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WebLog India 2010. Working 7000+ km from home…

Browsing Posts tagged Motorcycle

Time flies when having fun. This is a fact. It has already been 4 weeks since I arrived in Pune, India. In that short time I have gained much experiences and impressions. To give a summary of all these impressions is a difficult task.

Only in Pune there are 7,2 to 7,3 million people. All of them living their own live in their own fashion. This is also why I cannot compare or make general statements about the people. I just take everything in and enjoy my observations.

Some of the nice moments of this past period:

Once again a big story, but compared to all the experiences I have gained this is just a small portion. See you on the next update!

The traffic is an experience which I will carry forever. It seems like one big Ant pile and the use of the horn will never be banished. Without the horn the people will not know how to deal with traffic. Despite all the high volume of traffic I do not see many accidents. Maybe this is because the speeds are less than back home or it is because of the horn :)

What I do notice are the smaller “stupid” accidents. It may happen that somebody drives by and just falls down with the bike… Loss of balance.

My biggest shock was the moment at the parking garage of Accenture. The customer and we visited one of the Accenture towers and were about to exit the car. I had just told some of my traffic experiences with the customer and how some people use high speeds in small areas… When opening my door a bike drove by with a lady on the back. The door flew out of my hands and the lady flew through the air landing in between the parked motorcycles. Crash… With the shock still in our legs we continued with the tour. I think the lady (who could walk again after taking some breath) will have experienced some difficulties after.

My finest moment in traffic was will driving the bike (Pulsar) of Safdar by myself. I drove from Magarpatta city to MG Road and back in the evening. What a rush! Now I am missing my own bike. Can we ship it to India? :P

The food here is different than home. Many herbs and people are mostly vegetarians’. To be a vegetarian means no meat, chicken, eggs, fish, etc. There are no degrees like back in the Netherlands.

The non-vegetarian meals are always chicken or fish. Also the chicken is prepared differently, so don’t expect some chicken-filet or something.

I also notice that the spicy meals are always combined with something sweet as desert. And with sweet I mean sweet.

After a big meal it is common to go to a small stand (shop) to get some Paan. This consist of herbs in a leave which is there in the taste of sweet or tobacco. The last one is not to my liking :) .

Ending this part with the observation that many foods are prepared by frying it. So many stands with big pans filled with hot oil which is then used for almost anything. From fried vegetables (broccoli for instance) to dough (kind of like the Dutch ‘oliebollen’) to chicken, etc.

One of the things I enjoy most are the people around me, but also the common people on the streets with all the diversity.

My colleagues are so friendly and will do everything to make my stay as comfortable as possible. This is not something I am used to and have had difficulties for the first two weeks with this situation. The intentions were so honest and sincere that I pulled it together and after showing them I could manage in this different world it became a great understanding.

One of the nicest comments I have received from my colleagues is that I am a fully integrated Indian. I pickup fast and learn more every day. I have found my rhythm in the second week, eating their foods and integrated in the team (also outside my own team).

The people at the apartment complex have come to know me and now even stop on the roads to say hello. Security of Magarpatta city knows me (no, I am behaving myself ;) ) and also the people at the Gym approach me often.

The people of India are so very curious and so now and then I will be approached by unknown people. One of the most remarkable questions I have received: “what is similar to your country (the Netherlands) and ours (India)?”. The differences are everywhere, but this question had my puzzled.
Besides this they will ask just about anything once they have the courage to.

In general I find the people kind and joint as one. A good example is the Festival Holi in which even the guys hug and dance like nothing I have seen before. The people truly celebrate as one and enjoy it as one.

After submitting to ABS sports in Magarpatta city I have really found my rhythm. I get so much energy from sports and a daily purpose/goal.

Just about every day I got the request to give a kickboxing training (I had mentioned during my submission that I exercise kickboxing). When I had agreed to give a course last Thursday it got canceled due to a double booking of the facility. No training, but the questions are still coming. So perhaps in the near future a second chance. Fun and exciting at the same time.

In the past four weeks I have seen many objects. The updates in this blog show the details and a full view on my experiences. I am not mentioning this a second time, but it is impressive to say the least!
Yes I do need to update all messages still… I am writing as fast as possible ;)

Customer visit
The client visit of Michelle and Bart together with Eddie have made a lasting impression on me. It was special to talk Dutch again in this country and making jokes in my own style.

When I left to India I had the idea I was making my own individual journey and facing my personal challenges. I did not have any regret or missed feelings of home till the departure of their visit. After their departure I felt left behind or more alone then before their visit. I was surprised about these feelings.
Don’t be alarmed, I found my rhythm and challenges again right after, but it did leave a lasting impression.

During the visit we have seen many things of which normally we would not take the time for. We had much one on one contact between the customer and the team members. Some nice diners in which people spoke openly about their experiences. The relation has grown to a new level not only on a business level, but we truly connected. There is a stronger relation now than before which is no longer only established via email or phone. A true advice for all who are involved with outsourcing!

The Monday started early again. I get up round 06:00 am and will prepare for the new day. I do not really have a rhythm yet in my days.
I did manage to adjust to the schema of meals and drinks. The meals I eat are almost only Indian dishes although most are the Biryani’s* (rice with egg or chicken. I have challenged myself to start eating different dishes daily if possible.

In the evening I have visited the Magarpatta sports gym. I have a great need for sports to regain energy. Finding a familiar element. The request to join the gym existed of more forms, a body measurement (although postponed for another day) and a first training session. GREAT!

The morning starts again at 06:00 am. I freshen up and go straight to the gym. Now we do the body measurement and I can again do a training session. The first training sessions only contain some cardio, but I do not mind. It has been 3 to 4 weeks since I had my last training…

The Wednesday starts as the previous days and I am having a good feeling by it. Some rhythm is established. Other then the two previous days we take some training outside. Inside there were so many people in the gym that there was no room for all. One of the trainers improvised a fun training.

Round 12:00 am Safdar an me go to M.G. Road, to a shop called Raymond’s to trial fit my new suit. Once there it happened that the suit was not ready and the master tailor is not in the shop. Very frustrating!

On Wednesday I engaged in a discussion with the manager of the apartment rental company. I have several technical issues which are not repaired accordingly or on short notice. We go through the options and I get the possibility to move.

Round 21:00 I leave to the Garden park in the middle of the company park complex. Today a very important moment was there in the most famous sport in India, Cricket. One of their players achieved a new world record by making 200 runs in one match.
Some of the colleagues celebrated in the restaurant. It was nice and fun to join, and very satisfied I left for home round 00:30 am.

Again a very nice training session at the gym. I really enjoy the training and all coaches remember my name within the first 3 days. It is setup in the gym that per area a coach is there to assist. So per cardio, crunches/stretching, weights and machines a coach is supervising. I am one of the few foreigners at the Gym and people stare quite often. This will change in the future I presume.

Today the master tailor was in the shop. Safdar calls upfront to make sure that also the suit is there and around 12:00 am we leave again to M.G. Road. After the trial fit it seems the pants are to small. Good thing we arranged the trial fit and on Saturday I can receive the finished suit.

At the evening I needed to speed up things for I was gone move to my new apartment. In half an hour I packed and was escorted by two gentlemen to the other building S-602. This apartment suits me fine. I unpacked and took some sandwiches.

After diner I talked with home via Skype.

And there we go again. An hour of sports.
The day flies by and because Shrinivas receive a promotion this week he offered a party at the Chinese restaurant “China Grill”.

It was a really nice evening on which also my drinking skills were tested. Let’s get it on with some shooters! It was round 01:00 am when I arrived home.

Today I slept in. First some breakfast at 08:30 am and around 09:00 am off to the Gym. I took a long training exercise after which I went for a swim. It is a bit shallow, but it is of Olympic size. At least that is what they keep telling me :) . They are pretty proud of it too. A bathing cap is mandatory and again registration before entering.

Vaibhav Gorde is working this day due to deadlines at his project. I decide to visit him for lunch and bring my laptop to show off some pictures. An hour of relaxing and enjoying for the both of us.

Round 03:30 pm Safdar comes to pick me up to get my suit. This time I am driving his motorcycle to M.G. Road. How COOL. Finally I have gotten the chance to drive and on a motorcycle even! What an experience.
Also the drive back I was in control and was very proud and happy. I wish my machine would be here. The motorcycles over here are maxed to 300cc, are slim and maneuverable. A completely different feel than my own bike which is big, wide and 1100cc. An example of the motorcycles in India is the Bajaj Pulsar** (this is the type of Safdar).

* Biryani YouTube film (I could not view it, but I believe it is a recipe)
** this link is only available in English

For me the week starts at Thursday due to travel in the weekend and the meet and great at Monday. I am waking up round 06:30 every day, still dozing a bit after and I will then freshen up. Round 07:30 breakfast is brought up consisting of an omelet, 2x toast, a bit of butter and jam with some coffee.

Round 08:30 I am being picked up by Ritesh Chowdhary also on his motorcycle. Safdar drives a Sports motorcycle, but Rithesh drives a more “old-school” motorcycle. Comfortable on the back we drive to work.

Security is heavy. On every street corner we see security and so now and then military. On every office building, on every entrance and exit there is security. And if you think one guard would be sufficient think again. All bags will be searched as we enter.

My workday exists mainly of setting up and reading about the project. Furthermore I am adapting and trying everything the team does. Breakfast at the office round 09:00 in the cafeteria (a small meal for them, an apple for me :) ), at 13:00 some lunch (a hot meal, but for me a bit less spicy like egg or chicken buriyani), teatime at 16:00 and sometimes round 18:00 a snack at the smaller cafeteria.

In the evenings I am again brought home via a motorcycle drive on Safdar his bike. Although my apartment is round the corner the team prefers to bring me home so I get their safe and sound and I do not mind for the motorcycle drives are fun :D .

After days with so many impressions I often don’t feel like cooking a hot meal round 21:00 and this is even early over here for diner. Often I just take some sandwiches with for example Nutella! Haha, it is obtainable everywhere and even though I don’t eat it at home, it tastes good now.

Specifics of the week?

  • The people over here try to provide me with all necessities. To get some meat in the house we need to go to specific stores which are not close to Magarpatta city. Amit Patil had especially took his car (red Honda) to work on Tuesday so he could go shopping with me. Eventually also Suhas Doke and Shrinivas Malpani went along to give directions. Impressive to go shopping for some meat and basics with 4 guys.
    Also in the city security is high. Every were you will see metal detectors and all bags will be searched. At entrance and exit the cars also get examined.
  • On Thursday I had a nice batch of chocolates for the team during teatime. This was received very nicely. It appears chocolate is very desired! :P
  • On Thursday I cooked my first meal. I especially woke up early to get to office and return quite early. Nice to have some potatoes, broccoli and pork sausages. Very good!
  • On Thursday I also started exploring the neighborhood. Some sightseeing in Tech City (Magarpatta city), the small market and DC (shops). Also I checked out the first floor of the COSMOS complex. The ground floor is a parking garage with above (1st floor) an artificial garden and buildings (apartments). From the air you would not see any cars, motorcycles, bicycles, etc.
  • On Friday I joint breakfast at work. A bit different, but nice.
  • On Saturday:
    • Going round at Tech City and tried to make some pictures. These were deleted by security, although not all ;)
    • In the afternoon I went to MG Road for some shopping and sightseeing in Pune. At a place called Raymonds I ordered a tailor suite and at the Nike store I bought to polo shirts for the “casual Fridays at the office”.
    • In the evening we went to INOX for a movie. We arrived at an unfortunate time and head back to MG Road for a nice diner.
    • Sundays was dedicated to the weblog and some rest. Today no sun and into the airco!

This is already become quite a long summary and without the actual impressions. Perhaps I will make a separate post of that to keep some overview. In due time I hope to give smaller updates by day instead of these long stories.