India is a strange country..

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So up to now I have been living in India for 2 and a half months. And I’ve just decided to go back to Hanoi in mid-December, which means I have only 3 more weeks left. I’m pretty sure that I will be very sad when leaving.. About 2 weeks ago, I talked to a Serbian girl, and she said “India is a strange country. Can you tell anything here that is better than your country? For me, no, nothing! And I can complain whole day about what I don’t like here, but above all, I still love to stay”. In this term of meaning then India must be the strangest country I have and will ever visit.. Too much bad luck came upon me in the last 2.5 months but I have never really wished to leave..

I came to India with the internship exchange program for students and recent graduates of AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organization. And I was supposed to do international marketing back to Vietnam. Before I left, a lot of friends that had been to India for internship within the same program already warned me “they would not give you anything to work there!” and I was mentally prepared for that but still I got shocked. Three foreign interns in the company almost had nothing to do, just sat and read brochures. After 2 weeks, I couldnt hold on any more and complained with my boss that I didn’t want to fly all the way from Vietnam to India just to sit idle in the office. I also told him that I could see there were so many people almost doing nothing the whole day, and he said one thing I would never forget: “20% of the people in my company make 80% of the profit and the other 80% of people are just for decoration!” – “But why? If I had to spend money to hire people, I would make them really work!” – “Because I am kind, I want to create jobs for everyone” – “..!..!.!..” (end of discussion!) It’s true that he’s the kindest person I have met in India so far but this working style is really not my way, especially when I just quit a job in Hanoi because of stress and overload. Going from one extreme to another extreme was too much for me and I couldn’t adapt that fast.

So, after 3 weeks, I decided not to waste my time in the office any more (I didn’t have anything to do but people would not let me do private things or open personal websites) and I said to my boss in the most honest way “Your company is not prepared enough to receive foreign interns! Could you imagine how we would tell friends back home? It doesn’t just influence the reputation of your company but also of all companies in India..” and he had to agree with me. I also helped him point out some issues in their training procedure for newcomers and intern recruiting process and he approved. So I guess my 3 weeks there were not totally just a waste, at least I did some impact on that company, they would improve their training process and also they now know that not everyone enjoys sitting doing nothing..

And I moved on, I applied to some other companies and all bad experience. One company asked me to come twice for interview and made me do a presentation in front of company staff about telesales. I did and the feedback on my presentation was very positive, but then they concluded such thing like they prefered white people and prefered man. I assumed they didn’t realize that I was yellow and woman from the first interview; and this company took me 3 weeks till their final answer. Fair enough! Another company also asked me to come twice for 2 interviews and made me do a research on Indian Steel Industry, I did all they wanted and their final reply was “For now we have no project that need more people”. Again I assumed they didn’t know it from the beginning and just took another 3 weeks of mine by accident. One more company that desperately needed Vietnamese people replied to me: “We have no problem providing you a job offer but you have to have a working visa in India. You can apply for one, duration 2 years, with 24 000 Rupees (equivalent to $560).” – “But what’s the problem with my business visa? All of my friends here are working with business visa, and I haven’t got plan to spend that much of money and stay here 2 years..” – “Uhm, in fact they are working illegally in India then, and our company is not like that. We’ll think about your case and call you within tomorrow” but of course they never called me back. And actually I also found the working visa fee in the website of Indian Immigration Office which was way less than 24 000 Rupees.

Apart from that very unpleasant experience about working in India, what else happened to me? I got cell phone and wallet stolen in my room while I was sleeping. I got stalked many times by Indian guys. I got “abandoned” by the irresponsible AIESEC Local Committee of Delhi IIT. I got terribly dry hair and skin because of the dry weather (way different from Hanoi). I got bitten by mosquitoes, bed bugs. I stepped on cow dung several times while traveling. And many many other small but annoying things that I can complain the whole day just like the Serbian girl I mentioned once.

But finally what can I say? If now someone asked me “Do you still want to stay in India?” I would definitely say “Yes, of course!”. Why? Because I have so many good friends here, both Indians and foreigners. I have learned so many things, and one of the best things I’ve achieved is that for now I am almost able to “always look on the bright side of life”. I get to know a really interesting culture and understand more about many other social aspects. And I like traveling in India, there are so many places to go. I just wish I could stay longer and solve all the bad experience above so that I would know the real good side of the country. But I just don’t have the chance or as I often say to my friends here “I’ve been trying but no one let me try”. Hopefully it was just my bad luck, hopefully no one from Vietnam going for internship in India would face too much problem like I have hooked into. And finally I would like to end the post with this quote from a friend “India is not a country, it’s an experience!”

Namaste India!

21 thoughts on “India is a strange country..

    Geoff White said:
    November 19, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    wow. great pictures. looks like an adventure. thanks . 🙂

    gaurav julka said:
    November 20, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    Hey there 🙂
    You have a very awesome blog and ur blog tell almost everything about your challenging experience 🙂

    I saw your quoted words, had some views on It “Can you tell anything here that is better than your country? For me, no, nothing!”

    You said anything here is better than other CYs I have 1000 things atleast to tell u but I am sure you know how to use google and discover them!

    All I want to ask u is …is there any other country which has all of what India has all together? Can any country manage to grow like India being a democratic + second largest population in the world 🙂

    Do let me know is there any country in the world which has what India has!!!

    Just FYI: this question does not come because I am an Indian, this question comes from the fact that I have been to 6 CYs already, leaving for my 7thone on 7th! Just want to know which CY is managing everything better than us 🙂 ( let’s learn from them)

      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      November 21, 2010 at 12:14 AM

      Thanks for passing by my blog and thanks for leaving a nice comment 🙂

      In fact, that was just a way of saying. What I want to mention is nothing in the marco vision, but just from a very micro approach. We are foreign interns living in India and we have to struggle a lot here getting used to new culture, new means of transport, new food, new life-style, new everything. Bargaining with rickshaw drivers, walking on the dusty streets, being squeezed in the train and metro, etc.

      For me, I am adapting quite fast because I’m from Vietnam and the condition somehow is very similar, but for European people it’s a big challenge.. :-). So the “everything” she mentioned here was really not everything, it was just all the difficulities she had to face in her daily life that she never had to when she was in Europe. Yeah, that’s the point here..

    Vietnam720 said:
    November 21, 2010 at 6:31 AM

    Great post again Mien 🙂

    Love that positive attitude!

    Return to Vietnam quickly. Vietnam needs more positive youths like u 🙂

    Thao Tatat said:
    November 21, 2010 at 7:03 AM

    Hi sis, i also undergone fast 2 months in India but fortunately i faced not as many bad lucks as u since obviously the time i was there is not as long as u 🙂 The worst bad luck i ever experienced is pitifully the unchanged working way of AIESEC there, the way people valued the “white people” much more than the other people in “other colours” as i realized in every aspects of Indian life (must confesss that i was totally brown in that time). Actually i am not supposed to set the shadow upon all the indian people cuz above of all there were still some very nice people, “foxy” or “naive” (can not find any appropriate adjective for them) who were willing to reach hand to help with honesty and undescribed eagerness, especially without “any charge”. There is a world of many strange things, a world that we just want to enter as a visistor not as becoming a part of its, yet when entering, we would have the feeling of being swallowed, being sticked as firmed as glue inspite of how much alert we ruled ourselves to sustain before ..That’s India.
    BTW, i long to meet u again 🙂 currently i feel like being locked in a cage. Come back soon and help me out :))

    Zac Herman said:
    November 21, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    cool, i finally found your blog. next time im on the computer, when its not midnight, im gonna read all your posts! see ya on twitter!
    The West Lake Review

    Quyen said:
    November 21, 2010 at 10:55 PM

    I know 1 thing at least. Cookies :P. Hide n Seek, Good day or Parle’s products in general are magic! They did save our lives, seriously. 😀

      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      November 22, 2010 at 6:48 PM

      Hehe agree!! I’m eating Hide n Seek right now 😛

    Chung ^^ said:
    November 22, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    hehe chị. anyway, it’s nice experience when facing so many difficulties and you r still alive :D. Hope to see u soon in Hanoi ^^

    Nhung said:
    November 23, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    I’ve read through your blog post immediately after receiving your offline message, cause I can’t wait. Kinda heard many friends over here talk about your unlucky internship, but I feel great that you still manage to live that positive attitude. This is a real nice surprise of the day.

    Probably whenever I talk with someone about AIESEC internship XP, I’ll tell your India story together with your great optimism!!!

    Wish you all the best along the way 😡 😡 😡

    Malcolm said:
    January 24, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Well written! Really interesting stuff. I’m reading Shantaram at the moment. It’s about India and the way he describes it is really similar to how you have described it. It’s a funny country isn’t it? I’ve only been there once, but its such a strong mix of opposites. A real juxtaposition.
    Anyway Hanoi is glad to welcome you back 🙂

    Quynh said:
    March 9, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Hi chị Miên,

    I was offered an internship in India, (or more exactly, I’ll work at Manipal), gross payment is Rs. 5000, in the contract, they say that total cost of living for 1 month is about Rs. 3000. Would you please tell me from your experience, is Rs. 3000 enough?

    Thanks a lot.

      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      March 10, 2011 at 10:55 PM

      Hi em! My MT in Delhi got a gross salary of Rs. 15,000, in which Rs 5,600 was to pay the rent. The rest is enough to survive there, but no leisure, no travel, or else you have to spend money from your own pocket. Manipal is a smaller town so it is obviously cheaper, but Rs. 5000 is way too too low!!!! I would suggest you: “Leave the offer! Don’t believe whatever the AIESEC people in India told you. They don’t care about you, seriously” 🙂

    conan said:
    March 30, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    thanks. Easyer to read what u wrote in English

    Amey said:
    December 12, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    Hello Their,

    Just found your blog while searching for words “Vietnam a strange country?”..And found your blog at top…Haha !! And after reading, it’s opposite! Phew!! But really for me Vietnam is an interesting country but very strange. So far I just traveled Hanoi so can’t comment much but soon going to visit Saigon/Ho Chi Minh to see the difference in 2 parts of Vietnam i.e. North & South. And I am very positive about Saigon which is modern city comapre to Hanoi. This is what I am reading till now. Looking forward to explore more of Vietnam.
    Still Vietnamese beer’s, coconut ice creams, very yummy cakes at nominal prices and Vietnamese noodle soup are forever memories for me.

    Now,a question for you! I am still hunting answer >> Why soooooooooo many women & girls in Hanoi every where? In all shops,hotels,restaurants,Bakery,at museum,even at Hanoi airport as immigration officers. Oh my good!!! I felt it’s a no MAN’s land. Why is that? *_*


      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      December 13, 2011 at 12:39 AM

      Hey, that’s too funny hah?! LOL Well, I did have some not-so-good experience during the time I lived in India, however, I’d love to come back one day, especially now there is already direct flights between Vietnam and India from Air Asia!

      Ah, Vietnam is still a “men’s country” if you ask ;-). Women are shop keepers, house keepers, receptionists because it’s the social conception that men have to do “bigger” things, like politicians, directors, managers and all stuff like that. But Vietnamese women definitely go out more often than Indian women. In fact, I was surprised too when all shop keepers in India are men, seriously! LOL

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    Omen-daza said:
    November 6, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Going through your awesome page Mien, I remember a lot of stuffs lived and discovered in India… Thanks for that and I am sure each of never forget this incredible country. Somehow this place made a difference in our entire life. Namastey 🙂

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