Friday, June 06, 2008

10 most interesting questions about India by videshis

Based on my experience over the last year (includes some personal questions too):
  1. Are all Indians vegetarian?
  2. What is an 'arranged' marriage?
  3. Is India really growing?
  4. Why are bollywood movies long and have song and dances?
  5. What is the caste system?
  6. What is the famous 'Indian' marriage?
  7. Do you speak Hindu? Do all Indians speak Hindu?
  8. What is your religion?
  9. Why do Indians talk a lot about money?
  10. Why are Indians not interested in charity?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An interesting mobile product

"One can now send e-mail without GPRS/Internet through SMS."

Interesting product, but with limited functionalities. Interested in what others have to say about it?

The Brazil experience- II

No doubt, I didn't lose as much weight as I should have.....

-- We should not forget Brazil's natural beauty, it has great beaches, forests, and some mountains too. Rio is completely different from Sao Paulo, much smaller city with great beaches and party atmosphere. The biggest obstacle in exploring Brazil is language, it can get really tough to find the right places and go beyond Sao Paulo and Rio!
-- I am forgetting an important part of Brazilian culture, in fact, two: Samba and football. Loser I am, I missed both. Carnival ended two weeks before I landed; and there were no major football activities in South America (except for the Ronaldo's 'incident')
-- I should end by saying something about brazilian people. I found them very friendly, open to other cultures, people made an effort to speak in English. They have strong family values and children usually live with parents till they are married. It is Ok to pat on the back and hug. Society shows glimpses of the 'US dream', despite of the fact that relations between the two countries are not very strong. In many ways, it has lot of similarities with the Indian culture.

On a final note (bear with me), the only time I saw Indians in brazil was when the President visited Brazil. She stayed in the same hotel. To be blunt, she lacks any charisma and totally, lacks the 'thing' required when you are the Head of the State. No wonder very few parliamentarians turned up for her speech!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Brazil experience- I

So what are you thinking? What was I doing there? I was on a study in Brazil for full 3 months, based out of Sao Paulo, and made some visits to Rio. It was a completely new setting to me. To summarize the experience in one word, it was different.
Brazil is a mystery to many people, only known for Samba and babes. Let's explore it further:

-- First things first: the beauty, what you have heard is true and its amazing! Though, my Colombian colleague was fairly disappointed by the brazilian 'standard', claiming that Colombians are better!
Those girls have highly well-toned body, and not surprisingly, many have gone under a knife! If you know portuguese, its a heaven!
-- Which brings me to the next issue: language. Portuguese is the only language spoken in Brazil. Very few people speak English even in Sao Paulo which is considered to be highly cosmopolitan. All the business is done in Portuguese. After going there, I have a new found respect for Hindi and have been trying to use it more in business discussions (with Indians of course).
Tip: Always have a card with your address written to show to the taxi driver.
-- Talking about taxis, they are expensive, but drivers are very friendly and honest (unlike some Dutch taxi drivers). I tried Metro once, and I must say Mumbai metros are much better than brazilians. People have little sense of discipline in getting in and out.
Public infrastructure is good, but under tremendous pressure with long traffic jams, very similar to some of the big Indian cities.
-- Which brings me to a comparison of the two countries. Goldman clubbed India and brazil together in BRIC, I don't know why! Brazil is far ahead of India (at least 5-8 years) in terms of quality of life and living standards. And I am comparing apple to apple, Delhi/Mumbai to Sao Paulo. To give you simple real life scenarios: everybody in a family has a car, roads are much better, 'normal' employees travel abroad on personal trips frequently, etc.
On the other hand, focus on growth is much higher in India. Financial markets are more sophisticated, and companies are more aggressive in international expansion. I found Brazilian companies inward looking and lacking on ambition. Focus is still on commodities, and their strategy is to milk the cow as long it exists.
-- Cow reminds me of beef and food. All my team mates met a vegetarian for the first time in their life! I was starved there, living on pasta with tomato sauce throughout the week. My main meal was breakfast and lunch was always rice with chilli sauce. There was one Indian restaurant which served the worst food I have ever eaten. Lately I developed a liking (or addiction) for hot chocolate cake with ice-cream. No doubt, I didn't lose as much weight as I should have.

More to follow...

1 year at Job!

Talking to a friend today morning, I realized that I have almost finished 1 year at my first job. This might be a good time to write down some memories, learnings, experiences..blah blah
So the biggest achievement has been that I traveled to 8 different countries during the last year (UAE, thailand, belgium - my sweet home(!), netherlands, france, germany, UK and brazil).

This travel meant working with people with very diverse backgrounds and cultures. Telling them about India and indian traditions was challenging as well as entertaining for me. And knowing (and seeing ;-) their culture was truly amazing, the differences between the French and Dutch are just as staggering as those between a north indian and south indian. Just a word about the Brazilians: they are amazing!

As this was a post related to the job, I should mention something about the work. It was a good learning experience about project management and media industry (my field of expertise now). The best part of the learning came from other people, some of whom are really smart people.

Finally wrapping up by saying few things about the experience of living in brussels. It is sweet as long as it is short and you know how to drive a car. Fortunately, first factor worked for me, but second didn't! I know have to learn driving pretty soon......

More to follow...

Back after a long time!

I stopped blogging a year ago, reasons were many; primary being that blogger was too slow! I tried to load it sometimes and it never did! Of course, more obvious reasons also applied: being busy in job, travel etc. From now on, I will try to be more regular (as though people are waiting for me!)...