Worker Efficiencies in India

By: sachilefever on April 6, 2006 - 1:20am

Worker Efficiencies in India Originally uploaded by sachilefever_twinf.

One of the obvious contrasts to India, here in Bangkok, seems to be the efficiency of least in larger businesses than a family run food stall. Yesterday we walked by two men laying down a pipe in a small ditch across a road and then cementing it over. Two hours later the job was complete. In India, it would have taken at least eight men and several days.

One example is when we arrived at the domestic airport in Delhi, there were, I counted them twice, 15 baggage handlers waiting for our plane of 120 passengers. I'm not sure what they all did. I wish we were allowed to take pictures of their airports.

On a similar flight with 11 baggage handlers loading the plane, I watched one guy throw a bag on the conveyor belt and press a button to watch the single bag ride alone to the top. Then he threw a second bag on...Five others were squatting in the baggage carts watching him do this until a supervisor came up and scolded them. The scene was very entertaining.

At each hotel reception desk, five people check in one reservation at a time. Each of the five seem to find a time to point at the paperwork and mumble something before the transaction is complete.

We passed a gas station in Delhi that had 3-4 uniformed attendants for each of the 4 gas pumps.

I'm not sure if it's a statement about the low cost of labor or inefficiencies of service or a motivation to employ as many people as possible in the country, but it seemed to be the way of doing business everywhere we went. Again, I qualify my statements by saying this doesn't apply to small entrepreneurial shops and stalls, which were almost too efficient, never giving you enough time to count your change.

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More Malaise in Delhi

By: leelefever on March 26, 2006 - 4:39am

More Malaise in Dehli, originally uploaded by LeeLeFever_TwinF.

Yesterday, we had one big goal - to take our sick butts back to Delhi, where we have a hotel room for two nights where we planned to recharge before heading north. We took some Immodium and hoped for the best for the 4 hour journey from Jaipur.

Since the ride, I've been better, but Sachi, not so much. She isn't deathly ill, but goes to the bathroom every hour or so and sometimes runs a fever. She's been in bed since yesterday and I've spent a good portion of my time there too.

Fortunately, the hotel (Nirula's in Connaught Place) is nice and has cable TV, and a couple of English channels, including HBO (edited and with commercials). We've seen commercials for a car called a Xeta approximately 2000 times. Many commercials seem to speak Hinglish - Hindi and English. One, for "Anti-aging" motor oil has a catchy jingle at the end that, the best I can tell sings "Magic Anti-Aging...Jah Boo-jah Boo".

There are a few Indian music video channels that seem to play the same 4 songs over and over (much like home). Apparently synchronized dancing is a required element of any Indian video. That, and a duet with a hot female with an extremely high voice that may or may not be the actual singer.

The movies have been a mixed bag, but when there's no choice and inaction is a requirement, Problem Child 2 or Anaconda can pass the time quite nicely. We were excited to catch Shaun of the Dead last night, followed up by Ray and Men in Black. I fell asleep to Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, which I wish I could have Tivo'd. Today we saw Indentity with John Cusack and the kid movie Matilda.

It's looking like we may hang out here for a couple of days to recover fully. Maybe we'll pick up a little Hindi or learn a few dance moves, to be practiced on the way to the bathroom.

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Authenticity and Tourism in India

By: leelefever on March 23, 2006 - 8:55am

We've been discussing the authenticity of tourism and how we negotiate what is real and what is pseudo-real.

The picture above is a scene we saw twice today outside of very tourist places. It is a man and boy, performing a Rajasthani folk dance, dressed in the traditional garb.

Their business is posing for pictures in exchange for a tip.

It's interesting to see, but I don't necessarily think it's something that makes me feel like I'm experiencing an authentic part of Indian culture. Being so bombarded with all things touristy, I get a bad taste in my mouth about the cheapening nature of goods and performances designed for the tourist audience. Over time, it is easy to start feeling that anything "for tourists" is inauthentic and not interesting to me. Lately I wonder if I'm missing something because I've become skeptical or even cynical about what represents an authentic article vs. another well dressed scheme to help tourists depart with their money.

The more places we go, the easier it gets to seperate the wheat from the chaff. Doing the tourist things is an inevitable and important part of the trip, but a little skepticism can be healthy, so long as it doesn't become complete disenchantment.

As an alternative, we seek out things like the Mumbai train station, which is as real as it gets. Also we saw the Taj Mahal today and it is surely the authentic article. Live and learn I suppose, live and learn.

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Gluttons for Punishment in India

By: leelefever on March 22, 2006 - 6:06am

I'm not sure whether to say I'm amazed, bewildered, upset or fascinated by the way things work in India.

The difference between home and here is so great and there so many examples that it's hard to describe it except in huge generalities, but here's one example...

After planning a 4 day trip with a driver, we backed out after 1 day. Despite multiple email and phone confirmations, we found out at 5pm that we had no room reserved for tonight. I asked the driver this morning about the hotel and found it was impossible to communicate with him (again, despite confirming an English speaking driver). So, being fed up, we cancelled the whole trip and started over from square one.

We found a hotel and booked a new driver through a gov't tourist office within an hour. The guy above was a huge and honest help and we are now set for the next few days.

Oh and despite everything, we changed our flight to have an extra week in India (now leaving April 2nd). We're gluttons for punishment I guess.

Today reminded us of two things: how luxurious it was to stay with Dina in Mumbai and yes Sandra, where the hell is Mervyn when you need him?

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