This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Shubhaprava Chakrabarti, a Solutions Engineer from our Kolkata office since June 2011, on his experiences here in the United States. This year he received the opportunity to work on several projects at our Somerset office. He shared with me some interesting stories and spoke about the differences between working here and in India.
MS: Is this your first time visiting the US?
SC: Yes, this is the first time I’ve ever traveled abroad. I’ve traveled a lot in India, but this is my first time outside of India.
MS: What was your reaction when you first found out you were coming?
SC: When my manager Aditya (Aditya Saharay, Solution Manager) told me I had to come to the US office for some project work, I was very excited! For me, it was my first time making an on-site visit to a different country, and the first place I wanted to see was New York City.
MS: What particular project brought you here?
SC: A global pharma lab project in which I partook the role of an engineer, but when I get back to India, I might have to take on other responsibilities. Maybe some other tasks will be assigned to me as I have more knowledge of the project.
MS: How has working here been different from working in Kolkata?
SC: When we work in India, we don’t get that much exposure to our client site. Managers or PAs assign us some work, we give demos, and that’s all. Here, we get the real client experience. Even though I haven’t been to a client site yet, I sat in calls and saw how the team interacted with our clients. My previous project was NYU, and at that time, we held discussions on design through web conferences, which is not as interesting as having the clients on the line while seeing my colleagues write ideas all over the white boards. I also never experienced this kind of interaction because of the time gap; there is almost a 9 hour difference between India and the US.
MS: Is the Somerset office what you thought it would be?
SC: Before coming here, I thought Somerset was a city, but it appears more country-like than I expected. It’s still nice to be in a hassle-free environment with a clear sky. I was also suprised the office is a lot smaller than the one in Kolkata. Over there, we have almost 113 people but still have vacant spaces. We can probably fit a total of 140 people in our Indian office.
MS: What are some key differences between India and the US?
SC: You can’t exactly compare India and the US. The people are different. We have a different religion and different notions of life. India is heavily populated especially in the metropolitan cities. The Kolkata office is 15 kilometers from my house, and it takes me an hour to get there by bus because there’s so much traffic. When returning home, traffic is even heavier, extending my commute by an extra hour. Here, everyone owns a car, unlike in India, where ownership is only at about 15-20%, leaving the rest of us dependent on public transit. We enjoy that, though, because we like chatting with other people while going to the office. The food is also very different. We like to eat spicy foods, and we’re used to eating white rice, chicken, and Biriyani. We eat a lot more than people here, whom seem to fill up quite easily!
MS: What are some memorable moments you’ve had here?
SC: After only being here for a few days, Sid (Siddhartha Ghose, Business Analyst) and Mrinal (Mrinal Mukherjee, Solutions Engineer) took me along with them one night to surprise our colleague for his birthday. We bought a cake from ShopRite and went knocking on Shantanu’s door (Shantanu Ghosh, Solution Consultant) that midnight. We also celebrated Krishna’s birthday (Krishna Tanaku, Customer Support Analyst) at the hotel. That was a lot of fun! Going to Portland, Oregon with Henry (Henry Zhuang, Solution Architect) and Darron (Darron David, Customer Care Specialist) for training was exciting. We got on the Portland Aerial Tram for 2 hours, ate at a seafood restaurant, and enjoyed our time there. Going to the ball park for the company picnic was interesting too because Jerry (Jerry Hacker, Sr. VP of Global Sales) taught me the entire game of baseball. He was very enthusiastic about it, so now I have some interest in the game.
MS: After being here for almost three months, do you want to move to the US?
SC: This is a lovely country, but I want to stay in India. That’s my home country. I love living in India. Everyone is there, my family and friends. It’s great to come here and meet with my US colleagues but not permanently, at least not for now.