Saturday, September 23, 2006

Eastward Bound

And I stumble into yet another week. That’s two weeks down and several more to go… But time is flying past … and I do have plenty to do work-wise. Well, this thought has been on my mind a lot and I’ve been thinking about it more and more recently (I know what some of you must be thinking… “Ann thinking…eeeeeehhh! Not a good sign.”). Let me just put it down anyway.

I always wondered how people would react to Asians usurping “American jobs” so to speak. I always suspected the worst and experience taught me the rest. And over the past week I had a first hand taste of some of it too. I was waiting for someone to spit it out and sure enough they did. I wasn’t expecting a hugs-and-kisses reception at any rate, and I was warned by plenty of the growing resentment Americans have towards Asians and just about anyone who talked about offshoring jobs.

I’m not sure if it was done knowingly or unknowingly (my guess is that it was done purposely). Someone in the room struck up a conversation on how in a few years time there will be no copy editors or typesetters in America. And everyone at the table looked at me and one of them almost accusingly said “Yes, of course, Ann’s going to be doing this in India. And all of this will be done there.” I actually felt sorry for this person and tried to steer the conversation in another direction saying “In 5 years time, I may not have a job cause all the jobs are going to China, Philippines and other countries.” It must feel terrible to have the thought of not getting a regular pay cheque lurking in their minds every day.

I was sitting at this meeting recently where this 55 plus woman was voicing her thoughts and she claims is in the office grapevine (I believe her). Most of the employees weren’t sure the company would be able to give them a pay cheque the same time next year. Some of them have been in typesetting 20 years or longer and probably know no other profession. Some of them are just too old to be trained, at this point in their lives, to do something else, unless it was some unskilled task. It must hurt their egos to see their jobs go to some upstarts in a developing country if not a third-world country. To feel threatened by someone half your age, from some other race, and a developing country, must be a little unnerving. Yes, at that age I’d probably think and feel the same way. And it’s probably the older generation that is taking it hard. The younger folk will be able to train themselves, relearn or maybe take their expertise to other parallel fields.

Some openly show their displeasure. A lot of times all their efforts are in trying to save their jobs by touting the bargaining chip of quality, you cannot sell that idea for very long and I don’t think anyone is buying.

In fact, not sure of the source, a recent statistic I read claimed that for every USD10 worth of work outsourced, USD7 goes back to America. And this makes me wonder who is smarter? When you tout free market to the rest of the world, this is the price one pays.

Logically speaking, why would anyone pay a rupee/dollar more than one should for a product or service­--quality and USP apart-- from an employers and even consumers point of view it does not make much sense to pay more when you can get it for less. This is not a new phenomenon and this decade is not going to see the last of it.

An almost sadistic and juvenile part of me makes me treat this whole episode as the revenge of the developing world. Gone are the days when the West and superpower were synonymous. This is probably the only way the rest of the world can bring so called superpowers down. If the jobs don’t go East, they will go South, if you get my drift.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I'm so tired of traveling...

What a ride it has been so far. Not that I regret much of it, but well… there must be an easier way to travel half way round the world. If I was ever fed up of traveling, it is now, it is now, it is now. Honestly, it’s been painfully long.

After fourteen hours on the plane, my poor little tummy couldn’t take it anymore. I have a headache the size of a mountain and the only thing I can see curing it is sleep.

Any way it all started of with chaos and confusion at our very own airport in Chennai. It’s time someone whispered into the ears of Airport Authority of India that if someone really wanted to bring the place down, there are a million ways to do it. And all the security checking is BS. I brought a tube of lip balm all the way to Paris before someone got it! Security checking is such a pile of bull...

Chennai to Paris wasn’t so bad… Delta is big time cheapskate airline! They don’t serve, as Delta likes to call it “adult beverages” on the India to Paris stretch of the journey. But they make sure they fill you up with nasty aerated drinks every hour like clock work. Delta should learn a thing or two from Singapore Airlines!

The ride till Paris was fine…not much to whine about. But just to make things a little more interesting, I a left a book I borrowed from a certain somebody, on the plane. We deplaned and were on this bus taking us to the main terminal when I realized my hands were empty and so was the bag where this book was. Anyways, we got off the bus and I frantically ran around asking if someone could help me get this book back. Hemmmm… this gracefully aging French guy (actually handsome and spoke descent English! Both don’t necessarily go together most of the time!) got some of his staff to make a few calls, and so began the hunt for the book ….what else can I say, I breathed some activity into their ordinary, boring and mundane French lives!

While waiting to hear the result of the little treasure hunt I set in motion, I saw the lady, who sat a couple of seats away from me on the plane, sauntering in with a book in hand. There just could not have been two copies of that book. It had to be mine….it absolutely had to be mine, so I walked up to her and asked her if she found it on the plane and she replied in a smattering of French and English that she did. Thanking her and the French guy looking for the book profusely I proceeded to the next queue. That felt like a ton (maybe two) of bricks being lifted of my head.

Then again the same sequence of standing in queue, checking bags and persons, and after hearing a million bonjours, I got on the next flight. After it seemed like an endless passage into no where, my tummy barely holding in what ever little I ate, and headache that was threatening to grow into a monstrosity, I landed in Atlanta. After all the flack we Indians get for not standing in line, I was pleased to see some of the Americans (at least from their accents they sounded American) jumping lines and ducking past ropes and ribbons that snaked around long corridors. After clearing immigration which went like a breeze (why does everyone say the immigration officers kick a fuss about things?), which everyone warned me was not the easiest things to get past. I waited for the next flight, and the last leg of my journey.
My head was ready to explode into a million, if not a zillion, bits. And to make things worse I got a window seat that was next to the engine that whrrred forever. I was simply exhausted. All I remember is falling asleep and waking up a few minutes before landing.

After the longest 22 hours of flying and shifting 3 different planes and don’t know how many different time zones, I had reached. Thankfully, I was met by my hostess who got me to my apartment. All I remember then on is popping a few pills and crashing for a few good hours. Having slept off most of the tiredness, I feel better again.