Sweet passage to India for a European quartet

Hindustan Times | By, Gurgaon
Jul 15, 2007 02:27 AM IST

Selma Kasimay (32), Sigrid Granitzer (26), Sandra Winkler (28) and Raoul Wouters (26) are in love with India, and deeply so. For these youngsters, life in India has been a mixture of extensive travel and work, writes Manoj Sharma.

There is a twinkle in their eyes as they talk about their passage to India — it’s a twinkle that comes from having fulfilled a long-cherished dream. Their dream was to explore India. So they decided to take up a short- term contract job here. And as they narrate their India experiences in the cafeteria of the second floor office of their company, Evalueserve, which affords a panoramic view of Gurgaon’s spectacular skyline dotted with glass- and-steel towers and malls, it is obvious that they love the life they are living here.

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Selma Kasimay (32), Sigrid Granitzer (26), Sandra Winkler (28) and Raoul Wouters (26) are in love with India, and deeply so. All of them are in India on work visas. What fascinates them about India most is its cultural and physical diversity: the high Himalayas, the tropical beaches, the arid desert, the dense forests. “The most important reason why I took up a job in India was that I wanted to explore India’s breathtaking diversity. The only way I could see this country was to work here. I am so happy that I have been able to fulfill my life-long desire; besides, I have gained valuable work experience that will be of great help to me in my career,” says Sandra, who is from Germany and works as a brand manager, intellectual property, with Evalueserve, a Gurgaon-based knowledge process outsourcing company.

For these youngsters, life in India has been a mixture of extensive travel and work. In fact, travel is high on their agenda. A few months into India and they have already covered a lot of territory — Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Nainital, Mumbai , Kolkata, Kerala, Kashmir, etc. On weekends they undertake trips to nearby destinations such as Jaipur, Agra, and Nainital. There are thirty- five foreign nationals on the staff of Evalueserve. When they wish to travel, they send emails to each other, intimating each other about their travel plans. This is how they decide who would go with whom and where. What helps them is the fact that their company is liberal with granting leaves and then there is a salary that is good enough to take care of their travel expenses.

For Raoul Wouters, who hails from Holland, the mystical landscape of Leh will live in his memory forever, though he has visited Mumbai, Goa, Kerala and Kolkata during his one- year sojourn in India. “Leh boasts of an enchanting landscape, and Delhi, I believe, is the most colorful and culturally vibrant of all Indian cities. A drive to Delhi is one of my ways to chill out after office”, he says. “This is the only country where the ancient and the modern exist together. You have cows on the roads lined by imposing glass- and- steel towers”, adds Sigrid, an Austrian.

What these youngsters like about their work life in India is partying, bonhomie and banter that characterize the office culture here. “Almost everyday there is someone’s birthday in the office and we celebrate it together. It’s great fun”, says Raoul. They have also forged enduring friendships and often hang out with their Indian friends and visit their families. “Indian people are warm and welcoming”, says Sigrid. These youngsters believe Indian companies follow high standards of professionalism. They have learnt a lot on the job in India. “It has been an edifying exchange of ideas between us and our Indian colleagues. We have learnt a lot from each other., says Raoul.

For these European youngsters, their India dreams did not go down well with their parents, as they were not happy with their decision to work in an ‘alien and faraway’ land. But that did not deter Selma who undertook a journey to India in February last year. “My parents were not convinced about my decision to work in India, but despite their reservations I just packed my bags and took a plane to India. Now that every thing has gone fine for me here, they are satisfied with my decision”, says Selma who has worked in Argentina and Chile before coming to India.

There are a few things that these youngsters have not been able to come to terms with in India. For Raoul, it’s the swirling dust everywhere that he finds difficult to cope with. “I have learnt to deal with the heat and humidity, but I just can not cope with dust”, he says. For Sandra, it’s ‘one minute attitude’ of the people that irritates her most. “Indians need to be punctual. You ask them to do something and they would invariably say wait a minute, which eventually means half an hour.”

But Sigrid, who has sought an extension of her six-month contract, has no complaints. For her everything, everyone, everywhere in India is something to write home about.

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    Manoj Sharma is Metro Features Editor at Hindustan Times. He likes to pursue stories that otherwise fall through the cracks.

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