This story reveals the reality behind every person's dream, working in software industry that is 'on-sites'. However, there are things about which no one talks. Problems which arise due to travelling to a new country and also while living there.
As I was passing through the corridor, I saw a friend of mine from work, was sitting on the couch in front of the manager’s office. There was a strange happiness on his face, I went to him and asked the reason behind his happiness” He replied, “There is an on-site opportunity in my project and my manager had called me to discuss on it!” There was a grin on his face and I looked at him and remembered my own first on-site trip and a smile came on my face and that boy asked, “what's the matter?”
I said, “let me lower your expectations a little. I tell you my on-site experiences.”
After completion of my degree, I came into the market to get a job in IT. After a lot of efforts, I got a job in a product-based software company in Delhi. Though, my salary was very low but I got a good chance to get my hands dirty in software development in various technology. In a very short time, I learned many things. I did not know about on-site concept until my cousin, who had a good experience in IT industry, suggested me to look for good on-site opportunities.
Now, after knowing about this, I asked my manager for onsite opportunities and kept asking about this for next few months on regular intervals. Few months later he called me to his desk and told me that there is an on-site opportunity for me and asked me if I am still interested for on-site business trip. As soon as I heard his words, I felt like I have achieved my dream. I thanked him with positive response and he told that I will get more details in next two days.
I returned to my desk and told about this to one of my colleagues. They congratulated me and asked me if my Passport is ready or not. That time I did not have passport and feared that I may lose this opportunity just because not having passport. Immediately, I had started searching about urgent passport application process. Till next day morning I was bit tensed. When I came office, I pinged my manager on office chat box and told him that I don’t have passport but I will get it as soon as possible. I received his reply after 15 minutes, “you do not need to apply for passport.”. it startled me and asked him if I lost the chance. I was quiet for some time when I saw his reply.
He replied, “Do you have voter id card? You will not need passport to travel to Nepal, just keep your voter id ready.” Whereas people apply for passports for on-sites, I went and applied for my voter card. Literally, my friends were laughing at me but I was very excited for this opportunity. It took only 40 minutes to reach Kathmandu, Nepal from Delhi. They provided me with a flat in an apartment for stay. It was so difficult to adjust there, their cuisine was dry potato, dry poha etc., how are you supposed to eat that! I trained my cook to make Indian dishes and survived there.
My task was to digitalize the paper work of an Organization. The project was so rubbish that I had to do the whole work manually. Only I know how I managed. I got untouched from my software development skill. To keep my client manager happy, I used to take him for dinner parties every week. Soon, I realised that if I stay there for long time then will surely lose hold on my technical skills. I made my mind to return as soon as possible. One day my client manager and I had an argument and he took my office laptop and threw it on the floor. That day I decided to leave from Nepal but my cousin advised me to stay until my company calls me back. I worked there for two months and then my company asked me to come back. My first trip made a fun out of me but it made me learn a lot!”
“Wow! Nepal is also an on-site location.” He said laughing.
“This was not the end of my craze for on-sites”. I replied.
After Nepal, my boss planned to send me to Uganda and I was wondering who goes there? So, I decided to change the company and I circulated my resume for job change. One of my college acquaintances helped me to get a job in the NY Finance Pune and I shifted to Pune. After working for two years, I was fed up searching for on-site opportunities there. At the same time one of my college friends who was working in a product-based software company (my current one) where he was getting many chances for on-site opportunities. I was very impressed with his job so I decided to talk to him. I called him when he was leaving for Brazil for six months. I asked him to refer my profile in his company.
Within a month I got a call from his company and interview process got started. Their selection process took two weeks with two technical and one HR round. Meanwhile, I was asked to travel to New York for one month from NY Finance Pune. I asked them to increase the duration to six months which was not at all possible for them. Now decision was on me and I was waiting for offer letter from new company which I got without delay. With all the hopes of long on-sites opportunities I decided to join new company and resigned from NY Finance Pune. When I resigned my manager tried to retain me and increased duration for New York travel to two months. However, I did not stay there and joined the new company.
Here, my work was good and work culture was great. As I hoped after some time, I got an onsite opportunity. After knowing the name of the location, I was very happy. This time it was Latin America. I did not think much about Latin but celebrated “America”. Country was Dominican Republic and initially it was for two months with an extension of four months.
I was very excited for this business trip. Travelling to Dominican Republic from India was a challenging task. I made a travel plan from Pune to Dominican Republic by myself as no one in my contact had experience of travelling there before. With all the formalities like medical, visa etc. done, I was all set to go. I started from Pune to Mumbai and then took a flight to Dubai. After 6 hours layover time in Dubai, I took flight to London. Then I waited for 8 hours at London airport for next flight to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Being a pure vegetarian, it was very difficult for me to manage with food during travel. I reached Punta Cana at around Evening 4 O’clock.
This time my stay was in a Hotel in Santo Domingo which was 180 kilometers far from Punta Cana Airport and I had to hire a taxi. People call it Pink taxi because heighted black men dressed in pink drives these taxies. Due to language difference, it was difficult to communicate, but somehow, I made him understand about my destination. I started at around 4.30 PM and was supposed to reach by 8 PM. After 32 hours journey, I was so tired that I did not know when I slept in the taxi. When I woke up, it was 9:15 PM by my watch and still I was on the way. I asked the driver but he was also clueless. I asked him to stop as we did not where were we heading.
Under the dark sky and 14000 KMs far from my county, I was standing lost, with a Pink taxi on a deserted bridge, without any network and internet. I was trembling with fear of uncertainty and did not know what to do next. I waited there for 10 minutes and tried to talk with the driver but he was also clueless. I was just thinking that where I got stuck and could not understand what to do? My mind was just praying to God. Meanwhile, a person on a bike passed from there who helped us take us to the destination.
Thanks to readymade Indian food which helped me to survive there as It was very difficult for me to have their cuisine even for a single time. Yes, I was earning some extra bucks but I don’t think money is the only thing which gives you job satisfaction. Work is also equally important for me. I was not learning much there. I won’t deny that working directly with client was a good experience but it became normal in one week. Within a month I understood that staying there will only give me money and nothing else.
In this one month my friends and relatives contacted me and told me that how lucky I was. Some were asking me how I got this opportunity and some of them congratulated me for this so-called achievement. The actual picture of my life was to wake up early in the morning and prepare for breakfast, get ready for office and prepare for the lunch. After office again prepare for dinner, call at home, sleep and repeat. Somehow, I completed my work and came back to India through the same route. Half of my desire for on-sites died there itself.”
“My god! Nobody knows these things behind their dream.” Said that boy. “I know, right! But this is not over yet, I again got an on-site opportunity after a year and they sent me to Brazil. As Brazil had its name and fame so I decided to go there. I travelled for 16 hours constantly. I reached there and the main problem again was the language. There was nobody with whom I could talk to, the language was the barrier. Sometimes I had the translator, sometimes not. Again, the food was the main issue too, I was living on ‘ready to eat’ dishes. I stayed there in a flat with some Indian colleagues. Now, apart from cooking, some more daily tasks like dish washing, cleaning added to my routine.
Once, me and my roommates, decided to go out and explore Brazil. After spending 3 hrs we could reach to our destination which was not so far from our accommodation and It happened due to all the confusion caused by language issues. Our office colleagues suggested us not to go out in the city in night and I also realized that Brazil is not a safe country; you could not even spot a dog in the streets after eight’ o clock.
Again, there was not much work, however my company wanted to keep me there for two more years. I denied politely with folded hands. I came back home after completing my current term.
“What can I say of others! I was fascinated by the idea of on-sites too. But who knew about these harsh realities” he said.
“I have seen the troubles behind it. You get a lot of money but in the end why do you earn that money? Good food, restful sleep, a little rest and to enjoy life with loved ones, but I was not getting anything out of that. In India, we relate this to the achievement of every person working in an IT company. We are always fascinated by the posts and photos of our friends and relatives going on international business trips on social media like facebook etc. But the reality can be different. Many of them do not want to go, but they travel only because of their needs such as paying debts etc.
Some of my friends are working in good places like Europe, Canada, but they have to deal with many things. You may have to think twice to buy something and having someone to help with the daily household tasks is not as easy and cheap as in India. Because many children are reared abroad, children do not know their own language properly. Other people of the family who do not know the foreign language, will come to talk to the children. Many friends have not come home for years, their parents have to wait for years to meet their children and grandchildren. Despite all this, the parents are probably happy, because they like to say that their children are working abroad.
The thing you have to keep in mind to go on-site is to choose a good place, good work for a good period, only then it will be beneficial. If someone had warned me about all this, I would probably have made a better decision. I would say that going on-site is good but not always as good as people think. Sometimes working in India could be better with decent pay, quality work and a comfortable and good lifestyle.”
He said, “Sure! I will keep that in mind. Thank you for your advice.” With that I got up and came back to my desk.