Dispatch from India: Reflections after one month

June 30, 2008

IST student dispatch from India series

Steve Garguilo, Joel Boucher, Matt Prindible and Larissa Andrejko are rising seniors in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology. They are spending this summer in Bangalore, India, interning for Honeywell International, a diversified technology and manufacturing corporation. They are blogging about their experiences on the other side of the world. Included in this fifth dispatch are installments from Boucher, Garguilo and Prindible’s blogs:

Joel Boucher: Penn State goes global

I know it has been said that you can't go anywhere in the United States without running into a Penn State alum, but I can say that I have traveled to the other side of the world and have seen Penn State here, too! Penn State is everywhere!

Some quick numbers: There are the four interns here at Honeywell; Eric Menendez graduated from Penn State two years ago and is working with Intel in Bangalore this summer; Steve’s friend’s sister Margaret is working at Infosys in the city this summer; Dr. Irene Petrick, an IST professor, is traveling around India working for CSC interviewing people about globally distributed teams and living in Bangalore for the summer; and we even saw a random guy wearing a Penn State hat at a mall about a week ago! So, right there, that is eight people associated with Penn State. Then there are countless Penn State alumni working at Honeywell internationally. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it -- Penn State really is everywhere.

It recently hit me -- there are a lot of people looking at the four of us this summer, not just watching us and casually reading about our travels, but learning from us and preparing to do this again next year. There are a lot more people reading our blogs than I originally thought. This includes many people from Penn State and IST and even corporate Honeywell people. For instance, yesterday I received two e-mails from two vice presidents of Honeywell, both extending their best wishes to us and one saying he enjoyed reading about our experiences. Then, he told me about his time in India years ago and how so much has changed since then. I like how senior management is so focused on interns. It’s also exciting that they are both Penn State alumni. I guess I have something to look forward to.

Steve Garguilo: Nightlife, negotiation and jobs

Recently, we got to see what the Bangalore night life is like. It's a bit different. The club was open from about 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. At exactly 11:30, all the lights go on, the music stops and everyone has to leave -- they take it very seriously. We actually heard some more recent music at this club, though! They played Flo Rida!

I also got a chance to negotiate with the rickshaw drivers both ways, and have started to hone in on those skills. They start out ridiculously high with what's known as the "white tax," but given that we know about how much things are supposed to cost, I've been able to bargain them down to a reasonable amount each time. Even the places furthest away are only like 100 rupees, which is about $2.50.

One general observation I've made lately includes just the sheer amount of human labor utilized for things considering how many people there are here. It's not that they don't have the technology or the ability to automate or do away with some of these things, but they want to have as many people employed as possible, so there are a lot of people who do things we wouldn't normally see in the U.S.

For example, we've seen people cutting the grass on their hands and knees with little scissors. It must take hours and hours to do it that way, but it gives someone a job. We see people every day who sit next to the tea machines at work and when you walk up, they'll serve the tea. Realistically, I could press the button to dispense the tea, but it gives someone a job. Additionally, when making outside calls for like a conference call or something, most people dial to the operator and have her put in the numbers and place the call. It's just more common here to give more people things to do.

I believe the government encourages this by giving some type of tax breaks/incentives to employing people because it helps with unemployment rates and keeps people off the streets. It's pretty interesting.

Matt Prindible: Preparing for a monsoon

There’s a bit of anticipation budding inside me right now. Each morning, the walk to catch our shuttle begins with fewer sidewalks and space to walk apart from oncoming traffic, and the return home -- even less. I see sidewalks around the city are being torn apart and dug up, exposing an intricate network of drainage ditches leading into the various lakes and streams around the city.

It seems the city is rapidly preparing for the upcoming monsoon season by clearing out the trash that accumulates during the year, reinforcing some of the walls and building new drains. If the rains from the monsoon are even half as intense as these people working to prepare, we’re really in for an experience. What can I say? I love storms…

Thankfully, Bangalore sits safely atop the Mysore Plateau, at a comfortable 920 meters above sea level, so we really shouldn’t experience the same flooding currently disrupting life and business in Mumbai. In some places, the water has risen waist deep, disrupting all transportation except for those trusty rickshaws and their two-stroke weed-whacker engines.

I’ve started to notice some knee-deep waterlines on some of the buildings around the city. My guess is that most of them are left from 2005, when the rains set all-time records. But with meteorologists questioning why the monsoon season has arrived earlier and stronger than years before, I can only think we might be in for something out of the ordinary.

  • Penn State students (left to right) Steve Garguilo (senior, IST), Matt Prindible (senior, IST), Joel Boucher (senior, SRA), Larissa Andrejko (senior, SRA) visited Mysore Palace in the historic city of Mysore, India during a weekend excursion. The four students are interning at Honeywell International in nearby Bangalore, India, this summer, and are

    IMAGE: Steve Garguilo
Last Updated November 18, 2010