Monday, March 19, 2007

A life called Infosys - The Great American Dream

The Great American Dream
Most of us from the developing economies like India, have grown up looking up to the US as a land of opportunities, where nothing seems impossible. A lot of us have aspirations to go this land of dreams and make most of the opportunies if offers. It is a dream about living a comfortable life, having lots of money to spend, owning a fancy car, a small villa somewhere, having fun at the casinos, watching the gorgeous looking hollywood babes, the XXXX clubs (sorry that is censored), travelling half way around the world and so on ... A lot of the dream is, fuelled (apart from the money part) by our appetite for the hollywood movies, may not be a true representation of the US. However whether the representation is true or not it does form "The Great American Dream"

Now how does Infosys link up with this dream. That can be explained quite easily. Just like any typical Software services company, a large part of the Infosys business comes from the USA. Thus as an employee it offers a lot of opportunities to travel. So within weeks of entering the company a person would come to relate the term "onsite" (stands for the project team that faces the client in the US) to "The Great American Dream". Its true because the people at onsite are usually Indian employees on abroad deputations and for all those in India, they are living the Dream.

For anyone remotely interested in any part of the Dream (for most of us it is the money), a subconscious build up to that dream starts very soon. Thus its a time to party when the manager asks some one to file the papers for a Visa, or when the Visa interview is successfully cleared, or when the travel date is announced. Never would anybody be so excited about a short term transfer as some one who is about to get that ticket to the US. I think even Europe or Australia would be good destinations but then they don't have the "Dream" associated with them. The best part is that any person with a sufficient work experience, an ability to get the job done and acceptable communication skills, eventually ends up getting the chance. In short most people would eventually get that chance to party.

Its a dream that literally shakes up the life for some. It should be, for it involves moving physically to the other end of the globe. Thus the announcement of an onsite opportunity is not just a time to party. Its a time to spend several thousand rupees in shopping. The time to perhaps even sell of some of the household items like furniture, electronics etc, if the trip is expected to be a long one. For some with stable relationships it is a time to even tie the knot in a hurry (for who knows when will I get to return?). Its a time to start bothering about things like do I have an international driver's permit, how many $s should I save a month, do I know any one there, can some one fix up an apartment for me and so on. I cannot think of any event, other than marriage, that shakes up some ones life so much and yet that person is excited about it. There is the anxiety, the fear, the pain of separation from loved ones but I think usually the excitement reins supreme.

For some this dream becomes true the first time the manager announces about the opportunity. However for many this dream also has an additional twist of the "law of uncertain dates".
The law as I would quote it is "A person is not at onsite until having cleared all the immigration checks at the US airport and taken the first breath of the air in the US" Any one would say that the above statement is obvious and this very statement does not mention anything about a Date. The reason is that this statemen is the consequence of some of the uncertainties that bother people. As mentioned in the "shake up of life" para above, the announcement on onsite shakes up life and yet a person is excited about it. It is because most people have in their dreams already started living the "Great American Dream". However every now and then due to delay in formalities the dates get pushed, the trip gets postponed in definitely, the trip even gets cancelled and so on. I have even heard stories of people having confirmed tickets in the hands and then being recalled from the airport. Of course given the business model of the company there is rarely a case who does not get the opportunity at all. As I mentioned before "eventually" every one gets the chance. However the uncertainties mentioned above mean that the excitement will often be met with grave dissapointment for short while. Thus the simple statement at the begining of this para,turns into "The law of uncertain dates"

Thus every infoscions "Great American Dream" is now summarized in few words. My next article would be about living that dream.

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