Friday, 13 January 2012

Incredible India - Improving Your Koenig Solutions Experience - Part II

Incubating Part II


Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled Incredible India: Improving the Koenig Solutions Brand – Part I, since then, I have thought about what to include in what would become Part II and I have decided it should be about improving your Koenig Solutions experience.


After all that I have written about my experiences in India, I believe given the opportunity again, I would avail myself of Koenig Solutions services if their repertoire of courses extends to include Enterprise Architecture though that would also require getting trainers out of industry rather than just having people with book knowledge of seriously impacting concepts.


Besides, there are other courses that might be of interest too as one tries to keep in line with market developments and establish a niche area of expertise.


Very useful advice


There is however a few key things that will make your experience worthwhile one that I share here comes from someone who is quite conversant with the system and the way things get done in India.


This is what he had to say, “This is India. However much we strive to root out this sort of stuff, ubiquitous chaos, poor English and even carelessness on behalf of some of the lower staff has always been and will always be intrinsically part of the India experience of most of our students.

It takes a while to get used to and find the right mental disposition to tackle. As a rule of thumb, do not take sloppiness from anyone but under all circumstances remain calm and firm about stuff that is not to your liking. Call in the center manager if necessary.

Do not depend on no one. Most staff will never take any initiative whatsoever and will expect you to do so. If people don't understand you, they won't admit to it, thus adding to confusion. When in doubt or unhappy about the answer given or services provided - especially about issues pertaining to hygiene and health, ask to talk to someone else or take it to the reception desk or center manager directly.

Adjust your notion of time. Whereas most of us are punctual on time related issues, the majority of Indian folks are on IFT (Indian Flexible Time) which tends to drive us totally mad on our first India visit.  Never wait till the last minute to make arrangements for something. Anything asked for less than 24 hours before deadline will most probably fail as most people are unfamiliar with concepts like timely resolution or urgency.

These days, I've gotten used to all things you describe and by finding ways to work around them by adjusting my mindset to how things work in India.


I think this is be on the front page of every tour guide or brochure you get concerning India, it will go a long way to helping you adjust to the severe culture shock you might experience on your visit to India.


Your preparations


In terms of preparations to go to India, these are the things you probably need to note. Whilst a majority of people using Koenig Solutions get a Tourist Visa, be prepared to consider getting a Business Visa and if your stay will be more than 30 days you might have to get an Entry Visa.


If based in Europe obtain information about Koenig Solutions’ bank account in Belgium rather than travelling with thousands of Euros, Pounds or Dollars of Traveller’s cheques.


On arrival in India, if you are unsatisfied with anything let the management know and do not be fobbed off with excuses or apologies if you are not satisfied with the resolution proposed. At times, you might be offered a compensation which in Indian terms might be huge but in general terms in paltry if not insulting, be ready to stand your ground and escalate – you paid for a service, get the service you paid for.


Insist on these, all the time


When it comes to course material, your books should be shrink-wrapped, if not, they are second-hand books, do not sign the receipts until you have been provided with new books.


For the curriculum delivered from PowerPoint slides, I have found it is quite difficult to take useful and relevant notes – insist on having those PowerPoint slides printed out at no extra cost for you to annotate throughout your training. You cannot annotate electronic copies and to be honest any decent PowerPoint-based training material provides hard copies.


For each test-based curriculum that you take, allow for at least 2 days after the course for study and preparation for the tests. Whilst some might be able to walk into tests and pass immediately after the training, others trying that might find that they will be repeating tests before scoring a pass.


If you have non-lecture days and need to study, the provided accommodations can be quite Spartan; I have however not found out if public libraries are better equipped for this.


Other useful tips


For the cost, I will advise that you hire the mobile Internet dongle because Internet connectivity at both the training centre and the accommodations can be patchy at time.


If you obtain an Indian SIM Card ask that mobile data be enabled as part of the package if you need to use your smart phone to surf the Internet.


Get a TravelCard if you use the New Delhi metro, it means you do not have to join interminably long queues for tokens to travel.


New Delhi of all the Koenig Solutions Training Centres is nearest to Agra some 200 kilometres South where the Taj Mahal is but the road to Agra has Mathura – the birthplace of Krishna with the great statue of goddess Durga, Sikandra where the Tomb of Akbar the Great is – the grandfather of Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal, a good deal of the Agra Fort and the Red Fort back in New Delhi.


It is better to get Koenig Solutions to book a train to Agra or arrange with other colleagues to book a more confortable bus that the Koenig city transit buses which will also allow you to stop at these other places than just the journey to the Taj Mahal where you are also put in the hands of unscrupulous restaurants or persons ready to fleece you. If you have amongst you someone who speaks Hindi you can get much done and if you have to be really assertive, have one amongst you who is articulate, forceful and insistent on getting the results without backing down.


Be streetwise


When it comes to food, be careful, circumspect and wise. Cooked and cooked well is important, keep off cold vegetarian dishes if you have no resistance to the local bugs. Most visitors pick up Traveller’s Diarrhoea, so pack your Imodium take lots of yoghurt/curd and eat lots of bananas. Lassi is a yoghurt drink that can settle your tummy quite well but don’t even venture Bhang Lassi – it contains cannabis but you might get more than a high, you could end up in hospital paying bills as part of a medical scam.


For lunch you usually have the choice of McDonalds, Subway, Dominoes or Hakka, then you have to decide between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes – I stuck with rice in most cases. Haldirams which is purely vegetarian chain has many choices but be careful what you choose and be sure you have the stomach for that choice.


When shopping, only use reputable shops, it is better to see the price tags up front than attempt to haggle then realise you have just become a victim of daylight robbery. If you don’t know cashmere you might end up with a fine hybrid of polyester and nylon, the real factory markings are not on the edges of the cloth, if the bales were taken off the shelf, that chalk-like factory marking with the true composition of cloth would have been cut off.


Always negotiate up front for services that do not have a clear price tag – in the end, India can be fun but you have to be aware, smart and really streetwise with a presence so you do not get taken for granted and end up the worse for it. Be aggressive if you must and walk away if you can. Click on the Koenig Solutions label below this post to see my other related posts.

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