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Around the world in 14 days: Part 3

A constant state of extremes

We arrived in Delhi, India early Thursday morning. It has been almost 5 years to the day since my last trip to India with a client. Both trips similar in nature (global recruiting process alignment and recruiting technology implementation) the location are different and the clients different.

The journey from the airport to the hotel was a strong reminder of past trips to this country and the remarkable difference from anywhere else I’ve ever been. Arriving at the hotel, we were greeted like royalty. The Oberoi Hotel was designed for the experience and specifically with extreme customer care as the baseline. As you are greeted at the door, the reception staff has a folder with your arrival information and you are immediately escorted to your room. They were careful to point out all of the facilities (exercise room, spa, restaurant for dining, etc.) They asked targeted questions; where are you traveling from, how long will you stay, do you have any special needs, preferences, likes/dislikes. They spent time educating you on the features in your suite, including the power, blinds, and what I have come to want everywhere I go – the Butler Button. One push of that button and someone is at your door in less than a minute, ready to serve you and respond to any request. The power of instant human customer service was tempting – just because it is something that is so foreign in contrast to our self-service lifestyle in the U.S. Every evening was greeted with the turndown service, which included fresh fruit, special amenities, and extra attention to the things that we found important (i.e. magazines, newspapers, hotel gifts.) After the third day, it was no longer strange to be greeted by formal name by multiple hotel staff throughout the day, without the conscious ability to remember each and every representative. The highest level of service, preference profiling and genuine passion to exceed your expectations I’ve ever witnessed.

With one day off before traveling to Dubai, we booked a driver and a car to take us to Agra – the city that hosts the Taj Mahal. The maps suggest that the drive is just under 3 hours, but knowing the complexities of India traffic, we expected it to be longer – and it was. We set out at 2:30 in the morning to arrive at the Taj Mahal in time for sunrise. We were there close to our expected time. The drive to Agra was mostly in the dark. The arrival to the common area by the Taj was early dawn and cloudy. The cultural differences were masked by the morning fog. Touring the Taj Mahal is a blog post in and of itself. It holds a very spiritual and emotional connection to everyone that visits it and as one of the ‘new’ 7 Wonders of the World. It was worth the trip there and the trip back.

Our travels back to Gurgoan and our 5-star hotel waiting to cater to our every need were at the other extreme. While having been to India before, I am still never fully prepared to handle the extreme lifestyle differences. A four hour journey back to the hotel was met with the afternoon lifestyle of a Saturday at the market – every market, every town. The roads are crowded with any and all forms of transportation – camels, tractors, motorcycles, trucks, cars, oxen, carts, horses… all sharing the same two lanes as if they were 5, all acknowledging each other with horns, bells, shouts. The concept of traffic in the U.S. has no traction in this atmosphere. The streets were crowded with makeshift carts, and stands, selling their produce, goods and trades. Hundreds of people lined the streets; all engaged in what was a typical Saturday afternoon. It was common to drive pass men getting a ‘shave and a haircut’ in a chair along the side of the road and kids sharing a bucket of water while they bathed. Dogs, monkeys and other livestock roam the streets at their leisure. The World Bank estimates that 80% of India’s population lives on less than $2 a day. This was made very clear to us as we made our way through the countryside back to our hotel.

My impression of India and our visit there is the summation of a ‘constant state of extremes.’ It is the first place where I experienced the extreme difference in the care, service, and attention of a world class hotel, with the reality of the social, economic, financial effects right outside the main gates.

While this post doesn’t have a direct association to staffing and recruiting, I can’t help remembering the purpose for this trip is exactly that – staffing and recruiting efforts. My client is committed to developing talent in India, and recruitment and growth are why we are there. To expand the recruiting efforts and implement the technology and processes that will improve the recruiting results, even in a constant state of extremes.

View many of photos that I’ve taken while in India here.