The Kapoors’ Residence

So it’s 21:58 on Tuesday night and my first week in Gurgaon, India. I arrived in Delhi on Friday morning to face a queue twice the length of the arrival hall to be checked for the H1N1 virus. In the end all I did was to fill in a form and tell a man that I didn’t have a fever. That’s how it is here. Nothing is as it seems. At first glance security seems tight; guards donning guns, metal detectors at every public entrance. But in actuality, the guards are skinny and unthreatening, their guns are relics from WWII and the metal detectors bleep every time you walk through but you are never stopped.

I’m here to work for the Indian firm, Technopak, as a Trainee Consultant. Having finished my degree, I want to do something productive with the proceeding year without confining myself to the bounds of an ordinary job in an ordinary city. Well, I couldn’t have made a better choice.

Passing through security checks and immigration, I ambled towards the exit eyes peeled for my pickup. I circle the airport and an hour passes. No one is there. Fortunately, a future flatmate and coworker, Jacek, was able to assist. He picked me up in a cab and we drove a distance to the house in Gurgaon. The city is just south of Delhi, a commercial hub for the MNCs that overflow from the capital. All the bluechip corporates have a presence here. A few years ago it was mere farmland and dust, now there is a sprawling cityscape. I checked the address of my office – Google Maps points to a dot in the middle of a desert.

The house is a 15 minute rickshaw ride from the office, the midst of a maze of dusty, dirty streets indistinguishable to the uninitiated. A grimy market, backstreet barbers and clinics, kirana shops, barren land and construction sites. Cows, sacred animals that they are, roam free. The business district towers in the background. It is not the comfort of the envisaged expat life, but the flat itself offers relative luxury to much of the dwellings that surround. Four bedrooms, two large and two single. A big open space for lounge and dining; kitchen with two hobs, fridge and microwave. Outside a sign welcomes you to the “Kapoors” residence. There are five of us at present, a close-knit group. I am staying in a single room at the back of the house, accessed via the yard.

A few things to get used to. First, the water is stored in two tanks on the property. It is delivered to the neighborhood twice a day, and if no one is home to pump it into the tanks there is no water. Second, the power supply is intermittent. Lights and fans are wired to a storage battery but everything else fails when the electricity cuts, which is frequent. Moreover, the water purifier is reliant on the power. So you have to seize the opportunity when there is electricity. Third, sweat. The heat is intense, in the upper 30s C the majority of the time. Thus, sweat is an inescapable and permanent fixture that I will just have to get used too. I have slept very little in the last two days owing to the heat. All this said, there can be little to complain about once the adjustment has been made.

The weekend was a manic introduction. Saturday night we were host to a house party, with a top Delhi DJ and MC, huge sound system and lights. A generator was even hired to take over when the power failed. Sunday evening we attended a pool party at the Sheraton hotel. Free food and free beer by the poolside, a sweet introduction to Delhi life. On Monday I went through the motions of first day in the office. Arriving at 9:30 I was shown into the conference room along with another intern, in wait for HR’s formal introduction. A short presentation and “I’ll be back in half-an-hour,” Indian time. She returns some hours later to announce the lunch break. Today I have been researching the company’s work in the retail sector, the vertical I will be working in. Very chilled, relaxed atmosphere with friendly people. And the rickshaw ride too and from work beats the London underground any day.

I shall leave it there, retire to my sweaty bed, and make a further attempt to obtain some shuteye. Third night lucky?

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