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WebLog India 2010. Working 7000+ km from home…

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For my last week in India I had organized a big party. The party was not only as a thank you to all people I have met and who have assisted me, but also to celibrate the success of our project.

The party was held at Hard Rock Café on Tuesday April 6th 2010 in the area of Koregeon Park.
Address: 81/82 Pyramid Lawns, Koregaon Park Extension, Koregaon Park, Pune.

Because there was a cricket match of the Mumbai team one of the requirements was to have screens at location… Hihi, well Rasika did manage to arrange it. At Hard Rock Cafe there were several screens and a beamer on the main stage all set to show the cricket match.

It was a great party. We received a “private” spot on the first floor. Here we had several foods and beverages :) . We had a great time despite the fact the Mumbai team lost the match.

The team also prepared a nice surprise by broadcasting a nice message in the cafe. Great surprise!
Also there was a nice surprise for Amit who had his birthday the day after. Some nice cream!

The week pass by quickly. It is now the 6th week past and it is Eastern. In the Netherlands we have Eastern Monday off, but in India we have Good Friday as a public holiday. A nice long weekend.

I did not have any plans for the weekend and started the Friday easy going. I took my time for breakfast, sports and started gathering some stuff for the journey home. Every now and then I would watch a movie (HBO and Star Movies broadcast movies nonstop) and I would blog a bit. But I did not want the whole weekend to be like this so I took my phone and called some people to learn their weekend plans.

The Saturday started early. I got up, did sports and had breakfast. At 10:00 am the chauffeur was there and I was on my way to get Sanket. Together we went to Koregaon Park, Lane 7 for some souvenirs on a suggestion of the driver. He is well aware on the places for tourism and the more expensive neighborhoods. They often get a commission if they bring customers to the shop. Smart business.

Some information about Koregaon Park: Koregaon Park is known for several reasons. On is tourism and since recently (February 13th 2010) the bombing of the famous German bakery. After this explosion in which people have died and got wounded extra security is placed at Koregaon Park. Now you will find many blockades, bunkers and military people. The German baker is covered with a structure and cloths. This is one of the reasons were as the security in India has risen as described in previous posts.

Back to my story of the Saturday. After successful shopping Sanket and I go to M.G.Road. Here we meet Vaibhav. The three of us continue the day and do some more shopping for souvenirs to remind me of my adventures in India. At the end of M.G.Road we find Moledina Road were we enter the restaurant ‘Rama Krishna’ for lunch.

After a good but also a bit spicy lunch we leave round 02:00 pm for some sightseeing:

  • Lal Mahal (next to Shaniwar wada).
    We arrive at the site, but it is closed. Sanket tells a bit about the history about how the Mongols ruled and how a warrior defeated the Mongol king by cutting five of his fingers from his hand. The fingers are still in Lal Mahal.
  • To get to Saras Baug we drive through the old center of Pune were we find Srimanth Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir (Mandir = temple). I have already seen it before while driving, but now we take the time to go inside. The temple is made of marble and from the inside silver and gold. During the festivals the statue will contain actual gold which also increases security of the temple. The temple has a second floor which is made of colored glass. From this floor you can look down in the temple.
    Srimanth Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir
  • Next we go to Saras Baug (Talyatla Ganpati)
    This temple used to stand within a small lake which also translates in the name. The name means “Ganpati in the lake”. The lake is now dry and they made a park round with a pond round the temple.
    We were there for some time to get out of the sun. Our next goal would not have much shade and we needed to climb a mountain which we did not want to do in the heat of the sun.
    Saras Baug Saras Baug
  • On the way to the next temple we stopped at a small road shop serving sugar cane drinks. The beverage is created by pressing the juice out of sugar canes without any supplements.
    Sugar Press Sugar juice Sugar drink
  • After the sugar drink we went to the start of the mountain. Here we start our climb of round 200 steps to the temple of Parvati Darshan on Parvati hill. Parvati is a Hindu goddess.
    Stairs Walking up Temple
  • Besides the temple there is a small museum named Peshwa. We see a bit of history of Shaniwar wada, coins of India, weapons and more.
  • On this same mountain there is a small place for foods and drinks. The guys take some tea and I get some coffee. The coffee is hot milk with a bit of coffee powder. We stay here a while and watch the view and take some food. The dish is called Bhel puri which is served on a paper and you eat with your hands. It is kind of puffed rice with unions, herbs, chili and other ingredients. Very nice to share a snack like this :P .

After this we went home. Once home I wanted the check, but there were more costs than expected. In these settings it is uncomfortable to not know the language. After some discussion and some help of Peter via phone it works out and I get the proper amount on the bill.

Once inside I only want to sleep. It was a fun day, but all impressions and heat have taken its toll :) . Sanket and Vaibhav, thanks for a nice day!

A short story about food. I have written about Paan in previous posts even with links about this. But I find it nicer to write something about Paan myself and so I got a Paan and made some pictures. I must say it is nicer to eat then to see once taken apart :D .

Paan Unpacked Contents of Paan

The first picture is of Paan as you receive it. The small package which is dep’t in syrup and then in a mix of sweets. On top of the Paan you find a cherry or fruits. I always take sweet Paan, but there is also Paan Tobacco. The sweet Paan you can eat and chew, the Paan Tobacco you can put in your cheek and slowly process it. This one I don’t like that much.

The second picture is of the content in the leaf.
The third picture is of the content which I took apart. This is grained sweet, fruits and syrup.

Besides Paan I also took some pictures of other foods. As I was tired with all the omelets of the past 6 weeks I requested some Indian breakfast. Because I did not understand the menu I requested some help. The following morning (Friday) I was surprised by two men who served me all three options at once. I think they were surprised when they picked up the dishes for I had eaten all dishes :D .

The dishes as presented:

  • UPMA (with CHUTNEY)
    Upma is a Southern Indian dish made from white rice, mustard seeds and other herbs;
    Uttapam is a pancake of tomatoes, union and chili mix;
    Aloo = potato; Partha is a flat bread. The dish seems like a pancake with potato in there and herbs (sometimes a bit chili);
  • besides the main dish there are some toasts, butter, jam and coffee.

An overview of the Dishes UPMA UTTAPAM ALOO PARATHA
From left to right: UPMA; UTTAPAM; ALOO PARATHA

This is a big difference in regards to the daily omelet. I now receive Aloo Paratha every morning. It is a nice change. Perhaps some more information about foods on a later time.

Giel is one of my colleagues in the Netherlands and he visited India this week for business. Accenture has some facilities in Bangalore (Bengaluru) in which one of his projects is setup. Because another project of his is in Pune he came to visit us as well.

Wednesday evening the plane landed in Pune and we got together for some dinner. It is again very nice to be confronted with the Netherlands. It gave me the chance to talk Dutch again; we had some Dutch Humor, shared experiences, etc. It was a nice get together.

Thursday was again a working day. Because Giel was on a “stop-and-go” visit, the day was fully booked. Several meetings, good conversations and good end results. But it was not only business. The evening we spend with the team and had a nice dinner at restaurant SIGRI at Dhole Patil Road. It was a very nice evening of many laughs and much food ;) .

Some pictures:

During a long trip all kind of things can happen. I was prepared for almost anything, but it may still happen that unforseen circumstances occur and it can blow you off your feet. Last weekend I have experienced how it feels when something happens back home and you cannot be there to support the family. Because of circumstances it was not possible for me to return home and I needed to support via Instant Messaging and a webcam. Difficult to say the least.

After this experience and the increasing heat my body claimed a time-out. For the first time in my journey I have become really sick. High fever and stomach pains are hitting hard. On Monday I leave the office early and go to bed.

Once in the airco I seem to get better, but after some sleep I wake up with high fever and keep running to the toilet. I cannot contain any foods and I am losing a lot of fluids.

Luckily I have some people who suddenly seem to appear to assist me. Some of my colleagues call and bring some medicine. Their attention and care really support me.

Via this way I would like to thank the whole team for their support! Special thanks to Amit D. for driving me home, Amit P. for his assistance, Ritesh and Soumen for the extra medicine and Kalpesh for some shopping. All others I want to thank for the thoughts and gestures.

Today I feel much better although it may take some time for my energy level has fully returned.

Thanks for all good care!

Today it is Sunday and I thought it would be time to write the promised updates. From your end I have received numerous questions as to when they could be expected so here they are :)

Het is vandaag zondag en ik vond het tijd voor enkele updates. Ik heb jullie beloofd de oude berichten bij te schrijven wanneer ik daar tijd voor had, dus het moest er maar eens van komen. Van jullie kant heb ik ook al de eerste vragen gehad waar ze bleven, dus bij deze :)

Yes, it is again another weekend in India. Also this weekend I have no plans and tend to relax and gain some energy. The last few weeks have been very active in regards to work. Currently we are in the closure of one phase and this mean I also need to start wrapping up and prepare for my trip home.

So what to write if not much has happened? Hmz…

Amit Patil recently became a proud father and gave a nice party at a restaurant called the China Grill. We had been here before and the restaurant has quick service and good food. Almost the whole team could be present and we had a very nice evening. Some of the gentlemen thought it to be nice to have some shooters. Oh well, I’m game :P

China Grill Amit looking at his Shot Bottoms up!
From left to right: China Grill; Amit checking his shooter; Hendrik Jan says: Cheers!

Today I also took my camera to the Gym. I am spending an hour there almost every day and I thought it would be nice to introduce some people to you :) . The pictures will be presented in an “Images post”.

Maybe I will be updating some more posts from previous weeks, but I will comment that in a post when I do so.

For now I wish all a very nice weekend!

Wow, it is already weekend again. Another week has gone by and also the Sunday is already half way. The past few weeks haven taken a lot of energy. All impressions, experiences, but also the job requirements have taken their toll.

I started this weekend with good spirit. The targets from work are achieved and I have setup no plans for sightseeing or any other stuff. Just nothing…
Due to being so busy the past weeks I missed two trainingsessions this week and this I made up on Saturday! 1,5 hours of weight lifting and a nice cooldown (as far as the water was cold ;) ) in the pool. A great start of the day.

In the afternoon I treated myself on a massage. At the gym there is also a SPA and I selected a Sweedisch message. Yes it also sounded strange to me… A Indian who would give me a Sweedishc massage. Well I did not care what it was called, I enjoyed :)

In the evening I cooked again. Some patatoes with pees and chicken. A steak or something is not possible so I will have to catch up on those back home. Strangly I noticed that I do enjoy the Dutch foods, but that I cannot eat as much as before. The food is heavy on the stummic after some weeks of rice.

Sunday is a lazy day. I was in bed longer than usual (9:30-10:00), but the airco and fans start to get on your nerves and I went for a walk. Bad idea! Really hot outside. The temperature is around 35-40 degrees and will rise even more. Now this may seem very nice, but I don’t enjoy it. In this way I mis my “frog country” (nickname of the Netherlands). Some fresh air, a breeze and constant changing weather. For a holiday the sun is nice, but currently I find it very exhausting.

The rest of the day I will update the blog a bit from my balkony. The neighbours have turned on some loud music, the construction of buildings is going on and the traffic never rests. So nice and quiet for some writing… hihi

Foor this evening I have no specific plans. Perhaps I will visit the Regatta of the College of Engineering, Pune (COEP), but this still depands on the company. I really don’t feel to be going alone, so perhaps Rupali, Safdar or Suhas want to go. They will let me know later this day.

So what have I updated today?

Gudi Padwa is the first day of Marathi Calendar and is celebrated by Maharashtrians. Gudi Padwa was celibrated on Tuesday March 16th.

For this occasion the team and I have dressed up in ethnic clothes of their native regions. I had done my best to get to know about ethnic clothing of India and did not tell the team about my weekend shopping ;) . The team had setup some games and an ethnic clothing competition. Madhuri Prakash had won from the girls and I was selected the best dressed from the men. Thanks team, but all looked beautiful!

Today March 14th 2010 Vaibhav Gorde and I will go on a journey outside of Pune to see the countryside. Vaibhav has some relatives in a place called Ghodegaon. His relatives have a Mango farm in that neighborhood and a house in the village.

A short introduction.
I have known Vaibhav Gorde for about 2,5 to 3 years and we have extensively throughout this period. Till my arrival to India I have not had the pleasure of meeting Vaibhav. Excited and joyful I looked forward to meeting him face-to-face.
Our relation has extended to more than just colleagues. You could say there is a friendship created. When I notified Vaibhav about my trip to India we made the agreement to hang out together. For this Vaibhav had setup a nice road trip.

    As precise as Vaibhav can be he had a detailed plan all ready to go:

  • Pune
    • 07:00 am; A cab will pick me up from Magarpatta city;
    • 08:00 am; Pickup Vaibhav with the cab in Aundh (area in Pune);
  • Dehu
    • 09:30 am; expected arrival in Dehu;
    • 10:15 am; expected departure from Dehu to Bhimanshankar;
    • In Dehu we have visited the following sites:
      • The st Tukaram Gatha Mandir temple. This temple is not very known amongst travelers, but this will change in the future in my opinion. The temple is being created by the people from the village since 1995 and is still under construction. The temple finds it’s origin in the Abhanga-Gatha written by Tukaram Maharaj. According to legends Tukaram Maharaj put his Abhanga-Gatha into the river Indrayani. After 18 days without food and drinks the Gatha came floating back to Tukaram Maharaj on the spot where the temple now stands. The pages from the Abhanga-Gatha are carved in the marble wings of the temple and counts pages. More information about the temple can be found on the website http://www.gathamandir.com/ which (at time of this blog post) is under construction.
        st Tukaram Gatha Mandir - Ingang st Tukaram Gatha Mandir - Tukaram Maharaj st Tukaram Gatha Mandir - Script
        From left to right: st Tukaram Gatha Mandir – Entrance; Tukaram Maharaj; The Abhanga-Gatha
        * Click on the images for full size
      • After this temple we went to a mountain close to the village where there is also a small temple called Shreeskhetra Bhandara Dongar. This temple does not have any special meaning as far as I know, but our visit there was also for the great view from the mountain top.
        Shreeskhetra Bhandara Dongar The view Vaibhav Gorde
        From left to right: Shreeskhetra Bhandara Dongar – The temple; The view; Vaibhav Gorde
        * Click on the images for full size
      • there was a third temple before or after lunch… check with Vaibhav
  • Ghodegaon
    • 12:15 pm; brief halt at Ghodegaon for lunch with only local dishes;
    • 01:15 pm; expected departure time to Bhimashankar;
  • Bhimanshankar
    • 03:00 pm; arrival in Bhimashankar;
    • 04:00 pm; expected departure from Bhimashankar;
    • In Bhimashankar we have visited the following sites:
      • Besides Bhimashankar there is the Bhimashankar tempel, but we did not visit that actual temple. Bhimashankar consists out of some sort of market where the car is parked and you can get anything to eat. After this marketplace you can choose a path left or right. We turned left and went down the hill to the village Bhimashankar were also an older temple exists. People travel from far distances to visit this place. It is one of the 12 most important temples of India.
        Temple in Bhimashankar
        * Click on the images for full size
      • If we also did go right we would have seen the Bhimashankar temple, but after climbing up from the village to the market we did not bother going down again :) ;
      • On the way back to Ghodegaon I had requested the driver to pull over at one of the higher points to take some pictures of the dam and valley. Very impressive!
        Dam Dal
        From left to right: Dam; Valley
        * Click on the images for full size
  • Ghodegaon
    • 05:30 pm; expected arrival time on the family farm of Vaibhav his relatives between Bhimashankar and Ghodegaon;
      On the farm I have met some relatives and workers. I was received with great hospitality, some fresh fruits and a tour.
      After some time the guys had so much fun I was also invited to come over to the house in the village. As Ghodegaon is on the way back and we were on or before schedule we did not mind. After some nice driving skills from the cab driver through the narrow streets we stopped at an alley. This is where the family was living. I was invited in for some tea and cookies. Strangely the hosts moved to the kitchen were the women were making tea. I requested if everybody would join in the living room so I could meet them also. Apparently they were a bit afraid, but perhaps they did also enjoy the visit. I did enjoy the fact I have now seen a traditional house from the inside and meeting the relatives.
    • 06:30 pm; back to Pune, but due to the fact we were on schedule we could make an extra stop at a winery. Also 2 of the relatives went with us. We had a very nice time;

Round 10:00 pm I received home and could use the sleep. It was a very nice day and the upcoming week will be busy again.