September 13, 2011

Life in India - The People, part two

*Note: I meant to write this while still in India but life happened and I'm just posting it now. Thanks for understanding!

Last time I wrote about India, I talked about the people - in general - of that great nation. I didn't get a chance to really dig into my fun times with all of my teammates and the many others that I encountered on a regular basis. That's what I hope to do here - to recount more than just stories, but to express my deepest gratitude for hospitality beyond anything I've experienced to that point.

My business goal for the trip was to train a group of approximately 30 people on how to manage the Quality Assurance function of survey programming at my company. Seeing as I took the lead in refining the process internally over the last few years, I was asked to present it and teach it for two months in Gurgaon, India. I believe my trip was a success regarding this goal and I'm excited seeing the fruits of it today. Being super detail-oriented is not for everyone and I was so happy to see people work very hard to refining this skill in themselves.

My personal goal for the trip was to make friendships that would carry over past the duration of the trip and welcome a large group of people into the cultural fold of our company. I knew that I would get a chance to learn about India like I hadn't yet in the U.S., but what I didn't realize was that India and the people at Genpact would welcome me into the cultural fold of India.

I'm still not sure I can completely convey with words what the two-month experience was like. I was immediately struck with the warmest hospitality by everyone around me, even many people who initially just stared at this pale, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Westerner. (To pretend I didn't stand out and attempt to blend in was a joke, let's be honest. So I embraced it as often as I could!)

A few highlights with these amazing people:
  • The impromptu photo shoot in the walkway of the office - *almost* everyone loved getting their personal pictures taken
  • Having to repeat myself regarding colloquialisms that are Western and have no relevance in India - I still failed at this, as hard as I tried
  • Getting used to the side-to-side head nod that accompanied many of my questions to the class; is that a 'yes', a 'no' or a 'maybe'? (I was doing it myself before I knew it and it still hasn't worn off at home - I love it!)
  • The heated QA jeopardy and housey trivia games amongst the blue, red and yellow teams. If I remember right, blue team took the lead many times, right everyone?
  • Friday night dinner at Ambience Mall with the QA peeps - still one of my fondest memories altogether. (I learned Indian food tastes better when you eat it with your hands)
  • Getting into Sahil's car with all the girls and hearing Taylor Swift on the stereo - so funny!
  • The superhero discussion one early morning on the night shift - RAJNIKANTH! (I'm not a person who recalls quotes well but I can still quote things that Bhupendra, Divesh and Lalit said about superheroes - so funny!)
  • Akash reminding me that though the weekend started the next day, most of my Saturday would be ruined since I had to sleep most of the day
  • Pizza - instead of pronouncing the word with the t-sound like peet-zah, everyone says peez-zah
  • Priyanka walking me down to the doctor's office after I gave up on my pride and admitted I was sick
  • The look in Vittesh's eyes when we would talk about steak - still cracks me up
  • The care and concern everyone would express when I came in tired or not feeling too well
  • Everyone encouraging me with their sweet sentiments when I wore "Indian dress" - I still wear it sometimes in U.S.!
And that's just a sampling of things I enjoyed with these great people!

There were several other people that were blessings to me:
  • The men who worked in the hotel restaurant - they would see me come in and immediately offer to bring any number of my favorite items (aloo paratha, masala dosa, bhaji, dal, cappucino, egg omelette, dim sum, etc.)
  • Head housekeeper, the hotel's general manager and the female assistant manager - always so helpful
  • Sweet, cute kids that live in the house behind my hotel building - they always waved "bye, bye, bye" when they'd see me
  • All of the drivers, taking me to-and-from the office, all over Gurgaon and Delhi, etc.
  • The cute family that stopped me in Kingdom of Dreams to ask me my name and where I was from rather than stare and run away - they were the first ones to do that and were just so fun to talk to
  • Shailaja, Manish, Avani and Tanisha - they knew I'd need to adjust some and were really encouraging the entire time
  • The Park Plaza restaurant staff - I'd come in alone a lot and they would strike up some really good conversations

I will be forever grateful to the people who showed me nothing but kindness while I was there; no doubt, my trip would not have been so wonderful if it had not been for them.

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