Working Conditions Vary
Working in India has many similarities to working in the U.S. It also has many differences. I can only speak of my experiences so far and it includes working with one of the largest companies in India. The building we are in has nearly 4,000 workers. It’s quite modern with lots of glass. It even has a glass elevator, large fountain in the lobby, a huge open courtyard with palm trees in the center, cafeteria and daycare. The bathrooms have bathroom attendants. Directly across the street is a huge pile of garbage and homeless people. It is quite a contrast. The street vendors argue for the best spaces out front and dozens of tuck-tucks await their eager passengers ready to commute home after a long day of work.
Typical working hours are 10:00 to 6:00. That’s been hard for me because I’m a morning person. So I end up starting work early from my hotel room and consequently often work over a 12-hour day. Our commute is usually only about 1/2 an hour to travel the 8 miles or so to the office. But the commute home can easily take an hour or longer.
Next we go through security. We have badges now so we can get right in. A badge is needed to open or close any door in the building. We start our day with a visit to the cappuccino machine where we fuel up on free Indian coffee and cookies. Indians call them biscuits.
Meetings are frustrating. The bureaucracy here is never ending! No one can do anything unless it’s written down, analyzed by numbers of people, voted on, logged and acknowledged. The process of just getting a PO cut makes you feel like you’re applying for a damn mortgage!
Business casual is most common, but we see everything from jeans to suits throughout the day. Women typically wear a salwar kameez, often called a kurta. It is basically a pant suit with narrow leggings that bunch at the bottom, a tunic like top and matching scarf. There is always a scarf! Many men, especially those of the Sikh and Muslim faiths, wear turbans. Some of the younger generations wear a do-rag type thing instead.
For lunch we have many options. We can enjoy the Indian food buffet which costs about .70 USD, or we can enjoy a Subway sandwich for just a few dollars. But the sandwiches are different here. Chicken is your only option. I have yet to see beef served here anywhere. I must admit, I’m craving a good American steak! The cafeteria feels a lot like the cafeteria in 6th grade. Everyone stares at me and no one will with sit me. I’m definitely not one of the cool kids.
We have hired some local workers to be our business system analysts. We pay them around 30,000 rupees a month, which is about $450 USD. That is a very good wage here and allows them to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle. Compare that to our hotel bar tender. One day after I was out shopping I complained to him that I had spent entirely too much money. He asked me how much and I told him I had spent about 9,000 Rupees, which is about $135 USD. He gave me a strange look and then told me that is his monthly salary! And he works 6 days a week, 14 hour days! I felt like an asshole!
The best thing about working here is that I learn something new every single day. I not only learn about my personal work, but I learn about new cultures, doing business in a foreign country, and I learn about myself and the world around me.