Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Land of the Cow

And pig, camel, dog and goat. In New Zealand, sheep rule. Here, lots of other critters do, but nothing beats the cow. Bony and ubiquitous, they do what they want, when they want, where they want. The price for an accidental death on the road, according to Asif (our formidable driver who has yes like a hawk and reflexes like a martial artist...and undersatndably so), is several thousand rupees....and this is on a no-fault basis and is enforced by the wrath of the villagers, who will encircle your modern-day camel (i.e. the offending automobile) in a matter of seconds.

In India, the street is your stable and your stable is your street. Breathe deep.

"vuja de" all over again

or, the phenomenon where you've NEVER had that feeling before!!! (sorry, my favorite George Carlin joke). Anyway, it's really deja vu when, after concluding an inspiring historical tour of a thousand-year-old-or-more monument, you are whisked into a side room full of fabrics, offered tea and given a shpiel you've heard at least 3 times in the past 3 days, with assistants in tw to roll out the different pieces in eye-battingly rapid successsions.

Difference between the wall hanging biz here and the carpet biz in Turkey? It's Indian "chai" and not apple tea. But the disdain when you say you will think about it is universal.

Monday, March 26, 2007

just say no to photoshop!

not that it doesn't have it's rightful place...but rajasthan is NOT one of them! This is a land where colors from lapus lazuli and mustard seed stain brushes made of squirrels' tales and camels's eyebrows (really, not kidding) to create enduring timeless art. TIme-consuming and awe-inspiring. Adobe, please leave this corner of the earth alone.

the noises of Udaipur

Our blissful arrival in Udaipur was jarred a bit by the pyrotechnics of our first evening. Should I be scared? It was with great relief to learn the next day that it was fireworks from a wedding...

Other choice Udaipur sounds you just don't get in SF:
The Muslim call to prayer five times a day
The beating sound of laundry against the rocks, well-heard from any vantage point across the lake.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

the fragmentation of globalization

After checking into the Hotel Sarovar, I grabbed some dinner up on top of the building, which overlooks the lake, with a nice view of the nearby mosque. There, the waiter shared how his family lives 60KM away...the 'maitre'd' himself hails fromNepal! The taxi driver yesterday in Bangalore also supports his family from afar. It's clear that globalization but unites - and fragments.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Smile and nod

This is what my coworker Darren Begley taught me to do when things pile up at work - an effective stress-masking response to unattainable demands. They seemed to get that here: all of the feedback I've read about in our surveys at work came to life when I was in charge of getting the multimedia going for Gideon's All-Hands' talks here. For the first 2 times i was lulled into a sense of confidence by the vigorous assurances of our vendors - "it's being taken care of." Thanks to Bill's enlightenment, I was quickly educated in the realities of what a nod really does (or does not) mean. 2.5 hours later, in the hot auditorium, I realized that furious activity and positive ascent do NOT equal a task being done. A good lesson for me in the realities of our globalizing world.

Now THIS is the way to fly

Not another wafer-thin mint, the man cries in Monty Python. Not only do we eat constantly in our hotel, between meetings, during meetings... but a 1-hour flight also includes hot food. Sure puts our pretzels we get on our 5-hour flights to shame!


Our incredible amazing meal was $15 for 7 of us....contrast that to about $90/person at the Leela, and the Leela cannot provide the ambiance and incredibly authentic fare we had at this local place (which literally embodies the moniker "watering hole") called Garam Naram. Spicy, steaming veggies accompanied by 6? varieties of stuffed bread, all served to us by the very youthful-looking waiter who wrote absolutely nothing down as our cohort Danny Mehra fired off our extensive order.

Gideon was in heaven and I was too (once I used some butter to fan the flames in my mouth!!)

Ok, it's 5 - not 7 - stars

One of my co-worker/travelers said the Leela is a 7-star hotel and I believed him. It's technically 5 but I'll opt for the Spinal Tap exaggeration to deserves it. Ostentatious and pompous yes. Also, perfect. Perfectly clean. Perfectly light. Perfectly beautiful. Perfectly indulgent and anticipatory of every feasible and conceivable human need one could have. Where do I start? The marble floors. The enveloping linen. The fluffy huge perfectly white towels. The water and amenities abounding everywhere.

Oh - and the mouth-watering breakfast bar at their Citrus Lounge.....the whole affair, plunked right in the middle of intense, chaotic, swarming Bangalore, easily lulls one into a sense that all is good this side of heaven. Plus the VIP treatment (being picked up by multiple cars, whisked away to executive briefings, having your photo snapped in lobbies with kiosks bearing your names!). Can I snap out of it?

The day (?) that would not end

Or was it a day? What is time? All is lost when you fly 14 hours...wait an 4 more...wait 10 more....and fly 4 more. Reminiscent of our arrival in Auckland last year, arriving in Hyderabad via a Pacific route was like Groundhog Day: you keep thinking it's another day but it's really all the same day.

The cost of SAL

The service and experience on Singapore Air was stellar but don't forget - it's Singapore Air. That means you have to fly through ....Singapore. This translated into 10? hours in Singapore. Singapore. Singapore. Never been there?

Hot muggy weather.

hmmmm.....cannot think of anything else. Am I missing something? Not that I could find in the ten hours we were there. Singapore: all the suburb and shallowness you can buy - at urban prices!

The sheep & the goats?

Or, Life as a Business Class Passenger. Never before have I more starkly experienced "class" more than in my first real foray into business was there, on Singapore Air, that I had choices....
  • Choices to enter a different (and of course, far shorter) line.
  • Choices to rest my travel-weary body in an exclusive "AirKRIS" lounge ("Kris" has some meaning I am forgetting right now as I type this from the Mumbai airport).
  • Choices to partake in whatever food I wanted in these lounges.
  • Choices to sit upstairs....where the cleaner bathrooms are.
  • Choices to refresh oneself with hot towels brought to you every 30 minutes or so by the ever-so-attentive SAL staff.
  • Choices to have legroom....serious legroom....and to recline my seat in a form that far more closely resembles the humane than "Economy" class affords its ill-fated travelers. This is not trivial.
What a fitting preface to my destination country....

Sunday, March 11, 2007

When work feels

A marathon? Just finished Schwab's "Technical Mentoring Program" - and I put that in quotes because it truly is a "LIFE WORK" program...between that, an intense/challenging job, a new place, foot surgery and a few international trips, I'd say the '06-'07 fiscal year has had it's challenges! I feel like a wet noodle and hope I can absorb the key lessons I'm supposed to be gleaning (and transforming from-!).