Category Archives: Travel

An update on India

It’s been just over a week since I arrived here in India and it’s been an experience. I’ve particularly enjoyed how friendly everyone has been all around the country. Like many countries outside the US, you need to be a little more assertive than in the States, which puts me out of my comfort zone — but it’s something I’ve been working on. This is particularly true when you’re “waiting in line” or trying to navigate public spaces. With 1.3 billion people in the country, you need to be a little more aggressive to get where you want to go — whether you’re driving or walking.

Taj Mahal

We’ve been working long days, but it’s been quite enjoyable. Our teams are great that we’ve been working with and I’m very impressed with how the project has been going thus far. One of the biggest challenges has been the hours that we’ve been working. We’ve been getting up in the morning to discuss the plan for the day, go to the gym or the pool for a bit, and then head into the office for 4pm. We do a few hours of training followed by several hours working on the floor with the teams to help them out and learn how to handle tickets from the sales teams until 2am or so.

The food has been good. I’ve had a few bouts of discomfort due to my acid reflux, but I’ve managed to work through it. I also started trying to figure out Cricket. It started as a way to put myself to sleep, because I had no idea what was going on, it allowed me to have something on the television that I had no interest in — but then it turned into a bit of a puzzle. I’ve slowly been figuring out the rules each day and I’ve got a pretty good understanding of the sport. Baseball is still much more exciting, but it’s interesting.

We finished up our shift on Friday and got a 6am flight to Delhi on Saturday morning. From the Delhi airport, we got a car to take us up to Agra, the small town where the Taj Mahal is located — about 3.5 hours north of Delhi. Unbeknownst to use, the driver we hired happened to know a tour guide in Agra, so we found ourselves pulling over on the side of the road only to pick up this well-spoken Indian guide that helped us navigate the monument.

The Taj was amazing. The entire structure is made out of pure marble and the work that went into it just blew my mind.  The grounds were beautiful and the structure itself was breathtaking. I started playing around with the new “Photosphere” feature on Android 4.2.2, so be sure to check out the 360′ Photosphere Picture that I created of the Taj Mahal grounds.

After the Taj, our guide recommended a place for lunch where I was able to witness a real, live snake charmer. I was very torn between wanting to stay to watch him and run away.

We made it back to Delhi around 8pm and witnessed a lot of very very poor neighborhoods of the city. Delhi is home to 17 million people and it’s very apparent. One fact that we quoted frequently throughout the weekend was that the traffic in Delhi is the equivalent of the population of Sweden. Insane.

On Sunday we had most of the day to do some touristy things before we had to head to the airport. We ended up getting a car for the day and having someone from the hotel drive us around to show us the city and some of the sights. These included the Red Fort, the Lotus Temple and the Qulib Minar (a monument to the oldest Mosque in Delhi). Click the links for 360′ photospheres of each.

The weekend really gave some perspective to India — allowing me to see the differences between a city which has developed as part of the technology boom and one that is hugely over-populated. I saw several things that were quite shocking throughout the week, but I also saw some very beautiful monuments and met some very nice people. So far, I’ve been enjoying the trip, but I’ll also be very glad to head home later this week.

 

 

 

India: Immediate First Impressions

I landed in Hyderabad India just a few short hours ago and here are some of the things that immediately stood out:

  • Everyone here is super nice — I knew that coming into this trip, but I figured it was worth calling out. 
  • Immediately stepping out from the airport, the air felt warm and tropical, but there was a scent in the air that smelled as though something was burning — more like incense than anything particularly unpleasant.
  • They drive on the left side of the road — I should’ve guessed knowing that they were colonized by the Brits — but who knew?!
  • The cars are tiny (like most of the rest of the world) but the trucks are HUGE! The cabs of the trucks remind me of a NYC Garbage Truck, much taller and wider than Tractor Trailers in the US with huge glass windows and no doors.
  • Speaking of trucks, many of them have colored lights on the side of them — including a few that looked like they had Christmas lights on the side.
  • I had been warned that people drive crazy, but I didn’t quite know what that meant. Essentially, people will drift in and out of lanes and they generally honk when they’re passing because they want the person to not drift into their lane. I haven’t seen any elephants on the road yet, though.
  • As strange as this might sound, the commercial area I passed reminded me a lot of burning man. Everyone on motor bikes (rather than bicycles), people clustered together riding in groups and sitting on the back, people walking in the middle of the road, tiny little cars that I’d consider mutant vehicles, against a desert-like backdrop where many of the stores are light up with christmas lights and other glowing things to catch your attention. It’s reminiscent of Black Rock City without the booming techno soundtrack.
  • Security was really tight at my hotel. They searched the car for bombs and then upon entering the hotel I had to go through a metal detector and my bags were x-rayed. The hotel is gorgeous, though.
  • The gentleman at the front desk brought my luggage up to my room and he walked inside with me and insisted that I sit down at the desk while he told me all about the hotel and its amenities for 5 minutes. I felt slightly uncomfortable.

I’ve only been here a few hours and it’s already been an interesting trip. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself now though — I’m not exactly sleepy, but I’m exhausted from travelling… Oh well. That’s Jet Lag for ya.

India Trip Report: JFK to Dubai

I figured I’d do a little blogging while I’m on this two-week work trip to Hyderabad, India as part of my “Trip report.” I feel like I do most of my blogging while I’m traveling — but whatever. Anyway..

I took off yesterday morning at 10am from JFK headed to HYD by way of Dubai. The flight on Emirates Airlines was amazing. Each seat was equipped with a TV with 2,000 channels, hundreds of movies, music, and everything else you could imagine. For each section of four seats, there were 2 power adapters and each seat came with its own USB port for charging (Brilliant!)
One of the coolest features, though, was channel that let you switch between three cameras that were mounted on the outside of the plane to see what was going on outside. Having just about the whole row to myself, I had one TV permanently set to the Tail Camera to see what was going on outside.

With all the film choices, I ended up watching Looper first. I’ve been infatuated with this concept and was really excited to sit down to watch it. I fell asleep 2/3 the way through. Go figure.

I woke up about an hour later and ended up watching a few other films: “Deadfall”, which I rather enjoyed, and “Safety Not Guaranteed” — a clever comedy about a guy that took out a classified ad looking for partner to go back in time with. I think this one was my favorite.

The Dubai Airport is quite nice. I’ve never been to an arab country before and while I would’ve liked to have taken a quick tour of the city, I didn’t feel like I really had enough time and didn’t want to risk missing my flight.