Know Everything!

stock-vector-jack-king-queen-of-spades-vector-28951519When I was doing my undergraduate I was used to be regularly questioned by my friends on my interests in information technologies being a Chemical Engineer. I used to reply back stating that I am trying to find a link between the two. Though at that time my interests were not really based on what I claimed, I found my job requiring skills in both the areas and hence helping me perform better.

Today I find knowledge of ‘finance’, ‘history’, ‘psychology’ and ‘economics’ are essential to move up. Many technical people want to stay focused in their areas of interest which are mostly very narrow and expect to gain expertise in that field. But the whole idea can be challenged. Lack of knowledge in subject areas which seem totally unrelated can be a hurdle to professional growth even on technical areas of focus.

Knowledge of ‘history’ and ‘culture’ is very important to understand why your counterpart in an overseas affiliate behaves differently, knowledge of ‘finance’ is very essential to understand why and how top management decisions are made, knowing ‘psychology’ can help handle your sub ordinates better. Applying technical judgments in business world will fail miserably. Many technical people feel decisions are forced upon them because they fail to understand business needs and in a globalized environment they feel deserted when they fail to understand the history, culture and psychology of their colleagues.

Even technically many people want to ‘focus’ their expertise only on certain technical areas. Either they consider other areas not as challenging as their areas of expertise or they feel even their focus area is too much for their lifetime. And even to reason this behavior, knowledge of Indian culture and psychology is important. In Indian society ‘engineering’ enjoys higher status as compared to basic sciences, literature… And if you apply some ‘statistics’ you will find that this is purely linked to the higher average pay engineering graduates enjoy. Whether the JOBS really do any ‘engineering’ is a BIG QUESTION! I personally felt science more challenging and difficult than engineering. And today when I read the ‘history’ of ‘science’ itself it is difficult to make judgments on the validity of engineering we are doing now which are again based on science.

From childhood this idea has been drummed into us again and again: stay focused, jack of all trade makes king of none etc.. It might be true if our objectives are broader considering our lifespan on earth. Pathetically these objectives are too narrow or too ‘technical’ that it prevents achieve these objectives. Most of the seemingly unrelated subjects are highly correlated and technologies have very small lifespan. Hence to be successful it is essential to ‘KNOW EVRYTHING’

Note: The word ‘technical’ is not used with the right meaning in this blog. Even I was stamped non-technical by few people. To them technical is IT and rest of the world is non-technical 🙂

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Chinese Vegetarian

My first visit to China was short and all I could risk to enjoy local experience was to take the local train instead of an boring taxi. I wrote down the hotel address “Hotel Regent, 99 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100005, China” on a piece of paper and started from office along with my colleagues to the hotel. Ignoring warnings of my colleagues I dared to take the subway and got down at WangFuJing station. It was only then I realized I am in a real foreign country. Nobody was able to read the address from the slip of paper, neither they were able to identify the hotel name. And thanks to one gentleman who showed me the wrong direction. I almost walked two kilometers in the wrong direction when one European victim trying to locate his hotel helped me with the right direction. I managed the visit with continental and Indian vegetarian food so I didn’t have a feel of Chinese food.

It was during my second visit I ventured Chinese recipes. My Indian colleagues always warned me taking Chinese food worrying it might not be vegetarian and may not suit my appetite. But curiosity didn’t leave me. My Chinese colleagues took me to restaurants and helped me find the best vegetarian dishes. I was surprised to see them explain the restaurant personnel for at least ten minutes each time they order for me.  I could member only a lots ‘bu sha’s’. Curious I asked them what these ‘bu cha’s’ are. It is a form of ‘no’ and they were ordering something with ‘no meat’, ‘no fish’, ‘no sea food’, ‘no egg’, ‘no pork’ etc… I wondered if there is no single word for vegetarian. True, if they forget any of the bu sha’s you can expect the left outs to be there in your recipe. But it is really worth it, I should say chinese vegetarian is really that good. For Indians, Chinese vegetarian would be a surprise in China as all that we get in India named as Chinese is only Indian.

The tempting Chinese dishes forced me to try them myself even when my colleagues are not there around me. One weekend in the Hotel I stayed (this hotel was Chinese) I ordered fried rice that was supposed to be vegetarian as explained in the menu. When it was served I was surprised to see egg along with it. So explained her bu sha mutton, bu sha chicken, bu sha egg, bu sha seafood, bu sha fish. The item was brought back with pork in it. Oops! I forgot the bu cha pork. I explained her again and she asked me ‘like goat?’. No! I screamed, bu sha goat (mutton?). A few seconds later I recognized that she was mentioning me as goat for eating only the greeny stuff.

Next time in a restaurant I explained all the bu sha’s without fail only to receive a reply ‘bu sha food. Get out!’. They are quite sentimental about food. I still wanted to try. I carried a pocket dictionary with me which had the Chinese word for vegetarian. Guess what! no body could understand what it really meant even in Chinese. Now I understood why it was hard for my colleagues to explain vegetarian food.

Chinese McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC do not have vegetarian meals. I have to manage with fries and fruits pies. However surprisingly Domino’s has a all vegetarian pizza (http://www.dominos.com.cn/english/pizza/pizza.asp# Look for Tomato Vegetable) . He looked surprised at me and mentioned that I was the first to order that particular pizza in his experience. I don’t know how long he was working at Dominos but it’s a comment worth mentioning.

The best of all Chinese dishes in the ‘Gan Bian Dou Jiao’ (Green beans fried with ample dried red chilli). Spicy and lip smacking it was a part of my every order. Next on the list would be sauted mushrooms, stir fired vegetables and the pumpkin cake.  But beware! if you forget the bu sha’s you can expect some pork sprinkled on the dishes!

Chinese Vegetarian in an real experience! You cannot buy it, you have to earn it!

Note: People travelling to Beijing need not worry as there are some few Indian restaurants that serve good north Indian food (veg & non-veg). The Taj Pavilion at China World Trade Center is a good one.

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