Saturday, October 18, 2014

National Integration

After coming to Chennai, one thing that surprised me is the large number of North Indians working in Chennai.  They are in the IT industry, medical profession, but majority are in the low paying jobs.  Like restaurant workers, service apartment workers, sales girls/guys in retail shops, etc.
Several years ago, the traffic movement was only one way.  Educated and uneducated laborers will migrate from South to Bombay and Delhi.  In addition, every South Indian family will go to Bombay, Delhi, and Agra for sightseeing.  But very few (very rarely) North Indians visited Chennai or any city.  One exception was older North Indians making pilgrimage visit to Sri Rangam and Rameshwaram.  Also, a few of them were brave enough to open business and settle here.
There was a general perception that North Indians never considered the 4 Southern states as part of India.  Our history books also did not do a good job.  It contained details of North Indian freedom fighters only. No mention of any South Indian freedom fighters.  In the South, many streets were named after North Indian leaders.  Not a single street was named in the North after any South Indian leaders.  Later, in New Delhi, they named one or two (due to pressure from Southern politicians.)
I am not complaining.  I am just giving the background and would like to say the current situation works great for national integration. I know a few Tamil families in New Delhi who are now 4th or 5th generation.  They carry only Tamil names but all their living style, including the language they speak at home, is that of a Delhi-wala.
In about 10 to 15 years, the same thing will happen in Chennai and other Southern cities where North Indians will settle comfortably.  Majority of North Indians in Chennai may be low paid laborers now.  But very soon their kids will become doctors, IT professionals, etc. and live here with family very happily.  Lot of their relatives will visit them here.  (Couple of guys in a restaurant told me they are from Bangladesh.  Wonder how they obtained work visa.)
I would call this true national Integration.  What do you say?
PS:  If you are going to work in a place, it is better to learn the local language and local customs.  I saw in Chennai many North Indian workers speak Tamil or trying to speak Tamil sincerely.  But a few of these workers insist on speaking Hindi only.  If this is their attitude they will not survive for a long time.  People in New Delhi do not want a Madarasi waiter in a restaurant speaking to them in Tamil.  Same situation in Chennai also.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chennai – Few First Impressions

We have been in Chennai for almost a month.  We have never lived in Chennai, or for that matter in India, as an adult.  Visited many times and stayed at hotels and the homes of relatives.  This is our first experience of “living” here.
Since our stay here will be a short one – 6 months to a year only – we wanted to rent a fully furnished flat.  But it is very difficult.  Lot of people advertise as “furnished” and in reality it is not.  We finally found a “almost” furnished flat and rented it for 11 months.  (I don’t know why 11 months instead of a year.  But works out to our advantage.)
On the whole it is not all bad.  We do like a lot of things.  Here are some:
Milk is more tastier than USA.  I don’t know the reason.  In USA, milk is cow’s milk.  I don’t know about the Aavin milk in Chennai.  Is this also cow’s milk?  May be some Chennai friend can tell me.
Movie theaters in the malls are far superior to movie theaters in USA.  Neat, nice, and plush seats.  Great sound quality.
Vegetables are very tasty and fresh compared to USA.  The sellers even give free kariveppilai (Curry leaves).  I am amazed they give almost half of the tree.
Can rent an air conditioned Indica car for 4 hours for Rs.650.  Coming from USA, that is very cheap.  An air conditioned car with a driver and gas (petrol) for 4 hours is only around $10!
So many restaurants – we are enjoying eating out.
Of course, there are some things that we are not that much thrilled.
Too hot and air conditioners are not working due to some voltage problem.
If someone says he/she will be here in a few minutes, that means it will be a minimum of 2 hours before that person shows up.
In the stores in USA, if you do not find an item you want and it is not available, the sales person will tell you which store carries that item, even if that store is a competitor. Here the sales person’s reply is the same always in any store: I don’t know.  (I even asked a few people “you don’t even know where your competitor is located?”. “No Sir”.)
(Side bar.  Bill Gates wants all his Microsoft sales people to even know the birthdays of all their competitors and their family members.  That much thorough.)
We never had a servant maid in our home so far.  This is the first time.  Learnt a valuable lesson.  Do not have conversation with the spouse when the maid is present.  She has the habit of joining the conversation.  So we keep quite until she leaves.
I realize I am slowly becoming a rude person.  I am always polite and courteous to servants, delivery guys, sales people, taxi and auto drivers.  The problem is if you are polite and courteous, they think you can be cheated very easily.
More good things to come.