Second night in Hyderabad

Yesterday was productive. We met the team, discussed goals and…well, work stuff.

But this blog isn’t about work stuff.

So the first non-work thing was lunch, which was *at* work, but not really *about* work. It was about trying the culinary delights of India!

The local cafeteria is huge, and the area we were in had 3 venues. One Indian chain called “4 Seasons”, a Subway sammich shop and a Dominos pizza. Although my brain chose pizza right away, telling me “duh, that was easy”, I opted to try the local fare. So, I had chicken biryani, which is basically a coupe pieces of chicken and some rice, plus a small salad of carrots and cucumbers, and a tasty cucumber desert. It was quite good and spicy. I’m glad they provided the cucumber. It acts as the dishes “cooling agent”.

The ride back to the hotel was, once again, like a scary movie that you’re cast in where there are no stunt doubles. I’ve taken to looking out the side window as opposed to front window for the same reasons I mentioned earlier. I managed to snap some more pictures of traffic and the goings-on en-route. In fact, here’s a short movie…

Hyderabad Traffic

The hotel was busy when I returned, and I finally made the connection that there is a convention center directly adjacent to the hotel. I walked around a bit and heard what appeared to be some live-music concert. There were several events going on, including an outdoor dinner buffet. I walked a bit outside, still on the hotel grounds, and just enjoyed the evening air. Not too warm, not too chilly. Looking up I noticed the Orion constellation, which was weird because I also see it from California. Maybe not now, tho. I have to check when I get back.

By now I was getting tired, so I headed back to the room. On the way I found the “Premier Lounge”, to which I was told I have access. So after grabbing the copy of the SF Chronicle I grabbed from the airport, I walked over and actually relaxed for a bit. Snacks and coffee were served, and the atmosphere was excellent. I’ll definitely return in the evenings. It beats sitting in the room watching TV.

Work day #1

So far everything is going swell.

I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to get to the office today, but the fine folks at Novotel had a car waiting for me, and outside of me not having the proper office address, everything went smoothly.

Our sponsors here have been great, and I had a chance to meet the “offshore” staff whilst “onshore”, which was my top goal. It’s always good to put faces to email addresses, and to have the chance to collaborate real-time as opposed to “near real-time”.

The campus is beautiful. I’d love to go around taking pictures, but it expressly says I can’t do that on my visitor badge. Ah well, I’m sure there are plenty on-line already.

I’m looking forward already to eplxoring and relaxing at Novotel this evening. The plan is to hit the gym for a bit. I’m tempted to jump in the pool after dark and relax, but now I’m worrying more about the large, and I mean LARGE, pond out behind the hotel property. I just barely got my vaccinations in time for the trip and I really don’t want to put them to the test if I can avoid it.

Finally made it

Hyderabad airportMeeting the crowds

After a short hop from Dubai, here I am in Hyderabad. The flight was good enough, and I ate well…TOO well. I had ordered the mezze platter and some fruit, wanting to err on the lighter side, but the flight attendant told me they were out. So, she brought a couple alternatives instead, including some smoked salmon and a curry potato dish. They were yummy. However, as I dug in, she appeared again with a mezze platter from First Class! Not wanting to be rude, I thanked her and accepted it. Now my tray was full of food again, which is what I was trying to avoid. Everything was delicious and I was soon over any guilt for overeating. Hey, you only fly once halfway around the world in business class,! Right, Dave? 🙂

After picking up my luggage and converting $100 to Rupees, I found my driver, a local by the name of Christopher Joseph. We left the airport in a nice Emirates car and headed out in the darkness to the hotel.

I think I went a bit more gray after that ride.

First off, some observations. These are not meant to be specifically against the wonderful people of Hyderabad, who have, to wit, been very accommodating and quite nice. But the fact of the matter is, I became quickly convinced that traffic here is at best organized chaos. It’s also clear to me that I could never operate a vehicle here, not without killing myself or others.

I think I can best portray the movement of cars, motorbikes and pedestrians as a well-orchestrated ballet. Expressive, flowing, and at all times on the knife’s edge of impending doom and destruction.

The first thing Christopher warned me about is that “there are really no traffic rules”. This got the blood pumping right away. While we were on the open highway, I saw a few sparse examples, like the truck parked in the far lane, facing the wrong way, with his bright lights on (Christopher reacted most expertly in avoiding certain doom). I also didn’t hear much of the legendary honking I’ve read about.

That was because we were still on the highway, at night, on a Monday.

Getting closer to town I realized the full and awesome spectacle that is Indian vehicle traffic. I actually had to look away from the front window, MANY times, just because I didn’t want to “see it coming”.

Nobody stayed in their lanes, I was completely surprised by the number of motorbikes carrying 2 people, both of whom wore sandals and maybe one helmet between them (about half), and just how utterly precise one’s skills have to be to pass another vehicle with only INCHES between! I’m not kidding. Inches. I was telling myself, far too often, “Oh yeah, we’re going to lose some paint this time.”

The other behavior I didn’t expect was people brazen enough to just step off the side of the road and cross while this metal-and rubber ballet continued without losing it’s pace. I remember seeing just faces..calm faces…as people appeared from nowhere right before us. I’m sure my brake foot has several sprains I haven’t yet noticed.

It was literally a hair-raising experience. We made it to the hotel safely though, and the only reason I figure we did is that everyone is intimately familiar with the ebb and flow of the chaos, and so it’s just natural for everyone to expect and react to what I saw as certain metal-crunching doom.

So, last night was an exciting start. Today my coworker and I are off to meetings at the remote campus, so it looks like most the day will be spent in meet-and-greet. And so until later, adieu.


Enjoying Shiraz at DBX

Well, after a nervous wait for the shuttle back from the Mall to the Marriott, I’m happy to report I’m back at Dubai International airport, enjoying a nice Shiraz in the Business Class lounge. Dave was right, they take good care of you on Emirates. I’ll have to save up to bring Sheila out here one of these years for some golf, beach-bumming and shopping. And of course, a trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa!


Rise and shine! Kinda

So the plan was to get 6-7 hours of sleep, to help reset my internal clock. The clock obviously doesn’t like that idea, so I’m up at 7:15, and try as I might to force myself to stay in what was an extremely comfortable bed, I was compelled to get up and scope out the view. The clock was not slighted!
I figured as long as I was awake of take a shower. The bathroom was cavernous (I’m at the JW Marriot) and had one of those overhead rainfall showers. I really like them…might have to consider a home retrofit.
Breakfast was delicious, and although I had a choice of local-style, Asian or Indian fare, I played it safe (chickened out) and opted for a tasty omelet, potatoes, mushrooms and thick slabs of “turkey bacon”. I’m not convinced turkeys were used at all it’s creation. Delicious none the less!
After this I have until 1pm to hang out, so I’ll drop by the concierge and see if there are tours to the Birj.


Random pictures

It’s 4am, I’m here in Saudi Arabia after my plane got delayed until 3pm. I bought an hour of wireless internet for AED 25.00, so here are some pics of the journey so far.






Oh and the best thing was talking to my wife from halfway around the world.
Okay. That’s it. I need some sleep. Goodnight Dubai.

Life at 30k feet

I’ve gotta say, it’s not so shabby. Hot face towel, glass of champagne, bowl of warm mixed nuts…and we haven’t even taken off yet!
So let me paint the scene. I’m sitting in business class seat 7K, which is nicely nestled against the right bulkhead of the plane. I’ve been playing with the myriad toys that Emirates provides, including an adjustable seat with massage, multi-function tablet that controls the entertainment center and aforementioned seat, and a rather old-school looking phone handset, complete with tether!
I was hoping that there would be wifi on the flight, alas I can’t see any. The ancient handset is supposed to provide SMS and email. Well, I have 15 hours to figure it out.
Entertainment is abundant, which makes sense given the duration I the flight. Fifteen-hundred channels to pick from! That’s about 4 times worse than cable! I’m watching Thor, the movie, again. Later I may try an Arabic one. After dinner.
Oh, and dinner is, by the way, as abundant as the movie channels. Five courses, if I counted correctly. I’m not even that hungry, but what the heck! How often do you get to enjoy a 5-course meal?