Archive for April, 2010

India Day 4

Friday, April 30th, 2010

I noticed a few things today.

  • In the office, the guys have their blood group on their security pass. What made it more interesting was this article on the BBC News web site, implying that it might be for romantic or personnel reasons. But it turns out that it’s just for boring safety purposes.
  • And talking of safety purposes, I also read on the BBC news pages that they are closing the road between the courts in Belfast. This came on the same day that we were prompted to update our emergency contact details in work. Looks like the threat assessment is increasing. Not good. Not that things are any better in India, with securitys issued today by the government warning of potential terrorism in Hyderabad and Kolkatta.
  • But on a brigther note, there is a certain joy to the open plan office. It’s very large, with the desks in banks. Every time I get up to go to the exit, I feel like pac man, going through a maze! Haven’t found any ghosts or power-pills so far though. Except of course for the Mountain Dew, which I guess is as close to a power pill as I need.

India – Day 5

Friday, April 30th, 2010

My last day in the office in Bangalore – tomorrow is the weekend, and a day off. Hooray!

Today we managed to resolve the problem with the design I came out to work on, which gave a satisfying end to the week.

I also went out for tea with my development team. They wouldn’t let me pay, but at least I got a chance to thank them properly, instead of in snatched conversations in the office. We went to the Silver Metro, which wasn’t very far away but it took us a long time to get there as it was absolutely pouring with rain! The puddles were huge, the traffic was terrible, and I felt sorry for the folks struggling home on motorbikes and bikes in it.

We ate in the Silver Metro, a buffet restaurant which was themed on a railway station, with all the staff in dark blue uniforms with caps, and two fake trains on either side of the restaurant. But the food was very good. It had been pointed out to me that maybe the food I had eaten so far was mild because it had been tamed to western tastes in the hotel and the office. But tonight I ate out in a properly Indian place, and I still enojyed the meal. Admittedly I avoided eating anything red, in case it was too spicy, but that’s just typical playing it safe, and the point is I enjoyed the meal and the company.

Now I’ve finished writing my objectives (which I couldn’t do during working hours, as it is a mandatory part of the process that the objectives system must crash on the due that they have to be completed), so I am going to bed.

G’night All.

India Day 3

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

A slightly shorter day, as we went into the office later, and left earlier. But still didn’t get back to the hotel until about 9:00.

Another bright and sunny day, but not unbearably so – about 25 degrees. We went up to the canteen, which opens out onto the roof, and I was able to look around at the view for a while without melting into a puddle, even wearing my jacket (because I had all my stuff in the pockets).

The food highlight of the day was the fact that the nice people at Tech Mahindra arranged lunch for us in the office. But tea, once again in the hotel, was very nice.

The quote of the day was “Belfast taxi drivers are very adventurous”. Under normal circumstances, that’s not an unreasonable statement. However, it was said in the back of a jeep driving through Bangalore! Driving in India is less “getting from A to B”, and more “a crazy, adventure filled, white knuckle ride filled with thrills, spills and zany antics”, so for Manu to say this about Belfast taxi drivers while our driver sped between the hordes of motorbikes, three-wheelers and pedestrians tooting his horn all the way, was just amazing. But he was only serious.

The other notes for the day are:

  • that DEET, the mosquito repellant, really irritates my nose.
  • that I can get Moutain Dew in the office, which I got a real taste for in Dallas last year (though I am of course still drinking water too).
  • that my laptop power supply isn’t fried (I had some difficulty with it last night).

India Days 1 and 2 – the forgotten bits

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I should have mentioned that the weather is hot, but not unbearably so – around 25 degrees (C). But completely unexpectedly it rained last night, for quite a while, despite reassurances from colleagues in Belfast that this wouldn’t happen. And me without a coat! Fortunately, I do have my trusty travelling hat, in case I get caught out.

I also forgot to mention the excellent desert made out of carrot cooked in sweetened milk, which was superb with the hotel’s home-made ice cream. That was the food highlight of day one.

And I haven’t yet mentioned the ongoing mystery of our taxi driver, who keeps bringing us to and from the office. My colleague thought I had arranged it, and I thought he had arranged it. This only came to light when I asked how much he had paid him, and we discovered he hadn’t asked for money.
So someone out there has organised it for us, but we have no idea who to thank.
Or maybe he just enjoys our company. Who knows…

India Days 1 and 2

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

So I made it to India, and was delighted to find that my case had arrived too, thought not until after quite a long wait – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much luggage come off a single plane. I was also pleased to find a bank machine in the airport, since I was unable to get many Indian Rupees before I arrived, since it is a closed currency and it’s illegal to take it out of the country, or bring it back in.

I was met at the airport by a nice man from the hotel who knew my name, who brought me to my taxi and sent me off on my long drive to the hotel. It was long, and I was sitting in the back seat, so felt a bit travel sick, but made it to the hotel dignity intact.

After a short nap, fought with the hotels network, and was able get my laptop talking to home again, and do a good half-days work without ever having to put shoes on. A nice meal in the hotel’s restaurant with my colleague, and I was tired enough to sleep all night, with or without jetlag.

This morning, I got up at around my usual time, and made it into the office not long after 9:00. This is early for India, as the tendency here is to work late because it matches up better with the UK. As we found out when we left the office, at 8:45. But at least this way we missed the rush hour and the mosquitoes (said Norwin, stuggling to find a bright side). By the time we got back to the hotel, it was too late to do much other than eat in the hotel again, but at least we chose to try the other restaurant this time. It was also very nice. The highlight this evening was the buttered naan, which is not completely unlike hot buttered toast, which led me to believe that some things are so good that they evolve in parallel in different places. Or perhaps God creates them that way. Anyway, very nice.

And now it’s late, so I’m off to bed.

Goodnight world.

India – Day 0

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

I’m off on my travels again, once again exiled from Belfast by the powers that be at work, and not allowed back until I have participated in a design workshop in Bangalore, and visited the development teams in Pune and Calcutta.

So although not quite like Dallas last year, it sounds like an opportunity for some blogging, as there’ll probably be plenty to talk about.

So this morning instead of heading for church, I headed to Belfast City airport to fly to Heathrow. The City Airport is once again different to the last time I was there, though this might be the final configuration by the looks of it.

At Heathrow I was able to get checked in and have lunch with plenty of time to spare. Went to TGI Fridays for one of their excellent milkshakes and some chicken bits. I ended up in the very last row of the plane, 88D, but it wasn’t a problem at all. Emirates are very civilised to fly with – the same sophisticated entertainment system as Air New Zealand last year, with touch screens allowing pause and what have you, even in economy. Watched District 9 and The Princess and the Frog – both excellent films. And some Armstrong and Miller, who I think are very funny. But I can’t report on the food, as I felt a bit sick for the first part of the journey, so I skipped it and slept a bit instead. I didn’t expect to feel that way so early in the trip, but fortunately I felt much better when I woke up, so that’s good news.

Now sitting in Dubai International Airport, which is huge and impressive, and has plenty of free wi-fi. I had a gorgeous rhubarb tartlet, and a very grown up hot-chocolate from Paul (not nearly as sweet as usual, and made from a darker chocolate I think). Was delighted to be able to pay in pictures of the Queen, even in these foreign parts. Also discovered on facebook that my cousin has got himself engaged – isn’t modern communication kind of amazing!

Not too long before my next flight, to India itself.
Y’all have fun now, y’hear.

Paulo Nutini – Sunny Side Up

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

I often complain about the music listened to by those young people. Often it’s not actual music as such, just semi-structured, or even insufficiently structured noise. (Was that curmudgeonly enough? Oh good.)

But recently I had to break a twenty pound note to get change for a car park machine (boring story – don’t let it worry you), so I popped into HMV in Milton Keynes and decided to buy a CD (rather than something from Starbucks, since they’d cost about the same).

And so I bought Paulo Nutini’s Sunny Side Up. And what a delightful album it is.

It starts off joyfully and raucously with 10/10, a ska track, complete with plenty of brass and lots of emphasis on the off-beats. I have no idea what he’s saying most of the time, but it’s a great track.

Then we move on to Coming Up Easy, which is a bit more laid back, but still with a bit of a soul feel to it. For most of the track I thought it was just okay, but then at the end Paulo turns into Van Morrison repeating the mantra “in love I was created, and in love is how I hope I die”, which really makes the track for me. In this one, I can kind of work out what he is saying, but still have no real idea what the song is actually about.

We then have a couple of good tracks, more laid back, storytelling sort of songs – quite good songs, but less exciting. But I’ve got to move on to Pencil Full of Lead, a fantastic song, basically impossible to describe or categorise, but described by a friend as “like something out of the jungle book”, which is a pretty good comparison, as it’s not very unlike I wanna be like you, in terms of feel. As I’ve said, a great song, which got a lot of much-deserved airplay and is completely positive and uplifting – “I got food in my belly and a license for my telly and nothing’s gonna bring me down” is a great philosophy. The highlight of the album.

But then when you think things are settling down, we get track 8, High Hopes (this live version is cool, but the album version is more delicate). It might sound unkind when I say it sounds like the closing credits song for a Disney film that hasn’t been made yet, but it’s got an innocence about the sound of the recorders, ukulele and harmonica, and a positivity about it that gives it that sort of feel. I like this track almost as much as Pencil full of lead. And another fine positive message in it too “there’s no harm in being wrong you know – to me it’s common ground”.

From there it does calm down a bit, but picks up yet again with Simple Things, a pure country and western song. Or at least it would be, if he wasn’t so Scottish. This one starts off quite sensibly, and then goes mental half way through. And who can argue about the value of the simple things “like going round his mums house for his tea”.

I got this album pretty cheap, but I can honestly say it was worth every penny – one of the things I most often complain about in modern music is that it is often quite depressing. Even if the words aren’t depressing, the sound of it is depressing. Well, this album does what it says on the tin, and I enjoy Paulo’s sunny disposition.

Though he is clearly bonkers, of course.

Who to vote for

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

You’ll have noticed there’s an election coming up. Who should we be voting for?

The good news is that today I found the candidate for me – Harry Hamilton. Because he is the only candidate standing for election who is also Northern Ireland’s leading Freddy Mercury impersonator, performing for many years as Flash Harry.

Who else will have policies on the following:

  • Killer Queens
  • Fat bottomed girls
  • Wanting to ride my bicycle
  • Wanting to live forever
  • Finding me somebody to love

I hope no-one stops him now, and that he’ll be the champion (my friend).

There’s something about being conservative and unionist as well, but I’m sure that’s not important.

The only problem is that he’s not standing in my constituency.

Boo! More musical impersonators for parliament.

Abba impersonators for Prime Minister!!