Well Folks, it has been quiet on here for a while. My apologies. The Gora Desi moved in January. I am not living and working in France.
Sally & I moved here over the Christmas Break, as Sally started her MBA at Insead. I don't want anyone to think I've forgotten about India - don't worry I haven't. As luck would have it, our apartment here in Fontainebleau was left stocked with Desi Pure Ghee, Hair Oil and Garam Masala by it's previous resident.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss India. I do. It sort of snuck into my being over the months, and I find myself missing the oddest bits of Delhi life. That said, I'm also enjoying steady power, and never running out of water.
I'm working on a new blog at the moment to chronicle this next chapter of life. I will try to hop over here and keep this one updated with the bits of India I continue to find entertaining & will try not to forget about you.
When the new blog is presentable, I will post a new link here. Until then, धन्यवाद.
I found this Bicycle cum Moped cum Flat Bed truck in DLF corporate park today.
This is a hot topic in America, one that is debated constantly in the press. Is it right to shift local jobs from Main Street, USA to Mangalore, India? I am not going to try to offer an opinion on this matter, or state opinions on this practice.
This blog post is going to discuss a far graver labor arbitrage situation... the outsourcing of machines.
Yes, you heard me Heavy Machines, be on high alert. Your jobs are in danger of being outsourced to low cost labor across India. Cranes, Steamrollers, and Bulldozers beware. Your jobs are no longer safe. I hope you have invested wisely, and put money away in an emergency fund - because across India construction foremen have found a way to replace you.
We no longer have a need for your heavy lifting abilities, no need for your fancy hydraulics & earth moving potential. Your have been made redundant. It turns out we can do your job more cheaply with a hundred men.
Sure, it takes a bit longer (years longer in fact), but the job is done the same in the end. And besides, the cost restructuring opportunities are huge. I'm sorry, but we can no longer be bothered to be experts in non-core business functions. We thank you for your years of service, but unfortunately we would much rather shift these roles to "business partners" who can augment our "operation expertise" while effectively allowing us to cross-synergize our capacity management.
So, enjoy your last few months of work. After the Commonwealth Games have come and gone, you can pack your things and move on to Vietnam - I hear they still have need for the general skill sets you posses.
As for us, we've already begun replacing you. Just have a look around - and you will see your replacements hard at work.
click to view full size image
Last night, Sally and I stayed in and watched a movie. At about 8 in the evening, Sally ran to the ATM to pull out some money for the week and money so that we could pay our maid's salary in the morning. Our maid has been a Godsend for us, and does a great job without even making us aware she is there. She is a vast improvement over our last maid - who quietly stole 200 USD from a locked cabinet over a few days. But I digress.
With the money placed in her wallet, Sally set her purse on the counter in our entry way & we finished the rest of our evening. Around 6:30 am, Sally rose for her morning jog. She left the front door unlocked, while I snoozed for another hour in the bedroom. Eventually, I woke up and joined Sally for coffee in the family room.
She asked, "Did anyone come in while I was on my run? As I returned home, I saw the press walla leaving the apartment and he muttered something about my husband." I assured Sally that I hadn't heard anything - but did notice the newspaper was on the counter in the hallway. Maybe he had just placed it inside the house as he has done before. Thinking nothing of it, Sally and I finished our breakfast & I got ready to leave for work.
"God Dammit!" Sally shouted as I stepped out of the shower. "The maid's Salary money is gone. I think the boy took it." I was sure the boy hadn't taken the money, so I insisted we must have misplaced it last night. The boy has always been so kind and nice, with a smile on his face. He is probably 17, but looks about 15 and is always eager to collect our pressing. Just last week he seemed to have taken a new job, He had showed up at the door with a new uniform from the Dry Cleaners at the local market.
"I'm sure it wasn't him," I told Sally, "He wouldn't come in the house and take money from your purse. Why would he risk his families business over something like that." But Sally was convinced, and I should have been too.
We decided that we would both go over to their stand in the neighborhood and confront him. I felt it was only fair to give him a chance to admit the theft. I didn't want to make a scene, but simply to give him a chance to return the money - no questions asked. With our Driver Dharmender, we drove over to their shop and shared the news with his Father. We suspected his only son of taking money from our house. Without a note of concern, the Father asked us to wait for his son to come home.
Soon the boy returned home and we confronted him. For 20 minutes the boy denied the claim, and seemed appalled that we would accuse him of theft. The discussion never got heated, it was simply a calm discussion between the boy, his family, Dharmender, Sally and I. After the 21st minute, the boy suddenly had a realization.
You see, he said "I did accidentally pick up the 2500 INR. But, realizing I had this money, I returned to your house before coming to my shop. Sir, while you were driving over to my shop to accuse me of stealing, I was returning to your home to return the money."
And so, Dharmender Sally & I climbed back in the car to race home. The boy and his mother mounted his bicycle and cut through the pedestrian gates giving them a speed advantage. By the time Sally, Dharmender & I reached the top of the stairs, the boy had already reached. He gingerly pointed to the fuse box outside our apartment.
There sat 2500 rupees. It was all a simple misunderstanding...
I spotted this little fellow on the way to the office last week... In August.
These ingenius solutions are referred to as "Jugaad" by most Dilli-wallas. It sometimes feels as if these 'duct tape' solutions keep this country moving forward. Here are a few funny & inspired "jugaad" solutions I have spotted in my year.
1) This is an extremely common sight. An autorickshaw being towed by an even more run down autorickshaw with only a rusty chain connecting the two.
2) In Gurgaon I frequently see potholes being re-filled with only stones & sand - sometimes leading to disaster.
3) Every handyman we have called seems to have no plug on their power drill. However it is never a Problem. They just cram the two cord ends into an outlet.
4) I found this chap who was eager to transport a car & keep it looking clean and new. He simply wrappepd it in tape & burlap.
5) Although sometimes, the solutions are truly inspired. Like the famous Soulabh Toilet which can be built for an extremely low cost using locally sourced materials, and no running water source.
6) For another inspired solution, look at this retail stores answer to the plastic poly bag ban in Delhi (which only lasted 10 days from what I can tell...).
Unfortunately, sometimes there is no Jugaad solution for your problem, and eventually you must give up. Check out this beauty of a vehicle that is parked outside the Foreign Regional Registration Office as if to welcome you to your extended stay in India.
WOW - it has been a long time since I got on my soapbox and let my readers into my life here in Delhi. It has been a busy couple of months since my visit to the US. It has been both good and bad.If I'm being entirely honest, it has been a rough couple of months. There is an old story that is often shared regarding the frog in a pot of boiling water. The story says that a frog who enters the pot when the water is cool, will become acclimated to the water and not be tempted to jump out of the heat. Eventually in this story, the frog dies.
Alternatively, dropping the frog directly into a pot of boiling water will cause the frog to leap from the pot, scalded - but alive. I've learned this year that I am a bit like a frog.
You see, when I first moved here everything was new, exciting & different. I was so consumed by the newness of it all that I never once noticed the water was getting hotter day by day. Little things like infrastructure issues, the heat, the dust, the crowd didn't bother me. They each were gradually turning up the heat on the water while I was too busy being distracted by the "newness" around me.
However, eventually work or family brought me away from India for a visit. Upon returning, I found entering Delhi was a bit like jumping into a pot of boiling water. OK, I know - it is a bit of a bad analogy - I don't die after all.... But the point is, the return is a shock. I find myself leaping into the comforts I've left behind. I crave the relative simplicity of life and home & bury myself in the comforts of five star hotel restaurants & malls.
Now eventually, I'm coaxed out of my shock and become accustomed to Delhi. Usually it is due to some emotional experience that reminds me the life I live in Chicago is not normal. It is not the way 90% of the world live. It is a privileged life. And so slowly I let real Delhi, real India back into my life.
One of those Emotional kick-in-the-pants experiences for me is Pardada Pardadi. And so, today, I am re-publishing an earlier post on Pardada Pardadi Educational Society in hopes that you two will take a moment to think about the life you don't lead. And please - think about giving back.
This past weekend, Sally and I paid a visit to Pardada-Pardadi Girls Vocational School in Anupshahr, Uttar Pradesh. Located near the Ganges River, the area is largely agricultural in nature.
The Pardada Pardadi Education Society (PPES) was established to provide education to girls who would not normally be afforded an opportunity to attend schools. Enrollment has exploded through a variety of novel programs including, guranteed job post graduation, 10 rupee placed in saving account for each day of school attended, and vocational training (in addition to academics).
I've been unplugged for two weeks now. I leave for Delhi again on Saturday - but until then, you can find me on the streets of Chicago.
Don't worry - I have 28 more posts to go on my first year in India. But for now, soak up the view in my hometown.