Thursday, 4 December 2008

Why did the elephant cross the road?

It has been an interesting couple of days. It can certainly be said that the real work has begun.

The last two days have been spent in the office, so effectively my first 2 full working days. We have been starting fairly late, the journey from our hotel to the office is well over and hour due to the levels of traffic here, but we have also been leaving very late, usually not getting back to the hotel until around 10:30. There is lots to do.

Yesterday, on the way to the office I saw a man riding an elephant down the motorway. Certainly trumping stray cows when it comes to the 'most unusual sight' award. Unfortunately, I have not been carrying my camera so didn't get any photos. Peter didn't even notice, he was too busy reading his paper. We have some time, I am sure we will see him again.

I also met two candidates for development positions on the project yesterday. A guy named Pradeep and a girl named Anchal. Anchal did quite well on the tests but it was clear that Pradeep was the more enthusiastic candidate. It is probable that Anchal was nervous and a bit shy but unfortunately this is a very bad trait to bring to an interview (especially with guys like me and Peter). I think we will be taking on Pradeep... I suspect he is about to experience quite a culture shift as it seemed he had been working for a fairly regimented outsourcing company and will be coming to a much more open, free flowing environment. The first order of business will be to convince him to stop calling me 'sir', which makes me quite uncomfortable!!

Peter and I have decided to go with the apartment in Noida, it's luxurious even by English standards (which in general are significantly higher than in India, a shame, but true enough). We are hoping to move in on saturday. I will get some pictures of the place when I can.

This morning our driver took an unrequested de-tour to show us the lotus temple, which was awesome. The driver seems quite keen to show off his country and so should he be, the culture here runs very deep. Unfortunately, Peter and I had commitments at the office so could only take a quick look, but will be returning for a more detailed viewing. The driver is a great guy, sometimes I feel a bit sorry for him, Peter and I are often scooting about from 9AM until 11PM and the guy will sit and wait for us wherever we go. He seems quite content though, and always has a big smile when we thank him for the journey, he doesn't seem used to that.

Something that is quite apparent here is that the caste based social structure is quite strong still. We have our 'classes' in England but here it seems to be quite different. For example, there is a young fellow who brings tea and coffees around the office at J9 and it is fairly clear that he is low on the pecking order. Again, he seems quite surprised to be thanked for his service.

It is possible that readers (do I still have any?) are getting the impression that there is an oppressive culture here, but I don't think that is the case, it is just different. There are things about the English way of life that I am sure that the Indian people would find a little awkward too. It is part and parcel of the process of spending time in a different country. It seems that people here are more content regardless of their place in the social structure. The ever more powerful drive to want more than we have seems to be very indicative of western culture, once you come to accept this, you can understand how the caste system works for people here.

I finally think I am over the worst of my bout with 'Delhi Belly' which could not have come too soon. I will certainly be more careful in future.

Signing off now, thanks for reading.


Chris said...

Hi Wes, it sounds like your driver could do with something else to do! Maybe you should teach him a bit of Java so at least he can do something productive while waiting for you :)

Vanda said...

You know that adventure you were always talking about having? Sounds like you're on it! Hopefully the Wez I know will embrace this trip and come back to England a happier man.