In this Blog I am hoping to give a taste of the experience of a European coming to India and working over here within an Indian company, with Indian colleagues. I am hoping I might find the time to write further updates as my time here in India commences.
As you will be aware SDN’s user base is growing rapidly each day and in order to support this expansion, as so many other organisations before it, SDN has decided to utilise the IT knowledge and vast resources of the Indian continent. We have recently recruited 3 new people for SDN in Hyderabad, India. 1 for the QA team, 1 to help with the support of the site and another to help with the application configuration side of things. The GMT +5.5 time difference of India works well for this part of the SDN team, since the manager of all of these teams together with myself (Application Configuration Team Lead) sit in the UK, with the QA Team Lead working from Germany.
So I was advised that my mission (should I choose to accept it), is to on-board these new resources as quickly as possible to the hectic life that is SDN. I have 1 month here in Hyderabad in which to do this.
My initial perceptions of India were somewhat mixed and I will admit some apprehension of travelling here. I had heard all about the over crowding, the horrendous traffic, pollution and the general “culture-shock” I might experience coming from Europe. The apprehension was not helped with my visit to my travel clinic in London, where the nurse asked me to roll-up my sleeve and brace myself for the 7-8 vaccination injections which I would be needing for my trip. As I left there, with a very sore arm, I was beginning to wonder what I had let myself in for.
My adventure began with a 14 hour journey from London’s Heathrow airport to Hyderabad, Begumpet airport. Luckily, I had already researched the climate for the duration of my visit and found this to be quite comfortable for me, even though I was leaving a country where there is currently nothing but torrential rain with flooding everywhere. My first shock came as I stepped into the baggage claim area of the airport, where there were a total of only 2 conveyor belts and everything else that you might need in an arrivals hall of an airport, in a space barely bigger than some conference rooms I have been in. After waiting almost 50mins for my bag to come out I proceeded to make my way out of the airport to be welcomed by a vast sea of people all waiting to pick someone up. I had taken the precaution of booking a transfer from my hotel which meant I was able to avoid all of the people asking me if I needed a taxi.
The journey to the hotel was my first confirmation of one of the things I had been told by everyone about India. Traffic in India is constant, and this was at 04:00 in the morning. I have now been here 24 hours and have experienced traffic 3 times at different times of the day. I can only say it is horrendous. I normally have no qualms about driving in any country of the world but here I have to seriously thing twice before even getting into the passenger seat. London traffic is said to be bad but here, there really are cars, motorbikes, buses, Tuk-Tuks (or Autos) and even cows all fighting for the same bit of space in an effort to get to where they are going. Not to mention the pedestrians that cross anywhere and won’t think twice about stepping out infront of traffic. Leaning on the horn constantly is obligatory of course. Infact it seems like even working lights are not mandatory here, as long as the horn of your vehicle is functioning you will be just fine.
Even though there is only a 4.5 hour difference to back home, I must still be suffering from some sort of jetlag, which would partly explain why I am sitting here at 04:00 (India Time) writing this blog, but might also explain why after seeing the traffic out there today I was mad enough to walk from my hotel tonight, along a very busy road to go in search of food. Pavements seem to be non-existent, which goes someway to explaining all of the people walking in the road most of the time. Traffic feels frighteningly close, and very loud. I even managed to cross said road at one point. I guess, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
The experience that I have already made of the people over here is that their hospitality really is second to none. They seem to be very polite and really can’t do enough for you. This doesn’t even seem to be, as is the case in some countries I have been to, because they are trying to give you some sort of useless service in order to extract a tip. They genuinely smile and say hello.
Something else that is true of India, is that day-to-day living seems to be very cheap. From transportation, to shopping, to food. This evening I spent £7 (approx US$13) on a meal in a very nice restaurant, where the food was enough for 2-3 people. The same meal would easily have cost me 2.5 – 3 times that amount in London. And I believe that this was really quite an expensive meal for out here.
I think I will last just fine for my month out here.