Murmeli goes India

An AIESEC traineeship in Hyderabad, India

Second day at work & wedding invitation

Second day at work was a lot better than the first one. In the morning though I was a bit nervous because I was supposed to exchange money today, get a telephone card and some clothes (flip-flops and a good shirt for work) would not hurt either. I got on an auto at 9.10 and went to work. Already while going there I started feeling more positive. I thought that I’m here to work and not on holiday. I will also be here for so long that I will get accustomed to any unpleasant issues I have to confront now.

Once I got to my desk I started writing a document on the task that I had been given yesterday. It felt nice to start working. I was only going to be there until lunch break because I wanted to get some chores done. At least I had to get some money exchanged as the rent is due today. The guy sitting next to me asked if I wanted coffee from the machine so we went to have a cup. I had brought my own disposable cups that my flatmate had found at our flat. They were too tall for the coffee/tea machine so I had to resort to using the communal cups 🙂 The lady who sweeps the floors also washes the mugs that everybody uses. I was a bit wary about using the same cups, but whatever… anyways it’s a hot drink and not lukewarm tap water. I got too cautious when I was preparing for the trip. Anyways, while having the coffee (with enough sugar, I can tell you) I was introduced to a few other employees. They listened to my story on ending up here with great interest. I tried to say their names and we all laughed at my attempts 🙂 Once I got back to work I also asked my boss about the PC they said I could have today. He did not know about it yet. Maybe I’ll just wait patiently. That’s what you have to do a lot in here.

I also went to lunch with a couple of my colleagues. We had des dosa, or something like that 🙂 It had three pancake looking things of which you cut pieces with your fingers and dipped into curry and chutney. I told the guys that I should find a money exchange point and one of them went to a bank in the building where I work and found out it it not possible there. He also found out where the nearest place to exchange was and they showed me the building too.

Funny thing about the people, or at least the men, here is that they touch each other a lot. It is not uncommon to see two heterosexual men walking hand in hand in the street. I actually saw one such “couple” today. Also my collegues gave me encouraging taps on the shoulder after having only known me for a day. Who knows, maybe walking hand in hand is the next logical step 🙂

I finally got some money exchanged so I can now pay my share of the rent. I also got a prepaid SIM card for my phone. Getting the SIM card was an interesting experience. I think I spent 40 minutes in the shop opposite to the place where I work. There was one guy behind the counter, a boy who got people stuff from the shelves and brought the money to the man behind the counter. In addition there were two guys who just seemed to be hanging out there but who apparently belonged to the staff as well. And all of them worked in a shop the size of a standard Finnish kiosk! One of them, an older man, helped me with my SIM card. He put it into the phone, put all the settings like clock etc. right and tested the phone. All this was done with that Indian way of taking it easy and not hurrying too much. Anyways, I was not in a hurry to go anywhere so I did not mind. It does not pay off to be in a hurry here. I just had fun watching the shop life and listening to the incomprehensible discussions that the staff and the customers had.

Oh, and about getting the SIM card. I needed one passport photo, a copy of my passport, a proof that I’m living here (last month’s electricity bill of which the boy working at the shop went to get a copy) and closer to 10 signatures (four on the application and on the copies of the passport and the bill, on both the front and the bak side of course). When it comes to being bureaucratic and having patience you just can’t beat these people 🙂 Yesterday both me and Pike laughed at our lousy first days spent running after things, finding things, getting stupid answers and not being able to trust the very people that are there to serve you, like the auto drivers. I also smiled at the traffic this morning. You just have to. If you can’t stand a little pressure, India is not the place for you.

I should be able to get my photos online at this internet cafe, so I should be able to show you the life here through imagery also soon.

The plan to go clothes shopping backfired a bit. I was told to go down this one street by a flatmate. There I should have been able to find clothes very cheap. I took an auto to Hyderabad Central and was going to go find the correct street but it was easier said than done. I was standing on the wrong side of this big street and I was supposed to cross it. I think. The traffic here is awful. No matter how hard you try to imagine it you will fail. It is terrible. There are some traffic lights but they don’t mean that much to everybody. Neither does using the left lane (here you drive, and also walk, on the left). There are no real sidewalks, just an obscure, dirty, too narrow and sometimes completely nonexistent strip of pavement on the side of the road. If I was in a big Western city and I knew there were good and damn cheap clothes shops one kilometer away I would have made my way there in no time. Here… I just could not be bothered. A guy I asked about clothes shops said there was a place called something like Admirabad one kilometer away. He told me to get on the bus (bus stop was right there) and go there with only 3 rupees. I thought not. There was a boy selling flip-flops close to where I work but he was asking for 125 rupees for flip-flops. Clare told me I could get away with just 50 rupees if I find the right place. I hate clothes shopping anyway…
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Yesterday evening I spent some time at the Internet cafe. The others had gone to a wedding near our flat. One American trainee had been invited there and all her friends (that’s us) are welcome as well. The wedding has been going on for days. The actual wedding day is on Thursday and we’re invited there too. Cool! The thing about the English in here… well, it is great that people understand you somewhat. Most of the people I have talked to speak at least some English. The auto drivers are the most difficult in this respect as they don’t necessarily speak any English at all. Beside the understanding there is the talking. Sometimes the dialect is just too much to handle. It can take several tries until you understand what you are being told. Today when I went to lunch with two colleagues one of them asked something about my lunch and I just did not understand. I said that sorry, I don’t understand and he actually seemed offended and he did not say another word to me! Well, the people here are quite proud and they don’t want to make mistakes. I was actually hesitant about helping the guy at the shop to get the old SIM card out of the phone as I was afraid he would not like being helped. Well… these are the things you come across in a country that is this far away from Finland both geographically and culturally.

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July 4, 2006 - Posted by | Being a trainee, Indian life

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