Monthly Archive for November, 2011

Procrastination…

My wife thinks I procrastinate.  If that is true, I am the consummate planner when compared to the typical Indian.

Everything is last minute here.  It drives me completely crazy.  I am supposed to wait until the last minute to know whether or not I have a plane ticket.  For an international flight!  I find it very difficult to adjust to this manner of conducting business.  Yes things do show up at the last minute but I get completely stressed out waiting for things to happen that should have already been done.

I was warned about this by a good friend.  He told me this would happen.  I remember him telling me but didn’t think much of it at the time.  I have yet to figure out a way to just go along to get along.  The gentleman who was my “guide” for the past few days was threatened with being fired as I blew my top over things not being done to my satisfaction today.  I would love to hear what he is now telling his wife tonight about working with an American.

On my way “home”…

After being in India for the entire month, I’m just about done.  One more day of meetings and then the flight back to the island.

It has been a long trip.  I’m tired.  Business travel, even in a country so different from the U.S., is not glamorous in any way.  You don’t have time to site see.  You really don’t even get near any of the tourist sites unless the taxi happens to go by one.  In Mumbai I did travel past the world’s largest personal residence.  It’s called Antilla.  It’s the odd looking building in this photo:

There are 27 floors of living space in that home.  The building is as tall as a conventional 60 story structure.  It towers over the adjacent neighborhood.  Here’s an article from someone that doesn’t like it very much.

Each taxi driver had to point it out to me.  They also had to tell me the story of the owner having 50 “priests” in to conduct ceremonies over a 10 day period to get rid of the bad vibes before he and his family could move in.  The first six floors are for parking.  There are more than 200 servants working there.

I couldn’t stand having 200 servants in my home every day.  Not that I’ll ever have that problem.

Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.

I love the whole idea of the holiday. I like that it is low pressure. I like that it centers around a good meal.

The best Thanksgivings are when the group comes together at the home hosting the dinner to watch football, visit and everyone helps with dinner or brings dishes.

Have fun everybody! Wishing you Happy Thanksgiving from Bangalore.

Oh, and uh, Jerry? Since you have breakfast for Thanksgiving, Marshall likes his eggs scrambled. With cheese on top. I hope you at least have turkey sausage.

From last year: WKRP Turkey Drop.

Whiskey for Breakfast…

I have a good slug of whiskey left in the little bottle I purchased here in Pune.

I’m checking out of the hotel this morning, doing some work, and then travelling to Bangalore.  I don’t want to put an open bottle in my luggage, so I was trying to figure out what to do with the whiskey.  Should I just leave it in the room?

I found a solution.

On the train from Mumbai to Pune…

I have taken the train from Mumbai to Pune. The whole experience has been fascinating. From arrival by taxi at the station in Mumbai.

When we pulled up at the station I told my two travelling companions, Divesh and Mannu, to get ready. They looked at me somewhat confused by that statement. Within minutes they understood. I was the only white guy in the station this morning. The attention was way more that they were used to. Everything was harder for them to do because I was there as opposed to when they travel on their own. Getting the baggage porter to agree on a fee, etc. We received extra attention from the police, the conductors, the vendors on the train, everybody.

The train station in Mumbai was something to experience. The smells were pretty awful. There was a crush of people. There were people just hanging out, there were commuters (we got there at 7:00am), there were the previously mentioned vendors, all kinds of people. And since the Indians don’t seem to have the same sense of personal space we do, and there were so many people, there was constantly jostling as we made our way to the platform our train was leaving from.

The security at the station was pretty funny. They had an x-ray machine to put all the baggage through. But there was no one there! Yet, we, like everybody else, put our baggage through the machine. We also walked through turned off, or not working, metal detectors. Finally I saw one guy in uniform sitting at the monitor of the x-ray machine. He was reading the paper!

When we got out onto our platform and down to the air conditioned cars (we were travelling in luxury I tell you), the crowd thinned out. I got my camera out and started taking pictures.

_MUM0033

I’ve put a bunch of them up on my flickr account. I didn’t do any editing so these are nothing more than snapshots taken by me, a rank amateur.

The ride was uneventful. We got to share out compartment with a two year old. That was the same as you would expect anywhere. It was about a four hour ride. She was ok for the first hour, screamed for the second hour, and then slept the rest of the way.

While moving through the city you got a close up look at some really nasty slum areas.  Anywhere the land is not controlled by someone, the shanties pop up.  They go on for miles.

The country side alternates between really pretty rural farmland and the dirty shanties and trash piles.

When we pulled in to Pune, it was the whole white man circus began again. Taxi drivers just about knocking each other over to hire me. The porter, this time with no cart, stacked all of our luggage on his head (and it was heavy), and took us to the taxi stand. It is weird to be walking through a crowd and have people stare at you. It is also, I have to say, kind of enjoyable, as I do really get a sense of the white man’s privilege while walking through a crowd in India.

But, just like back home in Dallas, I’m still invisible to the pretty girls.

For some perspective…

On Penn State, and those that will posit that it is a good idea to keep men away from children, and you know we’ll hear from them.  I give you the great Mungowitz from Kids Prefer Cheese:

Women are very strange. They have plenty of good reasons to dislike men. Why are they making up absurd new reasons?

When I went through my security check to become a volunteer at my child’s school, something I had to do because they “required” that you volunteer, I was asked why I wanted to work with other people’s children.  I replied, “I don’t, you’re forcing me to do this.  I barely like my own children, I really could care less about other people’s kids.”  I guess that was the right answer as they cleared me and gave me a badge.  I could write multiple posts about that, it was the dumbest program in which I have ever participated.

 

I have an idea why…

This might be the case. I caught this bit while reading the paper this morning at breakfast, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh:

Today, if you go to many parts of India, you have women with a mobile phone, going out to answer the call of nature. I mean it is paradoxical…you have a mobile phone and you don’t have a toilet.

Those cell phones are provided to the poor of India by a competitive, profit driven, private industry that is ruthless in cutting costs in order to extent its services to those with the lowest incomes in the country.  I don’t think the same can be said for municipal sanitation services.

Often, when I am confronted by those not as confident in the abilities of the market to solve problems, I get asked questions such as, “So, you would just have private companies providing water?  You would do away with the public schools?” The list goes on and on. Many people cannot imagine any alternative to publicly provided services.  In the U.S., we do enjoy excellent municipal water and sanitation. So maybe these organizations are the best at providing the service.  But here in India I don’t see how the private provision of sanitation services could be any worse than the current situation. The free market could do wonders here.  Of course it’s not the lack of owning a toilet that is the problem.  It is the lack of a waste system to hook the toilet to.

Another post on Business Travel…

It is amazing to me how much modern airports look the same. I suppose much of the similarity in look is due to the uniform purpose of the structures, but geez, they all look like they hired the same architect.

The Delhi airport is modern by any world standard.  A big difference over the Indore airport which has a very 3rd world quality about it.  Or, as the locals like to say, “developing world.”

But then I would have to say there is not a huge difference between the Indore airport and the airport in San Angelo.  Is that a fair comparison?  Indore has a population of 2,000,000.  San Angelo has a population of about 100,000.

I thought I might bcc you…

On one of my e-mails.  As you know, I’ve been travelling around India for the last two weeks.  I have a staff that is supposed to set up meetings, arrange flights, taxis, hotels… In other words, I’m supposed to have support.  Here is the body of an e-mail I just sent out:

On Thursday I sent an e-mail saying I didn’t need a day of rest Sunday in Delhi and that I would be willing to travel to Mumbai on this day and then meet with consultants tomorrow.

It is now past 6:30pm on Sunday evening.  I don’t have travel plans and I don’t have any updates to my schedule for Monday meetings.

That looks like something the boss would write, doesn’t it?  No blame is laid, no accusations made, just a simple recitation of the facts.  I probably won’t post again on this issue, as if it gets resolved quickly my anger will pass.  Right now I am very aggravated with them.

At one of my meetings…

The woman who ran the office was wearing a necklace with a swastika hanging from it.  Yes, I know the swastika has a different meaning in Hinduism and I am the one associating it with Nazism, but is was still a little disconcerting.

The woman went to college in the U.K.  I wonder if she wore the necklace while studying there?