Posts filed under 'India'

Back in Bangalore

I’m back in Bangalore. It was my idea; but the project (different from when I was here last time) needed it. So here I am. I bought tickets on Friday and flew on the following Tuesday. After burning a few miles for an upgrade I got to experience United’s new business class. Wow. These guys have turned their lackluster pile of crap business class seats into something really, really nice. Fully lie-flat seats, 110V power plugs, 15″ TV with on-demand. They even have RJ45 plugs in the seat, can’t wait until these are enabled. It’s a nice setup for long haul flights and, finally, it makes Lufthansa’s business class look like crap. Dig it. The hotel I’m staying at this time pales in comparison to the hotel I’ve managed to stay at in the past. It’s nice but its not 5-star nice. Check out theĀ view from my room. If you’re curious this is the Ista Hotel, Bangalore.

Add comment July 19th, 2008

We’re like, done

Today was my last day in the office here in Bangalore. I finished the year off with a phone conference in the morning, 4 interviews, the debrief from the interviews, an exit interview of sorts with the boss, a going away celebration and final chats with 3 of my colleagues. What a day. But now, its all over. Days shy of 1 year in India and weeks shy of a complete 18 months out of the country we’re all set to return to the good ol’ United States. We fly out of Bangalore’s brand new airport on Sunday evening and land at SFO in the middle of Monday, May 26. We can hardly wait to see you all! What a wacky set of travels.

2 comments May 23rd, 2008

Howto: Mop without using a bucket

Step 1: Flush toilet
Step 2: Insert mop into toilet
Step 3: Flush toilet so as to rinse off the mop
Step 4: Mop the floor

I couldn’t make this up. The guy that’s out there mopping the floors right now here in the building is using this technique. +2 points for efficiency.

Add comment April 18th, 2008

Pictures

There are a few more pictures from these buried in blog posts, but these are all of the image galleries I’ve posted since I’ve been here. Enjoy.

Kyoto and Osaka, Japan
North Island, New Zealand
East Coast, Australia
Kumarakom, Kerala, India
Mysore, Karnataka, India
Sweden and Ireland
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
Tokyo, Japan
Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India
South Indian Hindu Wedding, Bangalore, Karanata, India
Favorite pictures from throughout Ukraine

Add comment April 15th, 2008

Protesting in India

It seems that every few weeks some organization is going on strike. The auto rickshaw drivers went on strike so that they could raise their prices. The truck drivers (and then they got support from taxi drivers too) went on strike to protest the details (mostly who pays for them) of having speed governors installed in their vehicles. Supposedly any truck or taxi drivers caught driving when they should have been striking were being stopped by protestors and having their tires slashed. So much for the teachings of Gandhi. Imagine what this did for traffic. The airport workers threatened to strike once and then supposedly did strike (I wasn’t flying, didn’t pay attention) because they’re closing down the existing airport in favor of a new airport that is ~25KM away (1.5hr drive). Yes, you understood that correctly, this group of employees is striking because they’re mad that they’re losing their jobs (or are unwilling to relocate, I’m not sure which)

Today some organization near my house is striking. I have no idea who they are or what they care about or even where exactly they are. But I called Pizza Hut (the same crappy Pizza Hut from the US, though here it’s the best pizza around) this evening for my semi-monthly pizza delivery and when I answered the unusual question of “where do you stay” (instead of what’s your phone number) I was told that they could not deliver pizza to my location tonight.

Being a stubborn American living in India being told I can’t have something delivered to me does not compute. “Why?” I asked. “Sir, there is a group striking in whitefield, it is not safe for our drivers to come to your location.” So I ask “why” many more times getting basically the same answer. When any normal customer would have hung up the phone by now I politely asked to speak the manager. The manager gets on the phone having audibly been briefed on my situation by the guy that answered the phone: “Sir, we cannot deliver to your residence because there are riots in the area, it is not safe for our drivers to come to your place because they may stop our drivers or set the vehicle on fire.”

On fire. On fire? On fire?! The funny thing is that I believe him. I bet these goons did light something on fire this evening.

There are two ways to get to my house from pizza hut. One is shorter than the other and definitely the preferred route to take for the pizza hut delivery boys. This is apparently where the strike/riots are.

“I just came home on airport road and I didn’t see any strike.”

“Yes sir, but from ITPL we come the other way and there it is not safe.”

“Well why don’t you go the other way, down near Brookefield and then up airport road.”

mumble grumble, grumble mumble.

“You know I order pizza from you guys once a week, you’re interrupting my pizza schedule.”

“Ok, sir. Let me call you back in 2 minutes. I sent some of my guys over there to check things out about an hour ago but they haven’t called back yet. Let me contact them and I’ll call you back in 2 minutes.”

laughingly “ok.”

5 minutes later, ring ring. “Sir, this is Ravi from Pizza Hut I’m calling to let you know we can take your order now.”

Schaweeeet.

1 comment March 31st, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Our original expat assignment was to be from Feb 12, 2007 to May 22 in Ukraine and then from June 12, 2007 to June 12, 2008 in India. As you surely know, it’s now March, 2008. For the past ~6 weeks there have been talks of us extending our assignment by an additional 9 months. This would put us home in March 2009. 2 whole years outside of the US. So we’ve been mulling this over for some time now. Chances are good I’ve even talked to you (yes you!) about this very decision. So what did we decide? Or have we even decided?

Did that more link make you feel like you just watched the season finale of your favorite sitcom and you had to wait an eternity to know what happens next! I hope so :)

We’re coming home at the end of May, 2008!

That’s right, we’re coming home ever so slightly early because our Indian visas expire on June 4th and there’s no sense in going through the painful renewal process if we’re just going to leave permanently a few days later. After that we have 30 days of a company-sponsored hotel room to find a real place to live. And then. Ha. And then! A housewarming party like no other.

We’re excited and we hope you are too. See you all soon.

2 comments March 7th, 2008

Anniversaries Abound

Last weekend Heather and I ventured out to the state of Kerala in India for our 1st wedding anniversary. Believe it or not we actually got married 1 year ago. Sorry you couldn’t make it, we’re still planning on holding true to our promise to have one rad wedding for everyone that’s reading this (assuming we actually know you) to be invited to. And two days from today marks the date that I moved to Ukraine. So we’ve been married a year and I’ve been living outside of the US for 1 year. Crazy talk.

So like I was saying, we went to Kerala which is in the even further south of India.

We stayed at some fancy resort hotel, part of the Radisson Plaza chain. It’s a 1 year old hotel sitting on the edge of India’s second largest lake. Kerala is famous for its backwaters. These backwaters are kind of like, well, the hotel people called it the Venice of the south. So you have this lake and then people started taking dirt and mud and building little peninsulas that they then build homes on top of. Until recently there weren’t any roads here, everyone travelled via boat. We took a little tour through the backwaters on a “speed” boat. This speedy boat was the size of a very small car and had a 60HP motor. It was more or less perfect for where we were headed. The pictures I’ve posted for this trip are almost entirely from this boat trip. We saw people and water and birds and overall it was really nice.

My favorite story from the trip took place at the Cochin airport in Kerala as part of our return to Bangalore. We were standing at the very back of the line at the security checkpoint. Like, the last people in line and there were only 3-4 people in front of us. Out of nowhere comes this older woman from the side. She bumps into me with her elbow and proceeds to wedge herself in between me and the guy in front of me. I’m like, oh yeah, here we go. So I mumble off “you know, that’s really rude, cutting in line like that.” So she looks up at me, does the indian head bob implying I don’t speak any english, and smiles. Oh yeah. Smile all you want. I say “well, I guess that’s the Indian way.” The guy in front of me hears this. I see him hear this. ~10 seconds later he turns around and says, to me, “You know, you should be a little more patient.”

Check out the pictures:

Pictures from Kerala

1 comment February 10th, 2008

A Weekend in Mysore

Heather, Prachee, Charles, Erin (a co-worker visiting from the US) and myself all jumped in a minivan and ventured out to Mysore this past weekend. We visited some palaces, went to a temple, stayed at a hippy hotel (lots of dweebs on yoga retreats) went gokarting! and overall had a fantastic time. Keeping consistent with the past many weeks of blogging you can find pictures with commentary at the link below.

Pictures from our trip to Mysore

1 comment January 14th, 2008

Power Company Woes

Everytime Heather and I head out of town for a weekend we joke that we’re going to come home to a house with no power. The reason we have this legitimate fear is that in the 6+ months we’ve lived here we have never ever received a power bill. Now some of this is expected. We live in a brand new housing complex and, as you all should know by now, India isn’t real quick on setting up infrastructure. We even got a memo ~2.5 months back saying that “bills are coming soon.” We never got a bill.

So we went to Ireland and Sweden and when we opened the door at 3:00 AM after our flight home … no power. Breaker board: no power. Outside main breaker box: no power. Crap.

I woke up the maintenance guy for the complex (it’s a 24/7 operation, he should have been awake) and told him to come out. I walked back outside and my driver was futzing around with switches. I pointed out that the board was completely dead, they had killed the power. I looked at my neighbors house since they moved out a few months back and showed my driver that there’s was dead too.

In India they have these gigantic fuses for each of the 3 phases (wires) coming into the house. I noticed that on top of the power setup for my neighbors their 3 fuses were sitting there. My driver noticed that my 3 fuses were missing. Sure enough, on top of my power box there they were: my 3 fuses. So we popped them back in and we have power again! I called the maintenance guy (I swear he was asleep already) and told him I fixed it, don’t come. I’m such a nice guy.

I checked the mail today. We finally got a bill. It’s dated Dec 19 and due on Jan 8. My computer tells me that the power has been out since Dec 19. They turned off my power on the day they gave me the bill. WTF? Yeah. I can’t wait to have this phone call.

1 comment December 30th, 2007

To the US and back

Las Vegas View Just a few days ago we landed in bangalore, 2 suitcases lighter than when we left SFO, but back in Bangalore in one piece. We were visiting in the US for 2 days longer than 2 weeks and managed to keep ourselves nice and busy. We attended 3 thanksgiving celebrations: one with family, one with friends and another with family. We ate a bunch of pizza (I really wanted pizza), I drove my car (oh, the car, I love the car), we went to Las Vegas, I went gokarting and we even saw a handful of our friends.

Our thanksgiving trips were more or less uneventful. No turkeys exploded. It didn’t snow 5′. It was just 3 days in a row of good company and good eating.

Stella The Sunday after thanksgiving we hung out with our friends Paul and Pam and their two kids Trevor and Stella. Besides hanging out and catching up the mission for this visit was capturing a photo for their christmas card this year. Unfortunately I didn’t do very well scoring a photo with the two kids in it for use in the card, but I did score this one of Stella. I rank it near the top of the ~100,000 photos I’ve taken during my lifetime.

Our Vegas trip had a few blog-worthy events. We ate dinner at this place called Delmonico Steakhouse, a restaurant run by Emeril (yes, bam! Emeril). It was the most amount of money I’ve ever spent on food. Think a month of food for a family of 3. Livin’ the life baby. But the food was good. The night before we went and saw Penn and Teller. We discovered Penn and Teller while living in Ukraine; we found their Showtime show on my favorite TV website and started watching. Visiting Vegas we took up the opportunity to catch the live version.

The blog-worthy portion of Penn and Teller comes during one of the early acts when the comedic duo decide they need a volunteer from the audience. I’ll write a sentence here that has little bearing to the overall story to give you a chance to guess where I’m leading. Did you get it? Got it? You’re right: Heather was selected as the volunteer. I tried typing up the story of what happened but it’s just not nearly as funny as if I simply tell you about it the next time I see you. So ask.

On our final weekend of the trip we headed down to Portola Valley for my cousin Jon’s wedding. Thankfully not being on photo detail I just hung out and chatted with family. I took a few pictures of folks after the ceremony but otherwise didn’t take any pictures, mostly on purpose. Here are some photos that I chose to upload.

After all of that we went back to SFO, 5 suit cases in hand, and reluctantly boarded the airplane destined for Frankfurt. We flew business class, not because Cisco cares about its employees and pays to fly them business class, but because I dumped a bunch of frequent flyer miles and upgraded us. Business class on long, international flights is worth every penny. We got to Frankfurt and hung out in the lounge to score some free food before heading down to the gate for Bangalore. You don’t actually need to know your gate number to find your flight, just walk through Frankfurt until you find a gate that is filled with people that have mustaches. That’s your flight.

1 comment December 8th, 2007

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