The inaugural Executive MBA Mumbai Class 1 started in April 2015 as a joint partnership between Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and Washington University. There are 27 students (23 men and four women) in our class. I can be directly attributed to the 3% international student figure as the only foreigner in class. In case you were wondering how I got to India, my wife accepted an expat assignment from her firm in Denver, Colorado, and shared the news for the first time when she picked me up at the Mumbai airport terminal at the end of her business trip.
Our class is dynamic and very interactive. My classmates share their experiences and ideas from a wide range of industries such as IT services, agriculture, manufacturing, and aerospace to name a few.
In October, we will spend two weeks studying in the U.S. So please don’t hesitate to say hello when we are in St. Louis, or stop any of us to ask questions about our perspectives on emerging markets, culture, and life. Many members of our class travel quite extensively. However, for some, this will be their first visit to the United States, and for others, this will be their first travels outside of India.
To share some Indian insights, I have borrowed David Letterman’s Top 10 approach and compiled some unique experiences that can be found “Only in India…”
Number 10: Traffic is very congested in India and the use of the car horn is applied liberally. Actually, I believe honking is a form of echo location. Whether you are five feet or fifty feet away, honking is mandatory.
Number 9: Does “yes” mean “no”? No one ever says “no”. How can I tell if “yes” means “yes”?
Number 8: Seeing the locals’ reaction when saying “Mujhe ullu mat banao” when the situation calls for it. Translated, it means “Don’t take me for a fool”. It’s a Mumbaikar term meant for local use. So when a foreigner says it, it adds a new dimension to the meaning.
Number 7: Scratching my head when my neighbor complained that the shoe rack outside of my flat caused the hallway to be dirty…I’m pretty sure my shoes are not the root cause…
Number 6: A small city means less than 1,000,000 people.
Number 5: A wedding attended by 400 people is considered “very small”.
Number 4: I thought my family’s “island time” in Hawaii was relaxed…India is even more relaxed – always add at least two hours (or two days) to a start/delivery time…
Number 3: There are bad monkeys here. Lock your possessions (especially food), or they will disappear.
Number 2: You think you are “ballin” (living a good life) until you realize you didn’t have an elephant at your wedding.
Number 1: Everybody is a cricket coach! The U.S. cannot compare to the passion of the fans here. In fact, when India played Pakistan in the World Cup last year, the entire country shut down.