Friday, May 06, 2011

Week 2 - New York

I have probably not had a week this hectic in recent times. With everything planned to the last minute and the last detail. 

Learned a lot about how events are organized. Events or entertaining , as such in India is nowhere close to any of what happens here. In spite of the kind of people I have met and who they are.... some of them are on the Fortune Most Powerful List.. but they come on time. They respect other people's time. While in India, there is an ongoing battle with everyone to do anything on time. Forget award ceremonies, thats too much to ask for in India I guess, but I still do not understand why most channels cannot start their shoots on time. Anyway. Cannot but help compare it with what we are used to.

On the other hand, our mobile phone services are better. There are just way too many dropped calls here. Domestic flights are way better. And in a way I think we Indians are comparatively more polite and nicer on the services side and are willing to help or assist.

Also, talking to the other mentees who are a part of this program has been quite an illuminating experience on cultures, thought processes, people and their perceptions. And also, no matter where women are, which country, which culture, we can all connect instantly. And I guess it makes sense to have more women as policy makers and in politics. I somehow believe the world will be a better place that way. 

I have also been meeting mostly women the past few days who are key decision makers, high level policy advisors ( We met the Policy Advisor to the First Lady at the White House), women who are campaigning for change and yes this country needs a lot of work too. A lot of us outside of America think this place is perfect, but not quite. I met Michela English over lunch yesterday and was totally amazed by her work and the facts she showed us. is the President and CEO of this organization. You might want to take a look and I learned so much from her in those two hours.

Other observations -
Washington is way smaller than I imagined. Most roads are single lane in the city
Roads in Chennai seem wider :)
Traffic is held up here as well when an important politician passes. We were held up for about 10-15 minutes in DC. So maybe we in India should not complain. It happens in developed countries too :)
Amazing subway system and the officers at the Information desk at the subway are super helpful.
And meeting so many women and actual doers in politics I wonder how much longer before it all happens in India. And I wonder how much longer we will have excuses. How much longer the really educated and visionary enter politics. How much longer......


Cosmos said...

Agree 100% with your observation on the differences in timeliness and professionalism . We have lots of catching up to do! Have a wonderful time, Maam.

Unknown said...

Enthralling read. I hope you are enjoying your stay on the whole so far!

I just had a few reactions to your first impressions:

I guess foreigners get an inflated sense of D.C., but, here, nobody thinks of it as a major metro area. It's only about 1/3 the density of Chennai, Delhi, or NYC, and is at least 4 times smaller than all of those cities. Really only NYC can rival the densities of the major Indian cities.

D.C., like almost all Northeastern cities, has narrow roads. Obviously, the cities up there are older, so they weren't built with modern transportation in mind. Since they are relatively denser than the rest of the country, they can get by with good public transportation and more foot and bike traffic. Younger cities outside the Northeaster almost uniformly have more commodious roads that are in better condition.

Northeasterners, and New Yorkers in particular, are famously curt to strangers, so please don't be disheartened by people's brusqueness there. It's just a cultural aspect that probably evolve due to the cold climate and crampedness of the cities. There's hardly time for pleasantries when ice shards are blowing in your face as you fight a crowd of thousands onto the subway each day. This disposition changes a lot as you go West, and, especially, South.

Domestic flights here are a grab bag. It really depends on the airline, airport, timings, and just luck. Most of the time it's decently tolerable, but sometimes the experience is hellacious. You just never know.

Finally, I apologize our tea isn't your cup of tea. It isn't for most foreigners. Different palates.

Anyway, I look forward to more of the musings of Ms. Chinmayi de Tocqueville as you take in this crazy place. It's always interesting to read outsiders thoughts as they discover the fon-dos and the fon-don'ts as they dive into America's melting pot. Cheesy phrasing...sorry! :)

Regards and Best Wishes,
Brice Robinson

Priya said...

You are well educated... you have good vision, why don't you try Chinmayi? we will all be there to support you in your every venture. And more than anything we will be glad to see our country in a good and safer hands

Anonymous said...

Yes.Mobile phone services are way better and cheaper in India.Here still charging minutes for incoming calls, reading messages.Sigh!!

Arjun said...

Hi !
You're totally distinct, by always.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a dropped call in years, it depends on who the service provider is. Verizon is quite reliable here.

Holding the traffic for anyone may happen in DC, but I haven't experienced this myself anywhere in US. I don't believe an ambulance/emergency vehicle will be stopped for any one unlike our country.


Sashwath said...

Nicely written as always. .

" women as policy makers and in politics. I somehow believe the world will be a better place that way " Interesting idea. Lets try. .

Wonder what will men do . ?

Saranya said...

Hi, good comparisons. You are not there because you are lucky, but it is your hard work that is being paid off.

One thing, I don't agree with the domestic flights system at all. Domestic service in India is the worst I have seen. You didn't have that experience may be because you were recognised and give priorities (no offense, but just for the sake of explaining), I can say India's domestic flights are worse that there is nothing of what you have said about 'being polite' and 'willing to help'.

Anyway, have fun.

Arun Vaidyanathan said...

You've not mentioned about the food yet. It isn't as easy to assume either. Is it that you haven't been to any of the food joints around or is it that you were able to consume all that was served everytime you dined? I've seen even locals complain that the food served in the US is unhealthy in terms of content and quantity. Do you agree atleast with the quantity factor if not the content?
The best part is that they pack the left over for you if you need. And, the difficult part is that they think the food isn't good if you've not fully consumed it. They also ask you if you didn't like it.

All that aside, you are doing great in terms that can not be easily expressed. I am happy for you. Thanks.

Good luck ever...

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Arun... am not paying so much attention to food.. have slightly more important things.. so I guess thats why :) Its something I am doing on the go.
Saranya: I dont get any preferential treatment because I am a celeb or anything.. I am not recognised in most parts of India and thats what I was talking about.
Saswath: I am not sure why this question comes up.. you guys can do what you have been doing all the while.. the arena just got better and more competitive. I am going to showcase this comment in the mentorship program.. comes down as a typical response.

Arun Vaidyanathan said...

Agreed.., "Sevikku unavillaadha bodhu.. siridhu vayittrukkum eeyyappadum"

Rukee said...


It is time for you to understand the politics, system and start entering. People like who are already much empowered should join...This is my honest opinion...

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Rukee: Thanks for your kind words and the belief that you have in someone as small as me. But I think Indian politics requires a lot of what I dont have. I cannot play the caste card, and I am at a caste disadvantage, of sorts, I neither have the money nor the muscle power:) which I'm observing is very necessary for success in politics.

I guess that sums it all up.
however I love Narendra Modi :)

Sashwath said...

Hi Chinmayi,

I actually liked your post and the way it was written, U actually liked what you had quoted and put it in facebook ..

Read this line on a celebrity post , Find it true in some case . . The hypothesis would be that behind a successful woman there is the absence of a man who might have stood in her way!
Yesterday at 9:02am

Have a nice time , try not to post this .

Jagdish said...

Hi chinmayi.. Just today i saw a few tweets and came to ur blogs...

I dont read much.. but ur simple language made me to read it completely...

I appreciate it and continue ur good work