Monthly Archives: May 2013

Puzzle Pieces

Today is actually my 2 month anniversary in Superbad (I didn’t actually realize that until I sat down to write this post).  2 months, already.  I have very mixed feelings about my first 2 months in Hyderabad (in all seriousness).

I think I am trying my best to feel like I am enjoying this adventure so far.  Now, that’s obviously a loaded sentence, right.  “I am trying”  “to feel like”  “I am enjoying this adventure”  But, that’s about right.  I want to feel like I am enjoying this adventure.  But, I am not sure I am actually enjoying it.  But, I am also not sure I am not, not enjoying it either. See.  Not so easy.  (and a lot of “buts” in that paragraph too!).  No comment, TJ, my family reads this blog too!!!

As I talked about in a previous post, communication is so much harder than I ever expected it to be.  It’s difficult and it’s frustrating.  And I think that has had a bigger affect on me than I had thought.  Tonight, for instance, is a perfect example.  I need to find a mini-DVI to HDMI cable to hook my Mac Mini into either a computer monitor or TV.  There are no Apple stores in India, but there is, what I like to call, the “Fake Apple Store” – or the iStore.  They have a fake Apple store in the mall that is about 2 miles from my house.

In order to get there, I would have to get an auto rickshaw (a “rick” or an “auto”).  Getting a rick is a chore because you have to bargain with them.  Everyone does.  But white guys, definitely.  They call it the “foreigner surcharge” – when an Indian colleague walks up to a rick and asks them to take them to Inorbit Mall, the rick driver might start at Rs 60-70.  The actual price should be no more than Rs 40.  But, when me or one of my expat colleagues walks up to a rick, the starting price is Rs 100.  Now, we may still get down to the same price of Rs 40, but it’s a lot more work for me.  In the end, we are seriously talking about a dimes’ difference.  But, in a way it’s the principle.  And more importantly, it’s just not easy.  It takes energy.  It takes patience.

And, you’ve also got the issue of explaining to the guy where you need to go.  I mean, Inorbit Mall is pretty easy – but so should be the Westin Hotel (just around the corner from Inorbit too!).  But one rick driver I had took me past the hotel on the way to another neighborhood.  I even stopped him and told him he passed it.  But he kept going.  We had to turn around when he got to where he thought he was going and then I somehow was able to get him to go back.  Anyway, at the beginning of the trip, before you even get in, you negotiate price.  He and I had negotiated Rs 50.  When we finally arrived at the Westin (after going to Gachibowli and back and getting lost in the little area where it’s located) he wanted Rs 100.  I told him “no” (but I needed change, all I had was a Rs 100 bill).  When he wouldn’t show me the change (never hand the bill over until you see the change) and I kept saying “50”, I walked away.

The guards at the hotel gate decided to come over and see what was going on, so I explained, we had agreed on Rs 50, he refuses to give me change, I told him Rs 50 or nothing.  So, they talk to him in Hindi or Telugu and look at me and say, “sir, he said that you went all the way to Gachibowli on the way here, so it should be Rs 100”  I almost lost it, but calmly I said, “the only reason we went to Gachibowli is because he went the wrong way.  I even stopped him and told him he was going the wrong way, but he went anyway.  I am not paying more because he got lost.”  They talked to him again, and again came back to me and said, “sir, you should pay him Rs 100”  I told them absolutely not, he either gets Rs 50, or I walk away.  In the end, the driver accepted the Rs 50 and it was all over – but again…a headache that I neither needed or wanted!

Then there’s the issue of explaining to the guys at the fake Apple store what it is that I need.  And, being able to understand whatever their response might be.  While their English is going to be much better than a rick driver’s, I’m still not confident that I am being completely understood, or that I understand what they are telling me – or most commonly, BOTH.

All that, along with post-thunderstorm, didn’t make didn’t make riding in a rick seem all that exciting or interesting even.

So, those kinds of issues have definitely hampered my willingness to do somethings because when I look at what it will take to do “the thing”, I think, “ugh, I just don’t have the energy” or the patience.

I’ve also posted that my job can be quite overwhelming at times.  The work hours have been beyond obnoxious (a 25-hour day at the extreme – but 16-17-18 hour days have been a common occurrence.)  But, work itself has also been frustrating.  They definitely do document review differently here than back in the States.  I am actually pretty impressed by a lot of the processes that they have in place.  Some of them go a little too far, but for the most part they (being the Company) are on top of every aspect of a project.  Which, as you can imagine, can be just as bad as it is good.

You know how sometimes you feel like it takes longer to fill out the form about the process than it did to actually do the process thing?  There’s a lot of that going on, definitely.  But, I think the most frustrating part of the process is the fact that the company does not have any formal training program.  I’ve basically been thrown onto projects and it’s been the responsibility of my colleagues to really just teach me the process.  That may not sound all that bad – but when the company is under-staffed and we are working on rush projects, everyone just wants to get the work done (me included), but without any formal training, it becomes a burden on the whole team.

This is not in anyway to disparage the people I have worked with and what they have been able to teach me, but it’s quite frustrating to be thrown in and expected to perform within a system that is completely foreign to me (pardon the play on words) without a real training.

So, after you take out these two main factors – communication and work – it hasn’t left much time, energy or desire to do a whole lot more.  I have yet to spend any time being a tourist in my new city.  My excursions have basically been to the mall or other stores/shops around this area of town.  I’m really hoping I can do that soon.

But anyway, those are the big pieces of the puzzle I am trying to put together of my time living in India.  Right now, I am struggling to get the right pieces in the right places.  But as with most puzzles, start on the edges and then move in.  And, usually it’s getting just one big puzzle piece that makes the other pieces fall into place.

Let’s hope this isn’t a 1000 piece puzzle!  I’m sure I will have more posts about some of the different puzzle pieces to come.

Thanks for reading!!!

How Difficult is it to Communicate in India?

This is my first post about what’s it like to live in India.  As you can imagine, packing up and moving to a completely different side of the world can be quite daunting – for so many reasons.  And, I never thought it was going to be easy, but, I also never thought that communication would be so difficult.  First, a lot of Indians know English.  Our office, even, is considered an English office.  Most people know, at least, the basics (much more than we Americans know of any other language!)

Let’s add to it that I have spent A LOT of money (none of it mine, mind you) on an education that focuses on communication.  As I like to say, “I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science, a masters degree in Communications, and a law degree.  I am classically trained in the art of bullshit!”  But, I am also trained in communicating.  So, when I moved to India, I did not think that communicating would be my biggest challenge (a challenge, mind you, just not the *biggest* challenge!).

Honestly, the biggest challenges are actually what you might think are the little things.  While many people here know and understand English, it’s the vocabulary that causes most of the problems.  Here’s a perfect example – “turn around” versus “U-turn.”  Many of the roads here have medians so you can’t just make a turn where you like (more on Indian driving to come in a further post).  So, in many cases, you have to tell the person driving to make a U-turn, or to turn around.  Either one would be perfectly acceptable in the States – tell a cab driver to turn around is probably, actually, more common than telling him to “take a U-turn.”

But, not here in India.  Most drivers know “U-turn” and that’s it.  The first few times I was out and I was telling a driver to turn around, they looked at me like I was crazy (which I may be, but that’s beside the point).  I kept saying, “turn around, turn around” with hand motions and everything!  Then, one of the drivers said “U-turn?” and I said, “yes, yes U-turn – turn around” and from then on, I realized that “turn around” was just not gonna work here in India – and I would have to adjust to “U-turn.”

Okay…so that’s just the first example – and part of the frustration.  You never quite know – until you’re in the thick of it – what the magic “word” is going to be in order to open the gates to a clear conversation!

Like I said, I knew things would be tough – but I didn’t realize how tough it would be to communicate.  I might just need to look into Hindi lessons here soon!

My New Place – Jayabheri Silicon Towers

Last weekend, I shifted (i.e. moved) to my new home in Superbad!  It’s pretty freaking awesome too!  I am so comfortable here – much more comfortable than the temporary housing where I was living when I first arrived.

So, here are the details.  First – good or bad – it’s literally right behind my office building.  In fact, from my bedroom balcony, I can actually see the project room I had been working in for the past month.  The good – no commute; being able to come home for lunch/dinner.  The bad – it’s just so, so close.  And, that balcony I was speaking of, well, it also overlooks the “smokers lounge” at work, so it’s not easy to stay undetected.

It’s a 3 BHK (3 bedroom, hall and kitchen) in HYD-speak.  It should be called a 3B-2L-D-H-K – because there are 3 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, a dining room, hall and kitchen.  Oh, and there is a Pooja Room too.

Here are a few pictures…

Pooja RoomPoojah room – i.e. Mac’s oom My bedroom My bedroomKitchen 2 Kitchen view #1 (I had to take 2 pics)Kitchen 1 Kitchen view #2Bedroom 2 Guest bedroom 1Bedroom 3 Guest bedroom 2Dining Room Dining roomLiving Room 2 Living room #1 (my hang out)Living Room 1 Living room #2IMG_0295view from my balcony

Shifting to My New Home

This weekend was the big move – or “shift” as they like to say in Hyderabad.  It was a fairly easy affair – about 10 suitcases and a couple of boxes of stuff.  Got most of it done on Saturday and then spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday cleaning up and running errands.  Still lots of work to be done, but it’s coming along – and I am really enjoying my new home.  I think Mac is too!  At first, he spent some time under the bed in the third bedroom – but now he’s treating the whole place like home.  I even converted the Pooja Room into his very own hang out.  I put his food and his toys and his little bed in there.

I promise to do more updates more frequently now that I have internet at home.  Oh, I also have cable – and they show American TV.  I realized that I can catch up on the Voice and some other shows.  Last night I watched 2 episodes of the Practice!  Oh, it’s nice to have TV back in my life!

Ok.  More updates to come.  Along with pics.