can talk to them about your issue ;) So was it in my case. After days of struggling with the Indian embassy they finally sent me the letter saying that it’s not my fault but their mistake that I got the wrong visa, requesting FRRO to read it as business visa! I was very stressed ending up in FRRO with all the documents, later than I was supposed to. Luckily they accepted all my explanations and finally I heared the magic sentence: “I allow you to register in India”! I wanted to start jumping but these people in the office looked very seriously so just smiled at the lady who was sitting behind the desk, took my registration book and walked out! Officially, legally in India, after 3 weeks since arrival!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Surprise number 13
If you have reach a certain level of the hierarchy in the company you are usually given a company car.Well, even in Poland managers are getting one but somehow in India you will usually get it together with a driver! So you don't really have to bother about driving, getting stressed about traffic, etc. Actually, the concept of drivers is pretty popular here. Some of my friends will just call a driver once we are going out clubbing & partying. So that everyone can just enjoy and have a good time:)
My journey started at 6 in the morning, I took the company bus which left my Kandivili office at 6 am sharp! Sharp, really! I was impressed too! :) I was extremely sleepy (like only I can be at 6 am) so was hoping to get some sleep on the way.
Surprise number 12
Sleep?! No way! I know I used to complain about Polish roads but you can't really compare our Polish highways to what you can experience here!
Well, I wanted to sleep but I just kept jumping up and down! Before coming to India I had heard many stories about Indian infrastructure... After experiencing local trains, water issues, elecricity problems, lack of proper public transportation I can only add the quality of roads to the list of infrastructure surprises.
Not being able to sleep I was just observing the views outside. As we kept moving towards our destination the views around became nicer and nicer. Green hills, small rivers, almost clean (!!) roads, untouched nature. I was so sorry I didn't have my camera :( You can't really see such places in Europe, looking as if time stopped there some 50 years ago.
Nashik, the city of my destination was unfortunatelly again reminding me of Mumbai. Of course it was smaller and less crowded but still dirty, with many homeless people (unless you can say a carton box is a house) and the same crazy traffic.
It must be one of the industrial centres near Mumbai as Mahindras' plant was not the only one there.
As I went there to interview the top 20 Gallup scorers I spent two days running and driving around the plant in order to talk to them. Getting to know their practices, their opinions, getting familarized with an Indian working style was a very interesting experience.
In the night I was accomodated in one of the M&M guest houses. Nice, decent place, wonderful service and food! Amazing! As I informed them well in advance that I can't have spicy Indian food they prepared something special for me!
It wasn't spicy at but still prepared in an Indian way! Luckily I met two other trainees there, guys from Singapore who took me for a short walk. Weather was just great, a bit cooler than in Mumbai and not humid at all! The place was very quite and peacful - good change after the noise of Bombay.
On my way back I spent another day in Igatpuri, at another plant of Mahindras.
I came back to Mumbai on Friday night, relaxed and relieved, with batteries charged for the upcoming weekend!
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Role of relationships.
As Indians in general like to know what is happening in other people's lives they keep the same habit in the workplace too. There is no real border between personal and professional life, all the family issues are discussed with colleagues which slowly leads to them becoming your best friends. Apart from that they celebrate all the possible occasions - birthdays, the birth of a child, wedding, purchase of a new car, graduation, one's first date, new girlfriend, etc. One of the managers told me that even if his reportee doesn't want to tell him what is bothering him he will anyway find out as their wives are best friends too! Can you imagine?
Hierarchy and titles
When at work, especially in big companies people do pay attention to hierarchy. If your boss introduces you to a senior means he treats you seriously. If your boss speaks nobody else has the right to say a word unlsesss asked to. Moreover, Indians like making their work sound more important by adding a sophisticated name of the position/title.
Below the real conversation that happened during one of the meetings I attended.
Participants: A (boss), B, C, D, E, F - team members, G - team leader.
A: here is the list of our assignments. Now we have to decide who will execute them.
G: I suggest B, C and D should get involved in them, they seem to understand the topic.
A: B, C, D, is it O.K. for you?
B,C,D: (nods they heads in whatever directions)
A: Fine, I will call you "core team".
G: Sir, I think E will also take part in this project, he is very interested in the area.
A: E, what do you say?
E: Well, Sir, I studied this a lot, have worked in this area for some time, so I guess I might be helpful.
A: Perfect, how will we call you then?
B: Team leader?
A: No, G is a team leader.Let's call him a champion.
This discussion last for at least 15 minutes and I found it really amusing, was trying my best not to start laughing!
Not direct at all! Instead of saying: "X, can you do this?" they go with long explanation why and what for, analyze who are the people who might get involved, discussing over their possible titles and only after 30 minutes finishing up with the question: "X, is it fine if we assign you to do this?"
Sometimes I just miss some direct statements, clear plan, flow of the action, structure! Instead I can count on the IT support guys who type slower than me, hours spent on pointless discussions and hours wasted re-doing things that have been already done... just in a different way.. because nobody had stated earlier which is the proper and expected way :)