Posts filed under 'India'

veznat- .com

When we first came to India it was for an interview trip to kickstart hiring here in India. At this point Cisco had announced its intentions to acquire us but all of the paperwork hadn’t been finished. This meant that every time I went to a Cisco building I had to get a visitors badge. On most days this involved going to the receptionist and telling her my name. She then types this into the label-making software and the label making machine prints out a sticker. It’s a very professional looking “Hello, my name is …” sticker. Every time I got a badge printed it was a different name. Everyone’s favorite came the day my California accent was interpreted as saying “VEZNAT.” Many months later, these past few weeks, I went in search of a new domain name. veznat.com it is. So now you’ll start getting emails from veznat.com and I hope you’ll all start updating your address books.

Add comment November 8th, 2007

From Bangalore to Ooty

Dude smoking Friday was a holiday here in Bangalore and we took advantage of the 3-day weekend to get out of town. We left the house a bit after 7 and began driving from one end of Bangalore (Whitefield) to the other (Bangalore-Mysore road). At 7am on a holiday it took ~90 minutes to get from one end to the other. Driving inside of Bangalore is always an adventure. Mixing cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, rickshaws, pedestrians, bicycles cows and dogs on one road is… just like you’d imagine.

Here’s another one of those slideshow-like things for you all. I managed to find 36 pictures that I liked! Dig in.
Pictures from Bangalore to Ooty

2 comments October 21st, 2007

Let’s Get Retarded

Everybody sing “Let’s get retarded (ha), let’s get retarded in here….”

Last night we ventured out to the palace grounds here in Bangalore with a bunch of fellow expats to see The Black Eyed Peas perform. I must say it was a really great show. We had a great time dancing to the crazy music, and for the price of admission, we were incredibly close to the stage.

I was really impressed by the show. There was no opening act to warm up the crowd, and it was definitely impressive to see BEP get all of the attendees shouting, “let’s get retarded” :-) And who can forget Fergies school-girl outfit!

We did learn that concert traffic jams are universal the world around. It’s weird to go to a concert and not see a few people falling over drunk (no booze sold on grounds). And it was definitely interesting to go to such a concert and not see scantily clad women. We had a great time at Liz and Shane’s pre-party, followed by the after-party at their house too. Who doesn’t love pizza hut at 11pm after a concert?!? Not to mention hot pizza from delivery – we had almost forgotten that pizza comes hot usually :) Good times.

Add comment October 17th, 2007

Live Blogging: My Drive to Work

This morning I’ve decided to do a little bit of “live-blogging.”
Reporting to you live from my car as I get driven in to work. Hopefully
it gives you a bit of a taste for what I see each day. The traffic today
will be far lighter than usual as I’m coming in early to make an 8:30
meeting. Here we go!

7:35 AM

Cruising through the gate of my complex we pass by the security guard
booth where no less than 4 security guards are standing around,
seemingly doing nothing.

We pull out onto the main road, its a slightly foggy day, the fog has
only recently come to Bangalore, relative to how long I’ve been here at
least. The sun is beginning to break through and most things are well
lit by the sunlight.

Going around the first corner we brake hard to avoid rearending a large
bus. Busses, being the second largest vehicle on the road out here drive
as though they’re the second largest vehicle. They pull out from their
stop whenever they please and you need to not hit them. Stuck behind
this bus two cars fly by us on the left (the slow lane). This is a
dangerous move for a few reasons: The bus might decide to make a stop
and, there are probably a few bicycles in that lane. If you hold your
horn down while making the pass it is theorized that the pass is more
safe. At the least it would surely be the bus drivers fault since,
didn’t he hear the horn?!

Continuing down the road, airport rd, we reach our first speed bump.
These things are everywhere and are used in lieu of a stop sign in most
cases. My driver breaks 10 yards later than the car next to us and we
make our first pass of the day. This bump marks the best stretch of road
between home and work, we’re doing 80km/h and are flying past bicycles
and pedestrians. The road moves very fast here because there are no
shops, side roads or bus stops and so no one needs to merge.

We reach the second speed bump of the trip just a few seconds later,
this marks the end of the nice stretch of road. Traffic becomes more
congested beginning right now.

7:42AM

We just drove past some sort of a working class family. Mom, daughter
and very young child (maybe 3-4 years old) all heading off to work. I’m
not actually sure what they’ll be doing at work. They’re carrying a few
buckets but these could be used for almost anything. (Reading this
paragraph back to myself after having arrived at work this family may
have just been venturing off to the water pump to fill their buckets
with water for the day)

Now our first regulated intersection of the day. I call it regulated not
because there’s some sort of defined flow to it but because there’s a
traffic cop standing there pretending to have control over the ~40
vehicles arriving from the 4 corners of the intersection. As you
approach one of these intersections traffic changes from ~2 lanes to a
seemingly infinite number. This is because everyone is trying to cut in
front of everyone else. Motorcycles drive past on the shoulder and creep
into the middle of the intersection so that they’re in front. There is
no more than 6″ on any side between any of the cars right now. We are
packed in like sardines in a can. If the cars aren’t wedged in tight
enough motorcycles will fill the gaps, splitting “lanes” just like they
do in the US. Though here they’ll hit your car and keep going. This
didn’t happen today.

We just drove under an official road sign that says “Airpoart Ahead”. The
Airport is also up ahead.

Driving over the maratahalli bridge is always an adventure. There’s room
for 3 lanes of traffic total for both directions. Often times there are
4 lanes in use. Imagine that for a moment.

Today its early and there are only 3 lanes of traffic. The middle lane
is shared by both directions. Ha. Imagine -that- for a moment.

We now reach our second controlled intersection of the day, outer ring
rd. This intersection has a stop light where we’ll patiently wait.
Similar to the other regulated intersection motorcycles pass on the
left, cut to the front of the line and extend where the cars had stopped
into the middle of the intersection. Looking around from the car while
we’re stopped there are a bunch of people, some well dressed, others
the equivalent of homeless. Everyone mixes together. A motorcycle goes
by, the driver has a helment, the passenger does not. This is not
uncommon, if there are 4 people on a motorcycle only one will have a
helmet.

The light is going to turn green soon, everyone is honking their horn.
Honk honk honk honk, yellow, honk, honk honk, green, wait for it, wait
for it, GO! Swerve to the left that guy wants to use our lane! Ok we
made it.

Pushing on. Ooh. A chicken truck! It’s a small truck filled with
chickens inside of cages. Dinner.

7:44AM

Passing a gas station, the gas pumps have purged themselves of customers
but the air station has not. People seem religous about putting air in
their tires here. When you go you tell the attendant what pressure you
want (in PSI, not pascals or bars or any other crazy units) and he dials
that into the machine. Then he puts the hose on your tire and the
machine fills until it reaches that value. Rinse and repeat for the rest
of your tires.

We’re now driving past the airport. Traffic is very light today because
we left relatively early. To my left is the runway, separating me from
that is a ~12′ tall brick wall with barbed wire running the top. There
aren’t any guys hanging in the trees this morning. By afternoon there
will be a bunch of autorickshaws and bicycles parked along the side of
the road, their drivers will be perched in the trees that line the road
hoping to catch a view of the airplanes taking off.

Ooh, speed bumps again. Not wanting to lose momentum we’re working in
the suspension on this fine minivan. These bumps are a good 6-12″ tall
and aren’t engineered with the thought that cars drive over them at all.
They’re rough.

We just passed a hole being dug on the side of the road. 3 men had small
digging tools (not to be confused with a shovel) and had dug a hole 3-4′
deep. In the US this would require a union supervisor and a tractor. I’m
not sure which method is better.

We’ve gone through a controlled intersection that was “green”, the
traffic cop was waving us through. These seem to always be a little
scary. The number of things going on in that intersection is nuts.
Someone might be making a uturn from the other direction right in front
of you. They may decide that turning in front of you is the best option
given other alternatives and they’ll jut just far enough into the road
that you’ll hit them if you don’t stop and then they stop! This is great
for traffic. Go. Slow. Go. Slow. Don’t hit the bus. Go. Slow. Go.
Pedestriiiiaannnsss.

Ooh. the garbage truck is there. This is a nice part of town, they put
most of their garbage into what looks like dumpster made out of cinder
blocks. Most people don’t use garbage bags so the garbage men are out
there, barefoot and barehanded walking through the garbage, picking it
up and throwing it into the truck. Wow.

We’re passing some tech workers on motorcycles now. You know they’re in
tech because they have laptop bags over their backs and often times you
can see their security badge hanging from their hip.

Manipal hospital. If I’m dying here in India I wish to do it from my
home, not that … “place”. It must be a 12-story building but it looks
absolutely terrible.

A once-empty field to the left has been taken over for some event.
There’s a ganesh (the elephant with a bunch of arms) shrine-type setup
in the middle and a handful standard-India-issue blue plastic chairs
marking just the corners of the rows that will be setup. The blue chairs
are standard issue because you see them at events as well as
restaurants.

7:57AM

We just passed the intersection of Airport Rd and 100 feet road. Coming
in at less than 30 minutes we are really hauling this morning.

Pollution in the city is bad, especially near the roads where
dust and car exhaust combine into a perfect breathing air mixture. Some
people put dust masks on, others, like that guy, wrap an old bandana
around their head, covering their mouth. I wonder if this even helps?

We’re on the only other high speed section of road for the trip. We were
doing around 60km/h when we cruised through that pair of medium sweeping
turns. I’ve never heard Dhanda Pani getting the tires warm but I bet we
could get this van cookin.

We’ve put on our left turn signal, we’re the only ones that do this, to
change into the left lane. The police, as part of some wacky traffic
scheme, have closed the right lane of the road for a period of 6″ to…
yeah I don’t know. The car behind and to our left sped up to keep us
from coming over and honked its horn. Dhanda Pani knows what’s up. We
changed lanes anyway. No issues.

We’ve now made a left turn at an unusual place. Someone decided to fix a
bunch of bridges on the roads in this area. Rather than do one at a time
to help with traffic they’ve done several of them at once. Though
I think they only managed to close the road in the past week
and haven’t actually started work. It will be done “soon”, India Standard
Time.

We just crossed over the river on a bridge that’s part of this unmarked
detour. It’s difficult to tell if these rivers are for draining water
from the streets, redirecting rivers, or if they’re a highly efficient
method of moving garbage from one end of the city to another. Given the
job the garbage man I talked about earlier had I’d be devising some sort
of river too. Given the amount of garbage in that river…

Ooh, a stray dog peeing on the sidewalk.

Now on the most heavily trafficed section of this detour there are
large, temporary gates up dividing the right lane from the left lane (or
is it the left from the right?). Without these traffic would be a
complete mess as motorcycles and small cars all cheated death and drove
on the wrong side of the road to shave a few seconds off of their
commute.

8:00AM

This early in the morning everything is closed. Most businesses have the
garage-door type things that slide over their windows. Ooh, there’s a
guy with no legs hanging out on the sidewalk.

We just passed a building that’s being put together. Reed bar and cinder
blocks, the construction method of the future. There’s a big pile of
reed bar on the side. A bunch of guys will get together later and will
bend it by hand to meet the needs of the building being built. Things
are truly hand built around here.

There’s a big coffee shop on a main road in bangalore, closed at 8:00AM.
It will open at 8:30 AM, India Standard Time.

Pulling up to the building now. 27 minutes elapsed time because we left
at 7:30. Had I left at 8:00 it would have taken nearly an hour.

1 comment October 16th, 2007

The Geezer Inspectors

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about India; this is happening because we’ve been here long enough that few things are wacky. We’ve been here 2 days longer than exactly 4 months and most days are fairly typical. Late last night I realized that something that had happened earlier in the day wouldn’t have been normal 4 months ago.

In the morning Heather had headed over to Joanie’s house to hang out with her and the baby at the pool. I stayed at the house to play video games, break our home network and play more video games. Sometime during the middle of the day the door bell rang. I paused my game and went to the door to find two guys, one holding a clipboard. One guy said: “something, something, something, something, something geyser something something something.” This is slightly more humorous if you know that almost all Indians pronounce “geyser” as “geezer” and that a geyser is actually a water heater and that every water tap in the house has its own water heater (I have 4 water heaters). If you’re worried about electricity being wasted, worry not: every electric device in an Indian home has its own switch so 3 of the 4 water heaters are always switched off.

Luckily I’m up to date on the community mailing list (a place where my neighbors complain about things ranging from “big kids” playing soccer too rough in the common area to their maids making too much money) where folks have been complaining about their “geezers” leaking for some time now.

So then this guy kicks off his shoes (as though his feet are any cleaner than his shoes) and walks to our ground floor bathroom. He lifts up the false-ceiling, inspects the geyser, writes down something on his clipboard and then proceeds to walk upstairs toward the other two bathrooms. He repeats this procedure in both bathrooms: lift the ceiling, make some notes, walk away.

At the end he cruises downstairs to the door that’s still open, puts on his shoes and starts yapping to my driver (he apparently woke up from his midday nap for this) in some other language. Then he says “Thank you sir” and walks away.

Just smile and nod.

My driver tells me he was inspecting my geysers to see if any of them were installed incorrectly. Apparently one of the upstairs bathrooms (the one we don’t use) has the geyser installed wrong and so they’re going to come back whenever its convenient for them and fix it. I have no idea when they’re going to come. It might be this week or it might be next week. It might be during the week, it might be on the weekend.

Add comment October 14th, 2007

Our First Indian Vacation

Fishing boats on the beach This past weekend we ventured out of Bangalore for the first time. A great thanks needs to go out to Prachee and Charles for planning this trip. Without them we never would have experienced as much as we did this past trip. These experienced travelers got us out of the hotel to experience things we would have never seen had we ventured on our own. Thank you.

Rather than write up a big ol’ post for you guys I’ve put captions into each of 35 pictures that I decided to upload. The pictures will give you a pretty good feel for what happened. The big picture is simply that we travelled from Bangalore to Pondicherry where we stayed for Friday and Saturday nights at the hotel “Le Dupleix”. On Sunday morning we ventured north to Mahabalipuram where we stayed at the “Ideal Beach Resort” for one night. Pondicherry is a beach town but the beach is really large rocks and you can’t swim. In Mahabalipuram they have sand beaches and we were able to swim in the warm ocean waters. All in all we had a fantastic trip where my favorite part was probably the driving in between the major cities and enjoying the pretty countryside.

Pictures from our Tamil Nadu vacation

2 comments September 4th, 2007

A South Indian Hindu Wedding

Dude carrying a bucket of lunch
Last week I had the opportunity to go to a South Indian Hindu Wedding. This was the first Indian wedding I’d ever been to and it was definitely pretty cool. Apparently this wedding wasn’t nearly as big as they can get but I’d say there were enough people present for a good time. We missed the actual formal ceremony but were there for the immediately-after part. So the bride and groom were officially married but they hadn’t left the actual ceremony area yet as they were being greeted by all of the guests, including us, still. After this we ate lunch, with our hands, off of banana leaves. The food was pretty darn good and the experience was of course great. Pictures from the wedding.

1 comment September 4th, 2007

Riding a bike in India

Prior to heading abroad on this little expat journey I got fairly into riding my bike. What I call bike riding most people call cycling. I have a road bicycle: it has a bunch of gears, skinny little tires with no tread and it doesn’t weigh very much at all. When I went to Ukraine I left the bike at home figuring that cobblestone roads and snow were no match for my bike. This turned out to be a decision that I regretted later: I ended up seeing plenty of cyclists riding through town and I wished that I had my bike. So I brought my bike to India.

I’ve been out riding the last few weekends trying to build up my fitness level to somewhere near where it used to be. Slowly but surely I’m getting better. This weekend I went further out into the countryside than I’ve been before, around 12 miles. We live in a district named Whitefield within Bangalore; this is basically the outskirt of the city so anywhere outside of town from here is villages and rural roads. On my way out I ride past small candy stores, a local fish market (just fish, hold the ice), and various other small homes. There are people all along the route: elderly walking around, children playing, stray dogs, cows. It’s an interesting ride for sure.

This past weekend I got way out into the cuts. I road past several elementary schools where the children all wave and say “Hi!” as I pass by. I made my turn around and started heading towards home. I was climbing a gradual hill when a motor scooter with 3 men on it road by checking out my wheels the whole time. I could hear behind me the sound of, yes, the scooter turning around. Great. They came up slowly beside me and started talking in some other language, I presume Kannada, and smiling. Great. I decided it was time for me to start cranking anyway and began pedaling hard easily leaving their underpowered motorscooter in the dust. As I crested the hill and ran out of steam they eventually caught me and, again, began talking to me. Understanding we did not understand each other they accelerated ahead of me, the man on the back of the scooter egging me on to ride faster on this gradual descent. So I did, I got up to 30-something mph and blew past them cranking through two turns before the road flattens out and I quickly came up on the back of a medium-size covered-truck with 4 cow rear-ends pointed squarely (literally) at me. As I closed in to begin my pass the right most cow began urinating. Literally :) . Have you ever seen a cow urinate? It’s a heavy stream of urine. I broke to the opposite lane to pass but was greeted with the sight of oncoming traffic. I got back in my lane and jumped on the brakes just in time to receive a fresh burst of urine splatter.

I slowed significantly to allow the cow splatter to get in front of me and the motor scooter again caught me. I gave the international sign for “I just got pissed on by that cow there in the truck in front of us” but was not understood (or at least they didn’t think it was as funny as I did).

I can’t wait to get out on another ride :)

4 comments August 6th, 2007

Visiting India

From a neighbor we met last night we’ve learned that from now through early December it is considered off-peak time for visiting India. This means that the flights are at their cheapest. There are a few airlines offering SFO -> BLR for less than $2,000 (including taxes). This is far from cheap but since we’re out here you don’t need to pay $200/night to some hotel. It’s kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit India on the cheap. Something to consider :)

1 comment August 6th, 2007

Pictures of the House

Our house The weather was really nice today so I finally got out this afternoon and took some pictures of our place. It’s a townhouse of sorts, we share the “far” wall with a neighbor that hasn’t moved in yet. It’s 2000 sq feet with marble floor everywhere. The interior, well I still have no pictures of the insides, but its rather nice. The quality of the finishing touches are very typical for houses of this sort: paint splatters on the trim, paint splatters on the windows, some windows close better than others, stains on the marble.

That big black pole in the middle of the photo ruining the picture is a light post. The light is also rather bright at night. It’s like having a full moon every night.

Plane flying overhead
Here’s another picture just so that I can say I posted two. These airplanes fly right over our house when they come in for a landing at Bangalore airport. Check out the palm tree tops there. Looks like you’re on vacation every day.

Add comment July 29th, 2007

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