Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Everyday on the way to work, I pass this massive structure which looks like a pirate ship collided with a professional football stadium. It is gargantuan and extremely impressive. It is being built by Tata Consultancy Services. It's about their 20th building in Chennai, and Chennai is a small part of their operations. Maybe you haven't heard of Tata - maybe you will some day when they own the other 5/6th of the world. Seriously, they are bigger than Walmart - yes, bigger than Walmart.

Here is what "the Tata Group" specializes in:
-Wireless Mobile Services
-Mobile Broadband
-IT consulting (largest in India)
-Business Process Outsourcing (largest in India)
-Product Design
-Cars (largest manufacturer in India, they made the Ambassador, which was pretty much the only car in India for a few decades, owns Jaguar and Land Rover, makes a car that costs only $2,200)
-Energy production (largest in India)
-Steel (largest in India)
-Tea (largest in India, 2nd largest in the world)
-Satellite TV

In virtually any profitable industry, Tata is there building huge buildings and loving it. Good luck keeping up with that pace, Walmart.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bobble Heads

One thing India is famous for is the ever ambiguous head bobble. It is not the lateral "no" or the verticle "yes", but a third dimension of head movements. It can mean, "Ok", "No problem", "Yes", "I don't know", "Maybe", "Of course", and a host of other phrases. So, often when we get that response, it is necessary to clarify the exact meaning of what they said, which usually results in another head bobble.

For example:
"Ok, so 50 rupees, right?" Head bobble
"50 rupees?" Head bobble.
"Ok, so it's 50 rupees then?" Very confident head bobble.

I thought this might be just a cross-cultural problem, but then I got this email from a trainee in my last batch. His manager was 2 hours late to a meeting and apologized when he finally arrived. The trainee wasn't sure how to respond. In his own words, "I had no clue what to do. I nodded my head in every possible direction."

He asked me if he did the right thing. I bobbled my head.