Interview with Mr Suresh

A multimedia story by: Philippe Gedjinou, Janaka Janalath, Calvin Scott and Suresh Subramaniya

Subramaniya Suresh went to Germany in 1972 for an Artisan Training. The german alumna tells us in this interview about his stay and the unexpected transformation he witnessed after he’d left India. Born in 1950, he is today a Senior Consultant for intercultural Communication.

Why did you go to Germany and what did you do there?

Suresh: After finishing my electro mechanic apprenticeship, I applied for on the job training. I was sent along with a group of 40 young Indians to Germany for Artisan Training. This was organized by two Indo-German companies who collaborated to manufacture heavy duty transformers in India. Initially the training was arranged for two years but was extended to three years.

“At the outset, going to Europe had never been my dream.”

  • Suresh with other colleagues, who worked for Wang laboratories, the first Basic PC producer. This was his first Job in Germany. He had to work in order to pay off his studies loans.

  • While in his home country India, he misses the German brown bread and the mustard cream. Just delicious and tasty! 

  • These are some tips he recommends for all those coming back home.

  • the protagonist’s biggest challenge coming back home was his social integration. 

  • As a retiree, Mr Suresh spends some of his time giving communications on intercultural topics such as migration and integration. Here, he was about to give an interview as a migrant.

How did you benefit from your stay in Germany?

Apart from the artisan training, I attended evening and weekend courses to gain additional knowledge in technical profession and language. As it was a legal and political dispute between the two Indo-German companies, the companies provided me with a compensation that allowed me to get myself trained in the computer technology field. In addition, I travelled to many European countries not only for holidays but also to learn more about Europe and its inhabitants.

“When the unexpected happens.”

What was the main challenge coming back from Germany regarding organization? What did you have to consider to book, plan and organize and were there any institutions, networks, etc. that helped you coming back home?

In fact, It was even difficult than I had thought. There was no organization or network. I had to arrange everything on my own. I contacted my parent in India and informed them of my returning. That was the time ”I realized that I’ve become more connected with Germany”. Besides, I have a German girlfriend, whom I was really in love with. She decided to go with me.

Video statements from team members

Do you remember the first time after you returned to your home country from Germany? What was different compared to the time before?

India was improving faster than I had expected. The infrastructure had improved, price of normal commodities had increased and inflation was high. I got more Rupees for my Deutsche Mark. But the collaboration between the German and Indian companies, which took me to Germany, was cancelled due to some technical and legal issues. So I could not get any suitable job in India. I had also changed a lot during my German stay and expected more on job and salary.

After your return: What were the challenges for your professional but also for your private life

Beside the fact that the market situation has changed, I was very much disappointed and frustrated. So I decided to return-back to Germany to work in Europe, hoping to find a better job. It could have been one of my mistakes because years later I came to know that several collaborations were successful and I could have been employed in these companies. I gave up earlier without intensively analysing the market in India. It was not the life standard that I had experienced that made it difficult for me to find suitable job opportunities but it was the way of thinking that I developed in Europe. I had adopted the way of life in Germany so much and I was no more the same person who left India for Artisan Training in Germany. Therefore, “I saw my home country from a completely different perspective”, a different angle and had no patience to find a business opportunity in India.

My parents had arranged for a bride. It was at the airport they discovered that I returned with a white lady. Though they liked her, my parents had their own plans for their returning son. Even before my traveling to Germany, my family feared and had warned me: “The European woman are different and are easy going, do not get yourself caught from a white lady”. One of my aunts from the maternal side warned me from white ladies with white magic powder with which they would change my mind. Well, even without such a powder, I fall in love with a young friendly good looking white lady. Apart from this they’ve got a broadly changed son. The respect and love towards them had not diminished but rather the behaviour and the way of thinking.

“Everybody deserves a second chance.” 

If you could plan your stay in Germany and come back home once again – what would you do differently? Any recommendations for those to follow your path?

I would be very happy about it because I’d played some wrong cards. This time I’ll really mind my own business. I say that because I wasted a lot of money and time after institutions like Insurance, Banks, and Training Schools, which use Advertisement tools to sell their Products. During the earlier days in Germany I just trusted them and believed their promises. I’ll also adopt a more tolerant attitude vis-à-vis my culture during my returning back to India. I think whoever is in the process of studying in Germany has to be careful about everything he/she does. Everybody dreams today of going to Germany, especially for studies but they evaluate less the risks they may be taking. It’s very important to understand Germany and its people. Things might be difficult at the beginning but one shouldn’t ever give up early. That’s normal. Most of the things, processes, social behaviour in a foreign country are different and difficult. Be polite and mind your own business. Also, don’t forget that punctuality is German.

What does Germany means to you today?

A homeland! “I think and reason like a German”. It’s fascinating to witness how one can be transformed into a new person. That’s the German Spirit.

Postcard to Germany