My time is nearly up here, but the adventure seems to only be beginning. I had a lot of concerns about coming out to India for this project, many people have spoke quite negatively about working with Indian vendors, including even many Indians I spoke with. Some of the challenges were there when we started, but we found ways to work around them, and create a unique dynamic that seems to be working. Check out the office…
Business and money aside, I was very honored that they would think about inviting me to their hometown of Tirupati. This weekend is Diwali, the biggest festival in India, and everyone gets together with their families to celebrate the festival of lights. I grew up participating in dances at the Diwali function in Kalamazoo, much to my displeasure and my mothers amusement of forcing me to wear strange costumes, and involve myself in silly dance moves on stage while hundreds of Indians in the audiences clapped and whistled to their favorite songs.
At the time I was petrified of the whole thing, imagining what my American friends would say if they saw me like that, but today I am thankful I was forced to do it. Now, instead of wearing a costume, practicing dance moves for months, collecting a trophy and hiding any picture/video that could tie me to such an event, I am going to be joining 30,000 daily pilgrims along with the 5 founding members of my partnering company to one of the most beautiful parts of India to celebrate it in a small town with the local people. It should be a wild experience, and I am trying to prepare myself to adjust to any situation that might present itself to me, as every day is going to be something brand new for me.
I am anxious to meet the families of the men I work with. They have been raised to be outstanding gentleman, who truly care about each other and show a level of friendship which we do not see too often in the US. They all are roommates, business partners, and best friends, and I have felt the extension of this friendship through this thoughtful gesture of inviting me to Tirupati. It was nice enough for them to invite me to play on their cricket team. The 6 of us are usually good for 1 or 2 jokes each day, which really makes the environment in the office fun. I brought some trail mix to the office yesterday, which my mom had brought from the US. I offered this to a few people, saw a favorable response to the new food, and decided to walk around and offer some of the snack to the 20 some people in the office. It was damn amusing to see their reactions to the various mix or nuts, fruits and candy. One of the larger men in the office got the biggest laugh when he snatched the bag away from my hands when I offered him a handful. I finally had to tell him that he could get sick from too much trail mix, so that I could get some of the bag back. A mild mannered and entertaining fellow, he had the entire office hysterical with laughter at the time. I have noticed that remarks about peoples weight in the office is not offensive here, as its usually he first observation someone makes about you when meeting.
I have a pretty clever Diwali gift up my sleeve for the office, which I am working on getting. The season is very similar to Christmas, as many people exchange presents with friends and families. This morning, to start the celebration in the office, we had a pooja. The people in the office welcomed me to participate in the tradition, and I was given my first red dot on the forehead, drank coconut water, and was showered with flower petals on my hair. Very interesting way to spend a Monday morning in the office. They seemed thankful that I joined them without any hesitation. Enjoy the pictures coming soon….
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