Inspired by Life

Friday, June 8, 2007

Greetings from India - Namaste!!!


Greetings from India - Namaste!!!

After being in India for one month, my impressions of
this country are still that of a foreigner -
fascination!!! Fascinated by the growth spurt that it
has gone through and is still going through and
fascinated also by the levels of poverty that continue
to exist. From the moment I walked out of the plane
and into a wall of humidity at 10pm with drops of
sweat popping up almost immediately, I knew that I was
in for something that I could have only imagined but
something that defied that imagination...

India - it engulfed me with its freeways in the midst
of being constructed - they call them flyovers here -
and cell phones being so common that the woman selling
jasmine flowers sitting on the dusty ground by the
side of the road overrun with traffic, people, cows
and kids owned one and used it often. Chennai, earlier
known as Madras, and this is how I will always
remember it being called, is very different now being
the hub of car manufacturing companies who have
established themselves here. So the roads - if you
could call it that as it dares to defy the definition,
are packed so close and tight with cars flooding them.
My lungs will thank me immensely someday soon and hand
me a rich reward if I could find them some unpolluted
air to breathe in!!!

We have all heard the saying, "You are never alone."
Well, never in any other situation have I considered
this to be completely true in the physical sense
except here and now. There are people everywhere at
all times of the day and night, not to mention the
stray dogs and cows that forage the trash and claim
the streets at night. The pure joy of silence is lost
here since it is almost impossible and it is a fantasy
that some have never experienced.

Driving was a luxury in the US whereas here it is a
race to your death...since everyone drives on the
other side of the road..but in this country, I wonder
if that matters as everyone drives in any direction
they want to, completely disregarding the lines drawn
to distinguish the lanes, honking is the only way it
seems to them to move forward, although the two inches
they move forward gets them nowhere but seems to
appease the mind that they have made progress. In the
midst of all the smoke and the traffic, I frequently
see families of four hanging on for dear life on a
motor cycle with the father driving, the mother
sitting with both legs on one side, holding onto one
child nearly squeezing the life out of him while the
other is perched happily on the gas tank that is hot
from the sun, leaning into the polluted air with no
restriction whatsoever. And to top it off, now the
mother is on a cell phone. I can do nothing but shake
my head in disbelief!!! This appears to be my usual
expression apart from my jaw dropping in surprise but
I don't do that very often since it would be an open
invitation to kill myself with the pollution in the
air or the flies that joyfully settle on anything that
exists.

Speaking of which, living in a third world country
always brings with it the pleasure (not so much for
me) of the Discovery Channel with its own variety of
live insect shows - the cockroach which is
indestructible, the mosquitoes that take exceptional
pleasure in taste-testing my foreign skin, things that
buzz, things that leap, things that fly, you can see
them all live and participate in ridiculous dances
with them trying to stick to you and you trying to
kill them. It certainly is quite entertaining!!!

Despite all these things, the positive sides of growth
is in the country is phenomenal. AIDS awareness is
more since it is rampant in these parts of the world;
women have more freedom which is not too much more but
enough to make note of - they are more vocal about
their rights as they understand them, they are allowed
to have higher positions than men in very few
instances, they are the larger task force in this
country with outsourcing being the name of the game.
Call centers employ thousands of women who slave in
their homes all day and then work graveyard shifts,
assume a western name and adopt an American or British
accent to earn a living.

The country is starting to very slowly reform in
certain things - like freeways are being constructed
everywhere; gas stations are being modeled after the
US; Womens Rights Groups are being formed;
beautification of certain monuments are being done for
preservation; businesses are growing everyday - every
large American company has a factory or has outsourced
business in India - Verizon, Accenture, Citibank, IBM,
Dell, Microsoft, you name it and they have it here!!!!
It is truly amazing!!! Globalization is the name of
the game here right now and it is interesting to see
how the country handles such rapid growth. It is sad
to see that not only does the good of the western
culture influence the country but the bad as well -
drugs are a huge problem here now whereas, they barely
existed 10 years ago, promiscuity is rampant therefore
the increase in HIV/AIDS; smoking is the thing to do
to pass your time with your friends - if you don't
smoke you are looked at very differently.

On the positive side, there are more forward- thinking
people who are returning to India from all parts of
the world and therefore this changes the face of
business and the way things are run to a certain
extent. However, training is still such a taboo in
these parts and Franklin Covey is carving a niche for
itself in this industry. People know and love Stephen
R. Covey but are very skeptical of training and it
does not seem to be the top priority of many companies
here. So this will be interesting to see it unfold!!!