Friday, June 08, 2007

The Interview Meme

It took me a week, but I have finally completed the Interview Meme! Here are the rules if you want to play along:

1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me"
2. I will respond by emailing you questions. I get to pick the questions
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
My interviewer is Sank, from Twin Cities, Minnesota. He's been one of the first regular visitors of my blog; check out his excellent blog Old And In The Way. Thanks for the questions, Sank!

Q> The Great Indian Software story, as you refer to it on your profile was no accident. I believe it was the result of a cultural reverence for education, a long standing policy of self sufficiency which fostered an entrepreneurial sprit, and, clearly, proficiency in the English language, which enabled Indian engineers to avoid the language gap to doing business in the west. As the economies of our two nations become more entwined, a previously small and quiet Indian community in the United States is starting become players in the American Cultural Stew. Many Indians I work with find themselves torn between our two cultures, the familiar, family, and spiritual aspects of living in India, vs. the consumer oriented, far less crowded, “free” society in the United States, where they can do what ever they want. As a fellow who’s lived in both, how did you reconcile and what continues to draw you back to India? What tempts you about America?

In addition to the things you have listed, a number of things worked in India’s favor, and ironically many of them were of positive side-effects of not-so-happy circumstances:

1. Population: Even if 5% of our population is highly educated and can compete globally, in absolute numbers this is large enough to dwarf those of many other countries.

2. British Rule: English was institutionalized in this country during this time and went on to work in our advantage.

3. Quality of Life: I believe you work harder, when you can know the alternative isn’t very pleasant. All over the country, I think the focus on children’s education, etc., is much higher among the lower and middle classes who want their children to lead a better life than they did. Also people - especially those in rural areas- began having more access to information thanks to the widespread penetration of television during the 70s; they could make more informed choices for themselves and for their children.

And finally, the world became flat, to use Thomas Friedman’s now famous phrase! Which means, Indians could now compete globally for work, without leaving the country.

Re: What draws me back to India. For me it is clearly my extended family, and the unique sense of being at home (the festivals, the sounds, the smells, the crowds, and everything else that is familiar and difficult to define)

Re: USA. USA is like a second home to me (especially Durham, North Carolina where I and my wife lived for a few years before our marriage). Everyday life is far simpler and predictable in the US, the large outdoors where you can lose yourselves (not possible in India, you will run into people everywhere!), and of course, in the US I could - like you - have owned a boat too!

Q> Values- as a parent, what are the most important values that you want to pass along to your daughter? What would tell her to be careful of in the New India?

The primary values I would like to pass on to my daughter are concern for others, the value of hard work, and being independent. New India is trying to assimilate western values such as individualism & independence, while continuing to keep traditional ones such as respect for elders, being responsible for your family & community (and being interdependent). I think we need to be careful about not completely discarding one set of value systems for the other.

Q> The Hindu faith is one of the world’s great religions and philosophic systems. It’s also completely misunderstood in the United States. If you had to tell someone with no exposure about the tenants of religion while standing on one foot holding a match, what would say? This is question which came up in Judaism hundreds of years ago. After you answer I’ll give you mine…

The key tenets of Hinduism to me is about believing that:

· All life is sacred.
· All individuals create their own destiny through their thoughts, words and action.
· Divine beings exist in unseen worlds; temples and rituals create a communion with God.
· No religion provides the only way to salvation above others, and that all paths lead to God.

Q> You could be among the most widely traveled people I know. List your one top city for each of the following; business travel, family travel, cuisine, resort life and shopping, theatre, adult stuff..

The Bay Area and Houston for business travel (familiarity and therefore needs minimal planning);

Orla ndo and Florida in general for family travel (we love this place and have a lot of good memories from previous trips); this also is our top resort choice, mostly because our daughter has veto power!

For cuisine, I would say Singapore where you can sample the best the East and the West have to offer.

I am not a great shopper, but my wife would vote for Singapore.

For theater and the rest: Thus far, I would say Las Vegas. But then (strangely enough) I haven't visited New York City yet!

Q> What do you tell a young Indian collage graduate about to embark to the United States for his first gig as Tata consultant (or any other gig) about working and living in this country. What does he need to do to fit in and also enjoy himself?

Basic advice: Speak up more, don’t try to depend on non-verbal communication (they won’t be understood); and explain the difference in the concept of personal space (e.g in queues, knocking before entering cubicles, etc.). For those who want to stay longer and fit in: You need to socialize more outside of the Indian-American community; try the local food and make an effort to understand more about the country you live in.


Yuri said...

For theater and the .. the rest. nicely (and safely) put may i add

mrsnesbitt said...

OK, in for a penny.....
Interview me


Bhavesh said...

Damn, I would ve liked to take this quiz, but I also like the anonimity that blogger provides me with. Better option , will drop you a mail.. Am really curious!

Bhavesh said...

liked that comment on the advise for ppl like me who are going on the so called onsite for the first time.. I do hope that the experience opens multiple doors and perspectives and I do intend to move out of the block of just socializing with the Indian Community as well..

Unknown said...

Hey, I am interested. Interview me!