My Indian passport!

Hi Everyone

Today I came home from another fantastic nice trip to India! In one hectic week I have been in Mumbai, Goa, Mysore and Pune. More about that in upcoming blog posts. When I checked my post box I got a big surprise. It was an Indian passport there! With my name on it. Ok well, I have been in India a number of times in the last few years, but never applied for an Indian passport. Maybe this is some new Indian bureaucracy rule? If you have been in the country more than x number of days over the last few years you are granted a passport. Is it like that? Any suggestions would be very welcome. It was surely a nice end to the trip and a good start for the next month.

indian-passport

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Talking about IT outsourcing at Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Hi Everyone

Yesterday I was invited to do a presentation about IT outsourcing at the Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI). First of all I must very much thank Mr. Trond Skundberg who invited me to do this speech with him. I must also thank Madhukar Rohatgi and Lars Børre Hasle at NICCI for putting this together. Trond is an India veteran with more than 10 years experience from the country so he had a lot of interesting thoughts to share regarding that.

On my part, I mostly talked about culture, and the importance of understanding the people you work with when you work across cultures. This is a topic I have talked about a number of times before. The more I talk about it the more interesting the topic is. Luckily there were a number of people in the crowd who have a lot of experience by working in both India and Norway. This made the discussion really good and I could also learn quite a lot from it. Thanks a lot to all of you who contributed!

You can see the whole presentation here

NICCI presentasjon

Talk to you soon

Karsten

Kumbh Mela pictures

Hi Everyone

Some time ago I wrote about Kumbh Mela, the largest Hindu, and possibly even religious festival in the world. As I wrote that time, the festival will be this February. It has actually started now.

My very good friend Kaayy See have been there and he have taken these pictures. The pictures are great and I don’t think I will say more. Just look at them and try to feel the feeling of being there.

155070_10151213647345780_1736688132_n 228127_10151213629945780_2062061280_n 304728_10151214848655780_1769267118_n 309906_10151215161150780_1687745210_n 313881_10151215863390780_2112474122_n 483836_10151215161805780_1313081228_n

Talk to you soon

Karsten

What is a full pack?

Hi Everyone

Misunderstandings due to communication flaws are something I think I have written about a huge number of times before. But new examples of the same seem to come up almost every day. It can be some serious one, that can be life threatening, or it can be the smaller more innocent misunderstandings. On Friday I came across one that was just quite sweet.

Some Indian friends have been in Norway for more than a year now. One of the first things they did here was to join for a trip on a snowmobile. Everyone who has driven a car or anything knows that if you drive with high speed with windows down it feels cooler than it is, due to the wind speed. Even in the streets of Mumbai. So if it is already like -10, and you sit without any shelter, like car windows, roof and such, how do you think it will be? I can tell you. Extremely cold! So when people rent out snowmobiles, they usually also come with some special warm clothes included. This is what they call a full pack and no one even think it can be different.

nakend skier

This is what you get if you ONLY rent a “full pack” of skiing equipment

My Indian friends plan to go skiing soon. As they don’t have any ski equipment with them in Norway, they plan to rent. One of them asked a Norwegian friend what would be included when renting skis. The answer was: “You will get a full pack”. But is a full pack the same when going on a snowmobile as it is when skiing? Does a Norwegian and an Indian have the same idea about what a full pack is? No! When you rent skis what is considered a full pack is only skis, boots and sticks. Period! Nothing like thermal warm clothes or anything like that.

riksgrensen

All ready for snowmobile!

Luckily I heard this story, so I could tell my Indian friends that they had to bring clothes on their own, and could not expect to get this as part of a full pack when renting skis.

This is just such a simple example on how even the most basic phrases can be misunderstood. As I’m Norwegian, it was quite easy for me to resolve the misunderstanding. After all, it was based on different understandings on something Norwegian. Did I ever do the same kind of misunderstandings while in India? The bed maker story is the one that always come to my mind when I think about misunderstandings. But I’m quite sure there must be more. It’s just that as I’m not Indian, I was not able to fully understand how I misunderstood Indians…

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

The most Norwegian of all Norwegian traditions

Hi Everyone

For more than two years now, I have been writing about India and Indian culture and how well I have adapted</> to that. At least according to my own understanding.

Now that I’m well back in Norway, I have to try to behave as a Norwegian again. So far I think I have done quite well and yesterday it was time to get back to the best thing any Norwegian can do; skiing!

Soloppgang

I woke up pretty early in the morning, before the sun came up, checked that it was like -12 outside my place, and went to the train. The train took me to some hill in the outskirt of Oslo. Over the last few weeks there have come some snow here, which is really nice. As you can see from the picture, all trees are covered with some snow, or honestly, I think it is more like ice, as there is not that much snow here. But it is enough for some nice skiing for sure. It was quite cold when I started but got a little bit warmer when I went on. Like most Norwegians do on a Saturday, I skied to one of the nice cabins that we have in the forest.

Kikut

For those of you who are not used to Norwegians and our skiing behavior, I’ll try to describe something special for us. Or well, not special for Norwegians, but special for skiers. As you can see from the thermometer, there is some color code.

Termometer

This code indicates how you should wax your skies. The whole concept of ski waxing is a science, and Norwegians are kind of obsessed with that. As you can see, there are some color codes that we use. Green for very cold (and yes the thermometer shows -17 I think), blue for a bit warmer, then violet, red and orange. If life had been just that simple. There are different waxes for new snow and old snow. And for soft snow and hard snow. And there are overlaps between what waxes that can be   used for different conditions. At the picture below you can see some of the different waxes I could consider (and no, I didn’t even considered the red one). Those who are really serious about this will bring a full suitcase with different waxes just for a training trip.

Smøring

So all Bombay hashers this is my excuse for not having participated in the runs lately. And I can promise you that this was very much colder than the usual ice!

The other main news for today is that it was time for Mumbai marathon again. Due to my skiing I could off course not participate. I know there are a lot of my friends who have done that, and hats off to all of you!

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

What’s your budget?

Hi Everyone

One interesting thing about living in two different cultures is to try to compare them. What are the similarities and the differences between them? When I lived in Mumbai I did a lot of such comparisons with foreign friends. All of us wanted to dive into the Indian culture and to really understand it.

This is something that is important from a business point of view. If you read stories about why multicultural projects fail misunderstandings due to culture is often pointed to as one main reason.

So, since I work in multicultural projects, this is off course important for me. But I have also taken a personal interest of this and read a number of books by gurus at this area like Hofstede, Hall, Trompenaars, Messner and so on. But still I feel a bit puzzled about this and struggle to point into what exactly are the differences.

Last week I came across a post on a Facebook group for expats in Mumbai that really got me to think. A foreign girl had posted there. She said that her sister was coming to visit and asked about the price for a driver with car that could take them around Mumbai for half a day. The answer (written exactly in this way) was the following: “and wht budget u rlkng forwh do u wnt it”. Ok. I do understand that some people write very much in shortenings when they write on Facebook and such. That’s not my main point here. The main point is the question that is used to answer a question: “What’s your budget?” When I read this, it really strikes me that this is a phrase I used to hear quite often in India. If someone came to Oslo and wanted to rent a 2 BHK in a particular area, the agent would straight away say that the going rate in the area would be this or this. In India (and in many other countries) this is quite different. People will always ask you (the buyer) what you are ready to pay for it. And the price will depend on your answer. The idea of a fixed price just does not exist.

Two more examples at the same; I once, and hardly more than that went shopping with an Indian friend of mine. We went to Lifestyle in R City Mall, where they have fixed prices on all their items. But still she started to haggle! The staff seemed uncomfortable with this shroud girl, and I really felt embarrassed. But she managed to get some discounts and was clearly proud of that. The other story is about some Norwegians who visited Mumbai. Somehow they managed to get out from the hotel and into some different area. They then had to take an auto back. The meter read 2.80. Everyone who has stayed for some time in Mumbai knows that they should have paid INR 37 (see conversion app). They thought that they should have paid INR 280! They told me that they wanted to be nice to the driver and gave him 300. And they also told me that he smiled and seemed to be quite happy with this. Off course he was! They had paid almost 10 times the “fixed price”.

Meter down

Did the driver cheated on them? Well, most people might say so. But if they wanted to pay 300 rupees for such a trip, why not? Again; what’s your budget? The price will totally depend on the buyer’s budget and what he is willing to pay for the service or goods that he’s buying. This is something I have reflected of many times. Is it really ok that things are like this? Well. Maybe. It just changes the rules for a transaction a bit. In Norway we have very strict laws that protect the buyer. It might be that India does have some of the same kind of laws. But they are surely not followed everywhere.

My main point here is that when you deal with other countries you have to understand how business is done in these countries. What are the KPI’s to the person you deal with? Does he or she really understand your situation? In a book I read it says that in Japanese there are 28 different ways to use the word “yes” to say “no”. Will I as a Norwegian understand this? Probably not. At least not initially. Experience from a foreign culture is the key here!

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

What cricket can teach us about culture

Hi Everyone

Hope you are doing well and that 2013 have treated you well so far. For me, I must admit that it could have been a bit better. My 2013 started with being down with flu for a week or so. But well, life can be much worse than that isn’t it?

One advantage, if you like, by being home with flu is that you can watch YouTube without having to worry about what your boss think about it. Fine, I agree that if you’re well enough to watch YouTube, you’re maybe also well enough to work. But well, I didn’t watch that much of YouTube.

Bowling class

Anyway, something I have to admit that I watched (and even a few times) is this small piece of cricket instruction. And well, it’s maybe good as cricket instruction, but I think it is also quite interesting from a cultural point of view. Muttiah Muralitharan (or Murali as most people say) is maybe the best bowler in cricket history. Or as the commentator say, at least the best one who are not by now married to Liz Hurley. But he’s also from Sri Lanka. And nothing wrong about people from Sri Lanka, but I do think they have some similarities to Indians. For example regarding their attitude towards dogs. I must quickly say that I know a number of people in Mumbai who really care about dogs, and I do like dogs myself. Still I find it quite funny when the commentator struggles to hit the wicket and he says that he should pretend the dog and the ball is a stone and he should try to hit the dog! And look at his eyes when he says that. You can clearly see that Murali have thrown stones at dogs a number of times before! Swann at the other hand, who is an English gentleman, as gentle as only English gentlemen can be, quickly say that he should not hit the dog, just scare him.

I think I have read somewhere that a dog is something that can mean most different things dependent on where you are in the world. In Norway most people think about dogs as pets. In India, and I guess also Sri Lanka, they are dirty animals than no one cares about (mostly). In other parts of the world it is top class food!

The morale from this story is that you shouldn’t always think that things are what you think they are when you just hear someone mentioning something. Another simple example of that is that in India a bike mostly means a motorcycle, while translated to Norwegian a bike could very well be a cycle, which you pedal to get speed. So when someone say something to you, do pay attention to what are being said, and in what context!

And if you think Murali can only hit dogs, take a look at this master bowling:

coin competition

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

A – Z of India 2012

Hi Everyone

With 2012 about to finish now, I decided to do a small A- Z of my experiences from India for 2012. Because I’m Norwegian and we have three more letters in our alphabet I did an A-Å actually. Since this is India, and we have a number of different calendars there I have given myself the freedom to choose events also from different years. And if I don’t find any word for the actual letter I have invented a word. That’s just the way it is…

A – Is for Alleppey. If there is any green heaven in India it must be this place. I went there once last year and twice this year and really want to come back again soon.

B – This could be for many things. But I choose B for Bombay Bollocks. A blog written by my very good friend Richard. Old chap; you really deserve a letter, but R is occupied so it had to be this one. Wishing you all the best for your new adventures in Goa. Ideally B should also be for Bollywood. According to Lonely Planet and other guides it is very easy to get a small background role in a movie if you are white and just show up in Mumbai. For me, after two years, it has still not happened. Maybe I will end up as a Bombay struggler?

C – Again the options are many. C is surely for Chai, the tea that everyone in India drinks. And it’s also for cricket. And talking about cricket, sorry all friends in Mumbai, C will always be for Chennai. Whistle podu with pride!

D – This should have been for Durga Pooja, the biggest festival of Western Bengal. But this year I was not in India during that festival, so I guess it has to be for Durgapur instead. Durgapur is the place where we went for the last of my four wedding ceremonies (see also W for wedding) and it was a fantastic place.

E – Is for Expatliv. That’s the name of Elis blog (another E there…) and also the kind of life I have lived for the last two years. Expat means someone living outside his/hers own society. Some people hate it, some people love it. I’m surely part of the second group. My two years in India have been filled with a lot of nice and interesting experiences.

F- This is an easy one; F for Friends! You know who you are and what you all mean for me.

G- Here I choose Garba. A traditional Indian dance that I really like. I still remember back in 2010 when my neighbors danced this and I got invited to my first local festival. G could also be for Goa.

H –This is for Hashing. When I first wrote a blog post about it people asked me if hash is actually legal in Norway! Ehhhrm. No. Not really. But it is not that kind of hash either. Bombay Hash Harriers is a group of people who gather together and run, and well, drink beer (see Ø for øl). I have made a lot of friends in that society.

I – here I choose an easy option. I is for India. The country where I have lived & loved for two years. Period.

J – Ehhm. Uhhm. Somehow I struggled a bit with this. I thought about Jainism or Jodhpur, but that was all things that happened more in 2011, so I ended up with Japanese. Another language that I know nothing about, but have been quite used to hear in Mumbai (see also L for Language confusion)

K – Kolkata for sure! Easy pick. As I said in my initial blog post about Kolkata, that is what I feel is the absolutely real India. And when coming there it didn’t disappoint me. I really want to go back there some time.

L – Language confusion. No jaar maaan. It’s not so bode simple to speak in India, boss. Ohh yeah. You have probably heard about Hinglish. The kind of English people speak in India. For me not being a native English speaker it is all wrong to try to make fun of how the Indians are speaking their English. But it is surely different from the way we speak it in Norway! And it has lead to a lot of confusions. Having got a lot of friends (see F) from different countries, I have ended up speaking a few words in a number of languages and mixing it all together in a way that I hardly know what language I speak anymore!

M – Marathon. Am I proud of this? Yes, for sure. I did two marathons in two weeks in two continents! Ok, we didn’t really run 42 kilometers, but well. Mumbai Marathon was more for charity than anything else the way we did it. Thanks a lot to Chintan, Kiran and everyone else at WeKare (sorry, W is taken) who put this together. And this quickly leads me to…

N –for Nanhi Kali. And this is when I get teary when I write. One of the reasons I went to India in the first place was to try to do more for that organization. And so many things we have achieved together! I honestly don’t know how many times I have visited Nanhi Kali homes, but every time it is just fantastic! Thanks a lot to Sheetal who runs this, everyone at Naandi and Nanhi Kali foundation. And a huge thank to Fiona and James who keep up the good work at Capgemini.

O – This is the only one where I choose something that is related to work. The reason why I came to India in the first place is Offshoring. But O is also O Saya, the Slumdog Millionaire hit that still is in my ears and reminds me of India.

P – This should have been for the camel fair in Puskhar. Sadly I missed that one. Some of my friends went there, and I guess I have to try again next year. So P is rather for Pune. Thanks to Pearl, Konrad and little Beth who have always been my hosts when I go there. I have really started to like the city and the area around it. P can also be for Powai, my home in India.

Q- This is for Quick. Something the service in Indian rarely is. Only exception is maybe Flipkart.com, who have delivered books to me on (or before) time every time I have ordered.

R – I can think about a number of things for R. But with the latest incident in Delhi it has to be for Rape. Sadly.

S – Self-drive! Getting my own car in Mumbai and be able to travel around wherever I wanted in Mumbai gave me a freedom that I didn’t had before. People still think I’m crazy when I tell them that I drive around in Mumbai, but I still love it!

T – Tiger! Ok. This happened in 2011, and somehow our planned tiger trip this summer didn’t happen. But for me it is still something I will always remember as very much part of India. Thanks to Del and the others who joined for that trip.

U – This is a funny one; U is for Urdu! No. I know nothing about (see J or L). But one of my colleagues actually told me that I speak Hindi with an Urdu accent! Well, I have no idea, so I can’t really disagree. Thanks a lot Anupama & Ayan for all the nice chats we have had. In Urdu, Bengali, Danish or any other language…

V – Varanasi. A must see for everyone who goes to India!

W- Finally! After having lived two years without being in any Wedding, I got to four wedding parties in six days in two states! Thanks a lot for the couples Shazneen & Erick and Abhisek & Puspita who invited me. Thanks a lot also to Orie, Elisabetta, Pearl and Konrad who joined me for these memorable events.

X- Is for Draw. Cheating you say? No. Back in the old days in Norway, when you were betting on a football match you filled 1 for home 2 for away and yes, x for a draw. So this is for the recent cricket match where England honestly trashed India. If I remember correct, England scored 600 and something, India 300 and something. And then, because it got a little bit dark or the players were thirsty and wanted some tea (see C for Chai) or something else, they stopped the match and declared it a draw. Stupid game…

Y – Young. India does have a very young generation that makes the future looking good for the country. Keep it up and make it count!

Z- Zliip. I’m sure the young Indians will use this word for sleep (see L for language confusion). Anyway. Sleep is something you hardly have time for in Mumbai….

Æ – Ærlig. Norwegian word. Meaning honestly. I have tried to always be honest. Both while writing this blog and in other situations. If I don’t succeed, sorry.

Ø – Øl Another Norwegian word. Most of you probably know that this means beer. I have been in Indian news twice, as far as I know. Once at TV for the Mumbai Marathon. Once in the newspaper for the Hashing. The title of the article was Blast with beer. Hmmm. Not sure if I liked that. But anyway; thanks a lot Libertad for being in the picture with me. You made it look good. And thanks a lot to Alok who clicked the photo.

Å – Åpen – Being open. In order to survive in India, you really have to be open to new experiences and impressions. Everything can happen in India…

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

The rape case in Delhi

Hi Everyone

Sometimes it is really difficult to write a blog post.

It could be because there is nothing to write about, because I’m bored or because it is a difficult topic to write about, like the Assam case. This time it has been extremely difficult, but let’s get on with it:

Let’s start with the facts first; Sunday the 16th of December a 23 year old girl got raped in a bus in Delhi. Rape is maybe not even the right word here. I should maybe have said tortured instead. In addition to being raped she also got beaten and thrown out of the bus. According to Hindustan Times she is still in a critical state in a Delhi hospital. A 28 years old friend who was with her was also brutally beaten. It was a total of seven people who raped her. So far the police have arrested five people.

bussrape

What has happened after the rape is incredible; if that’s the word I’m looking for. The victim has got massive support from everything from cricketers to Bollywood actress. See this tweet from Preity Zinta as an example. Cricket player Yuvraj Singh went even further and published a picture where he seems to be for capital punishment. The picture even includes a rope, indicating that people should be hanged! A number of protest marches have been conducted in Delhi. On Facebook people have been urged to sign a petition. And as of now (Saturday the 21st) nearly four hundred people have signed it!

What can be done to avoid things like this to happen? Well, if I had the full answer to this, I would maybe be a candidate for the Nobel peace prize. But unfortunately I don’t. As a friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, Mumbai is not much different when it comes to violence against women. At least I can think about two things that might help:

1)      Education of the boys

This is probably the most important thing to do. Boys must learn how to behave and how not to behave. And this education must happen at home! It should be the responsibility to every mother and father to teach their children some basic rules about behavior.

2)      Natteravn

This is a Norwegian organization that works against violence in our largest cities. Sorry, but they don’t have any home page that I could find in English, but there is a version in Urdu here if that works better than Norwegian.

The slogan or so of this foundation is quite simple; “We care about what happens in our society. We will contribute to make sure to create a safe environment by being around where it is needed”.

The idea behind the Natteravn (which means night ravens in English) is quite simple. It is a group of adults that walks around in the streets at those times when it is most likely to be some problems. They are quite visible in their yellow vests. If anything happens, they can try to speak to the people making problems. Eventually they contact the police and make sure they come quickly to the scene. With India being a country full of people doing volunteer stuff and NGO’s maybe that is something that could work also over there?

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

Challenges in outsourcing to India

Hi Everyone

During the weekend I came across an article named Bad Business outsourcing to India. It is written by SINTEF which is the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia.

As I have worked quite a lot with exactly outsourcing I found the article quite interesting and wanted to share it with you. Is there anyone else here who have the same experience, or another experience? Please do let me know.

Another report that is worth sharing is written by SIMULA, which is another Norwegian research organization. You can find the report here. However, it is in Norwegian, so not too easy to read for non-Norwegians.

Talk to you soon!

Karsten