When I first started working with MTV in Bombay, it was de-rigeur for me and two friends to clamber onto a cab for the long journey home stopping at the wine shop on the way for Stroh’s Red. The beer with the highest alocohol content in the market. Two hours, and two cans later I would reach home in the suburbs, quite buzzed and happy.
The nerve endings on my feet would have been dulled by then, and my mind would be completely foggy—a respite from the office politics, while my heart would have lapsed into a dull stupor to recover from the day’s crazy deadlines.
Cut to many years later. The scene is now London, a posh Soho pub fighting hard to look gritty, and I am clustered at the bar, forcing down the lightest alcohol beer I can find, in a bid to be social and yet ensure that I have a clear head the next day to be able to make it back to work on time and actually be somewhat productive. Oh! How the mighty have fallen.
Networking is obligatory in the West, and without it one cannot get ahead (anywhere—be it social or professional.) It’s also one of the reasons I believe that women in India have progressed ahead of their Western sisters, in the work place.
While in a city like Bombay, increasingly the culture is becoming much more centred around the after work drinks, yet I believe in London or New York, you simply cannot do without it. Back home, you still have to network, but you don’t have to necessarily stay after work, swigging beer with the boys as it were! Perhaps if you are good enough during working hours it is a start?
It came as a surprise to me that in New York and London, women are yet fighting to break through the ranks of the top banking echelons, while in India, and especially in the banking sector, you would be hard pressed to find a man at the table of CEO’s.
In the Indian financial services sector, women are at the helm of ICICI Bank, Shikha Axis Bank, JP Morgan and ICICI Ventures. Not to mention that Bank of India as well as, the Kolkata-based Allahabad Bank, one of the oldest public sector banks as well as Dena Bank have women at their helms too.
Not surprising, the child care support infrastructure back home has helped pave the way too. An extended family and friend circle, who can be trusted to take care of the kids. Contrast this with the prohibitive costs, and almost total lack of support infrastructure in a big city London or New York?
Still I do love the freedom to wear skirts, stockings and heels and walk to the tube station without being whistled at in London. Though, then again in Bombay I would have had a chauffeur driven car—perhaps?