Monday, December 8, 2008

Repatriated

My travels in India are over. I'm back in the US and have been since November 14. I now consider myself fully 'repatriated'.

It took me a while to finish posting my blogs from my Jammu & Kashmir trip, hence the delay in this posting. In short, after roughly 14 months abroad in India, it feels great to be home. I'm enjoying all of the things (tangible and intangible) about my home and the US that I took somewhat for granted when I was living here. I will never take those things for granted ever again!

There are still people who ask me why I went to India and what I was hoping to accomplish from my experience abroad. I wrote an article for the VE India newsletter, Reflections on my India Experience, which I think addresses this question:

It’s hard to believe that my time in India is almost over. It’s just as hard to believe that I’ve been at SAP for 3 years.But the journey has been an exciting one. From my humble beginnings as an intern in VE West (when the entire VE group was just 50 people and we did nothing more than OIs and CVAs) to my transition to the BTS program to my transition to India, I’ve been constantly on the move and learning new things in my time at SAP.

Prior to coming to India in September last year, I had only spent several months in India. In the US, India was just another country and largely not discussed during the 1980s and most of the 1990s. But starting in the late 1990s, the buzz about India began to grow and by about 2006, India’s influence in the American workplace was widely felt. The growth story of India had made its way to the US and I wanted to witness it for myself.


From a work standpoint, the BTS program had proven successful in the US and Latin America and in 2007 it was time to launch the program in India where countless customer success stories were waiting to be told. This was just the opportunity I had been waiting for. Here was an opportunity to launch the BTS program in India and explore the country. I never studied abroad in college nor did I enroll in the Peace Corps (to do 2 year of volunteer work in another country), two things I still regret not having done, so I was determined not to let this opportunity pass by.

Now, one year later, I am quite satisfied with how I have spent this year. We have 1 published Indian BTS and almost 40 studies in the pipeline. The VEI graphics team has come up to speed on publishing BTSs and we are close to securing APJ writers to write the BTSs. We have trained countless India field teams (VE, SE, ISG, AEs, Alliances, etc.) on the BTS / i‐BTS process. As we like to say in VE terms, ‘BTS’ is now in the APJ ‘DNA’.

Personally, I have visited numerous cities all over India, seen relatives I haven’t seen in years, attended weddings, launched the India chapter of HealthCare Volunteer(
www.healthcarevolunteer.com), made great friends, and collected countless memories. And I’ve even learned a bit of Hindi. So when people ask me about my year in India, I don’t exaggerate when I say that this has been the best year of my life. I’ve confirmed my passion for international life and look forward to new adventures in my next trip abroad, whenever and wherever that may be.


As you can see from the article, I was very pleased with my India experience. However, certain things could have been better. Mainly, I could have done more for HealthCare Volunteer in India and I could have learned more Hindi through formal classes.


Blogging

In addition, I'm quite pleased with the way this blog turned out. Here are the final stats:

Blogging started out as an experiment and has emerged as a real hobby for me. I'm happy with all of the positive feedback I've received and thank all of my readers for reading and commenting on my blog over the last 15 months.

Likes, Dislikes, and Impressions

This blog would certainly not be complete without an honest, brief account of my likes and dislikes about India. These are simply the first thoughts that come to mind:

India - Likes

  • Music
  • Festivals (especially firecrackers & Diwali)
  • Smiling faces
  • Adventure
  • Rickshaws
  • Cheap living
  • Bollywood (and Bollywood actresses ;)
  • Languages - in terms of variety and sweetness of sound
  • Regional diversity
  • Rawness of life
  • Rich history
  • Optimism about the future
  • Practical thinking
  • Negotiation practice
  • Emphasis on family relationships
  • Conservative values
  • Style

India - Dislikes

  • Lateness (i.e. IST)
  • Disorderly conduct: pushing or cutting in lines, littering
  • Lack of infrastructure
  • Lack of privacy
  • Corruption
  • Indirect communication style
  • Lack of integrity
  • Disregard for health and safety (i.e. seat belts, helmets, safe driving, see here)
  • Poor hygiene practices
  • Herd mentality
  • Penny pinching
  • Pollution
  • Extreme weather (dust storms, torrential downpours, fierce wind, searing heat, etc.)
  • Lack of civic sense and ownership of problems / passing the buck
  • Heavily segmented society
  • Not enough English
  • Terrorism

Of course, the list could grow infinitely longer in both categories if I had all the time in the world to think about it. And, with India changing as much as it is, items from both lists will surely switch places - a like can easily become a dislike and visa-versa.

Nevertheless, it feels wonderful to be back in the USA. There is nowhere on earth where I feel more comfortable. I have proven throughout my life that I can turn almost any place into home, but the USA, and California in particular, is one place where I don't have to 'try' to make it home. It just is. To get back into shape, I've been walking or jogging around my neighborhood everyday. I always appreciated the beautiful neighborhood I grew up in, but after spending so much time in India my appreciation for Los Gatos grew manifold. I captured some of the beauty in these pictures of my neighborhood on one of my morning walks.

The Future

I am enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania this January to begin a Masters in Biotechnology. I'm really excited about the classes and the field in general, but am not so excited about having to find a place and get setup in a new city (feels like I just did this).

However, I am pleased to let you know that while Rickety Rickshaw is for all practical purposes ending (there may be the occasional article I post here), I will be starting a new blog, Letter of Marque. If you enjoyed reading Rickety Rickshaw, please bookmark Letter of Marque! See here for what a Letter of Marque is. I won't be using the Feedburner application to send blog updates to you by email because the posts don't look so great in the emails and because there's no way to post comments by email. So, you will have to visit the website periodically to view my updates. Letter of Marque will be a general blog on my life and my observations, not a travelling blog like Rickety Rickshaw or a current-events blog like Shuttle Diplomacy.

So, if I were to pick the best thing about being back in the US, what would it be? English? Infrastructure? Tempting. But one thing stands out over the rest, which I even blogged about here....





No mosquitoes!!!