This show is a continuation of my personal and business travel expose, where we chronical the making of technology products in foreign lands – as well as more than a few stories along the way. In the prior episode, Accounting App Ashram IV & V: Chandigarh Micro Brews, the journey continued to India, after the Indonesian emotional roller coaster ride that kicked off our newest iOS app, “Tax Fight.”
Earlier podcasts include accounting and tax education lectures, interviews, and career resources. Show us love with your reviews – especially on Kindle, just search for the book Learn Financial Accounting Different.
My Accounting Play app development had brought me to an unlikely place, Chandigarh, India which turned out to be an even more unlikely American suburban clone, albeit with the seemingly superficial differences like the occasional cow in the street or cricket game playing instead of baseball. A couple days prior, I enjoyed an Indian micro-brew accompanied with palak paneer with Sunil as we discussed plans and the office visit. The team had grown from his efforts as a solo designer on a freelancing website, to a thriving business in a few short years… I wonder how the onsite visit was going to turnout.
The day before the meeting was set, I embarked in one of the most courageous foreign country activities I know of: a haircut. I venture from the Hyatt Regency, a half block away from the mall. "Phewf, I made it." Same stuff, little variations, I pass the Harley Davidson store, differentiated from the U.S. only by employee dress code - large turbans all around, which often prevent the use of helmets. “What if there is some protection under the turban,” I wonder, until my stomach grumble snaps me back into reality. Hungry and recovering from my "New Delhi Belly" I go to McDonalds, but first past five floors of stores such as Diesel and Bose.
"Spicy McChicken Paneer Please" - I mean you only live once, so I went for it. SPICY and deep fried, it was just ok. A kid wants to take a picture of me, not a terribly uncommon request and I accept this mini ego boost and smile for the selfie. Not that special really, the picture count per capita in ALL East Asian cultures rivals any adolescent LA teenager. I was just a prop. The photo revealed a dirty looking American dude and I was newly inspired for the fresh cut.
The haircut anti-climax
I thought my blonde (dirty blondish?) hair might pose a technical challenge for the stylist. I sit. A lone bead of sweat forms as I fidget in the chair, but it is all for not. The cut was fast, great, affordable. Boring. Got a "beard trim." I was flattered and graciously paid any fee for someone to call and trim, my peppered blonde, brown, and black scruffy filth – a beard. They have major facial hair in the Punjab region and I was a poser.
The day arrived where I was actually going to see the development team offices. I send a creepy mustache emoji to Sunil, celebrating the beard trim in anticipation for the 2:30 meeting and was gonna write "don't forget the rose peddles." I passed on what I thought might be lost humor and borderline rude for our budding relationship, but the emoji I figured was coool. I Uber over past the shiny new business school, adjacent to squalid tent settlements, which broke the Chandigarh cleanliness facade. The 30 min trip cost $3. Uber was crushing the local companies by offering fares that were cheap by Indian standards. I'll take it. Headquarters is in a corporate park-like setting with lot of construction going on. Being greeted out front, we make our way to the windowless, but comfortable, brightly lit basement ether. The glass door awaits. Was this the destination? Finish or starting line? Dang I was like, there. Strangely I was gestured to to open the door and didn't think much of it, long since giving up on trying to make sense of subtle social gestures.
Upon my entrance stood a dozen team members, “all for meeee?" I blush and ROSE PEDALS are tossed in my wake, I graciously accept a bouquet of flowers and then BAM. A red dot is placed on my forehead. The journey was beginning. Doted, now time to do business. I shake every hand in the comfortable, but subterranean office not that different from any other. The only major variance was a dedicated staff member to tend to office coffee and cleaning – much like the protagonist in Slumdog Millionaire. I had to make a comparison to that film, so there it is.
Into the windowless, yet comfortable conference room, I receive a slide deck presentation of aspirational tasks that the company performs. The overhead projector works, but after a significant headache, which all but passed. I got to take the stage and explain all my development desires in person. It was magnificent being able to communicate in a real human to human manner. I could see how my prior communication was less than ideal and what could be immediately done to improve it. There really is just no substitute – still, for real human connection. After the meeting, I eat goat curry prepared for me by the lead team’s mother. It is delicious and my mouth waters for more… more development… more Indian food… more travel.
John Gillingham, CPA is the founder of Accounting Play and the author of the ten part blog series “Accounting App Ashram” where he details his entrepreneurial journeys in India and the islands of Java in search of entrepreneurial enlightenment. The series chronicles the surprises and struggles of meeting the remote teams and conducting business abroad.
Thanks for joining the latest installment of our Accounting App Ashram Series, Accounting App Ashram VI: Development Rose Pedals.