Tag Archives: 印度

Is it a cultural problem?

Like many companies outsource to India, my company come to realize outsourcing is not as effective as the business magazine claims. No one can escape from the fundamental law of economics, what you pay is what you get. Yes, going to India seems cost saving on paper, but it really sacrifice the quality of work, which often don’t show up in any project management matrix until it’s too late. This week, I doing code review for my Indian team. Their code is so bad that it is driving me nuts.

In the project status meeting, one of them claim his code is done, all the tasks are completed. However, when I review the code, it’s all garbage. The code is not doing anything, not testing what the program suppose to test. It is pretty much a glorify print statement that prints “PASS” at the end. I have tell him rewrite the code from scratch. Maybe we forgot to tell him on top of meeting the schedule, the program also has to work.

I review other code pieces from other Indians programmers. Well, the code works, but it is the ugliest code I have seen in a long time. Instead of writing a for-loop, one guy copy and paste the code 4 times and change the index in each code segment! Instead of using a single if-else statement, another guy split the code into a dozen if-else statements having exactly the same if condition. Maybe they were paid by the number of lines of code they write, so they purposely inflate to make the program look larger.

To be fair, a few of them are quite decent, but I found the majority are just simply annoying. I wonder is it a cultural problem that Indians are sloppy in general or I am just (un)lucky enough to work with mostly incompetent people?

Farewell Bangalore

It is my third time visiting Bangalore. The city still sucks and I don’t have any pleasant experience with it. However, I am getting over all my uneasiness of India and become indifference to the surroundings. I just came to release Bangalore is the forth city I spent most time of my life. I spent almost 3 months here for my three trips combined. Only after Hong Kong, where I was born, Canada, where I grew up and California, where I worked and visit once a while.

Compare to my first two trips, this time I have a very difference altitude returning to India. I come here to work and I get away once my work is done. I did not take many photos this time, only beer pictures with my colleagues at dinner. I no longer amused by the strange sights in India. Cows on the streets and rush hour traffic madness seems so common to me. I still got ripped off a few times, but I laugh at my stupidity and learn the lesson instead of feeling anguish about my lost. I have confirmed my bias and stereotypes about Indian culture and I learned how to cope with it. Just don’t take anything for granted in this country. They can screw things up in the most unimaginable way. I still hate Bangalore, but I am getting accustom to it.

Watching Cricket

Cricket to Indians is like hockey to Canadian. The Australian team is playing the Indian team in Bangalore this week. A cricket match last 4-5 days, and 8 hours per day. The game will start in the morning, then players will have a lunch break, and the game continue until the evening. Since it would be fun to watch a live cricket game, we decided to try out luck at the stadium after lunch yesterday.

When we arrived at the stadium, the ticket is already sold out. We were a bit disappointed, so the driver offered to help us get some tickets from the scalper. He left the car disappeared into the crowd for a few minutes, then come back with the scalper with him. The scalper is selling us three tickets for 3000 Rupee. We thought its a bit too expensive, so he lower it down to 2000 Rupee. We still think it’s too much and we counter offer him 1500 Rupee. Which is what we original budget for the game. CAD$10 for a few hours of game. Not bad. So we got our tickets, sent our driver away and ready to have some fun.

When we arrive at the gate, we found out the tickets turn out to be used. It’s OK, because the ticket come with the return pass allowing ticket holder go out and get back into the stadium. However we only got two return pass, one return pass is missing. We played dumb with the door man, pulled our innocent tourist card and eventually he let us go inside. When we arrive at the seats, it turns out 2 tickets belong to one section and another ticket belong to another section. Again, we play dumb and pulled our innocent tourist card, all three of us get into the seats. The seats are very good, we were sitting on the 3rd row right behind the camera men. We watched the game until the end of the day, get almost 2 hours of good cricket action. The pace of the game is quite slow, probably it is as exciting as base ball. It really test my patient spending two hours watching the Indian team getting 100 points, trying to catch up with the 450 points Australian team got in the 1st inning.

At the end of the day, every one is happy. The scalper is happy for turning an handsome profit on some garbage paper. The driver is happy for getting a cut from the scalper. We are happy for watching an international cricket game at prime location seats. We get to experienced two India trademark experience first handed in a single cricket game. We got ripped off big time by the scalper and we got bored by watching the endless bowl and bat in a cricket game. One stone shooting down two birds.

Bargaining

As an engineer, a market perfectionist, an inspired to-be-economist, I hate bargaining. Bargaining is a very inefficient way of trade. The sellers use their advantage of having asymmetric information of the transaction price, getting buyers to pay more they should have. In a perfect transparent market, where everyone knows want everyone else pays, there should not be any room for bargaining. Every buyers should get the same good deal at the market equilibrium. Bargaining not only is a waste of time, it also distorting the market price burden the buyers with additional transaction cost. In short, bargaining is evil. In Indian, you simply can’t buy anything without bargaining, that’s another proof Indian culture is backward.

However, for the first time, I find the joy of bargaining. Bargaining is still evil, but at least if you get are lemons, you can still make some lemonade. Here is the story. Today, I went to MG road, the tourist district in Bangalore, with my colleagues to shop for gifts to bring home. On the street, there is a young boy selling wooden chess set. The chess set is not very pretty, the craftsmanship is kinda rough. One of my colleagues is interested to get one for his son, so he asked for the price. The young boy open his offer with 1500 Rupee. We thought we were quite savvy in bargaining, we slash the prince to 1/3 and make him a 500 Rupee counter offer. The bargaining going back and forth for a while, at last the colleague bought the chess set for 600 Rupee. 60% off from the initial price, we thought that was not bad. The boy try to sell another chess set to another colleague, but we just walked pass an interesting shop, so we enter the shop and ignored him.

We spend quite some time in the shop looking at things. To our surprise, when we come out, the boy is still there waiting for us. Trying to sell us another chess set. We keeps saying we don’t want to buy another set. Then the boy slash the price to 500 Rupee, our original offer. Mmm… if things start getting interesting. If he lower the price, it means there is room for more cuts. I decide to test the limit and see how low can I get. Here the games of bargaining begins. I don’t really want the chess set, so I counter offer him 100 Rupee to see what happen. To keep the story short, the boy followed us for the next hour, when we enter a shop, he just waited outside patiently and continue the bargain on our way from one shop to another. At the end, after I had enough fun and it’s almost time for dinner, I settle make a deal with him at 200 Rupee. The money is not really for buying the chess set, rather it is to reward him keeping us entertained for over a hour. It is only 1/3 the price of what my colleague paid! We laughed at the poor colleague for being ripped off the whole night. We joked that we should have a bargaining competition for those come to Bangalore. Everyone has to buy a chess set from MG road and see who is the king of bargaining.

Here is the moral of the story. 1) Counter offering 1/5 is still too high, you should start from 1/10 as the new default value. 2) If the seller agrees to your price, it means your price is too high. You know you can go lower. 3) Time is money, the longer you bargain, the lower the price. If I have enough time, I think I could bargain it down to 100 Rupee. I suspect the boy can sell it for 50 Rupee and still make a profit. 4) Don’t counter offer at once, let him cut the prince first. 5) Bargaining is fun because you can make your over-paid friend looks like a fool! Probably I still have over paid for buying the chess at 200 Rupee, but the bragging right to make fun of your friend is priceless.

Toilet Papar

Before I come to Indian, I heard that Indians don’t use toilet paper, they use their left hand. I thought it was a joke or it is stories from last centuries. Now I am in Indian, I can confirm the story is true. In a typical Indian toilet, you won’t find any toilet paper. Instead, you get a tap and a water bucket in each stall. After you had done your business, you can use the water bucket and your left hand to clean your butt. In some more advance toilet, it has a hose with shower head, so you can wash your butt more thoroughly than using a water bucket. I only find toilet paper is provided in hotels or fine dining restaurants with lots of foreigner customers.

No only that Indians don’t use toilet paper, they don’t even know what toilet paper is. The toilet paper in the guest house is running low, so I asked the maid to get me some new toilet paper. Guess what I got? I got kitchen paper towels! Flushing those thing down will guarantee a flooding toilet. Luckily, my box kleenex save the day. My highest priority task for this weekend is to get some toilet paper for the guest house from the super market.

Driver’s job

A driver’s job is taking you to your destination and back.  I am surprise some of my colleagues feel sorry for the driver doing their job.  The traffic is insane in Bangalore, so we have drivers to drive us around the town.  The driver will come to pick us up in the morning, take us to the office.  After work, the driver will take us to the restaurant, then take us back to the guest house after dinner.  When we finish our meal, we will call the driver’s cell phone and get him ready to pick us up.  Some of my colleagues feel sorry for the drivers that they have to wait outside with the car while we eat.  I really don’t understand why they feel sorry for the drivers.  How tough can it be waiting relaxingly in the parking lot.   While they are waiting, they can take a nap, read newspaper or chat with other waiting drivers.  Sometimes they even get free meal from restaurant.  Why would you will feel sorry for the driver for simply doing his job?  Being a driver is not a bad job in Indian after all.  I rather feel sorry for those of us who got sent over here to suffer.

Dinner plan

I am the unofficial Bangalore food guide.  Whenever I am in town, I will take care of dinner arrangement for everyone staying in the guest house.  It does not take much time, but the return is great.  I only have to spent 5 minutes every day to pick the restaurant, make the reservation, print direction and sent out an email invite people to join me for dinner.  People are glad that some one is take care of the dinner arrangement, they can hop into the car and guarantee a nice meal.  I always pick the expensive restaurants, so that it can never go wrong.  It’s a fun to have some colleagues to chat and chill out with a few drinks.  It is far better than the alternative.  If no one organize dinner, we may end up eating at Indian restaurants around the guest house every night.

Somehow, some colleagues choose to cook for themselves in the guest house instead of joining us.  I don’t quite understand why don’t they come with us.  Granted, the restaurants are far away, it takes time to stuck in traffic.  However, buying glocery, washing and cooking also takes time.  Having a nice dinner doesn’t take much time than cooking.  Money is not a concern, the food bill is paid by the companies anyways.  There is no reason to go cheap on food by making your own dinner.  I just can’t imagine someone can have sausage and egg every day instead of fine dinner.  One theory why they stay home for dinner is they feel guilt spending company’s money.  I tried to enlighten them with the correct value of money.  The company outsource to India to cut cost, so we are just helping the company utilize some of saving by having nice dinner in India.

Back to India

I am back in India for two weeks.  I am not very excited, but work is work.  This time I am taking dragon air and make the transfer in Hong Kong.  The new 777 from Air Canada is pretty comfortable, the seat is wider and it has power sockets.  I can keep my laptop charged and use it for the whole trip.  The wait for transfer is 4 hours, so my dad came to the airport and I went outside of the restrict area to have dinner with him.  On my flight from Hong Kong to Banagalore, I think I am the only Chinese on the plane, except the air hostress.  I can’t believe a flight flying out of HK, running by a HK airline has no Chinese passenagers.

I touch down on the new Bangalore airport.  It is much better than the old airport.  From afar, it is pretty up to world wide standard.  Although things still a bit shady when you look closer.  Like the roof is not properly sealed, the door is kinda flimsy.  There are no hawker trying carry your luggage and charge you a ridiculous fee.  The custom has more counters, compare to only 2 counters in the old airport.  No more tuck-tuck waiting outside trying to fish passengers Any how, it is still quite impressive.  The new airport is far away from the city, so there a nice highway going into town.  The highway is lit and has line on the ground.  Other than occasional speed bump in the middle of no where and stop signs that everyone ignores, it is on par with newly developed countries like Taiwan or Korea.  As I was praising the construction and though Indian has finally start getting better, the highway just ends.  Yes, the highway ends abruptly and become a grave road right before entering the city.  The airport highway is not connecting to any major road in the city, it just ends on the outer skirt of the city that goes no where.  Ok, India is still India.  It’s still not quite there yet.

India round 2

This year I really travel a lot.  I went back to HK last Christmas, then I went to India twice in Spring.  I just come back from my honey in Rome and Mediterranean, now I am preparing to go to India again.  I have been kinda expecting to go back to India.  Thing is not going so well with the project.  My Indian guys are not as productivity as we want them to be.  It is just a matter of time before I have to go back and shake thing up.  The boss has just announced a delay, so it is probably the time to go back and get the Indian guys in shape.  Moreover, there are quite a few new hire since I came back, it is always good to know the face of your subordinate.

India still sucks.  No one is really looking forward to go there.  Everyone come back with their version of horror stories.  On the bright side, I only have to go there for 2 weeks.  I had experienced the culture shock, so I can be productive once I get there and overcome the jet lag.  The boss promised me extra bonus last time, but the extra bonus I got is less than my dinner bill in India, so there ain’t much incentive going to India.  I have seen more than enough India from my last trip.  I had already used my Indian quota for the next 10 years.  I am not really excited going there this time.  Whatever have to get done has to get done.  I have to go to India or my work won’t get done.  The only positive thing about this trip is that I can stop over Hong Kong on my way back for a weekend to visit my grandma.

Interviews

I have been doing lots of interviews recently.  My project is half way and it is very behind in the schedule.  How do we get into this mess in the first place?  As usual it is bad management decision.  Somehow we underestimate the complexity of the chip and largely overestimate the productivity of Indian contractors.  The only way to stop the project from slipping further is adding more resource.  When we first move our operation to Indian, one of the promised advantage is we will be able to get as many engineers as we need.  Never believe any sales pitch, especially the sales pitch of Indian contracting firms.  Wipro basically runs out of qualified engineers that meets our requirement.  Indian contractors is the casue of the mess, it would be repeating the same mistake to hire more of them.  This time we are hiring N. America contractors.

The project is in pretty bad shape, so we are approved to hire 10 engineers.  To fill those positions, we have to do lots of interviews.  I guess my boss is too busy to interview all of them, so I am helping him to interview the candidates.  I did mostly phone interviews since most of the candidates are from the East Coast.  I even have an interview with someone from Israel.  I kinda act like the first line of defense, screening the qualification of the interviewees before pasting them to my boss for 2nd round interview.  My role is to preform technical interview, trying to determine whether the guy knows enough to be productive.  Since I am doing phone interview, I can’t ask very detail technical question because it may require some writing and drawing.  I found asking what challenges the candidate had in his previous project is very effectively in judging his level of expertise.  The more experience the person has, the challenge is usually more complicate.  Sitting in the other side of the table gives me new insights.  The questions asked by the Interviewer always have a certain purpose.  A successful interviewee should look beyond the factual question and try to give answer in a way that satisfies what the interviewer is looking for.