I meet this very nice gentleman and his wife at a party the other day who were both born and raised in India. One of them had worked in the U.S. for a short time and were very interested in hearing about my experiences in India. I told him that I have had the time of my life here, but it’s also been one of the toughest things I have ever done. O.k. not one of, the toughest for sure. He asked me what were the things I was most afraid of when I was moving here. Good question. I said the heat because I had no idea how my body was going to handle it (which I am somehow managing to survive!) and probably, the unknowns of working in India. Living in a foreign country is one thing, but being productive and a good team member in an organization while you are trying to acclimate to a world that is completely opposite from your home is another story.
He responded to my answers by saying something so very true, that the main difference about not only working in India vs. the U.S. but just being here in general is, when you take an action in the U.S. the result is 99% predictable and not only the immediate result, but four subsequent results. However, in India, when you take an action, you have no idea what the result will be or how long it will take to get the result (5 minutes or 5 days) … hence, the 7-day work week. This uncertainty obviously takes a ridiculous amount of patience and positive thinking; needless to say, my strength in both of these areas has been ultimately tested. One cool thing, is the not knowing what the result will be to any action does make for an exciting life … because you truly never know what will happen. Some bad results, some results are that are delayed because you are in traffic caused by cows, donkeys or camels in the road some results that require your most creative thinking, some extremely frustrating results (I cannot even begin to explain how frustrating!), and some positive results you never could imagine. This applies both to work and life outside of work.
After six months of working here I am FINALLY starting to get into a groove. Before I came here, a senior officer at my company told me that it would be at least a year before you will make any real contributions. That typically, when you work abroad, the first year will be consumed with understanding processes and people. Some days it still feels like I just got here but my job is getting better everyday.
My goal everyday is to become more patient, positive and productive as I continue to merge myself into the Indian way of doing things. It’s obviously impossible to not compare things to the U.S. (although I am trying to become more cognizant of this natural reaction and minimize it), because everything that I know up until this point in my life is working in the U.S. Of course, the last thing I want to do is say … “In the U.S. it was like this” over and over. You know how it is when a new person starts at your company and all they say is “At X-Company this, and at X-Company we did this”. That is not only extremely annoying but in my case when you are comparing the differences of your countries instead of your current and previous company it can potentially alienate you from the rest of your team. This is something that I have made a special point to really limit. With that being said, there are still those rare occasions that I can’t help … “how could this possibly happen?" Why aren’t I getting even a close result that should naturally be the next step to the action I just took? And then someone ALWAYS responds “Welcome to India Traci” ..."Oh yeah thanks, I forgot. Glad to be here!"