The Tale Of Two Cities

The Tale Of Two Cities
And here we are today.? concluded Sadique as he sat with Amit sipping tea. The two had been college buddies and had been through thick and thin together. After college, Sadique got placed in his dream company i.e. L&T Switchgear. He had got a job in his core field of Electrical Engineering. Amit, not as bright as Sadique, had to settle for a job in the software industry. Clearly, this was not what he had wanted. Still, both of them set out to make their careers with big dreams to chase.

For the first six months, Sadique Khan worked as a production engineer in the Switchgear division of L&T at Faridabad. He was sociable by nature and won many friends in the office. His job responsibilities required a lot of interaction with his colleagues and he was comfortable in dealing with people. His manager and colleagues had high opinion about him. No wonder, after six months, the company nominated him for a six month training programme in ?Advanced design of Switchgear? at a reputed institute in Frankfurt, Germany.

He was the blue eyed boy of L&T Switchgear. The company expected him to complete the training programme and transfer that knowledge to his colleagues in India, so as to give a boost to the R&D in L&T Switchgear, India. The training programme was tough and Sadique?s manager had full confidence about his capability. He was sure that Sadique would complete the training successfully and meet the expectations of the company.

Sadique was excited at the prospect of his first foreign visit. He had not expected this so soon.

Frankfurt airport was beautiful. He captured the bird?s eye view in his camera. However, he got the first shock at the airport, where the security officers after looking at his name started searching his bags more carefully than of others and started interrogating him. He was actually asked to taste pickle from the jar he was carrying. He had never heard of pickled bombs! While the other passengers were asked nominal questions, Sadique was scrutinized by the authorities for half an hour.

He travelled though Frankfurt in the evening. Although he liked the beautiful and disciplined city, he observed a few peculiarities. Women were driving the public buses in the city. Security officers at his hotel comprised of men and women. The restaurant had as many waitresses as waiters. In India, he had only seen men performing these roles. He had enough time to learn more about Germany. His focus shifted to the training programme which was due to start the next day.

50 participants from diverse background ? Coloured, Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians; young and middle-aged; men and women coming from various parts of the world had converged for this prestigious training programme. This was a true melting pot for different cultures and Sadique was quite new to this. Between India and Germany, the starkest contrast was in the status of women in organizations.

On the first day of classes, Sadique found that his instructor was an expert in his field and explained concepts well. He faced a lot of difficulty in understanding his accent, but managed somehow. The students addressed the instructor as ?Wolfgang?, and not ?Sir? (as back home).

During the lunch break, Sadique found it very queer that most people preferred to have lunch separately, rather than in a group. Sadique too found himself having lunch alone. This was very weird feeling.

For next few days, Sadique had more such experiences where he found contrast in almost every facet of the worklife. The difficulty level of the training was very high and lots of assignments were given. However, the students used to solve the assignments on their own, rather than in groups. In case he raised any doubts or queries, his batchmates would give minimal or lukewarm response. Sadique believed that everyone?s performance and learning level would improve if students co-operated. However, things were very different here.

Over a period of six months, Sadique developed a negative attitude towards the other participants. He thought that they are selfish and unwilling to help others. He started avoiding them and even had few quarrels with some of them over petty issues.

He managed to finish the training programme and returned to India, much to his respite.


Amit Kumar joined Tata Consultancy Services (tcs), an Indian IT company. He underwent training in Trivandrum for two months and was then transferred to Chennai.

Chennai was supposedly the best centre of tcs. It was known for a good work culture, most of the high value projects operated from there and many of the employees from here went to client locations for long hauls.

The supervisors in Chennai had an average experience of 6 years. This meant that as a trainee, one could learn a lot more about Programming and on ?How to go about his way in an organization?, especially, for a fresh graduate.

Amit was interviewed for one of the big clients and was subsequently trained on programming related to the job. During the project-specific training he was asked to give presentations on topics that were new and would be helpful to those already working in the project.

As Amit started to work his supervisor would encourage him to ask questions and help him in understanding. There were no time constraints as to the work hours but priority was given to completion of tasks before the deadline and quality of the code.

Also his manager would come once in a while and tell him how fortunate he was that he had a job in which he could use his creativity, and learn from an experienced supervisor.

His work was appreciated and in a matter of two months Amit was given demanding tasks to work on. If something went wrong, the supervisor would come and first, help him fix the problem and only then make him understand where the problem occurred and how to prevent it the future.

In periods of less work, there were trainings organised on a project level so that trainees could further enhance and learn new skills which could be applied at the work place, understand business basics and learn about the organisation as a whole. Also, every Friday one member of the project was asked to give a presentation on a topic of their choice. This was done so as to improve the presentation skills of the employees and so that employees could get to learn about things other than coding.

However, life was not as rosy as it seemed. During his team meetings, Amit had coped with the ?language barrier?. Most of his colleagues were locals and spoke in Tamil even during team meetings, totally oblivious of the fact that he was present there. Communication was a problem in this team and they had not realized it until one day Amit spoke up. Some of his team members felt offended and even demanded an apology. His manager intervened but couldn?t really help resolve the problem being a local himself. The bias was palpable. Amit partly overlooked this ?flipside? of the organization as he was generally satisfied with this worklife. He even learnt Tamil to gel with the team and avoid conflicts in future.

At the end of ten months in Chennai, not only was Amit dedicated towards his job, but motivated to would work harder. He strived to get that appreciation mail from his supervisor and from the client. Amit?s co-trainee and friend from college observes ?This is far different from his [Amit?s] graduation days, where he was a below average performer and was not motivated towards his work?.

The meeting

A year after passing out of college, the two came back home for holidays and decided to meet up. The following conversation ensued over tea.

Sadique: It?s a different place, weirdly different. Beautiful place, but weird. Women made up 50 % of the organization headcount. I wonder how they manage their families. Who takes care of their children while they are out to work? Moreover, they?re not very friendly. I used to have my meals alone.

Amit: Oh well, I had my share of experiences. Did quite well in my first year. Who would believe I am the same person who used to fair miserably in exams in college? Ha-ha! I quite enjoyed the last one year except the fact that food was getting monotonous. I even learnt Tamil. My team members used to bring their language and culture to office. But then, we were only a small bunch of non-locals, why would they change for us? So I just let be and moved on.

Sadique: I am glad you did well. I guess foreign trips are not the only motivating factors. They can turn out to be real damp squibs. I think you were very fortunate to have a manager like the one you had, it?s rare. If only we had such professors in college, you may even have topped our class. As far as your team mates are concerned, I guess you should have insisted that they speak English in the office and maybe even raised this issue at the management level. Culture or no culture, it?s unprofessional to use local language in an organization, especially in official meetings. In Germany, my batchmates at the training programme stuck to English, even though their accents were funny. Each made sure that the others understood by confirming and taking feedback from them from time to time. But, I still think they are very self-centred people.

Amit: On the contrary, they may not be self-centred at all. That?s how things are over there. It?s just the way they are. That?s it. We?re not like that, so we find it surprising. In an organization, one has to accept such ?inconsistencies? and move on.

Sadique: I guess so. Truly, we both have learnt a lot during the past one year. On the same day last year, we were inexperienced lads from college all excited about ?corporate lifestyle? having all kinds of rosy pictures in mind. That was then. And here we are today.

The Tale Of Two Cities 8.9 of 10 on the basis of 2174 Review.