Saturday, January 22, 2011

Getting things done in India

Moving to India people emphasize the great need for patience.  And of course the corruption, especially in the form of bribery, is infamous.  These things are both totally true.  Maybe because I was mentally prepared for those things, they aren't what struck me most.  What strikes me is how many people seem to be required to do anything.  Maybe it is a result of overpopulation and underemployment.  Or a stronger sense of community, things are just always done in groups?  And the inefficiency doesn't even stop there.

When we were having the house painted, Anil and another man to whom I wasn't properly introduced were both supervising the 3 or 4 men that were actually doing all the work.  It took them nearly a week to paint two bedrooms and the terrace.  They also didn't do anything to protect the floors.  I'm sorry I didn't think to get pictures of all the paint dripped on the marble.  Surely scraping it off later was a laborious task.  Back home a college kid probably could've done it in a couple days. 

We bought some used AC units.  The first time I went to inspect them, there were about ten piled in a small office/shop in a building that was under construction.  There was no electricity there and I wanted to see them in action.  Accomplishing this display involved about 8 people:  A couple men to move the AC units back and forth, the owner, our real estate agent, the guy that drove me to the building, the guy that owns the AC units, a couple guys to sort out what exactly to plug them into. We couldn't settle on price on the spot.  The man who owns the AC's mother had to be consulted.

You can see lines of people bent over with tiny brooms all over the place.  Lines of people are pruning greenery with their bare hands anywhere that the landscaping is well maintained.  Lines of men and women are carrying rocks to build new roads and fill potholes.  No wheelbarrows or anything.  Almost nothing is mechanized.  And efforts to do so are often met with strong opposition in the name of saving jobs.  It's incredible.

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