My experience agrees with the articles that many Indian engineers are not as good as they claim to be. But I don’t think a new standardize test will solve the problem. The test only would work until some PREP school cracked the marking scheme and training loads of high marks idiots.
I just came back from my 3 weeks Bangalore business trip. As usual, I got sick every time I went to Bangalore. I have been coughing, running noses, watery eyes, skin rashes, lack of energy, allergy reaction, all thanks to the heavy polluted environment of India. It will take me a couple of weeks to recover from the India disease. Sometimes I wonder why do I travel to India, can’t I simply deal the problems of the India team by having a few weeks of late night meetings?
It’s my forth trip to India. I am no longer amused by the new scenery nor the new cultural experience. I don’t even bother to plan any traveling on weekends. My daily routine is going to work, then have a nice dinner in a non-Indian restaurant. I spent most of my time in weekend browsing books in the bookstore in the shopping mall next door and catch up with my own reading in the guest house. The nice dinner at the end of the day is my own meaning of life in Bangalore and that keep my sanity.
Traffic in Bangalore seems less busy this time. I am not sure it is due to the global recession or due to the road going into Electronic City is finally paved. I guess the finical meltdown do hit Bangalore. Wipro, our outsourcing firm and the biggest IT firm in Bangalore, suppose to have a reputation like IBM in the 70’s that it will never layoff any employee, but recently they just cut 10% of their work force. When I have lunch in Wipro campus, the cafeteria is obviously less crowd. In the past, I couldn’t even a seat when I went to lunch on 12:15p. Now I don’t even need to line up at 12:30p.
This time I am traveling to Bangalore with a colleague who enjoy nice meal or good food in general. He claim that it is a waste of time going to restaurant waiting to be served. He rather grep a sandwich for quick dinner then spent his night hanging out in the pub. Pubs in Bangalore close at 11p and dinner start late at 8p. By the time we usually finish dinner at 10p, he don’t have much time left to go to the pub. Luckily I met a dining buddy, an engineer from Motorola in Beijing, so I don’t have to dine out alone or dining with a bowl of gold fish. In a 5 stars restaurant I went to, the waiter will bring you a bowl of gold fish you for your company if you dine out alone so that you won’t feel too lonely.
I brought my dining buddy to the nice restaurants in town and we chat about anything over dinner. He said he is so glad that he met me, so he don’t have to stuck in the hotel every night, like other visitors from Motorola. Talking to my dining buddy makes me learn two things about the hi-tech industry in Beijing. First is that development cost in Beijing is high, almost comparable to Europe or America, so they are outsourcing to India too. Second is that Western visitors actually feel more comfortable with Chinese culture than Indian culture even though Indians speak English (sort of). Motorola visitors from UK lock themselves up after work in Bangalore because they don’t feel safe going outside of the hotel. But when they are in Beijing, they are happily explore the city every night.
My colleague love to check out the night life in the city, so I company him to check out a few pubs in Bangalore. Since I am the restaurant guru, I picked some of the most fancy and most expensive pubs in Bangalore. It is just wrong seeing guys dancing Bollywood songs in the dance floors with each other. It looks funny in the Bollywood movies, and it looks even more funny when you see it in real life. I don’t even like going to pub or clubbing in Vancouver, obviously I won’t enjoy night life in India. What’s the point of going to clubbing if you are not planning to pick up any girl, and who would be interested in picking up an Indian girl anyways? Somehow my colleague seems enjoy hanging out in pub quite a bit, he manage to hook up with some local guys and they even invite him to house party. For me, drinking beer and watching cricket on big screen TV is acceptable. Having a few pool games and beat some local guys is pretty fun. However, it took us quite some time to hunt for a pub with a pool table. Apparently, pool is not a common game in India.
A new hotel open within 5 minutes walking distance from the office. I heard that company is going to close down the guest house and put all the visitors in the new hotel. It is nice that we don’t have waste time stuck in traffic in the morning rush hour. But the hotel is in the middle of nowhere. It will be really boring staying at Electronic City after dark and needless for me to I will have to travel into town to have a nice diner anyways. The hotel has a restaurant offer buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday, but the food does not taste very well. The buffet have a pasta station, the chef will cook your pasta right in front of you as you made the order. The pasta station offer three choices for spaghetti sauce, the red tomato sauce, the white cream sauce and the yellow curry sauce. Indian curry spaghetti is most weird spaghetti I ever had and obviously it sucks.
My Bangalore trip this time is pretty mundane, nothing interesting worth mention. The highlight of my trip is that I bought quite a few books form the bookstore in the shopping mall next door. English books is much cheaper in Indian than in Canada, on average it only costs a quarter of the price. I bought 6 books in total and already finished reading two of them while I was in Bangalore. Not a bad accomplishment.
I went to an interesting restaurant to have dinner tonight. The restaurant is owned by cricket player of the Indian Cricket team. Attached to the restaurant, there is a small cricket hall of fame with some collectible in display. Next to the show room is a small shop selling cricket equipments and souvenirs.
I arrived at the restaurant a lit early, so I take a look at the show room and the souvenir shop. I am kinda interested in the cricket bet, so I ask the sales to show me what they got. The sales bring forth some of their finest cricket bet that is used by the professional. The bet is made of imported English willow wood and beautifully handcraft in India. The bet is really expensive. It costs Rs8000, which is almost US$200. The sales seems very determine to sell me the bet. I reject politely him by saying the bet is too heavy for my luggage. He keep saying I can ship it with special luggage arrangement via airline or hand carry it on board. Duh! Didn’t he got my hint that I don’t want to buy the bet at all.
Does he have any common sense? No one with a right mind will buy an expensive professional cricket bet for souvenir. Maybe he mistaken me as one of those rich Japanese tourists who like to buy expensive and useless stuff. In the end, I bought a jersey of Indian cricket team. I think I got ripped off on the jersey, it’s not a real Nike jersey but a cheap knock off. Yet I still paid Rs300 for it!
The visiting VP is taking the team out for dinner tonight, thank us for the hard work during the project. Business with your boss, your boss’ boss and your boss’ boss’ boss is usually timid and boring, you can’t talking freely as you are with your own friends. The topic of conversation is kinda general and vague in the beginning, we carefully talk things related to the project. We bashed the IT department, circulate anecdotes about our customers, while trying not to complaining too bluntly about the poor management of the project. Somehow the conversation slowly shift to our Indian experience. All but one colleague at the table went to the Bangalore tour of duty. The VP started with his Indian experience and we all have funny stories to share.
There are some common theme in our Indian experience. After we come back to Canada, we really appreciate the clean air and quiet living that we take for granted. We all wonder whether the highway between the guest house and the Bangalore office is still under construction. We have many stories of the India super inefficient labor intensive way of task management. Anything that we use computer or machine to automate, they use extensive man power in India. Construction workers chip gravel from a big rock with sledge hammer instead of power tools. The page number of engineering lab book is hand stamped instead of machine printed. The Indian experience connects everyone and light up the atmosphere as we recall how our trip to India. Usually you would want to end this kind of business dinner as soon as possible, but we sat at the restaurant, chatted and laughed for almost an hour after the dinner.
I read two news article about children today. One talks about children in Canada, the other talks about children in India. One talks about the problem of having too much, the other talks about the problem of having next to nothing. The article on Globe and Mail is about Why are children starving in a booming India?. The article on National Post is about The Perfect Child. It is quite unsettling to read the extreme contrast to the fate of children in two places.
The problem for Canadian parent is how to raise a perfect children. The dilemma is having the life of the child too well planned so he cannot learn from trail and error or his own mistake. On the other side of the world, the Indian children are struggling to stay alive. Children malnutrition in India is twice worse than in Africa and five times worse than in China. The problem of teaching children to read and write in China seems like a piece of cake.
The news presents a typical poor Indian family with malnourished child. The dad in the family makes merely US$5 a month, but he spent half of what he earn in cigarette instead of buying food for the children. The family income cannot support a big family but they are having six children. Babies are not breastfeed once he is born, the mother ask the astrologer to pick an auspicious day to start breastfeeding, sometimes the baby is not fed for days or even weeks. Foreign aids agency wants to provide vitamin pills to the poor children, but the Hindu fundamentalist protest the capsule is made of gelatin, a product made of cows.
I feel sorry for the children in India, but their misfortune cannot blame anyone but their own stupid culture. If a culture don’t treasure their next generation, this culture has no future. If a culture treasure cows more than the life of their children, this culture should simply go extinct. It can go extinct naturally with its population die slowly and painfully. Alteratively we can help the culture extinct sooner and better by liberating its people. We should help them move on to a more enlightened culture, even we have to force the liberation. People with a stupid culture has no rights to cling on their culture.
The Japanese had pioneer urine drinking as natural medicine, now the India push the edge eve further, marking a soft drink from cow urine. I can’t believe it is real, but here is what I read form the news, see it yourself at this link. We all know the Hindus think cows are holy. On top of it, according to the news, they think drinking “cow water” can purify your soul. Cow urine and dung are actually consumed by some Hindus in religious rituals. Although the new soft drink is made of cow urine, it is filtered clean and added herbs medicines. Apparently, the company claims it tastes good and very healthy. For those who will travel to India, I dare you to try a bottle of this new soft drink. Next time when I travel to India, I will definitely bring back a few bottle back home. What a perfect gift!
This is the second speech in the Toastmaster humorously speaking manual, leave them with a smile. The objective of this project is to prepare a serious speech that opens and closes with humorous stories and the closing story should reemphasizes the speech’s main point.
Dear Mr. chairman, fellow toastmasters, honored guest. Last year I spent almost 3 months living in India for my project. When I am in Bangalore, the company put us in a service apartment with maids come to do cleaning everyday. Just like any places in developing countries, our apartment have cockroaches problem. Everyday after work, we have to hunt down the cockroaches, kill them brutally with shoes or flash lights. One day we are tried of being crude to the cockroaches, so we took out a Ziploc contain to catch a cockroach. We don’t know what to do with the cockroach we caught, obviously we can’t keep it as a house pet. Next morning, we leave the container on the table and told the maid to get rid of cockroach. When we come home that day, the cockroach is gone, but to our surprise we found the Ziploc box went back to the cupboard with all other clean dishes.
PMC Sierra is a global company. We have design centers around the world. Effective communication among the team members across different sites is one of our daily challenge. Many of us are working on projects with team members in different countries with a different cultural background. Culture affect how people think and affect how people act. Aware the cultural difference can minimize misunderstanding in our communication.
Most of us grow up in Canada, we assume a North America cultural perspective. Sometimes we are not aware of the cultural difference when we talk to people in other countries. We take it for granted that our listeners can understood our message in the way that we expect. We are not aware of a subtle difference in the language we use can have a totally different meaning to a person coming from a different culture background. Be careful what you ask for. You will get exactly what you asked, but not really want you want.
Developing the culture sense is not an easy task. It takes time and experience to learn how to work smoothly with people in different culture. I would like to share a tip on better communication across difference culture. Here is the rule of thumb. When you in doubt, always ask for confirmation. Don’t just ask a yes or no question. Often you will get a yes, even though your listen has no clue what you are talking about. Ask your listen repeat your message in his own words. You can sense whether he gets it or not. If he fails to get it, you just rephrase your message with different expression. After a few trials, your listener should grasp the meaning of your message.
I would like to conclude my speech with another story. The Bangalore office has a cafeteria, just like our cafeteria down stairs, its menu does not many choices. To make it worse, it only serves Indian food. Everyday, I can choose to have red curry, orange curry or yellow curry for lunch. After a few weeks of having curry for lunch. I am sick of the lack of variety. I asked the kitchen staff, do they have a different menu. The kitchen staff said he can bring in some sandwich for me tomorrow. I gladly take the offer and order a chicken sandwich. The next day, when I go to lunch in the cafeteria, the kitchen staff has a brown paper lunch bag ready for me. I am eager to try something else other than curry for lunch. I open my lunch bag and inside I found … a curry chicken sandwich.
We were talking about single engineers at work are having a hard timing finding girlfriends. They are distracted from work for looking for a mate, so they are not performing at their peak productivity. Here we come up with a great idea to solve this problem. Arranged marriage is popular in India. Most of my colleagues in the India office met their wives through arranged marriage. It is obvious that arrange marriage is benefits boring engineers who lacks dating skills but somewhat appealing to the parents. On other hand, Japan does not have arranged marriage, but it is common for Japanese companies match making their employees.
Maybe we can combine the two systems, the company can simply arrange marriage its single employees randomly. Now, the single guys has found their other half, they don’t have to worry about finding a wife, so they can concentrate on work. However, gay marriage is legal in Canada. In order not to discriminate against the homosexual, the company should ignore the gender difference when arranging the marriage. After all, we are an engineer firm with more male than female, we don’t have enough single female for the single male, so some guy will end up pairing up with a male wife.
Indian arranged marriage + Japanese corporate match-making + Canadian legalized gay marriage + a company full of single male engineers = ?
The Mumbai gunmen rampage catch the headline of the news today. It also catch the attention of everyone in the office. Our company outsource to India and many in the team had traveled to India, so any news in India has great interest among us. Today some Muslim extremist launch multiple terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Gunmen take over the railway terminal and two luxury hotel. They had killed over 100 people and injured over 400. They also single out and kill foreigners from US and UK. The most scary part is I dined out a lot at those two luxury hotel chains in Bangalore. Mumbai is not like Kashmir, it is the business center of India, like New York to US. If terrorist attack can happen in Mumbai, it can also happen to Bangalore, the high tech center of India. The security in Bangalore is not very assuring and it had bomb attacks only a few months ago. It is quite dangerous traveling to India now. Oh! My boss is still in Bangalore, maybe he should cut his trip short and come home earlier.
I have been thinking how can we stop terrorist attacks from Muslim extremist. The ideal solution is either catch them and lock them up or simply kill all of them. Too bad that it is almost a mission impossible in a country with large amount of Muslims. You just can’t tell the good Muslims apart from the bad Muslims. In ancient time, before the government is constraint by human right regulations, the emperor can threaten to retaliate by killing everyone in the village the terrorists came form. This strategy works well against normal citizens under dictatorship in the old communist Russian and ancient China. However, this strategy may not work on Muslim extremists even we can ignore human rights. The Muslim extremists all prepare to die for Allah. If they decide to throw away their own lives, how can we expect them to take the life of their fellow villagers into consideration. Maybe they will think the villagers die as martyrs and going to join them in heaven.
If we want to threaten the Muslim extremists, we must hold something dear to them as the target of retaliation. Muslim extremists attack us because of religious causes. We must ask what is the most important thing to the Muslim religion? It is the holy city, Mecca, of course. Here is the perfect solution. If the Muslim extremists won’t stop their terrorist attacks, we should threaten to drop nuclear bomb on Mecca. Given enough warning for evacuation, wiping out Mecca would not have any causality nor loss of lives, so it does not violate any human rights. The Muslim extremists must learn violent will not solve anything, it will only hurt them more at the end.