Monday 5 December 2011

Incredible India: Incredible Dissatisfaction

Water wasters

A long eventful day it was for my first training day. My day schedule indicated I was to be picked up at 8:45AM in the morning for the training centre but I had set my alarm for 7:00AM to ensure I could have a shave and what passes for breakfast at the inn.

We are encouraged to waste in an unconventional way because the hot water is only available in the mornings and evenings except on Sundays when we have it for the whole day.

The hot water is not on the tap per se, we have to let the water run down the drain for nigh on 10 minutes before it gets warm enough for our cossetted sense of welfare. Then my bathroom sink drain had no plug, a problem that was solved with a bit of improvisation – tissue, but hardly water tight – I have to pinch myself with the realisation, I am far from the comforts of my land.

Rather than wash from a bucket like I did before, I decided to use the shower this time, I probably saved more water with that.

Peanuts don’t taste like pistachios

Trainees usually get picked up at 8:10AM, I first spoke to the concierge who muttered incoherently unsure of what information I needed and I went for breakfast. I decided to get on the 8:10AM taxi about the time the concierge asked the driver about the later pickup. The driver asked to see my letter, read it as if he comprehended it then gave me back the letter without a word.

I concluded, the many task-driven men around could only follow clear instructions, they had no aptitude for initiative, the most they could offer was an apology, sometimes the genuflection of the Indian nodding head and not much else.

There was no point expecting the epitome of professional dispatch and alacrity, so I rode with that early group to the centre.

A penalty of expression

We were sat at the reception for a while before we were called into a room to start the registration process, though none of the staff for almost another 20 minutes suggested why we were there.

As the silence got deafening, it got too unbearable for me, so I broke the ice speaking out and prompting those gathered round to introduce themselves, then everyone got talking which made for the passage of time before the staff brought in forms and more forms to fill in.

I was surprised that the extra days trainees stayed before or after training were listed as penalties, a topic that never came up when the original arrangements were made, I will suppose it was more a deficit of language on their part than anything else.

It was just unacceptable

The back page had questions about the arrangements for airport meetings and other issues. It gave me the opportunity to excoriate the process that allowed for passengers on the same flight to receive two different sets of instructions which lead to my having to wait another 70 minutes after seeing the driver who came to pick me up.

As the manager tried to belittle the situation, I forcefully made it clear that it was untenable, appalling and an outrage that such a simple arrangement could be so utterly mishandled that it would weigh heavily on my assessment of the arrangements around the course. I stated that the many issues I have will appear on my blog.

After that discussion, I was allocated a training room in another building and I was surprised to find I was the only trainee with the luxury of one-to-one training – I had felt a group will make for more interaction – I cannot say I have appreciated the full benefit of this arrangement yet.

A sick bag almost utilised

After introductions, we went through the schedule of the training scheme and began to work on the subjects.

Meanwhile, I had to book lunch on the management system and I was in shock that brought me close to severe emetic tolerance when the drop-down menu revealed such exquisite restaurants as McDonalds, Subway and Dominoes amongst others.

At the risk of snobbery most unintended, I gave the trainer a synopsis of my background that tailed off with the phrase, “… we don’t do McDonalds.”

These are places where even if one did have a pet, such will not be found masticating those substances pretending to nutrition and I did not travel 6,300km to India to end up in such places.

On advice, beside the training centre was a vegetarian buffet offering varieties of cuisine, though there were security checks at the door – with the help of my trainer, I found out what to do and had vegetarian sandwiches for lunch.

One expects

In all, the day was productive and useful; I gained knowledge of many things whilst at the same time I was able to share some of my experience. I would have had a coffee but the setting of the coffee machine was so foul that I gave that a miss; one will surely remonstrate on the morrow about the condition of that place.

For all the equality, egalitarianism and affordability taking courses in India offers, there are areas where the apparent excess of men to perform seemingly menial tasks has not been efficiently deployed. Such minutiae should not become a distraction bordering on regret and so amends will be expected to be made.

After training, I made arrangements to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra in two Sundays time and on returning to our inn, we first had room service of a roll of bread and a cup of soup and then managed the dinner which was barely edible but for the good company the setting provided.

I have decided I will not apologise for being so Europeanised in my outlook, if one expects, it is not vexatious to demand essential change.

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