A Day on the Job in South India
In 2010, I was working with an online education start-up called Ukindi. As a part of the development process, I flew over to work directly with our developers at Neemtec in South India, near Kanya Kumari (the southernmost tip of India). The company was cool not only because it was small and in a very small-town environment, but also because the boss, Leo, tended to hire locally, so there was a family atmosphere there as well, which I liked. This posts is a typical day at work.
Getting to work:
I’ve never worked on a job where I’ve had a driver, so I felt like a VIP every day when they came to pick me up and drive me to the compound. Leo’s dad, Sekharan, was kind enough to offer me digs in the compound, but I am definitely a guy who needs air conditioning, so I stayed at a hotel by the beach in KanyaKumari, about 40 minutes drive from the compound.
The drive to the IT compound was through the endless wind farms in the south, always to the music David the driver was cranking in the car…but with the occasional stop for cows along the way. Here’s a photo of the aforementioned holy cows, doing their thing on the main highway that connects all of India from North to South, as well as a video of the drive in…and the cows..which I loved.
And for those of you who actually watch video in blogs, here’s a few cuts from the horn-honking, cow dodging drive to work.
The design and programming team:
What I liked best about working with the guys in India was they were just so nice. And polite! Forget about hoodie-sporting, pizza scarfing geeks. The engineers and designers in India were always dressed in shirts and slacks, beyond polite, and just very nice people to talk with. And the women — all the women I saw anywhere in South India, in fact — wore sari சேலை. Definitely one of the most beautiful forms of clothing in the world.
Most days, I worked directly with Leo, who is the boss and owner of Neemtec, sitting on the left below, or with the project leader, Mastan, sitting beside me. Both great guys who were also with us over in Hong Kong for a pilot program.
The compound is also Leo’s family home, and every day they gave me three squares a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Leo’s dad insisted that I didn’t eat in the hotel restaurant as it was unsafe, he said. The family residence had its own water purification system, and Leo’s mom made some amazing food, always catering to my tastes. Leo’s dad and mom are definitely two of the most charming people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing!
In the photo below, we had a special lunch all together. I have some footage on this for another post. Interestingly, in the south of India, they don’t drink directly from their cups. Even paper cups they hold up, then tilt back the head and pour! I tried it. It didn’t work so well.
Also, as you can see, people eat with their fingers off of banana leaves in the South. I’ll also have a post on that as well. Not an easy thing to get used to, especially since pretty much every dish in the south is in some way involved with gravy.
And after lunch, there was me, as usual, scarfing down a banana. India has more types of banana than you can imagine. Leo’s dad made sure I tried them all. One, in particular, the tholuvan palam தொழுவன் பழம் became an addiction. I was eating about 5 of the things a day. If ever you go, be sure to hunt a bunch of these down and go to town on them!
Note, that’s Leo’s dad on the left and his mom in the foreground in the purple and red. Wish I could find the pics of us all together!
And a few more pics of the team and the surroundings.
Ok I have a question (which I could probably find on Google, but I’m asking you if you’ve gleaned some local knowledge). If cows in India are so holy, how come they’re all so thin? /curiouscat
lol That’s a good question. I guess because people don’t eat them…but they don’t feed them, either. 😉
Hey Mike! Looks like an awesome experience. I love that the people there are so polite and hospitable. I think that can make traveling to a place one of the most memorable experiences. I feel that way about Philippines, Japan and even Texas! 🙂
Thanks for posting! Yeah, it was something I’ll never forget. I’m going to try to make it back there and also do the old hippie trail back up through to Goa. Just a matter of time. Just be prepared when you go. India is really a full on experience.
I’ve never considered going to India for vacation. My number one consideration is that I don’t know if I’d enjoy the food! 🙂
Well, to be brutally honest, at first I didn’t like the food in the south. It’s basically everything mixed together by hand with rice bread — and I have a real problem with eating soggy bread. In fact, if you watch me eat cornflakes, I pour the milk then set a world speed record getting it down while it’s still crunchy. So more than the taste, it was the texture that did me in. But Leo’s mom didn’t miss a trick, and within about 2 days she was suddenly serving things that were still eaten by hand, but that were solid. Then life got tasty 🙂
Still, you love places with friendly people, and so you should definitely get there at some point. My top 3 Indian-sub-continent trips are to head up to Agra and do all the temples etc, do the south from Kerala to Goa, and then to hit Sri Lanka.
Oh, wait, let’s add a 4th. The Maldives!! How could a beach lover like me forget that one, eh!
Hahaha! I love what you wrote about eating cereal, hilarious =P
Thank goodness for Leo’s mom!! 🙂
Hope you have a great weekend, Mike!
I know, right? She was awesome. Ok, time to get some corn flakes! Lol I’m off for ice skating with about a dozen of my students from the uni. Should be fun. U, too. Enjoy the weekend!
always wanted to go to India, you do get some great travel in! I bet the food there was absolutely delicious.
Thanks for the comment! Well, as much as I loved India, I had a bit of problems with the food. I got used to eating with my fingers pretty quick…at least with the hard stuff. But in the south it’s like they take a bunch of things like chutney and thin rice bread, mix it up with gravy, and that’s a major staple of the diet. So it was a LOT different than the curries and meats you’d see from the northern parts. But just to be sure, I plan to head up to the north within a year or so 🙂
lol – yes eating with your fingers could be quite difficult at first… I can only imagine. Chutney’s are divine. Sounds like the north may be better food wise for you then 🙂
Well, if you like Chutney, then maybe you’ll do better than I did. lol