August 18 2008
Today was my first inside look at one of the big corporations. I was standing by the fountain drinking tea and I witnessed one of those mass exits that I had only known from stories of snarled traffic and bad taxi drivers.
Line after line of SUVs left in an orchestrated convoy, carrying home hundreds of BPO dudes and dudettes – to a common point in each area in daylight hours and right to each doorstep at night. Hundreds of doorsteps, every night. Each car fitted with a radar tracker, each driver marked and signed-off, each vehicle cleared by security. With so many cars leaving at the same time and so many people milling about, you'd expect chaos, but there was none. It was planned, mapped, quick. It could have been a military operation.
The sheer scale on which everything is done is overwhelming. My induction was two full days, in the banquet hall of a hotel. 50 others were inducted with me. I spoke to one of the presenters and she said four similar gatherings were being held around the city and our group was the smallest. My company has five offices in different locations in Bangalore. When I say offices, I mean towers or campuses. I am in one with seven floors, each big enough to swallow 300 people. The cafeteria seats hundreds of people at a time. The gym and game room are always busy, at all times of the day.
My laptop came in the box, like at retail. No Dileep from IT comes to set it up for you. You take it to your desk, assemble it, plug it in – and the network automatically loads everything you need. There isn't any Sarah from admin to give you your insurance card and tell you how it works, no Subhash from accounts to explain how the tax works. If you need to know anything, you check on a giant online portal. If it's not there, you have an employees' call-centre.
When you remember that this is just one of the many technology giants in India and they're all providing similar amenities, you get an idea of the growth and change in the country. And feel some sympathy for the government hanging on to the tail of the tiger.
I met some other people who'd come in from advertising and they told me that it's normal to go into some sort of circuit overload. Before this I'd been in one company for so long that I'd forgotten how the first few weeks feel, when you're the stranger and everything is strange. They showed us a video or two at the orientation and it felt really weird to suddenly be on the front end of a corporate video. It's a giant leap. I don't know yet if it's a good thing, but the fact is that the universe gave me what I asked for, against a lot of odds. For that I am grateful, however this turns out.
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