Every once in a while, I have this sudden “ray of light” that reminds me about the grotesque existence of a blog that is supposed to be mine. It had been ages since I last wrote something. And since I am never short of topics to write about, and since I have a little free time on my hands right now, I decided to write something.
But before I did that, for some strange reason, I decided to delete all my previous posts for no apparent reason. Just felt like “wiping the slate clean” …
The last one month has been crazy. I have been interviewing for a full-time job position with multiple teams from different companies across US. Bear in mind that apart from a couple of road trips, I had not set foot outside the city of Tucson for the best part of the last two years. So I was a little excited to be flying to San Jose from Tucson for my interview with Microsoft at Mountain View, CA.
This post is NOT going to be about my interview experiences. I will touch on that in another post. Rather this post is going to be about the “culture shock” I encountered during my short stay at the Bay area. Yes, “culture shock”. Let me explain. As soon as I landed in San Jose and started looking for a cab to get to my hotel, I was astonished to see ALL the cab drivers were Indian Sardars. After getting to grips with this weird observation, I decided to ask one of them to take me to my hotel at Mountain View.
Me: “Paaji, El Camino Real, Mountain View jaana hai” (Brother, I want to get to El Camino Real, Mountain View).
Sardar: I beg your pardon?
Me (okay, when was the last time I heard a Sardar respond like that): I need to get to 1408 El Camino Real, Mountain View.
Sardar: Okay Sir.
During the journey….
Sardar: So Sir, what brings you to Mountain View?
Me: Came here for a business meeting. (Read, as Indians we never trust strangers).
Me (Damn, this guy!): No, Google.
The World cup was on everyone’s mind.
Sardar: World cup ka match dekha kya? (India had just beaten Pakistan the previous day. So the driver was asking me if I had seen the match. Of course, I had. Almost every Indian would have seen it. Note: this was the first time the driver spoke to me in Hindi).
Me: I beg your pardon? (Touche biyaatch!)
Sardar: Did you see India versus Pakistan cricket match?
Me: Yes, I thought it was a boring match though. Lot of mistakes from both sides.
Sardar: Hmm. (He obviously did not agree. He did not want to say it. Maybe because he thought it would reduce his tip).
We reached my hotel. Sardar hands out his card to me. I said thank you and tossed the card into the trash as soon as I entered the hotel.
I don’t know what it is about us Indians. We never seem to get along with each other. And I don’t know if it is just me or if other Indians have experienced the same. For instance, if you were walking on a crowded street in Tucson and you see a dude (who looks like an Indian) walking right opposite to you, you will do whatever it takes to avoid eye-contact and completely ignore the existence of that individual. Moreover, if for some reason you actually were forced to speak to this person for some stupid reason, you will speak to him/her as if he/she were a foreigner or you might be treated like a foreigner by this person. And while this behavior is completely devoid of any kind of logic or reasoning, this is how we roll in India dude.
I decided to go to Sarvana Bhavan for dinner. Don’t remember the last time I had traditional south Indian breakfast/snack items for dinner. But it was worth it.
Interview done. Went back to my hotel to freshen up. Charged my camera and decided to walk to the closest CalTrain stop. It was a long walk, about 3 miles from my hotel. And this was the second time I had a “culture shock”. During my walk, and I am not exaggerating here, every third vehicle I saw on the road had an Indian in it. In fact, if I could stop during my walk and take a 360^ degree turn, I would notice at least one Indian on the road (not in a vehicle). Was I really in California, USA?! Or was I in some parallel universe where Indians suddenly took over US?
I began to feel sorry for the locals here. Imagine if one state in India was completely occupied by people from China or Somalia. How would Indians feel? There would naturally be some sort of discomfort. And it was not about the number of Indians staying at Mountain View, it was about the sudden change in culture. I had seen only two Indian stores in Tucson during my stay there. At MV, California, during a 20 minute walk from my hotel, I managed to see almost 10 times more Indian stores and fast food outlets. It was odd.