9/8/05 Off-shore Training

I happen to be one among those who were fortunate enough to land up at foreign shores for summer internship. My motto was very simple – to use this short period as a litmus test for whether I can stay away from India for higher studies or for a job. That I was in USA was even better because most of the coveted graduate schools are dotted all over this country, and I couldn’t have got a better chance to get a hang of Uncle Sam and its work culture.

The first couple of weeks were all about marveling at the amazingly superior ubiquitous infrastructure, sparkling clean roads, disciplined traffic and the pleasant weather. It was pretty remarkable to see technology put to effective use, right from opening doors automatically, to using a credit-card to pay the taxi-fare. Staying in a carpeted apartment with everything from a refrigerator to a microwave and from 24×7 hot water supply to high speed internet; there was no room for complaints. Working for a company made it all the better – more facilities at your fingertips. Having a personal cabin with a 1GB RAM, 3.2 GHz computer and a phone, couple of fridges in the kitchen nearby, stocked with unlimited supplies of drinks and food, and a rental car at your disposal, you feel motivated to work hard!

If there’s something that stands out, then it’s got to be the honesty and integrity of the people around there. I won’t grumble about the murky politics and corruption in India, but we would certainly go a long way if we worked with a clearer conscience. The informal culture, helps in breaking the ice and creates a comfortable environment to work in. You feel a personal bonding if you can talk to your mentor/ advisor/manager about anything under the sun. Its also heartening to see the unparalleled effort that your advisor puts in with you at work. The concept of a 5- day working week keeps you enthusiastic all through.

On the flipside, it can sometimes be inconvenient to do all the cleaning up and cooking by yourself. Manual labour comes at a huge premium, which only the very affluent can afford. Food is also one of the problems for vegetarians, although if you’re a decent cook, it’ll be better if you hoard supplies for a week and feed yourself. A more serious problem is probably the social life or rather the lack of it. The fact that you’re thousands of miles away from home doesn’t help psychologically.

I would define Utopia as an American salary to go along with an Indian family at home.

- Chintan Thakkar

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