Archive for February, 2010

27
Feb
10

Transformations

Tonight I wrapped up my final shift on the call floor. I would really much rather be sleeping right now, but once again there’s a lot I want to get down. I keep coming back to the fact that I will ultimately have to stand in front of my superiors and stakeholders back home and answer to the question, “Will this work?” Going back to my earlier analogy of trying to reanimate the dead patient on the operating table, my answer is “No.” If we continue, exactly as we have been so far, there is no chance of success. We’re doing chest compressions on a patient who’s missing half of his head. The only way we succeed is by tossing out the stiff, and wheeling in a new patient that at least has a pulse, albeit weak. That pulse is the willingness to change course.

It’s challenging to describe the issue while protecting identities and not divulging company secrets. We’ve been letting the local management call the shots far too often, and we’ve been too trusting in their expertise in running the business, and they’ve run it right into the ground. Finally, it seems that we are stepping in and saying “Yeah, we tried it your way and it failed. This is how WE do business.” Maybe I’m being overly optimistic here, but it seems like people are finally starting to listen to the answers I give when they ask “If you had to make it work…what would you need?”

My colleagues and I have a couple things going for us. We’re all pretty bright people, all modesty aside. And we’re able to admit when we’re wrong, to accept input from all levels, and to entertain other ways of approaching a problem. I have very little doubt that if anyone had listened to the objections that we raised at every step down the path to our current perilous predicament, this fiasco might have been avoided. At this point, I’d like to raise a very loud WE TOLD YOU SO!

Now that that’s out of the way, what’s next? Well, first we need to outline what we’re changing. That part’s easy: Everything. The tricky part is getting the proper authorizations to make it happen. There’s an old AA saying that I’ve used before: Half measures avail us nothing. Basically, you can’t half-ass it or you might as well not even try. If we say, “They need X hours of training.” And management comes back and says “Well, how about 1/4 X and they can do it from home?” then we need to stand our ground. It’s been a death of a thousand cuts trying to get this site off the ground. Every specification has been eroded to the point of being unrecognizable in the final plan. That needs to change. I came here expecting to find a lost cause, and for the first couple weeks that’s what it seemed to be. Somewhere toward the end of the second week I started seeing signs of that willingness to reinvent that I mentioned earlier, and it’s given me a little hope.

This trip has been an eye opener in a lot of ways. Intellectually, you know the people that work here are real people. You know that it’s a hard job, because you’ve done it yourself. Still, actually being here adds an immeasurable human element to both sides of the equation. They see that there’s a real person behind the nameless, faceless boss. Someone who can be a mentor, coach, leader, or just a sympathetic ear. And conversely, they’re not just warm bodies in seats. They’re individuals. Some are dedicated, engaged, interested in learning and committed to doing a good job. Some are just there to pick up a check and then leave. Just being able to make contact with everyone on the team, and get to know them at a personal level, made this trip well worth the price of admission for me personally. For the company, the test will be to see if we can build on the framework that we’ve created in the last couple weeks and create a working machine.

I’m actually going to miss these guys when I go back home. I’ve got photos and tons of great memories and stories. One thing that I won’t miss is having everyone greet me with “I have this customer who is facing an issue…”

Personally, it’s been a transformative trip for me. I’ve never really been a leader or a motivator before. I’m last picked for the team, usually. And I’m a bass player for chrissakes! Having people listen and take action based on my input is not something I’ve experienced much up to this point in my professional life. It’s kind of a head trip. You step into a role, and you become the role. And it happens so seamlessly that you wonder what else you might be capable of, if you pushed yourself a little further in one direction or the other.

There are two main holidays in India. One of them is a holiday where everyone spends time with their families, much like Thanksgiving in the US. The other is called Holi (pronounced “holy”) and from what I can tell it’s the most fun that you can possibly have with your clothes on. Apparently the whole country turns into a cross between Mardi Gras and a paintball match or something. Everyone says that you basically get coated from head to toe in multicolored pigments. It sounds like the coolest thing you could ever hope to witness while carrying a camera, and it happens the day after I leave to go home. Shit. Note to self: Come back for Holi some time.

I saw monkeys outside my hotel window again today. Everyone here thinks it’s funny how excited I get over monkeys. They’re like squirrels here. They’re just critters that you see fairly frequently on roof tops, or pretty much anywhere. I’ve heard tales, and these may not be typical encounters, of monkeys actually stopping pedestrians and frisking them for food. Or snatching handbags and searching through them and then discarding them. I find the idea of coexisting with (other) mischievous primates fascinating. I may have to get a monkey…and maybe a Kenworth.

24
Feb
10

One more time, with feeling!

After Agra, I spent the next day catching up on sleep. Some time Sunday afternoon the hotel desk called and asked when I was checking out. I replied “tomorrow” and the girl at the desk informed me that they only had me down for Sunday, and that they were sold out. I explained that I had arranged it through a travel agency that our company uses and that I was holding an itinerary that confirmed that I wasn’t checking out until Monday. She went to go check my story and called back an hour later to let me know that I wasn’t going to be homeless after all.

Sunday evening I went out to a club called Reverb at the Great India Place in Noida. We had a department party there. The music was so loud that you couldn’t hear anything anyone was saying, but that was a good thing. People pretty much focused on drinks and dancing and didn’t spend time talking about work. I had a few rum & cokes and spent the rest of the night on the dance floor as the DJ played everything from Punjabi to trance, house to American R&B, hip hop to industrial. Not necessarily the mix I would have preferred, but it was fun all the same.

Monday I slept until about 10, then got up and packed my room. Around 1:30pm I met up with some friends and we went to a market somewhere near Delhi to get piercings. The market was full of higher end US fashion brand stores and my friend explained that this area is famous for being a spot where wealthy people shop. She said that this was the place where she first saw a Hummer in India. Perhaps not surprisingly, this area was also bombed a couple years ago. Casualties near the bomb were relatively low, but many were hurt in the ensuing chaos. This made me a little nervous, but I figured that they’d probably pick a different target next time.

We went into a little shop where I picked out a Ganesha ring to bring home, and then decided on a piercing. I got my bottom lip pierced with about a 20 gauge wire with a bead on it. My two friends BOTH chickened out. Ah well, I thought it was a lot of fun anyway. After that we went over to KFC and I had a Zinger sandwich. (Nothing says “Welcome home, brand new piercing!” like hot spices.) The real zinger was that the bun was crawling with really tiny ants. I didn’t find that out until I was half through with it. I finished the sandwich anyway. The ants were really small, so I didn’t think they’d cause too much damage.

After that we went back to the hotel, where my friends gave me a container with some homemade paranthas in it. They’re like these little pancakes filled with veggies and spices. They’re freaking delicious. I’ll be sad if I can’t find an Indian place back home that makes them. I went back to my room, gathered my belongings and went downstairs to check out and catch a cab back to Gurgaon.

The driver on the way to Gurgaon was fairly chatty, so I spent some time listening as he explained about the local sports teams and the respective proficiencies of their various team members. I mainly nodded and smiled and watched out the window as the scenery rolled by. I saw several herds of urban cattle milling around the streets, riverbeds and hillsides. At one point we were blocked by a rather large herd that decided to cross the road. The driver explained that they’e the “kings of the road” here.

With a little help from the iPhone map application we found my new hotel. I have to say that I have been pretty disappointed with it so far. Everything I’d gotten used to at the other hotels is notably absent here. It’s much more like the experience of any roadside hotel in the states. The only upside I’ve found to this place is that they have a cafe that’s open 24 hours and has excellent food. This is particular helpful as I’m working night shifts while I’m here. There’s basically zero security here. There’s a metal detector but no one is really watching it. The last two places had vehicle checks, metal detectors and pat down. Here, there’s only one person working the front desk and he doesn’t have a machine gun. The other side of the coin is that its a very small hotel and I’m pretty sure they know all the guests by name, and know who should and shouldn’t be there. The room is small, there’s a scarcity of clean towels, and there’s no carpet. It’s clean enough, and the style is sort of funky/arty.

I called the front desk for a cab and an hour later I was still waiting, so I called my contact at the office and asked if he could arrange something. He decided to just come over and get me since it was close by. We arranged for transportation to be provided by the office for the rest of the week, since the hotel folks couldn’t seem to get it together for me. I may call my own car for the airport return trip. I don’t want to be waiting around for a cab if there’s increased security at the airport and I need to be there early.

Again, work seems to be heating up. I ended up not doing the job that I thought I was coming back to do. It turns out that my team needs the help more than the team I’d been reassigned to. This is perfectly fine with me. I like the guys on my team and want to help them be successful if I can. There are a lot of challenges though, like training limitations and timing. We have some milestones ahead that we need to be ready for and I’m just not sure we’ll get there in time.

I ate at the cafeteria at the office, and so far have suffered no ill effects as a result. The food is a little bland though. The office has undergone a bit of a facelift since my last visit (new paint, internet kiosks and a gym). From what I hear they had a little Dog’n’Pony show for some folks that came over from the States last week and wanted to make the place look a bit less run down. I’ve noticed a lot of ass kissing from the higher ups here and I wonder if it’s affecting the judgment of the people who are visiting to evaluate the site. It’ll take more than a coat of paint and some potted plants to fix the situation here. I’m hoping that anyone who’s risen to the level of management will be bright enough to see beyond surface appearances, but my confidence level there is hovering around 4-5 on a 10 scale.

I spent the rest of the night and most of the next night just walking around the floor, listening to people doing their jobs and jumping in to help whenever I felt like they were starting to lose control of the call. There are some folks here who are really starting to get it. I just hope they stick around. Ideally we should have someone here full time for the next couple months to mentor and really get things stabilized, and have someone in place to train the incoming folks. But that’s not going to happen, so I’m trying to devise alternate plans. We’ll work with what we’ve got and hope for the best.

Only a few more days of work, then a day off, and then I’m on my way back home. I’ve enjoyed my time here, and even when it was stressful it was still enlightening, but when it’s over I’ll be glad to go back home and see everyone again. I have a feeling that this won’t be my last trip to this part of the world. If I can manage to hang on to my job a bit longer they’ll probably ask me to come back here for another round later in the year.

22
Feb
10

To Agra and back

I’m exhausted once again, but want to get this down while I still have it fresh in my memory. (Though it’s already starting to fade and swirl and become confused.) The short story is that today we went to Agra, visited the Taj Mahal, and came back.

By “we” I mean me, a couple coworkers from Ottawa, and a couple more coworkers from Noida. We headed out from the hotel this morning in pretty sorry shape. The Ottawa crew and I only had a few hours sleep after unwinding with a couple beers the night before. We got a bit of a late start and headed straight into the worst traffic I’ve yet seen in India.  – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but the entire Delhi area is undergoing a massive facelift. They are hosting the Commonwealth Games later this year and literally every street and public area is being revamped in some way. New hotels are being constructed, along with new roads, new freeways, new railways and more. I’d like to see the Delhi area again after the games and see how it all turns out. The folks doing the labor on all this construction seem to come from middle class on downward. I’ve seen children laying bricks and women removing dirt from an area by carrying it in baskets on top of their heads. Everywhere, gangs of men in dusty earth-toned clothes seem to be busy pouring cement, spreading tar and working on scaffolding. – So now that you have some background, and I believe that I mentioned what a raging snarling mess everyday traffic is, you can imagine what that’s like when it’s compressed down to 1.5 lanes along the main road from Delhi to Agra at Faridabad. I am continually impressed by the steady flow of traffic in this region, the constant honking of horns and the variety of vehicles overflowing with people. Four people on a motorcycle, 8 in tricycle taxi the size of a golf cart, at least 12 in a minivan about 3/4 the size of a US minivan, a couple dozen in the back of a flat bed truck on the way to a job, an uncountable mass on a bus. And they’re everywhere, going in every direction all the time, though not without the occasional crunch of bent metal followed by shouting and the thud of flatly landed punches. We saw a fight break out just before Faridabad at the scene of a crash where the back of a small car had been completely caved in by a truck. I didn’t see any injuries, just a lot of angry words and then the beginning of a fight. A large crowd started to gather around the men, attempting to break them up, and then traffic started moving and we were off.

I’ve been asked several times by friends and coworkers here, “Tell me what you’ve seen of India so far! Do you like it?” I tell them about going to CP with my friends from work, about my excursion on foot to the market under the light rail near my hotel here and about getting on the metro and going to Old Delhi. At this point, I usually get “You went to Old Delhi? So you’ve seen the *real* Delhi!” I don’t really think of Old Delhi as the *real* Delhi. It’s just a different Delhi from the one that my coworkers are used to. Inasmuch as Old Delhi might be considered the Real Delhi, the India that we saw today might be considered the Real India.

This is the India that happens outside the metropolitan areas. These people are living very much as they have for the last several hundred years. Some are barely scraping by a living on collected groundwater and subsistence farming. They are gathering and burning cow dung for fuel beneath signs promising blazing fast mobile internet. Everywhere there are examples of the most desperate poverty I’ve ever seen, right alongside wealth and convenience. But even in the poorest sections life persists and succeeds. Really, who is poorer? The person who lives with his whole family and has his hands directly on the wheel that controls his life, or the cubicle worker who cannot attach any real meaning to his daily labors and is literally employed ‘at will’ of his bosses with little opportunity for self-determination. Alright, I’d better get back on topic before I decide to run out in the street, flip over a cop car and start a Fight Club.

All along this road, the poor and outcast mingle and mix with the steady stream of middle class travelers on their way to work or adventure. There are poor people everwhere in India, and everywhere in the world. The difference is that when you’re in these areas, you’re on their territory. If you smile as a man with a trained monkey coaxes the monkey through a series of tricks, you’d better be prepared to cough up a few rupee in appreciation of the performance. I did not feel exceedingly fearful, but as we rolled through this area we could feel the eyes on us and hear them tapping on the window glass trying to get our attention. They’re more than happy to exploit your guilt, discomfort, generosity or compassion in order to garner a few rupees.

——Took a break from writing for a day here.——

We stopped along the way at a place called Maharaja Hotel to get some food and stretch our legs. I ordered a couple veg samosas that were pretty much the same as the ones I get back home at Gandhi or Gateway. Not bad. The prices for food at this spot, though roughly equivalent to the prices back home, were “bullshit” according to our local friends. It’s kinda funny that even though there is tremendous reverence for cows here, bullshit it still bullshit.

We got back in the car and made our way to Agra. The part we drove through was extremely congested, as were most of the cities we passed through on the way there. Vehicles piled right on top of each other and people trying to go in every direction. There were some traffic cops there which helped a little.

Once we got to the entrance to the area around the Taj Mahal, we found that there was a massive line to even get into the area. This was due to security checkpoints. Everyone has to pass through a metal detector and then a pat down and a bag search. Basically airport security. A couple people in our group were on a pretty tight schedule as their flight left early the next morning so we were pressed for time. Right as our spirits started to dip, a young man volunteered to show us the “back way” into the Taj Mahal. We paid him a little money and followed him around through some narrow streets and alleys and indeed eventually emerged near an alternate ticket booth. At this booth there was a very short line for women to enter, but a very long line for men. Again, our young guide pulled through. He led us to yet another “secret” gate where the line for men was only maybe 15 or 20 people. Within a few minutes we were inside the area.

The Taj Mahal grounds are surrounded by a massive wall with heavily ornamented gates on all sides. I don’t recall the names of all these other buildings, and there’s probably a map of the grounds on Wikipedia or something. To get to see the Taj Mahal itself, you pass through a huge red stone archway. Inside the archway is basically darkness, and then as you climb the steps you see the Taj Mahal rising through a portal. It’s indescribably impressive and beautiful. As you walk through the gateway the scene just gets bigger and brighter and you can see more of the building and the grounds. When you finally emerge it’s almost otherworldly in beauty. Everywhere the building and the grounds follow geometric patterns. We stopped to take some photos with the main mausoleum in the background, then walked across the grounds, through a maze of decorative pools and fountains and eventually ended up at the front steps. There, we donned some very classy white booties that you wear over your shoes so as not to destroy the marble. I was constantly falling behind the group, trying to snap photos of everything. To get inside there’s another long line, and there’s no one to bribe to get past this one. Fortunately it’s a fast moving line.

I won’t spend too much time describing the building itself. There are plenty of resources for that. I will say that the interior is somewhat less impressive than the outside, and fairly modest in it’s adornments. Of course I’m comparing it to the over-the-top baroque flourishes of European cathedrals. It’s quite beautiful. There are only a few rooms on the inside and within minutes you’re out the back door with a view over the Yamuna river.

After that we just walked back across the grounds, through the botanical gardens and back outside the main gate where there was an even larger line of people than there was before. With this many people standing around, there was a lot of security. Several guards with machine guns at various points. We stopped for a moment to get our bearings and I ended up buying a few cheap Taj Mahal glitter globe keychains for pennies from a young boy. We hopped aboard a camel cart – yes, a camel cart – and rode back to where our driver dropped us off. Along the camel ride there were tons of wild monkeys eating, playing and generally carrying on. I’m not sure what type they are. They’re plain looking, light brown with pinkish faces. I snapped several photos and a short video of them.

Once we got back to the car, we started the long trip back. There was less congestion, but still we had to deal with stop and go traffic and lots of horn honking in all the cities. Everyone in the car passed out, except the driver of course, and with one bathroom break at the half way point, we made our way back to Noida. There was a beautiful red sunset over the fields and I took several pictures of that. Once it was too dark to use a decently fast shutter speed, I just gave in and fell asleep.

I’m a couple days behind on the blog, but now that I’ve completed the Agra piece, catching up should be easy. I may add more about Agra as I remember more.

19
Feb
10

Further adventures in Delhi

So the last couple days have been mostly centered on work. Work is not going well in most respects. It’s a massive clusterfuck, pardon my French (I’ve had a couple Kingfishers). The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, and there’s a third hand coming from I-don’t-know-where that is not helping the situation at all. In fact it’s making things much, much worse. I’ve been asked to do several other peoples’ jobs in the last couple days, and I’m running out of arms. There’s a steady ratcheting up of intensity and the tension is as thick as the haze that surrounds this city. Something either needs to give, or something’s going to break. I’m betting on the latter, but I’m focused trying to fix the problems. Unfortunately, it’s like the little dutch boy and the dike. Every time I ask a question, or get a question answered, five more spring up in its place. Are you sensing a theme in my analogies here? This is problem needs more feet on the ground than there are now. Our entire team back home would have to camp out in this city for a year to get things squared away, and that’s not going to happen. And half measures avail us nothing.

Imagine if you will a patient on an operating table with a sheet drawn over them. You pull back the sheet expecting to find a person. Instead you find a number of body parts stapled and duct taped together. A number of surgeons enter the room. They look at the patient and then begin to offer their opinions:
One says, “This kidney is not functional. He needs a kidney transplant!”
Another says, “His heart has stopped beating, grab the paddles!”
And another says, “Are you kidding? This patient is dead. He needs a grave.”
The first one says, “Hmm…let’s say that you absolutely had to reanimate this patient, what would you need?”
The third says, “It’s impossible.”
The first says, “Humor me.”
So the third surgeon says, “Well…I guess you’d need adrenaline, several pints of blood, a respirator, defibrillator, some ringers, sutures, scalpels…(turns to second surgeon) Can you get us those?”
The second says, “Absolutely! What’s adrenaline? And can you take us to find the rest?”
Just then, a hospital administrator walks into the room and says, “When will he be able to play piano again? The concert is tomorrow!”
The third says, “Did you not hear me? He’s dead. And what’s more, you should know this because you’re the one who ran him over with your lawnmower on the way to the golf course!”
The first and second suddenly begin arguing about whether they need more Q-tips for this procedure and agree they should send the third to the store to buy them ASAP.

That pretty much sums up the situation at work. Lots of effort spent. Lots of blood shed. Maybe it works, and maybe it doesn’t. Remains to be seen.

I’ve been working nights since I’ve been here, and sleeping most daylight hours. Today, or yesterday rather, I got up early and went shopping before work. We took a cab to Dilli Haat and did some shopping. It’s a big marketplace that’s government operated. You pay a small admission price to get in, and you can bargain with the vendors. It’s fairly safe and uncongested. Inside, we spent some time buying various souvenirs and gifts for the folks back home. While we were there I was mobbed by a group of Indian school children in uniform who wanted me to take their picture. (I was carrying a rather conspicuous Canon 5D MKII camera.) Then they wanted to take their pictures with me. They were a lot of fun. They gave me their email addresses so I could send them copies once I get home and get everything transferred.

After we finished up at Dilli Haat we went back outside and got in the rented car again. (We hired a driver to drive us around all day and watch our laptops and work crap for about $45 US. ) We drove back to CP to get some food and ended up eating at a restaurant called Parikrama. It’s a rotating restaurant at the top of an office building, similar to the Space Needle restaurant back home. We were treated to an amazing view of Delhi and a delicious lunch. Afterward we headed out to do a bit more shopping. We headed to a part of the city called Janpath and began browsing the shops there. This market is on a fairly normal looking city street, sort of like Portland.

We browsed from storefront to storefront. In addition to the legit shops, there were a number of street vendors who crowded around us and attempted to part us from our money with various goods ranging from musical instruments, to jewelry, to chess sets, to wooden cobras to balls of hashish. Yes, even in India I apparently look like a guy you can sell drugs to. I was a bit torn on this last point. I could have really used a mental vacation, but I have a much stronger desire to not appear on Locked Up Abroad. The hashish guy followed us around until one of our guides finally offered to call him a police escort if he didn’t leave us alone. The street kids were more plentiful and more persistent here than they were in the other market that I found on my own a few nights ago. I ignore them for the most part, but every once in a while they do something cute and you have to laugh. Which of course means you’re stuck with them for another block or two. We bought a lot of cool stuff and trinkets to take home, and our guides did all the price negotiation. They drove a hard bargain and we generally got things for half price or much less. My suitcase will now be even heavier than it was on the way out, and it was filled with books before.

After we finished collecting the final bits of everyone’s shopping list we headed back to the office exhausted, but managed to finish out the work week strong. I could really use some rest, but that ain’t gonna happen. There’s a trip planned to a little out of the way place called the Taj Mahal. Some kind of tomb or something I guess. I dunno. The locals seem to be excited about it, so I might as well go check it out. 😉 The following day will probably involve more trekking around Delhi, and a possible trip to Akshardam temple, followed by a team dinner party at a local night club.

I have to leave for the Taj in a few hours, and it’s a four hour drive to and from. I’ll likely be completely offline all day. We’re renting a car and we’re taking two local coworkers and three foreign employees counting myself. It should be an adventure. Definitely a day to bring the “real” camera bag and the extra batteries and memory cards. I’m shooting RAW for this one. No JPEGs.

17
Feb
10

A couple quick details.

The elevator here at the office plays one song and one song only: an instrumental version of Yesterday Once More by the Carpenters. You know the song, “Every sha la la la, every whoa-oh-oh still shines”. What makes this even more awesome is that it plays through the most blown-out, distorted and busted speaker you’ve ever heard. You literally want to disassemble the ceiling panel of the elevator and put that speaker out of it’s misery. It’s like something out of a post-apocalyptic video game where a broken radio squawks on in a haunting static-bathed reminder of the civilization that once was.

The other piece that I wanted to share is that there are men working on the outside of this building. I’m not sure what they’re up to, but this is about an 8 floor office building. Not a small building. They’re on bamboo scaffolding. Let me repeat that. They are outside working somewhere around the 6th floor of an 8 floor office building on BAMBOO EFFING SCAFFOLDING!!! It’s like the Robinson Crusoe/Castaway version of scaffolding, strapped together with some form of cloth or leather strips. I took some photos. You have to see this. There’s not enough money in the world to get me on one of those things, and I’m guessing those fellows are doing it for a whole lot less than all the money in the world.

17
Feb
10

Takin’ care of business

Not much new to report today. For some reason the whole area smells like exploded fireworks, and I have the worst sore throat ever for no apparent reason. I think it might be a delayed symptom of my throat getting all swollen the other night with the cashews. I don’t know.

Today I mostly just stuck close to the hotel again and then went to the office. Met a bunch more people and had a few low key but productive meetings. I have a few more scheduled for tomorrow. I’m learning a lot about some parts of the company that I was previously unfamiliar with, so that’s a good thing. Also spent a bunch of time working on cases. They’re all hard ones. There don’t ever seem to be known issues any more. Every case is like “WTF? We’ve tried everything! Buy a new computer.” Of course I can’t say “Buy a new computer.” so it’s more like apologize profusely and give away software. And every once in a while a customer calls back and says “Hey, I decided to buy a new computer and everything works great!” GAAAAAH!

I have not seen one cat in this country. I’m not sure what the story is with that. I’ve heard that a few people have them as pets, but they’re mostly into dogs here. No stray cats at all, and tons of stray dogs. Something is just fundamentally wrong with that. But then again, I’m a cat person so I’m a bit biased. Still, it’s nice when you’re away from home to find a stray street cat to pet.

I had this amazing Indian roll tonight. It’s basically an Indian burrito but they called it a roll. It was a tortilla with an egg cracked on it, pan fried and then rolled up around a bunch of grilled vegetables and spicy chicken. It was the bomb. They sell them at a stand outside the office where I’ve been working the last two days. I’m starting to miss variety. I’ve had Indian food for pretty much every meal for over a week, and my stomach is getting a little wobbly, so I’m really craving something simple and boring. I ordered breakfast for tomorrow, basic American style.

Alright, that’s all for now. It was a pretty low-adventure day. More to come…

15
Feb
10

Change of venue

Today I spent most of the early part of the day in my hotel. I knew that I would have to work late tonight, so it was a good excuse to get a ton of sleep. I laid in bed until around noon and then got up and had some food. I finally had bad food in India. I was beginning to wonder if it was possible. Everything here has been so good so far. Anyway, it was hotel restaurant phad thai and it was terrible! I’ll stick with Indian food since it’s one of my favorites anyway. ^__^

Around 3pm I started working on some work related stuff. I sent a huge summary of my experience at the call center back to the management back home, along with some suggestions for ways to improve operations for everyone involved. Well, maybe not for local management, but definitely for the agents and all of us who support them.

After that I took a completely uneventful cab ride to the local office in Noida. The experience and culture in that office is MUCH more in line with the culture of the office back home. More relaxed, but everyone works hard and stays on task. I met some familiar faces there; folks that I met when they came to visit the US. I also got to meet a lot of people that I’d known only through email. It was good to finally get personally acquainted. It does make a difference.

This is going to be a pretty short blog compared to the last few days. Not much happened. I just checked in at the office and got set up. Wrote some emails, worked on some cases and had dinner in the cafeteria. The cafeteria had more of the curly little sugary fritters that I had when I went out with the Tier 1 guys in Old Delhi. Those things are *good*! Wish I could remember what they were called.

I’ve had some G.I. issues today, but I’ll spare you the details. Nothing dramatic, just mildly unpleasant. I guess it finally caught up with me. Ah well, it’ll take more than a few foreign bugs to keep me down.

Firmed up the plans to see the Taj this weekend. There’s also another monument in the area that we’ll see as well. Due to fortunate timing, there will be a larger group of us going than what was initially planned. Three people from North America, and at least two locals. Camera batteries will be charged and memory cards cleared for this one. It’s not every day you get to see a Wonder of the World.