Saturday, May 8, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore Joe Knox

In November 2009, I was asked to manage an international tax project that would send me to Bengaluru (Bangalore) India for 6 months. After contacting my doctor and careful consideration, I accepted the project and began the long arduous process of applying for an Indian work visa. Luckily, most of this process was cared for by our mobility team and little effort was needed on my part past providing required information and filling out online applications. I was scheduled to be on the ground and leading the 15 to 20 member team stretching two continents and 11 time zones by March 7. I was going to miss March Madness. Fortunately, after a long provision season, I found that the Indian Consulate in Houston was sitting on my application due to changing rules regarding a company's number of workers in India at any given point in time. The confusion meant that my visa was not granted until the first week of April moving my departure date all the way to April 12. I was lucky. I was able to make my annual pilgrimage through the Final Four and spend some much needed 'bonus time' with my better half and first born nephew.

As the 12th approached I was busy packing, communicating with roommates about logistics, and buried in the process of managing a team half a world away. My flight to Bengaluru would take me through Dubai with a co-worker heading to India for the same purpose. And then, on April 14th 2010, reality set in. We're not in Kansas anymore Joe Knox. I was far from the customs and privileges forged with the blood and guts of American patriots and entrepreneurs that came before us, and I was to be here for 5 months. Officially, as I am told, this is my first trip overseas. London apparently doesn't count as an international journey. I had also been "deep" into Mexico somewhere south of Monterrey about 11 years ago, but this is not the Americas. The United States had broken the shackles of European domain in 1776. Mexico followed suit in 1824 despite a brief subservience to France in the 1860s. India has only been free of English imperialism since 1947 and didn't fully evict European rule from the subcontinent until the 60s when they ran the Portuguese out of Goa. This was, and is, going to be the experience of a lifetime. Not one person, including myself, has India high on their list of places to see before we die. Most wouldn't even consider the Taj Mahal important enough to put India above their 10th visit to any European state (I say state because the European Union has the power to force itself on any one of its member nations).

There is much to say about this foreign land. Where to begin, how much detail to dive into? How does it compare to what I'm use to back home? Each topic, whether it be traffic, living circumstances, customs and local beliefs, enjoyment, and daily happenings could take pages to fully describe and give you a sense of my true feelings and apprehensions. As such, this first post was only to tell the tale of how I got here and give you a sense of the beginning. Each new post will contain different elements of my travels intermixing facts and events with my personal thoughts and musings.

I have titled the blog "Politics, India, and...uh Personal Musings". Anyone who knows me is aware that politics, local and national, has a tendency to consume me. This will, at the least, be cause for me to make many mentions of my thoughts on current events. There is no mistaking that my posts may offend any of a number of people at any given time, but as the US Constitution grants me the right to free speech and press, I feel that each of my readers (even if just one) will respect that and join with me in intelligent discourse where I may be wrong or short on facts. Where I may seem closed minded, it is only my hard head and strong convictions. I invite any man or woman to respectfully challenge any of my political leanings.

Without further adieu, please enjoy.

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