Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another night at the convention

I realize I have no hard judgment. I can't respond objectively to the democratic convention. Here's where I'm left after 8 years of the Clintons and 8 years of the Bush Republicans.

Bullets follow, the signal of random thought:

  • I was sick of the Clintons, their approach, the nasty heat that followed. That led me to Obama as much as anything else.

  • I'm sick of Bush and the Republicans being in charge. Just plain nasty (do you see my mindless mantra here). I've hear too much of that. The nasty liberals, the nasty elitists, those bad folks who aren't really Americans like us. I've had my fill of that too. And too sure of what "right" belief is. I'm a skeptic on folks who know what is right. And that's a long story for me, but a deeply felt one.

  • So where can we possibly go from here. Obama is obviously young, inexperienced, someone not quite with what we expect as the one who might be president . But to a certain extent I'm okay with that, though worried. I suspect that the transformational figures were mostly there when they popped onto the national scene. (Lincoln, T Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton, for better or worse.) I see good signs with him (smart, pragmatic, decent). But I worry about some things--especially global economy. But I tell myself he's smart, pragmatic, decent. And what are my choices. I think I'll go with smart, pragmatic, decent, open. I do think he's open, not dogmatic.

  • I'm starting to get old. Not hugely old but 5 weeks older than Hillary Clinton. That makes me think that McCain really is pretty damn old for someone we're thinking about electing President. And that worries me. Because I spend a good deal of time these days thinking about what it means to get old. There are other things about McCain that worry me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hope? How?

I've been watching the Democratic convention over the past few evenings. This sort of thing does leave me interested and discouraged:

  • Why are the Clintons so damned good, talented, smart, moving, when I can't trust them?

  • Things will be nasty again. I especially hate the way it will be nasty against the Obamas. Why is this part of American politics?

  • I don't see how we can be against global economics. This is a fact and mostly good. Our politics needs to find a functional way to deal with this.

  • Obama. I basically like him and his wife. What a weird combination of black and too educated (read elistist), who could have imagined his combination.

  • I'm not against educated (even graduate school educated folks). Why is this unAmerican. It should be that person is impressive, or annoying, scary. Just like everyone else.

  • I seem to be in the gut a Democrat. Not always easy with a son who interviewed to work for Clarence Thomas and a husband who listens daily to Rush Limbaugh, et al. . .

  • I do listen nightly to PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox in an attempt to have a spectrum. I also read the Economist.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When yes may mean no

My hunch for some time now in working with my colleagues in India is that folks always want to be accommodating and positive. This means that pretty much no matter what I say, my colleague in India--I'm thinking in particular of the editorial manager most parallel to me in the food chain--will agree with me. And then he starts talking. Rapid-fire, India English. A very specialized dialect, discourse. It's hard to track in detail. But invariably I come away with the deep hunch that this yes was a yes, but. . . . . . A qualified yes. Perhaps very close to a no.

Communicating with a team in India is a challenge. Some things to know about India. All of India is in one time zone. At a general level this means two time zones have been combined and halved. This accounts for why meetings with India or either 12.5 or 13.5 hours off times in Pacific Standard Time--Seattle or San Jose or San Francisco ( the main crowed I'm dealing with right now). The .5 is accounted for by the fact that India decided they wanted the country on one time zone, took the two main ones and cut them in half: that's the .5. And then the 12.5 or 13.5 hours--that's because India has no daylight savings times. At the equator this makes sense. There really isn't time to "save" with the seasons.

So communicating. It means that in meetings with India you can meet 7:00 a.m. PST (which is night time in India) or 9:00 p.m. PST (which is morning in India). I found that my colleagues, as a rule, arrive at the office between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. (India time) and leave between 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. (India time). My colleagues in India want to be home by 9:00 p.m. or so--when the evening meal generally occurs in homes in India, so I'm told.

Lots of details here. But realize that the bottom line means that there is basically an hour at about 7:00 in the morning and another hour at about 9:00 at night that a person on the west coast of the USA can communicate in real time (meetings, back and forth with e-mail) with colleagues in e-mail. Other than that you send an e-mail--get an answer 24 hours later.

So here's the trick. Communication is very indirect. Yes probably means no. You need to negotiate. Figure out where you are. Be positive and supportive. (Not particularly direct.) And you have an hour a day to do this. Not particularly quick.

And so my trip to India Amazingly useful. 7 working days, face to face, 8+ hours a day. What an useful, productive run of hours, discussions questions, answers, concerns. I think my company probably got it's money worth.

And I had this amazing encounter with this weird, scary, wonderful country.

A missed opportunity

I feel bad that I didn't have enough energy, enough character, to write while we spent our almost two weeks in India. That was the most intense experience I've had visiting a place that is "other." This experience had such highs--and such challenges. I didn't capture the moment. I will do what I can to recover what still lives in my body, my memory, my waking and sleeping dreams, about that amazing, sad, wonderful, overwhelming country.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

In Noida

We arrived in Delhi last night--which was really yesterday morning Seattle time. A pretty uneventful flight. We flew from Seattle to Newark. Transferred to another flight and flew from Newark to New Delhi.

I have definitely learned the benefits of flying business class on a long flight. Courtesy of Adobe. Don flew passenger. And was very miserable. The business class was like some sort of bizarre game. Lots of room (my own overhead bin) to spread out and relax. Good food. Lots of drinks, snacks, etc.

Very warm when we got to the airport. We had arranged with the hotel to send a car, but we couldn’t find it at first. So we changed some money and got ready to hire another taxi. But finally I found our driver. Very busy and chaotic roads. We made it to the hotel shortly before midnight.

We were both tired enough that we didn’t find it that hard to go to sleep. We are staying in a Radisson which is very nice and air conditioned. This morning we got up and had a breakfast at the hotel--an interesting mix of American, Indian, and British breadkfast (with beans, roasted tomatos, etc.). Then we walked around the area. Some very run down shops and streets. And two huge, modern malls.

We are off this afternoon with Pawan from work to Agra. We will stay over night and tomorrow see the Taj Mahal and the old fort. Then back to Noida. It is about a 5-hours drive I’m told. Pawan has hired a driver and car. That seems to be the way that folks travel. And he has arranged for a hotel in Agra. I’m glad that we have someone to arrange things for us and show us around.

At one point Pawan had talked about bringing his wife and son. But I think at this point he is travelling alone with us. We’ll see. Either way I’m okay. But Don was concerned about too many people. We’ll see.