Incredible India

I started working for Daimler in September 2009 as a trainee in “CAReer – The Talent Program”. My first project was in my target department “Entire vehicle design S-Class” where I was responsible for packaging processes in the rear end of the car. Afterwards my second assignment led me to India where I spent three months this year.

I stayed in Bangalore in South India, working at MBRDI (Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India). Bangalore is a city of about six million inhabitants and it is the fifth biggest town in India. It is the capital of the state of Karnataka where the local language is called Kannada. As foreigner you probably won’t use it as practically everybody speaks English, although it might take some time to get used to the Indian pronunciation.

RikshawEverything was already organised when I first arrived at the airport. A driver picked me up and held a sign with my name and the company logo (which was very exciting as it was the first time for me!). Soon after I sat in the car and had my first glimpse of traffic on India’s streets, which was absolutely amazing. It is very different from Germany, far more chaotic, but very space efficient. You can see whole families on a single scooter or motorbike, trucks (over)loaded with goods and people, cars changing lanes all the time due to get along faster, auto rikshas… all this accompanied by the constant sounding of horns! When I arrived at the hotel I really had the feeling that I was in India now.

The next morning a cab picked me up for my first day at MBRDI. There I had a warm welcome. I worked in a team that already had a co-operation with my target department. My colleagues were very friendly and helpful. In the three months I stayed, I worked on different tasks. In the beginning I had a closer look at our existing project to understand the processes “from the other end”. Afterwards I set up a small project in order to increase the cooperation. Another task was to install new software and do several performance tests.

Working in India was not too different from Germany except for some issues. You have to have quite a lot of patience as the systems are slower than in Sindelfingen because a lot of data has to be transferred from there. The organisation of the department is different too, as there are more levels in the hierarchy. Also people often are not as used to working independently as we are here. Else the working day was similar to a regular office day in Sindelfingen and I was able to learn a lot. One of the most important things is to have a good communication as I discovered. This is essential when working on different continents. Luckily nowadays there are a lot of tools to enable this, like telephone and video conferences, screen sharing, chatting or e-mails. Another advantage is that the time difference is not too big with +3.5 hours during summer time and +4.5h during winter time.

SariThe first week passed very quickly as it took some time to adapt to the new circumstances. India is a country of contrasts – very rich and very poor, clean and dirty, cheap and expensive. Moving around on the subcontinent is an adventure for all your senses as everything is so colourful, it is never quiet, you get all sorts of delicious (and sometimes less delicious) smells and tastes and people often want to touch you. There are two questions you will hear a lot when moving around in India: “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?”. Another curiosity is that Indian people are very fond of photographs – either they want you to take pictures of them, especially children, or they want to take a picture of you together with them.

At weekends and in a one-week holiday at the end of my stay I had time for travelling and there is such a lot to see! So I explored a bit of the South and later on some of the North of India by bus, train, plane and cab. Some of the highlights were: going on a city walk through traditional Bangalore, a boat trip in the backwaters of Kerala, a safari in Bandipur National Park, spending Easter in Goa, riding on an elephant in Jaipur while it was nearly 50°C hot, seeing the Taj Mahal in Agra, attending a guided tour through the slums of Mumbai (former Bombay), visiting Bhimtal and Nainital which are popular tourist places for Indians and just so much more! Actually the country itself was such a highlight and so my time in Bangalore passed very quickly, maybe even a little too fast…