Two Months in India, A Retrospective

Over the past two months I’ve had some incredible adventures (and many more to come). Some of the adventures I’ve talked about here, but so many things are too small, insignificant, to mention in their very own post. So this post is a collection of small, insignificant, things. Which are not altogether small or insignificant.

Bees. We had ‘some’ bees take up residence in the unoccupied apartment next to us. Not the nice friendly bees you get in NZ, nope, these are aggressive, mean bees. Over the course of a few days, they were thoroughly doused in poison, then the honeycomb chipped off and thrown out.

Angry bees

We had pigeons on the balcony, nesting. The eggs hatched, we had baby pigeons, which are the most alien, ugly creatures imaginable. They got bigger. They started squealing and chasing their parents around looking for food. The started flapping their wings and looking longingly off the balcony. One successfully launched its flying career, and we awaited the other. Then…. murder most horrid! One morning a headless baby pigeon was discovered, an explosion of feathers, blood streaked white tiles, and a eerie silence. Came home after lunch and found all that remained was the blood and feathers… the body of the pigeon had disappeared.

Baby pigeons are terribly ugly creatures.

After a bit of Googling, we decided one of the local birds of prey had found the squawking youngster and killed it, eaten the head (apparently their favourite bit), and then came back later and retrieved the body for dinner. Nature is vicious.

Work. It’s going well. The team has really integrated, helping each other out, training each other as they go.  I have struggled with the constant breakdowns in processes but from experience, I know that once you fix one thing, it shows the weakness in another. It’s not unlike replacing a part in a car- the addition of a shiny new part will place another worn part under stress, causing it to breakdown. There are some good systems and processes in place now and with further work, I have no doubt we can continue to produce excellent work. The hardest thing has been (and will continue to be) communication. Between the staff and myself, between Christchurch and India. It’s so important to have that in any business, but when head office and the boss is so far away, I’ve had to rethink how I do things. I miss sitting in my office and being able to yell into the office next door to talk to the boss. I miss being able to sit and talk problems and issues through, to brainstorm solutions together. It’s not been easy and many evenings have been spent brainstorming solutions, or Googling how to fix problems I never thought I’d have.

Work has always been a big part of my life and I enjoy it. Over here is no different, I still love finding issues and resolving them, I like being busy and running around with my hair on fire (metaphorically). And I really like being able to manage a slick team that produces excellent results, yet still allowing them to grow as individuals too. It’s hard work but we are making real progress.

Tandem NZ team as of today!

Demonetisation. On the 8th November, Modi (India’s Prime Minister) announced that 500 and 1000 (about $10 and $20 NZD) rupee notes were no longer money. That’s right, 86% of the cash in a cash-based country of 1.2 BILLION people, was rendered less useful than Monopoly money overnight. There was a new 500 rupee note that was *almost* printed, and a new Rs. 2000 note to replace the Rs. 1000. However the 2000 note was too big for ATM’s, and because the next biggest note is a Rs 100, you can’t spend it anyway, no-one has change. The country was given till the end of November to exchange their old notes (Rs. 4000 at a time maximum) or up until end of December to deposit their cash in a bank account. Estimations of how many Indians have bank accounts range from 40% to 60% of the population. You can imagine the queues, the chaos. I queued for two hours one Saturday and changed Rs. 4000, and then four days later they dropped the limit to Rs. 2000 and you could only exchange money once. The ATM limit was also lowered to Rs. 2000 (reminder that’s about NZD$40) and my overseas transaction fees are about a quarter of that.

The reason behind the move is to destroy the money black market, to stop the Government’s opposition party from using dirty money to buy the next election, and to bring India’s currency back in the country. Roughly.

The result of this has been absolute chaos. A lot of the truly poor are illiterate and didn’t understand the money could be exchanged. People killed themselves thinking they had nothing left. The queues in some centres were ridiculously long, and people died from exhaustion, literally died standing in queues. The constant rule-changing meant a lot of gossip and panic. However throughout it all, most people have been remarkably compliant. People have helped each other out. Asking me if I needed cash (I did get fairly low there for a while), if someone had change, swapping it for big notes for others. I’ve seen a lot of kindness over the past few weeks.

Anyway, current situation, I have cash, all is OK, and I think India will sort itself out by the end of the year. Before the next utterly crazy thing happens.

I’m RICH!… In an Indian way.

My everyday life is good… the food is amazing… the people incredible. I’ve made a few friends over here, most notably an Aussie traveler and a local Indian family. I’m well cared for by them and the wider community. More adventures with them coming up over the next few weeks!

To finish; here’s something I regularly see on the streets- dead rats. This one was dropped down a hole and got stuck, leaving me with this view. Made me chuckle.

Rattus inahole-us

5 thoughts on “Two Months in India, A Retrospective

  1. Really interesting to read Paula. You are inspiring in your fearlessness and how you get knocked down but get up again, take on new challenges and encourage others to do the same. I look forward to reading more. love and hugs

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