India

I Heart Outsourcing!

    Senator John Kerry came to India recently to discuss, among other things, his opinions on outsourcing. During the U.S. elections of 2004, Indians (or at least the Indian media) never quite warmed to Kerry, so I suppose this was a chance for him to go on a goodwill tour and to see outsourcing at its, well, source.

    Of course, outsourcing is a very sore subject in the U.S. and its impact has unfortunatley turned some Americans against South Asians. Its short-term effect has meant that many Americans have lost their jobs to workers in India that can do their jobs, if not more efficiently, then more economically. I even have an Indian-American friend whose relative lost her job to an Indian in India!

    After being in India for a while, however, I can’t help but be a little touchy when discussing outsourcing with my compatriots at home. The people that I have met here that work at BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing companies) are some of the most diligent, hardworking people. And they aren’t just involved in the telemarketing fields. BPOs such as Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services, e-Serve, and Datamatics have stretched their tentacles to cover industries like IT, banking, finance, government, and entertainment. In fact, outsourcing is involved in almost every industry I can think of (which is even more than the average American can think of), so it isn’t going away anytime soon.
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    Book Bans and Other Stupid Govt Tricks

      Bombay is one of the most progressive cities in India. For most intents and purposes, both the New York and L.A. of India.

      It is also the capital of of Maharashtra, a state that is proving to be more backward which each report of a book ban. On Monday, the Maharashtra government banned a scholarly book by James W. Laine on the life of Shivaji entitled, The Epic of Shivaji. The government had previously banned Laine’s other book, Shivaji: The Hindu King in Islamic India, in January 2004. The latter title is available for purchase here.
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      Plus Ça change…

        I don’t think I had ever planned my life beyond 2005, so New Year’s 2006 hit me from the out of the blue. We hadn’t made any plans for New Years, either, figuring that something low-key would come along. Ha! This is Bombay. Something came along, but it certainly wasn’t low key.

        A friend of a friend of a friend got our gang tickets to the Viren Shah New Year’s Eve party in Worli. I still don’t know who Viren Shah is, other than Page 3 Material, but I’m grateful I was able to show up at his fully-catered bash with free tickets. Nevertheless, it was the epitome of Bombay excess that I have come to despise. (Forgive me for looking a gift horse in the mouth…)
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        Queen of Clubs

          Another sign that Bombay is booming: it seems like a new club opens each week. Since I arrived over 15 months ago, a number of new clubs, including Zenzi, Seijo and the Soul Dish, and Squeeze have opened in Bandra (north Bombay), the home of the nouveau riche, Bollywood stars, and the majority of Bombay’s decent clubs. Still other clubs, such as Enigma (at the Juhu Marriott), have reopened, cheesier – as I understand – than ever before. South Bombay has even gotten a few hangouts of its own, including the Intercontinental’s Dome, a stylish, white-couched restaurant-cum-lounge on the hotel’s roof with sweeping views of Marine Drive.

          Bombay certainly loves its clubs, and the more vapid the better. Like New York or, say, Madrid, most locals prefer to go out as late as possible. The only problem is that many clubs end up shutting down by 1:30 because of assumed or actual police interference. It’s weird – you arrive at midnight and the music stops an hour and a half later. Though I love Bombay, I’ll never consider it a world-class city until it stops living in fear of corrupt cops or Shiv Sena goons.

          Anyhow, although I have pretty much outgrown the clubbing urge, I have to get out of the house once in a while. For some reason, I often get questions from people who read this blog about the nightlife scene in Bombay. And, now that New Years is nearing, I thought the time was right to answer them. So, here’s a short run-down of some of Bombay’s clubs. Keep in mind that I am very biased and not easily impressed:
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          The Town of Boiled Beans

            Bombay has changed to Mumbai. Madras to Chennai. Calcutta to the much less evocative Kolkata. Now, it looks like Bangalore is jumping on the renaming bandwagon. It intends to change its name to Bengaluru, which means “the town of boiled beans” in the local Kannada language.

            Is this really necessary?

            When a friend sent me the headlines for this story, I thought surely it was a joke concocted by the editors of The Onion. I have no problem with people wanting to get back to their roots, but this whole renaming trend in India comes at a big financial (changing street signs, maps, and tourist materials) – as well as an emotional – cost. Imagine changing New York’s name back to New Amsterdam…

            I think Rohinton Mistry summed it up best in a dialogue featured in his novel Such a Long Journey. In this dialogue, two characters are discussing the renaming of Bombay streets and landmarks:
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            Bombay in November

              I’m finally back to work after three restful weeks back in the States. Besides traveling around and seeing family and friends, I had the chance to while away a few afternoons in some national and state parks, including Wakulla Springs, where I saw alligators grinning in the sun, and Sagamore Hill, the former home of President Theodore Roosevelt. October in Central Park was such a wonder – crisp, cool, on the verge of autumnal metamorphosis – that we even spent an hour one afternoon in a rowboat on the Lake.

              Now, after having felt the first chill of fall in more than 14 months, I’ve returned to an incredibly temperate and languid Bombay. It’s post-holiday time here (I missed Diwali and Eid-al-Ramzan festivities), but it’s approaching wedding season. Soon all the cricket lawns lining Marine Drive will be alight in candles and torchieres and festooned with marigolds.
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              Golden Triangle and Ganpati

                September Ho Gaya…September is gone. And I didn’t even have much time to blog. I did some traveling – again to the Golden Triangle (see below) – went to a film shoot (see my last post), attended the Elle Decor India Design Awards, and also found time to check out the Ganpati Visarjan (immersion) on Chowpatty Beach. For a brief moment, totally unrelated to my Bollywood filming, I was even offered a part in an Indian soap opera! Sadly, that didn’t work out because of timing. But I’ll still keep my hat in the ring for future opportunities.

                All of that and work – including full-time and freelance editorial stuff – has not really allowed me to blog lately. Still, I wanted to share some stories and pictures because October will be even busier.
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