Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Super Paper Boy

Since the hotel only has one desk, which is dominated by my hubby's laptop, etc, I am using a glass coffee table as my desk. And, I moved it close to the window, so that I can do people watching while I wait for Farmville to load up, etc :)
Anyway, throughout the day, I was hearing several people passing by on bicycles calling "Paper, paper" (well, actually it sounds more like peeeehpat, but anyway...  I thought they were selling papers at first, but the closer I looked the more I realized that they were up to something else.

So, one day I decided to watch one boy more closely. Luckily someone from the house opposite from our hotel called him over. Apparently those are the people collecting the unneeded paper goods. This particular boy, who looked like he might be 14 or something, went into the gate. The guy started to drag lots of cardboard from the house onto the ground in front of him. He very efficiently started to fold them. There were at least 20 or so boxes, but this boy accomplished the folding in less than 3 mins. I know how hard it is to fold cardboard, but I could tell that he was professional!

He also separated the plastic bags very efficiently. He loaded a pile of plastic bags first to his bike and put them into one of the bags that were hanging on the side of his bike. Then he loaded a pile of folded cardboard on the backside of his bike - again very efficiently tied them down on the bike. The whole thing only took him about 5-6 minutes.  And he paid some money to the guy (or at least I think he was) and took off.  I guess he will go somewhere and sell the cardboard for more money. I wonder what the margin is like :)

I felt like a paparacci, but I had to capture this super paper boy. :-)
I was SOOOO impressed. I think some IT companies can definitely hire someone like that to streamline some of the processes :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Food cheap, Alcohol EXPENSIVE!

There seem to be a bunch of cheap restaurants here, which unfortunately I have not been to yet, but even at fancy restaurants on 100ft Road in Indiranagar, food dishes are relatively cheap compared to alcohol. Yesterday we went to a restaurant called Sunny's, which we thought was one of the best restaurants so far in Bangalore. Ambiance was good, service was better than usual, and food was excellent. Anyway, even at famous restaurant like Sunny's, most of the dishes range between 150 and 400 Rupees (maybe except some seafood dishes). It means, you can fill yourself up with nice meal for $3 to $8!  BUT, if you drink, it is another story. Alcohol is expensive. An imported glass of red was approx 500 Rupees (like $10). So, if you drink two glasses of wine, you end up adding $20 to your bill.  Boom!

On the topic of alcohol, till I came to India, I always thought the alcohol was a big no-no here. But, I found out that quite many people actually drink. According to this article, nearly 30-35% of adult men and 5% of women are regular consumers of alcohol in India. And, the youngest age allowed to consume alcohol has changed from 28 in 1980 to 18 in 2010. And, according to this article, in the state of Kerala, it was 14 in 1994!  

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sidewalks that people cannnot walk

Here in Bangalore, you would immediately notice that lots of sidewalks are either torn up or dug up. It looks as if a massive earthquake hit only the sidewalks. It's sad since the sidewalks are there, but people cannot use them. Most people end up walking 10cm away from the running car on the street... :(

We are currently staying in the area called Indiranagar, which is a hip and up-coming part of Bangalore. If I would map Bangalore to LA, Indiranagar is like Melrose of Bangalore. There are lots of hip and nice restaurants and stores (and rather youngish).

BUT!!.... What's significantly different from Melrose is that the scenery in front of stores is not that nice. All the sidewalks are torn up, and there is garbage here and there.

Only If, ONLY IF the government can spend a little bit more effort to fix the sidewalks and do something about the garbage, Indiranagar would become perfectly beautiful. I wonder if there are any foundations or organizations supporting such efforts here in Bangalore. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

48 hr/wk working time

Here in India, most people work on Saturdays just like we used to work on Saturdays in Japan. I remember going to school on Saturdays (only half a day), but it was a standard until the government changed it to be every other Saturday some time in the mid 1970's. And I think it was in the 1980's, all schools, public services, and companies adopted the 5 working day system due to the pressure from OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and ILO (International Labor Organization) that were regulating the max hours per week to be less than 48 hrs/week.

I found a recent report by OECD about working hours in each country and found it rather interesting. 
According to this article, Mexico has the longest working hours of 9.9 hrs/day doing paid or unpaid work. The unpaid work which mainly is the housework (such as cooking, cleaning, caring, and shopping), it sort of makes sense. If you only take a look at paid work hours, Japan comes in first, and India seems to be 7th out of 29 countries.

I am not sure how they gathered the data, and certainly it is interesting to realize that the US only came in 8th or so in terms of paid work hours. Why? Because I know how much Americans work, especially in the IT industry and startups. In the past, my American boss's email typically started to come in around 5am and stopped around midnight. Certainly working long hours does not mean that productivity is high, but as business becomes more global and 24-hour business flow becomes an essential factor for most of the companies, it was inevitable that the managers at global companies end up working long hours. After all, it is a job, which is a part of our lives. But yet, we all need to find the way to balance work and private life. Maybe yoga before going to work, 15 or so mins of meditation in the evening, etc (okay... these are on my wishlist ^^).

Anyway, I've been watching this man (well, I can see him no matter what, because he is right outside of the window of our hotel) for a while now.... Literally everyday, he has these wonderful of napping hourS.  Boy wouldn't it be nice to take a nap and get paid?  Maybe the manager can plan better to utilize his time a bit better, too (maybe giving him a bit more challenging work??). 

Started Japanese blog about India as well

If you can read Japanese, please also visit my Japanese blog about our lives in India.  I will focus around the themes that are familiar to Japanese or relevant to Japanese culture.

Have fun reading :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lanes not being lanes :)

There is a good reason why people take time to draw lines to make lanes on the road. Lanes are there in conjunction with certain rules such as one car per lane in order to produce a better combination of travel safety and efficiency. And, it certainly minimizes the head-on collisions which were a part of the reasons why lanes were invented.

Here in Bangalore, too, most roads have lanes. But what's different from other countries like the US and Japan is that people completely ignore the lanes. Actually it might be better to say that they seem to consider a line dividing the lanes to be another lane. So, if you have one lane dividing a road into two, people consider it as a three lane street (^^)v

And on top of that, there are so many motorcycles and auto rickshaws (which are smaller than normal cars), they squeeze into whatever the space available on the road. So, if there are two lanes, people consider it as three lanes, and every single open space among these lanes would be occupied by motorcycles and auto rickshaws.  It probably would look pretty (like a mosaic) if you took a satellite picture of Bangalore streets.

Anyway, it is mainly the reason why people honk all the time, as you cannot really see what's behind you on the side mirrors.  Honking is considered to be a friendly precaution to let other drivers know where your car is.

One thing I noticed is that most of the auto rickshaws turn their engines off at the intersection when the light is red. You can pretty much enjoy the moment of "quietness" (note that the honking on the cross road continues) for a while, and then right before the light turns green, the engines and honkings start as if everyone is going on a race or something. The sound is not that unpleasant, though. It pretty much reminds me of the philharmonic members tuning their instruments before the concert. It is actually musical :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wow! We are finally here!

If you were reading my blog about our lives in the Czech Republic, you know by now that we took off for our new adventure land. The "adventure land" turned out to be India this time!  It is so surreal to be here, and especially so in Bangalore, as I used to talk with guys here at least twice a week when I worked for Yahoo! in the US. Now that I am here, I can tell why I was hearing lots of honking and other noises in the background during the conf call. :-)

India was one of the countries that I always (literally always) wanted to visit, but I never thought I would be living here to be honest. I can already tell it will be an interesting and exciting experience.

So, India.... I always had certain images ever since I was a little kid. The images were coming from the book that I read when I was maybe 8 yrs old or so. We used to get a record book (colorfully pictured hardcover story book with a record that had an audio reading of the story) every month.  As a kid, I always looked forward receiving the record book my mom subscribed for me and my sis. In one of the books, there was a story about "Sambo".  I know, I know, it became so contraversial later on, but as a kid I really enjoyed the story. My image of India pretty much came from the story: sunny, hot, bright, lots of greens, tropical, lots of animals, coconut trees, soiled ground, kids running around with bare feet, family bonding, friendly, fun, and exciting!

So my interest in India continued throughout my school years, and I even had a penpal (okay, this is way before Internet was available) in New Delhi. I forgot his name already, but we exchanged letters for about 2 years.  By then, my image of India changed to more metropolitan yet laid back but stayed sunny, bright, coconut trees, tropical, friendly, fun, and exciting.

And later as an adult when I talked with people here in Bangalore, I had to somehow adjust my images of India again. Busy, techy, noisy, just like other developed countries.

Although I have only been here for 2 weeks, life here seem to be into something. I have not yet figured it out, but I am looking forward to finding out more as time goes by. I would like to use this blog to share my learning experience with all of you. So stay tuned and come back again soon.