Friday, October 04, 2002

India Departs.

Trip Day 9
Saturday, 10/5, 7:15 am Chennai Time

Yesterday I bought more postcards, and have been writing them out, this morning, I will beg Aparna to show me to the post office, and get a batch in the mail. I am really enjoying this travel gig.

Okay, so where did we leave off yesterday? I was trying to get tickets, they finally came through, I am scheduled for a day trip to Bangalore on Monday. This will allow me to work with the team there, deliver the slides I have, find out, in person, if I am on track, and how I can fix the problems they have. One of the BIG problems is the lab is kept too cold, for the equipment, of course, but there are differing opinions as to how cold it should be kept. 16deg C, or 20deg C. I am trying to reach compromise of 18deg C, and get this implemented, so the temperature will allow the engineers to stay in the lab without freezing their behinds off. Simple compromises are just that, simple, till we bring in the respect for authority, absolute need to know, 100% rights, etc. I will try to slice through all this like a hot knife through butter.

After discussing Wednesday’s return travel plans with the folks here, I find that changing airlines to re-route through Singapore, have a rest, etc., will cost Cisco some money. In addition to another hotel night. I feel horrible, I do not want to fly straight, my current itinerary calls for departing Madras late Wednesday night, flying to London, changing planes, flying to Chicago changing planes, flying to San Jose. I am not sure why Cisco Travel sent me out from SFO, and in to SJC, or why stop out and not back, but I feel bad about costing more money to make myself comfortable on the way home. So I tell Ramesh, the travel fellow here that we will just leave it for this trip, and I will know better next trip. So I have this marathon pain return home on Wednesday. I am not certain how many total hours I will be in the air, transferring, etc., but I will get home Thursday around midnight. So leave Wednesday, Arrive Thursday, but cross date line, lose and gain hours, I think I will be in transit for about 36 real hours. EEEK. Thursday night I will be jello, pour me in bed, see me in 2 days, sorry, it IS gonna suck.

After the tix arrived, and all business was conducted, I had Mani, my driver, take me to the Taj. Shower, shave, and off for dinner with Aparna. Being a native speaker, she gives Mani instructions, and off we go. I am still not used to this whole having a driver, and driver culture thing. It is nice, but I have huge guilt that I am keeping him from something else.

Anyhow, we leave the hotel and go to a small shop close by, she is looking for a housewarming present for Vipul, so we go to a sort of nice shop that has all sorts of little trinkets and things and stuff. It reminds me of some of the classy boutiques in Austin around 6th and Lamar street. I keep waiting for them to ask me to be careful and not break things. But nothing there for Vipul, and off we head.

Aparna takes me to visit her club. She belongs to a club, of the type I once speculated opening in Austin. Pool, tennis courts, bar, gym, library, conference rooms, guest rooms, private bar, less a “Country Club”, more like the “English Club” portrayed in the movies. It is pretty damn cool, we chat for a while, she introduces me to some very important people, then we bail for dinner.

Keith asked me to write down addresses and names of places, sadly, I did not. But we did go to a fancy bar called “Dublin” in a hotel. It used to be an exclusive, members only kind of place, then they opened it up, and it si quite the nightlife. We got there early, and it was dust and crickets. (empty). The drink menu made lots of Irish quotes, they have Guinness, but no Murphy’s, and they play a continuous loop soundtrack of about 10 songs from the early 80’s. I taught Aparna about my pal Jack Walshe’s (world famous Irish motorcyclist, and great pal) toast. “Kahericka!” which is plural of Chair, chairs, which is how it sounds when Jack says Cheers. “Chairs!”

The décor is stunning, black marble walls with shiny chrome bits laid into the marble, all polished to high luster, nice chairs, creative chrome door handles, etc. but it was empty. We had a drink, talked some smack, then adjourned to the restaurant in the hotel. They appeared to be closing, or close to it, but we still had some starters, then some curried mutton.

Okay, Keith and I spoke about this, and I just gotta get it out. If you are gonna serve Americans a meat dish, PLEASE cut the meat off the bone first. I cannot stand biting down into some tasty morsels of yumminess, and cracking my teeth against a big old honking bone of many shapes and angles. It just freaks me out.

Other than that, dinner was grand. Conversation delightful, etc. Finished up and I am yawning, India makes me tired, I am constantly taking in SOOO much information, it causes my wee small brain to spin like a gyroscope. So we have Mani deliver Aparna to her home, then he gets instructions to pick her up first tomorrow morning, and they will make it to the Taj at 10, to take me shopping. We drop Aparna home, then Mani drives me to the Taj. It is 1am, and I am feeling horrible guilty for keeping him out so late. When he drops me off, I sign a slip of paper, authorizing his company to pay for x amount of time. Trying to be sly, nice, and humble about it, I put 100rupee in the folder with my left hand, while signing with my right. Hopefully he will buy flowers for his wife or something. I feel bad keeping him out late.

Saturday morning, wake at 7am, shower, do some email & type this, (sara is not on AOL! Where is sheee???????) the plan is to have brekkies in the hotel, then wait for Aparna & Mani to arrive and take me shopping, drop off post cards, etc. Will keep the world posted.

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