Good and Not So Good

Jacking PitGood, Bad and Ugly

In any new situation there are invariably little things that surprise. Coming from the US to almost any other country the ‘not so good’ typically outnumber the ‘good’. India is no exception. Let me list a few in no particular order.

Not so good:

  • Power. In terms of an ‘Infrastructure Gap’ power is the biggest issue in India. We have good power in Odisha, but even so it typically goes out for short periods every day. In other parts of the country it’s much worst. Emergency generators solve the problem, but not always.
  • Safety. India doesn’t have an equivalent to the US OSHA. Safety is not typically a primary consideration on construction jobs. Note the picture: hard hats are good, but flip flops are not. Shoring of excavations is also ad hoc. Also please note that this is not a Tetra Tech construction project
  • No Clocks. This is more prevalent outside the big cities and is due to the unreliably power. If there were clocks you would forever be re-setting the time. Watches and cell phones solve the problem.
  • Toilet Bowls. This is also mostly a problem outside the urban areas. The problem is there aren’t any, just a nice hole in the floor. I laughed so hard one night when Satish was trying to explain the technique. He hadn’t used one since his childhood, but the memories were still ‘fresh’.
  • Cleaning. There are cleaning products and sponges, but they are not typically used by the house cleaning help. If you want something really cleaned you need to demonstrate the technique and watch it done once or the results are always disappointing. Also workmen, delivery people and houseboys always seem to have dirty hands and for some reason they love to touch the walls. I have the cleaning people trained to search out and destroy dirty finger prints, but it’s been a battle, especially in the office.
  • Cleaning II. I think there are only 3 vacuumed cleaners in the entire country and I don’t have one. It would be so much easier cleaning rugs with one than by hand. But since I don’t do the cleaning why should I care.


  • Ceiling Fans. They are everywhere and much needed in the heat. They keep the air moving and with good ventilation it’s sometimes better than AC, and of course takes less energy.
  • Showers. The water is hot, the pressure is good and there are no shower ‘stalls’, except in the hotels for foreigners. The entire bathroom serves as the shower area, at least the portion where the shower head is located. It’s great not to be closed in as long as the floor is adequately sloped to remove water quickly.
  • Holidays. India is a great country for holidays. Somewhere between 15 to 20 per year. The excuse is most of India works a 6 day week, but when you subtract for holidays it’s more like 4. To give you an idea of the extent too which holidays are celebrated, Good Friday is a holiday. In a country that is 85% Hindu this is amusing to me. We work every holiday anyway!
  • Religion and Food. These two more then even out the score on the good side. More on them later, but for the record, I haven’t been sick one day in India.