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!!!

3 thoughts on “Puzzle Pieces

  1. I think you need to hire a local guy to be your videographer to record your exploits around town. It would be great reality tv watching you get into it with the ric shaw driver. He can barter for you to offset the costs. Start a video journal.

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