GoffWilson in India

Last week, the senior attorneys at GoffWilson had the opportunity to travel to India on business. While both attorneys are well traveled — having worked in other countries, including GoffWilson’s Paris office — this was their first trip to India. Over GoffWilson’s 30 years of practice, they’ve established an in-depth knowledge of immigration law and developed an impeccable reputation for helping businesses and individuals navigate the complexities of the legal system; but trips like this and our desire to learn about, understand, and embrace the cultures of our clients are what separate GoffWilson from other law firms, as these cultural insights can be crucial — especially when you consider something as simple as a cultural difference can be the key to getting a visa or being denied.

This week, I had the chance to sit down with the President of GoffWilson, John Wilson, and Founding Partner, Susan Goff and ask them a few questions about their trip to India, their experiences there, and what they thought.

Where did you visit?

SG: Over the course of the week, we visited Delhi and Hyderabad, India.

JW: The trip included visits to the United States Embassy in Delhi, the Consulate in Hyderabad, and HITEC City in Hyderabad.

What was your favorite place you visited?

JW: Sadly, the trip was a bit of a whirlwind. The incredibly long plane ride paired with the nine and a half hour time difference makes this type of travel difficult. Throw into the mix ten-plus hour work days and the trip becomes a bit of a jumble.

SG: It’s true that we could have had more of an opportunity to explore, but one experience from the trip stands out from the rest. While in Hyderabad, we had the chance to be shown around the city by a local guide. Over the course of the night, the guide suggested that we go to his local neighborhood chai tea place. When we pulled up to the chai tea place, our guide stuck his hand out the window and flashed four fingers at the tea place’s proprietor, making it evident they know each other well. As we pulled to the curb in front of the tea place, four chais arrived for us to drink in the car. If this wasn’t a unique enough experience to begin with, the chai was all served in China! Although we wish we’d had more time in Hyderabad, the opportunity we had to travel with someone so familiar with the city is something that we will forever cherish.

Susan, your love of samosas is well known. Were the authentic ones as good as you hoped? Did you discover any new favorite dishes?

SG: I wish I could remember the names of all of the wonderful places that we ate. While I didn’t have any samosas on this trip, the dosas were awesome and chicken tikka could be a new favorite. Naturally, all of the curries were excellent as well. Hyderabad likes the food spicy so we had a great experience.

What is something most Americans don’t know about India?

JW: It’s hot and wildly humid! We have an office in Naples, Florida, and I thought that gave me an idea about heat and humidity, but Delhi makes Florida feel like a cool-weather destination. Even crazier is that, since we travelled during monsoon season, we didn’t see the sun — but the second you got outside, it felt like stepping into a sauna.

SG: In Delhi, the monkeys are sacred. And they are everywhere.

What about the Indian people?

JW: Everyone was very nice. Even in neighborhoods that to our eyes looked “rough” (for lack of a better word), we were met with friendly and helpful people, and were assured that it was a very safe place.

SG: The Indian people are so kind. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful, soft spoken, and polite. I had one man even let me use his cell phone because I didn’t have mine with me!

Did you find anything about the culture surprising?

JW: A week later and I am still trying to grasp how busy everywhere was. Hyderabad makes New York City look like Concord, New Hampshire. It’s not only how busy everything is that is astounding though, it’s also how comfortable everyone is with the chaos. To Indians, everything is ordered and it’s just another day, but to me crossing the street felt like an extreme sport.

SG: The Indian people we met have far less of a commitment to the clock than we do in the United States, and a lot less commitment to it than we do in the Northeast. In addition to the more relaxed relationship with time, it seemed that everyone stays up late. We typically ate dinner between nine and ten every night, and there were still streams of people coming in for dinner as we were leaving.

What was the highlight of the trip?

JW: Visiting the consulate and meeting with officials in Hyderabad was an incredible privilege. That and the opportunity to visit and meet with high level representatives at the U.S. embassy in Delhi were the high points of the trip.

Do you want to go back?

SG: Although the flight is intimidating, and the country is in your face with its heat, noise, and crowds if we have to go back, we’ll be on the plane and looking forward to our next Indian adventure hopefully next time to Bangalore or Chennai.