Month: December 2013

New York vs Delhi : Office culture

The previous two posts are about my first week tryst in the New York city.
I am a senior Analyst/consultant at Accenture. I observed few things about the general Indian work culture
and that of US. Many senior consultants sit in the NY office, all very polished fellows. People generally smile when
they look at you, they wish you good morning even if they dont know you. I was in India’s office for 3 years and there were people in my project only
with whom I have not even talked to and vice versa. Not even a word, glance or smile is exchanged between us.
Here it’s different. People will hold doors for you , will apologise if they are blocking the door or the corridor etc.
In my home country, apologising?? are you serious?? Why do I care , I dont even know him/her is the common attitude.
I am not saying that here in NY people are the paragon of the virtues, but at least I can feel the difference at workplace.
No doubt average intelligence level of a common Indian is higher than these guys.
2nd thing, when they work, they work, no monkey business, no personal work,no facebooking.If they work from 9 to 5, it means they were productive for around 6 hours.
Scene in India is a little different.productive hours are 4-5 out of 9.But there is more freedom in US, as social media sites are not blocked, you can eat at your desks.
So, its human nature to do and crave for the things that you dont have at hand.
One more thing I have observed is no one goes to anyone’s desk for chit chat . May be they can call a person gently for a moment or two, but not for discussing what I did last night, at least not at desks.
But in cafeterias and near coffee machines, yes for sure.After all, everyone is a human here.
Cafeterias!! They are just sitting areas nothing more, no food vendor . grab your food, or get it from home and eat at the cafe seats. No concept of inhouse food is there.
Yes, there are many vending machines for snacks .But no real food.

These are the only things that are coming to my mind right now.I will keep coming back to this page for more additions.


2nd Day in New York and few subsequent days !!!

It was a Sunday, I woke up at 6:30 usually and craned my neck out of the window to look at the street. It was a nice neighbourhood.
I didn’t see any person on street. I kept looking for sometime but not a single person. The people in the house were fast asleep I guess.
Not a voice, not a sound.
It was indeed a one eighty degree phase shift to the noisy New Delhi home of mine.The first person I saw out was a girl taking her dog out at 9:30.
Suddenly, I was despondent.I started feeling lost and bad for myself.I did a $ 10 recharge for Skype account and called home.My sister gave a hangout call to me.
I started feeling ok. Then I called GA , and the moment I heard her voice my eyes got wet.I talked to her.Then took bath, did puja.
The landlady took me to a gurudwara nearby.I could see lot of Sikh people there. They were serving prasad of chole bathure.I had a small amount of it, as I was sceptical of the oil and also my digestive system.
Then in the evening, I paid her rent and she took me to a temple in her car. I went to ATM and got some money out.Here the limit is $800 for one day.
I saw a deduction of extra $3 as I used some other bank’s ATM. I felt very annoyed.
I could see north Indian people there.It was 3pm and the roads were not very crowded, totally opposed to New Delhi.
She told me except Manhattan, you cannot find a lot of people anywhere.
I went on to see the map of Long Island rail road and from there I went to T-mobile and got myself a phone connection $77 were shelled out.
The day seemed so long to me.I dozed off and woke up at 8, had my dinner and tried to sleep again.Since that day I have been waking
up at 3 am regularly , sometime to go to wash room and sometime for other reasons.Never in my life I waited so desperately to go to office.

I went to the nearby LIRR station next morning, and caught the train to Penn station.The ticket for both sides costed $22.My heart skipped a beat.
This was way too expensive. In 30 minute I was at Penn, Now getting out of the station was an issue.I had no clue where to go. There were so many signs.
I went to the information centre and asked about Herald square station to catch F train.I reached H-square, asked few people from where to get the train, and wonderful thing was that everyone pointed in different direction.
Totally nonplussed.I came out of the subway and asked some people.After 10 min of GPS tracking I decided to take the train from Herald Sq. only. I had to get a ticket.
$2.75. I inserted the $3, but one of the $1 note came out.I had no more change.I used my credit card for the same.
Finally I reached 57th Street. On reaching there, I had no clue about 1345 Av. of Americas. GPS was not working for some reason.
And you cannot really ask people in NY as all of them have headphones or earphones plugged in.
Though New York city is a grid and its very easy to find your way here, as its very logical. But I was next to lost on day one.
One thing that I have observed about people in NY is that most of them dont have sense of direction. and also, they dont have much knowledge
about anything apart from the fixed route from their home to work and vice versa. You can feel this.
Anargha, with whom I went to see Statue of Liberty, also had the same comment about people of NY.
Mainly its a tourist place. So there are higher chances that you bump into a tourist when you are trying to find your way, so he may or may not know.
After 15-20 min of haggling I found my way to office. I got my temp Id to enter building and there I was in NY accenture office.
Trust me, it felt like home.
Diana helped me there with few forms and other things.Then I met Tomas and Paul also had flown from Chicago for a week.
It was a nice day. In the evening I went to Times Sq. and Rockefeller with my Brother In Law and stayed with him for next 2 nights.
Life was easy, had breakfast at Marriott ,his hotel and lunch at chipotle, Minar.Dinner he cooked at his studio room in hotel.
On tuesday’s night we went to the 5th Avenue, world’s costliest street, best showrooms of the world are there.Apple Store’s glass building is also there. It was all fun!
Few meetings and calls, some formalities, paper work etc and on Wednesday night I returned to my room. ughh !! I didnt want to leave Manhattan.
Manhattan is like New Delhi, crowded, a total city ,I felt like home there.I can relate to the place. On the other hand , Bellerose in Queens though New York it is, feels like a quiet place.
Like I have come to some suburb of India.
Anyway,I went to 34th Herald square and god knows what exit did I use and it took me half an hour in chilling cold to find my way to Penn station.
The wonderful thing about New York is that many of the traffic police guys themselves don’t know which way goes where.Thanks to them, I took few more minutes to reach Penn.
Train to Floral Park was on platform 19.I had bought 2 way ticket on Monday itself. So, confidently I placed myself on the train standing on platform 19.One thing I hate about LIRR and subways is that,
not all of them have maps route. So, when Jamaica came I was assured I am on the right path. The ticket checker came and punched my ticket and went away. After a while I started realising ,thats not the route I took on Monday.

WTF !! Can anything go right in my life. Possibly not. A girl standing next to me said that this train is not going to floral park and told me to get off on the next station and take a cab back home.
Seeing the distressed look at my face, she asked me if I have some money to go home or not. I nodded. The both of us got off at Mineola ,god knows what place it it, and she hauled a taxi for me.
$25 were charged by the taxi guy. I had started feeling irritated by this NY city now.

I entered home, chatted for few moments with aunty and she asked me if I have a metro card or not.I said no, at 8 in the night she drove me to the local store which sells metro cards.
I got a $20 card and had my dinner and jet lag kept me awake.
The next day: I boarded an early N24 bus,aunty had asked me to get off at 169th street .I took out GPS on phone and looked ,it showed the bus goes till 179th.I got confused where do I need to go, 169 or 179. I chose latter and again I was left wandering in cold.
After some enquiry I found my way to the subway and rode the F train to office.
20 min in Bus and 35 min in subway was my daily commute. Thankfully the subway is very near to office.
New york city is a good place to live in. My eyes kept looking for Indians ,but latin americans look very similar to us, so do many asian people. And there is this thing that
I have observed ,if you spot one Indian person, they will try not to engage in conversation. They will flaunt fake accents and will try to portray themselves as some other nationality.
But I am widely travelled in India, I can spot one if I get even an iota of sign. In office I haven’t seen or met any Indian as of yet.May be ,all of them are merged into the colours of
this multi variate ,multi ethnic city .ImageImageImage

1st Night in New York

It was not the first time that I was flying out of country but the butterflies in my stomach this time I had were infinite in number.
The chief reason was that I had to go for a long term this time, and on top of that I would be managing everything on my own, from accommodation to food,laundry,commute.
Virtually Everything !!
So, I took a BA flight via London. The flight was comfortable ,I had a nice aisle seat with an old women sitting besides me blowing her nose every now and then.
Food ,drinks were as usual, not a new thing to me.I started reading a book and dozed off .Then after some time, the old women and her friend
started chatting with me. One of them was a professional painter. She gave me her small painted postcard. They gave me their email Ids.
One thing I observed in BA flight was that the flight attendants , none of them you can say were some beauty pageants or great figure.This and that.
Totally unlike India. I fly in Jet airways or domestic Indian crafts. All have young girls with toned body.
Britain seriously cares for its people, and one can see the hypocrisy of Indian mindset.Why not a healthy female or bald male be the flight attendant.
So, this was a new and good thing that I observed.
I landed at Heathrow at around 3:00 pm and had my flight at 4:15. Terminal 5 it was, connection itself took 45 minute. I bought coffee and clicked few photos.
Texted few friends from there and soon I was off to the plane heading to JFK, New York.
I made good friends with the lady sitting besides me .Shelly told me about New York, what to do and what not to do. She gave me her email Id to contact her
if I needed any help. She was a great drinker, 5 bottles of Red wine and no sign of stopping. Anyway, we talked about various things, movies,books etc
She was not much educated but was a keen learner. She wanted to know about what this Visa business to US is?
I explained everything. The food in the flight was I would say , a sincere effort was done by BA people to give me Hindu veg food.
I dozed off and on waking up we were half an hour away from NY.
Immigration was easy, no questions were asked . I collected my 2 large bags and took a 5 dollar trolley on my way out.
People had told me already to take the yellow cab and not the black ones, so I was aware of this cab thing.
The moment I came out of the doors of airport into the open,it felt like Siberia. It was so cold and freezing.
I managed to get a cab and used the cab driver’s phone to call the landlady of the room I had intended to stay.
The cab driver said its Long Island, Queens and charged me extra 8 dollars. But gave me only receipt of $29.5.
I could have asked him to give me the receipt of $37.74 , but it was late at night and the guy was african american.So I backed off but noted the number of his cab down.
Entered the house. The room was on the attic, fairly large one with a good closet.I settled myself down. Connected to internet and at that moment,
someone called up at landlady’s phone number.I felt so happy and overwhelmed.
Owner had prepared dinner for me, I had it and went to the room. Unpacked some of the things and went to sleep.
Of course, Jet lag can’t let you sleep for a long time.I kept on waking up in the middle of the night staring at darkness with thousands of questions in my mind.