The India Experience

It’s feels like so long ago. I’ve already started to forget.

I would never have thought, that I would go to another country for work purposes. So when my Saudi experience unfolded to become my Indian experience, you have to understand that everything felt surreal.

But I was there, and it was real. I found myself in Mumbai. I’ve never been in Mumbai for more than two days. But whenever I’ve been there I notice this distinct smell. Yes, there is a smell. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, there it was, the smell. And even if my eyes were closed, I knew I was in Mumbai.

Let me go back to how unreal of all this was. I even recall telling the then COO of the company, “No”, when he asked someone, “Is Adnan the best person to go to India?”. Not that I was the worst, I suppose I was good enough. Did I want to go? Yes, of couse I did. The very thought of the experience was exciting. Either way, it came to pass.

Next day I was at the office, located in Bandra. The office was nice, from the inside. Not that the outside was bad (we’ll discuss incidents on the outside later on).

My second day at the office, my co-workers started to play a song for me, [Ya Ali, Maded Ali]. Translated it means, “Oh Ali, Help Us Ali”. I knew I was there for a purpose, right, I was there to train them.

In the next few weeks we covered a lot of material, from source code control (CVS) to JSPs. It was indeed an interesting experience, because now I wasn’t coding myself too much, I was dealing with people who would be doing the coding. This is a different level of being. It’s just not the same. In ways, it is more difficult and challenging.

I got used to being in India pretty quick. I was walking to work, or taking a rickshaw (or ric as they call it). I wasn’t just ‘staying’ in India, for those 4 weeks I was living in India.

The work days were tiring though. Sometimes I’d be explaining things individually to folk, and on other days we’d put ourselves in the boardroom and project my laptop onto the screen and discuss things. Then at night, I’d go back to the apartment I was staying at and everyone back in Toronto would be up and online, then I’d catch up with the Canadian email, read documents, try and phone into meetings etc. So really, it was like working around the clock.

What else did I do while I was there? For being there a whole month, I didn’t do a whole lot.

I bought a lot of books. You see, books printed in India are printed on cheaper paper, and thus cost less. I purchased around 24 books dealing with programming, technology and management. The most important of these books was Peopleware. But I’ll discuss that in further detail at a different time, on a different blog. I had to purchase a new suitcase just to be able to carry all those books back.

I also went on a one day trip to Hyderabad, to meet my grandfather and other relatives. It was quite the day, perhaps one of the most tiring day’s I’ve been through. We rented a car and hit up a lot of relatives from my dad’s and mom’s side. One after another. It was like hit and run. And they all had something or the other for me to eat or drink. And foolishly I did eat or drink. Unforunatley the next week I was feeling sick and hardly ate at all. But it was good going back to Hyderbad, even for a day. This was the first time I was there by myself. I hadn’t been there in about 7 years, so it had been a while.

Outside our office are a couple of colleges. The place where students go for studying purposes, and other purposes I’m sure. One day the internet went down, and then the electricity disappeared as well. So we stepped out of the office to get some polluted air, tea and whatnot. After much persuasion, I decided I would go ahead and do magic for totally random people. So I went up to this group of 7 guys and asked them, “Hey, you guys mind if I shows you some card magic?”, they all seemed fine with it. So I started.

You have to understand one thing. This is Mumbai, there are lots of people in Mumbai. So when I started doing magic, people started to gather around fairly quickly. People were calling over their friends from across the street. Curious folk walking by stopped and started to watch. By the time I had finished the trick, there were over 40 people gathered there. The reactions were awesome!

This girls starts saying, “Who are you?”, as if to say, who are you and what are you doing?. “Are you like David Blaine?”. I just said, “Yes, I am the David Blaine of Mumbai, and you’re going to be part of my next trick” and started to do more magic. Once again the reactions were awesome. Unfortuantely none of this was caught on any media (video or still). Once I was done, people were a bit confused, not because of the magic,, but they were wondering why I was doing all this. I think they thought that I was doing this to promote something or gather money or something. I told them “I’m just doing this for fun”. And it was fun.

I was told by my co-worker that after the crowd had dispersed there were some folk on their cell phones talking about what had just happened. People were talking about it across the street as well. When asked for the bill, they tea guy said he didn’t want any money. During the whole commotion, this guy who has a stall setup to sell things (biscuits, chocolates and the like) was climbing up on this stall to be able to see what was going on. Unreal. All I had was a deck of cards!

There was another magic incident, where we (co-workers and I) had gone bowling and then went to this restaurant. I decided to do magic for our table. Once I started, the entire restaurant (about 50 people) stopped doing what they were doing. They were all starting at our table. The waiters had gathered around our table and everyone was watching. After I finished, the waiters were all smiling. Once again, the reactions were great.

I’m going to go into my magic rant here, but every single time it’s an unbelieveable feeling. I can really say now that I’ve performed for 100s of people. And to be able to make some sort of a difference even for that one moment is amazing. It’s very humbling once I think about it, having the ability to do that.

There are other work related things that I experienced while in India that I’ll elaborate on some other day. 🙂

Well, after all was said and done, India was an awesome experience. And it only adds to the growth process I’ve gone through in the last year. I don’t feel I did an amazing job there. I think I was adequate. I think I could have been much better. But I also know that my being there helped. Which is good.