After spending over six months in India, oh how I miss my local Safeway, Trader Joes and Whole Foods Market! There is a grocery store across the highway from my apartment complex but just getting there puts my life in danger, and I’m not kidding! Grocery shopping in India is a risky business. There is…
After living and working in India for 6 months now, I can tell you that much of the time I feel like everything is just a big hassle here. Getting things accomplished in India requires a lot of patience, and those that know me best, know that is not one of my best traits. Nothing, even the simplest things, are ever easy! Here are some of many examples.
Buying data for for corporate use
We opened a corporate account with a local telecom carrier so that we could more easily make changes to our plans. This would give us the option for “post paid”, versus pre paid, meaning they would bill us for our data usage instead of having to pay up front. Initially they asked for about 10 documents, such as articles of incorporation, a letter of explanation on company letterhead, copy of the directors passport, etc. Each page of every document had to be stamped and signed. After jumping through all these hoops we finally successfully opened an account. A few days later I went into the store to make some changes to our data plans only to find out that I have to provide originals of all those documents EVERY time we want to make any changes.
Last weekend we headed out on another road trip, this time to Jim Corbett National Park, which is located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, India. The park was established in the year 1936 and is India’s oldest National Park.They have a wildlife and tiger reserve there and I’m still on a quest to see a tiger in the wild before I leave India. As is the case with life, the journey was every bit as interesting as the destination.
The park is located at the foothills of the Himalayas and It took us about 7 hours by car to travel the 250 kilometers. We drove through a number of small villages and towns, including Ramnagar and Muradabad. I’ve been in India for 6 months now but the things I see on the roads still fascinate me!
It is called “Incredible India” for a reason. Every day I learn something new about this place, or see something fascinating. Sometimes it’s entertaining, other times disturbing, but it always interesting!
1. The Hindi language is beautiful and much easier to learn to speak than it is to read and write. There are many English words that don’t have a corresponding Hindi word, so they often mix the two languages. For example, the phrase “Good idea” is “Acha idea hay” in Hindi.
2. Healthcare is ridiculously cheap over here. I was having some abdomen pains so they did an ultra sound of all my organs. The total cost was $35 USD! And they sent me out the door with the physical X Ray films.
3. It is standard practice to give 2 to 3 months notice when leaving a current employer, and often they will buy them back. It makes hiring over here a real challenge.
4. Unmarried Indian couples often have a difficult time renting a room in a hotel or resort due to the conservative beliefs of society. Sometimes they are even harassed or harmed for trying. Rarely do people live together before marriage.
We all have bad days. They are just part of life. I recently experienced one in India, and the circumstances, for the most part, were unique to India. It all started when I was on a conference call. I work odd hours over here because of the 12.5 hour time difference. This was an 7:00 AM conference call and I was already in a bad mood because I had to skip my work out. Keep in mind that I connect to my conference calls through the Internet. The electricity suddenly went out which disconnected me front the call, and I was the facilitator! The electricity goes off all the time here due to over population and unregulated electrical work. I never was able to reconnect to the call because the back up generators didn’t kick on for some reason.
I finished getting ready the best I could without electricity. That meant no hot shower, no coffee and no curling my hair. Plus there was no air conditioning, which meant it was soon about 85 degrees in my apartment! By the time I left for work I was covered in sweat and in a very foul mood.
I decided to take my project team on on a weekend excursion so that we could have some fun and get to know each other better. My brother was going to be in town and he owns our company, so it seemed like perfect timing for a team getaway. After extensive research we decided on…
I’ve been staying at the Courtyard Marriott for the last 4 months and as much as I love that hotel and their wonderful staff, it was time to get my own place. I missed cooking, having the ability to entertain and I needed more space, so I decided to look at furnished apartments. I was pleasantly surprised to find some lovely apartment, nicely furnished, in a safe and self-contained community. So after filling out a long contract and providing all the necessary paperwork, I spent the weekend moving into my apartment in a beautiful complex called Palm Springs!
Things to know
Here are some interesting facts. The smallest one I could find is 3 bedrooms and they go up to 6 bedrooms. Mine also has 3 1/2 baths plus a maids quarters. Each bedroom has its own washroom, like a master suite in the states.The maids washroom is outside by the washing machine.The service staff even have their own elevator! They don’t have clothes dryers here and instead provided me with a clothes rack, so I guess all the neighbors will get to look at my delicates out drying in the hot sun.
I’ve been in India for four months now and so far I’ve visited Agra, Jaipur, Udaipiur and Rieshikesh. Booking reservations and traveling around India is quite different from how we do things in the USA.
First of all, all reservations, even domestically require a copy of your passport. They want a hard copy and copy machines are not readily available, so someone is always taking your passport from you and then heading into the back room with it. The first time that happened I about had a panic attack. I’ve heard stories about travelers getting their passports taken away only to find they have to buy it back. Fortunately that’s not the case here!
Another thing that annoys me is that you can’t call any resort or tourist activity directly to book a reservation. You have to call a tourist service. There are so many middle men, each getting a piece of the pie, that it drives the price way up. Sometimes these middle men are just scammers that take your money and run, so you have to be very careful. Taxes are also very high, 20 to 30 percent in many areas!
First of all, my apologies to my wonderful hair stylist back home in the states! Unfortunately it had been way too long since I got my hair colored, cut and styled and I knew I had to do something about it. So I visited a few salons and decided on one owned by a young hip looking Asian fellow just a couple blocks away from our hotel. He wears his blond hair in a man bun and looks pretty progressive, so I decided to give him a try.
My appointment was at 10:00 and I arrived 5 minutes early to find him and his staff outside smoking. Most people smoke here. Since the smog is so bad I think they figure there’s nothing to lose. Obviously he and his staff were on “Indian time.” Everyone is consistently late here for everything. He finished his cigarette and then unlocked the front door and asked me to take a seat.
The first thing I noticed was that he had 8 guys (all very young) working in about a 300 square foot space. One started sweeping, one started looking through my hair, one brought me bottled water and the rest stood there and stared at me. The owner brought me a book of hair colors and I pointed to the one I wanted. Then Ramm (the guy touching my hair) asked me to sit in one of the stylist chairs. I could feel myself sweating already as the tension took over. I mean it’s my hair!!! What if they screwed it up!?
Recently I had the pleasure of being an honored guest in an Indian home. One of our Indian colleagues asked us to join him, his wife and their one year old son for brunch. I did some quick research on customs and culture but you never really know the credibility of the stuff you read…