Wednesday, October 30, 2002

I helped Eric & Lissa decorate their house for Haloween, and I am typing on my new Thinkpad T-30 from work. it is much lighter than the old reliable Dell, and my Dell has a busted Display. If anyone has an Inspirion 7000 15" display laying around they'd like to unload.......

Anyhow, all sorts of stuff is going on, basically, I have decided I want to sell my FZR400 (as soon as Sara says it is okay) and buy a Mini Super Motard. Picture a 150cc dirtbike, street legal, with big brakes, and great suspension. YAY. If I can, then I may even sell the XR 600 bane evil addiction bike.

I could clear out 2 and only replace with one, that would be great. Sara says it sucks we are limited by the amount of space in the garage, and sould buy a bigger house with bigger garage. Well, I wish we had thought about that a year ago. But my budget is not really there, and I think it is easier to sell a bike, than buy a new house.

Will all work out in the wash. Wow, the keyboard on ths laptop is very loud. MUST sell more junk on eBay. Have been unloading lots, it feels good to sell things, and free up storage space.

flush!

Monday, October 28, 2002

Why will the french try to have sex with anything or anyone?

Why do IT-Analysts seem to have more farts than anyone else?

I apparently got so inebriated on Friday night that I bit a freind on her backside, and did not even remember it. My girlfreind had to tell me about it so I would know to apologize. :o EEEK!

and I had a great idea on Saturday, but I did not act on it immediately, or even write it down, then I fell asleep, and all I can remember is that I had a great idea. Damn my worthless brain.

Friday, October 25, 2002

http://www.lloydsappliances.com/images/okeefe2.gif

very close line art of what I have



http://www.antiquegasstoves.com/pages/480km.html
and photos that are almost exactly my model.

Woo hoo! the "Grillevator!"


I just got off the phone with Ed from Appliance Associates in Austin. His company is restoring my grandmother's O'Keefe & Merrit stove for me, and he wanted to tell me the shiney bits just went out for re-chroming. I am looking at about 30 days till it is ready, and I need to figure out how to ship it out here. Yippee! I will soon have my inheritance, and memory of my grandmother back. Yippiee!

I am cleaning and clearing my LOTD (Link of the DAY) mailing list. If you are not on it, and want to be, let me know via email, otherwise, I am trying to clean it out, and coordinate all my address books.


Thursday, October 24, 2002

trying to change template to make this more readable

so the new job is going great. I am happy, I am motivated, I have tons of opportunity. I am enjoying it very much. Of course one of my best friends STILL will not speak to me, but hopefully that will work out eventually.

I blew the LCD on my laptop. Plans are in place to replace it, and get it back OTR. (on the road)

Played cricket yesterday. Tons fun, but my knees are still hurting from this weekend's racing, I may need to go visit an ortho about scoping.

alls' well that ends in mooning!

Monday, October 21, 2002

got home late last night, unloaded gear, passed out in bed next to wonderful girl. I think I snored. I know I am lucky to have her to put up with me.

Umm, I do not know where to start.

Friday was brilliant. I passed Jack on the OUTSIDE of turn one. Outside, that's a clean pass. And it made up for having the nefarious Dick Rossi STUFF ME on the inside earlier.

Seriously, Dick has found the speed, turned it on, etc., and is riding wonderfully, could not happen to a better guy, when I looked over and saw him running up inside, I was all grinning and giggling, and thinking "YAY Dick! You GO man!"

I practiced till I could not move. Yay Greg, Yay Denise, Yay Jack, Yay Richard, Yay Lisa, Yay Julia, Yay Gwen, Yay Boris, Yay Sue, YAY to EVERYONE who was out there having fun.

Friday night, wow, what can I say? Julia had a wonderful idea to raise money for the corner workers. She would donate x amount for every person who made a naked lap of the pits. Jack, Myself and Marcus from the 125gp group took a lap. Harmless silly fun. Richard videotaped it, and Grace provided the laughtrack, I am amazed at how much she giggled.

It was OBVIOUS that we were having silly fun, and making people smile and laugh, and raise money for our cornerworkers. Yes, OUR cornerworkers. Our Guardian Angels who go the extra mile to keep us alive and safe while we participate in this silly sport and try to kill ourselves on a regular basis.

We ride, people laugh, we get back to the pits, and the track officials from Thunderhill over react in a way that would have made Civil Defense Air Wardens proud. Jumped all over us, screaming and yelling, taking down numbers, threatening the crowd. It was definitely a wet blanket tossed over the fun.

I will not go into it here, other than to say, Jack and I sat at the hotel Friday night, and each wrote on our laptops. My thoughts were about how i apologized, his thoughts were about how to point out the stupidity. Mine are posted on my weBLOG:

http://cstatman.blogspot.com/

However, we raised money, and more people heard and donated money later. All in all, the corner workers did okay from our antics. Expect photos & video later.

Friday night dinner at "Franco's" in Willows, very yummy food, except the worm in Lisa's salad.

Saturday practice was a blast. Mike Norman gets extra special mad fat props for bringing in a clutch for me, once installed, my bike would pull all the way to 14k. Earlier, up to 9k was power, then 9-14 was just spinning motor, no go. The clutch made all the difference. I had some great dices, some amazing flying laps, I was feeling great, but tired.

Saturday night, Greg, Cindy, Jack, Doug and myself went to Orland for the "Eve of Destruction Demolition Derby" Woo hoo! American entertainment at it's best.

Sunday. Practice, yay, fast, good.

Sitting in the pits, John Rabasa points at Jack's chain, and says "that's way too loose" evil bad foreshadowing.

I race, and toss the chain on my bike in turn 12/13, before completing one lap. BUT! I did not know it was the chain, I thought I fragged the clutch. Coast in, push, get out of the way, make mistakes, get into the pits, Mark points out the chain, DOH!

Well, I did not frag the motor, but I also did not finish the race. BIG dissapointment. BIG.

Leaving the track, we made some photos, I hope Jack will post them soon.

Creech said it best:

"note to self, leave clothes ON at Thunderhill"

How do you express anger and frustration, how do you expose bad policy, when you KNOW you are in a lose-lose situation? When you know nothing you say will be correct, yet you cannot really accept the “judgment” of the authority in place?

I have not learned this yet. Of course, the easy answer is to avoid putting oneself in these situations. However, to live the enlightened life, you MUST go beyond. You sometimes HAVE to put yourself in the situation, you sometimes have to accept the risk, and KNOW the possible outcome.

However, once you get called to the carpet, how do you say “You are over-reacting, this is silly, back down”? to someone who will not?

I have not learned this yet.

After 4 years of Marriage, I know how to back down, I know how to kowtow to authority, I know how to grovel. But I do not know how to stand for what I truly feel is right, when I KNOW I cannot win.

I said “It was done with the best of intentions, but worst of judgment”. However, I did not mean it. It was the “soothing” words that needed to be said, but not the words I felt.

Okay, now you want to know what happened, and I will try to explain.

Racing at Thunderhill Park, Friday was open practice. Not affiliated with the AFM, just an open day. However, Saturday is a club day, and Sunday is the last race of the season. When I go racing, there are people called corner workers. People stand at each corner of the track, they communicate with walkie-talkies, they pick up the bikes when people fall down, they contact ambulances if needed, basically, they are the guardian angels who make sure I stay alive when racing. And, they do it on a volunteer basis.

So at the last race of the year, on the last Saturday, there is a benefit dinner for the cornerworkers. And the 250 Production group, the part of the club I race in, usually raises money, which we give to the corner workers to divide up. Sort of a thank you gift, to help pay for all the white pants and shirts they wear, to help with some of the costs they pony up to come watch over us.

This year, the 250 group had less than the usual amount of money. In an attempt to boost the cash pot, one of the ladies in the club suggested she would donate some money, and try to ask others to donate, for every person who rode naked in the pits after Friday’s practice. Okay, a naked ride on bikes, this is funny, okay, I am in.

Only 3 people are going to ride. Me, Jack and Marcus from the 125 group. We meet in our pits, strip down, but are wearing helmet, gloves and boots, what we are required to wear in the pits. We ride up and down, a clean lap of the pit. People are cheering, people are screaming, it is hilarious. There is laughter, AND people are donating money to the corner workers.

As we got back to the pits, put on shorts, put away the bikes, this guy pulls up on a golf cart. And he is angry, screaming, and somewhat irrational. He wants the “name and plate number” of every bike who rode. He confronts Jack and I. Marcus has left, but golf cart man wants to know Marcus name and number. Sound familiar? Yes. Give me your papers! Name and Number! Do this now! Authority! Power! Control.

“You guys are out of here, dismissed for the weekend”

We tried to do something nice and the authority figures freak out.

Fortunately, John Fosgate, the club announcer goes to the management booth, and talks to the Manager. He cuts a deal, we have to come up with $100 each to donate to the corner workers, and we have to go suck crap through a straw. I mean apologize to the management.

The 250P group had already raised some money, and people tossed in fast, to bring us up to $300. We are there. We are financially in. The three of us walk to the management office with John the announcer. He is insistent, on how this WILL go down, we will be humble, we will apologize, we will be soo sorry it hurts.

Okay, I can do this. But why? Why must I apologize for something I thought was right? Why should I apologize for raising money for my guardian angels? What the HELL is wrong with 3 guys riding around the pits naked to raise money? I have seen MUCH weirder stuff in California.

We get into the office, and there are three guys behind a counter. One is the manager, one is the security guy, and the third is golf cart man. Golf cart man is the most upset, but the manager guy seems pretty upset too. Apparently at a previous event, there was a fight, and blood, and police. And Motorcyclists have a bad image, and we should not make more trouble.

Wait? How was raising money for corner workers violent? What did we do that was hurtful to others? But the right thing to do is apologize. The right thing to do is make this man happy, so we can race tomorrow. We need to apologize to this close minded, small little man, in order to keep good relations for our race club.

Marcus is doing his best not to laugh. I am giving my most sincere, kicked puppy, beaten husband look. And Jack is just trying hard not to say anything. Why is this a quest for justice? Why is this guy haranging me, and asking me to act as his “deputy” to keep all the bikers at bay? Why is he telling us he wants his race track to be the next Sears Point? What is this crap?

I know the answer. Soothing words. Apparent sincere apology. “Well Sir, it was the best of intentions, but with bad judgment” He buys it. Set the hook and reel him in. “I am very sorry, WE are very sorry, we were trying to raise money for the corner workers, we did not think about how wrong this was, we are sorry, we won’t do it again” And he is almost landed.

“You seem to be sorry, and you too, “ as he points to Marcus, who must have been making puppy dog eyes, “but you” pointing to Jack “how about you?”

There is a long pregnant pause, and Jack finally eeks out a “yes, sorry”. Jack OBVIOUSLY does not believe, Jack is taller than the manager, Jack is an imposing, threatening presence. Hairy, with a beard and long hair. A troublemaker. A large, bad, naked man.

But his effort worked, Manager guy is into it, he will work with us, and he lets us go. And go we do.

When we get out of the office, walking back to the pits, I feel dirty. I have lied. I have lied about my feelings, I have lied about my belief. I DID ride around naked to raise money, and I did not hurt anyone. Our ride was not violent, it was not hurtful, it was meant to raise money. And it did.

We return to the pits, knowing, golf cart guy is out for us. He WILL be looking for a reason to kick us out tomorrow. What the hell? I will do my best. Whatever that may be. But I want a shower, I want to clean the filthy feel of insincere apology off. Damnation.

Everyone in our group wants to know what happened. They want to know what was said, they want to be close to the dirty laundry. It was just wrong, all around wrong. We raised over $300. We rode naked in the pits, but who knows what happens tomorrow.

I used to like Thunderhill as a track, but from now on, I think Buttonwillow will be the track I go to for track days, and I will not give any extra money to the support of Thunderhill. These guys do not care about our racing, they care about bottom line, only.

What a load of shite.



Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I read this in a Heinlein book, and it has stuck in my brain:

"I appreciate horizontal skills and enthusiasm. But competent mattress dancers are not uncommon. Do you want to know what it is that makes a woman so
special to me? The unique and special quality is this: When I'm around her, am I happy?"


Am I happy?


I cannot get the Drowning Pool Song "let the Bodies Hit the Floor" out of my mind.


can anyone in San Jose direct me to a good source for Filter Coffee and Kulfi?

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

is this working?

Let the bodies hit the floor!

I am back! I am on! Life is good. I made it safely back from India, where I had a wonderful time, got tons good work done, and am now scrambling to catch up with work on the continent.

This week is particularly hectic, as I have a Homeowner's Association meeting. My condos are falling apart, and I need to help maintian them. Then Cricket on Wednesday, then Thursday Jack and I leave to go to thunderhill for races. Last race of the year, I should get all my ya yas out now.


Thursday, October 10, 2002

Back to America.

Trip Day 12
Wedneday, 10/8, 4:15 am Chennai Time

Sittin at the airport, waitin on the bus, plane. Let me catch up. Last we heard, our hero was bowling on Monday night. Well, being beaten at bowling. Okay, soundly whupped upon at bowling. Did not even break 100.

I sleep like a rock. But notice something Tuesday morning. My sweat smells like Indian Sweat! Seriously, I smell like some of my engineers after a long day. I must be fully permeated with good food. Yippee! So I take a shower and wash it off. Cause I am ripe.

Down to the “Match Point” for my last breakfast at the Taj. Four chicken sausages, oh, I am going to miss the chicken sausages, Idli appam, paratas (like naan bread, but somehow magically circular layers of wavy flatbread that lift off to make spoons) bacon, Filter Coffee, and, oh yeah, WATERMELON JUICE! I have 3 glasses, I am a piglet. It is scrumptious. When I finish up, the management crew asks me how breakfast was, and I tell them. Wonderful, it is my last morning, I fly out early Wednesday, and will not be able to dine at Match Point till my next trip. They would like me to leave feedback. Everyone in India wants feedback. I write a most glowing letter of recommendation, then I have photos taken with the staff. This crew could turn a Denny’s in San Jose into a 5 star, their level of attention is amazing.

Back to the room, pack as best I can, the Mani takes me to work. Well, we actually try to go to Hero Honda to snap a picture of one of the scooters with “outriggers” Guess what? It is an aftermarket add-on! I cannot find one anywhere. I have PROMISED my pal Tiffany I would try, but no such luck.

Into the office, and I have meetings, a day FULL of meetings. I meet with teams I have only worked with over the phone. I meet with teams in transition. I meet with teams that just want to see the cowboy. It is very productive, probably my most productive day yet. I get a lot of information and am able to relay it to my co-horts in management. It is well received, and I think some will be used to make valuable changes for advancement, and really, that’s all I can say without breaking many confidences.

For lunch, my pal Kandan takes me to the Copper Chimney, a rather ritzy joint with some wonderful food. We notice he has a different level of service than I do. Well, he also has a better tan, better hair, and is younger, So I should get some better service! J ha!

We go back to the office, for a few more rounds of meetings. My attempts at humor are totally bypassed. The information conveyed seems to stand, however, and I will start a write up report later today.

Finish, and Mani takes me back to hotel via 2 motorcycle shops. They are asking me about MY bikes, so I tell them, 996cc Honda, bigger Harley. They like it. YAY!

To the Taj, shower, change, and out to Aparna’s to meet her kiddoes and go for dinner. I dismiss Mani, and he will meet me at the hotel at 5am. There is a ‘general strike’ on Wednesday, so it will be best if Mani can be home early. No problem. Another early morning.

Her daughter meets me at the gate and is absolutely charming. I am so glad I am not a 9 year old Indian fella, cause I would be instantly smitten. Her son is quiet, thoughtful, and seems very much too serious and studious. OH! He is studying me, and sizing me up as a threat to him & mum. No Problems young man, your mom is a close and dear friend, but we are not headed that way.

We stop by a confectioners shop to pickup some treats for the cricket team back in San Jose. These guys might be happy about it, I hope. We then retire to dinner. At Pizza Hut. Yes, Pizza hut. For some stuffed crust pepperoni pizza. I have to travel around the world, and ONLY then do I first try Stuffed Crust pizza. Life is strange. Aparna’s daughter finds some bendy straws, and is quite pleased with herself. I ask her for another, and do the “fold the end, tuck it in” and join 2 straws, so I can sit at the table and not have to lean. I have a LONG straw. She is enthralled, the son instantly duplicates and one-ups with 3 straws. Brilliantly clever! They will be able to show off to all their pals.

After pizza, we go for ice cream, yumminess, I order vanilla, yet it is yellow. I am not sure why, but tastes like vanilla, and eats like vanilla. Yummarama.

We drop her kids off and head back to the Taj. Rum and cokes at the bar, the aussies are not singing, we chat about program management, and how it can be a challenge, rewarding, or even. Great chat, I hope she will come visit San Jose so I can repay all the favors and tour guides and shopping, and she’s off.

I head up to the room, sleep briefly, shower, pack, and off to the airport. This is the last ride with Mani. Car # 6862 will not be carrying me to work anymore this time. But next time, he IS mine! A calm driver with a good temper, very good combo.

At the airport I tip him, WAY overtip, but it is fine, he has done well, he has taken me above and beyond. A young beggar grabs me to herd me through the line, to the REAL entrance. Apparently everyone crowds in to see arrivals, and if you do not know where the departures gate is, you may foolishly stand in the wrong line. Young boy, entrapanuer, leads me zig zag through the crowd and to the departures gate, 5 feet from where I got out of the cab! Knowledge IS power, but he helped, 10 rupee.

Cycle through security check, baggage check, check in check, then wait for the plane. I am reading a book, I am waiting, I get on the plane to London, 10 hours flight time, and JACKPOT! Empty row! How do I manage? Maybe it is the powers that be making up for the flights to Bangalore?

British Airways pilot is funny, we’ll just smack out brekkies, then put on the full production for dinner, please be patient.

Patient? Hell bubba, I have 3 seats for 10 hours, I am solid!

More after London.

….more, cause it is after London.

Okay, I feel like I am burning off time I would probably need to be spending in hell, by flying straight through. I am on my 15th hour, and see about 10 more hours. Yeah, not right, I know, next time I should schedule a room in Singapore.

BUT, I am golden. I am G-Money as they say. GEEE Money BABY!

I get off the plane in London, pressing through a crowd of angry Indians. Get off the plane, and tramp out the flight ramp, needing to pee very badly. Finding a bathroom in Heathrow is not exactly easy as it should be, cause I am also worried about making my connection.

Which was delayed.

So I ride the tram from one gate to the next terminal, (BTW, this is where they are losing my luggage and stomping on the parts they did not lose. Swapping from Brit-Air to American? Yeah, I am getting the shaft. High and hard, but will know for sure in Chicago.

Get to Terminal 3, and see the delay, okay, no problems. I needed a break, I find a magazine shop, spend 7 pounds on my credit card for Bike magazine and November British Maxim, which is 8 million times cooler than US version. Brits know how to write humor.

Find the bathroom I need, Ewww. Nasty. That is all I have to describe this shoddy affair. The hopper in Chennai was 8 times cleaner. Do business, and checkin to gate. Their security is a bit stricter, they really rummage the poor circus bag, fortunately, they do NOT choose to rummage me! Sit & wait, board the plane, and find my seat. 25 J is NOT the very back of the plane.

I am waiting, and sure enough a lady sits beside me, she could be a pal of my mom’s, but she is dressed too sedately, and reading Martha Stewart Magazine. Then she puts her hand on my THIGH and tells me she is looking forward to an enjoyable flight. I’m like, EWWW! Git that paw away from my equipment lady, I hardly know ya.

Apparently she spent the last flight drinking.

Then they close the cabin doors. And tell us we can move at will, the flight is less than 25% full. SPROING! And I am out of the clutches of Mrs. Robinson. It is weird, the flight is EMPTY. As in, why are ya’ll flying? There are no passengers, can we all move up to first class?

So, for the NEXT 10 hours of my journey, 2 large seats, lots leg room, all to my self. Yeah, sideways and Mexican, if the old gal bothers me again, I will explain all the intricacies of a “Dirty Sanchez” and be left alone for sure. But the flight will rule, I have space. Maybe as a cushion to my total 24+hour travel, I will have space to stretch. YAY TEAM!

In Chicago I will have to clear customs, I filled out the form very generously, and do not think I will have any issues. More as it happens. Tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever, I will get to take a shower in MY shower, and sleep in MY bed. That is good. I will miss the chicken sausages for breakfast at the Taj, but I will make up for it with kisses from my sweetie!

The battery on the laptop is fading, I do not think I will be able to type my work report, but will try later. Maybe if I have time in Chicago I can plug in and recharge.

>>>> Chicago Day from Hell

7:30pm Wednesday Chicago Time : 6:00AM Thursday Chennai Time

I just want to be home.

We landed in Chicago, deplaned in about 3 minutes, the plane was extremely empty. Chicago O’Hare is a maze of tunnels, escalators and trams. We get off the plane, down a hall, down an escalator, into another hall, into an arrival area, and que for Immigration. I could not tell if my Immigration clerk was male or female, and was named Pat. You do not want to laugh at someone who has the power to deny you entry to a country.

I woke up to start this morning at 4:00am, and got in the car with Mani around 5:00am, according to my brain’s spinning calculations, and the cheap watch on my arm, I have been in transit for 25 hours. And I still need to fly to San Jose. I am tired, I smell like a goat, and my whole body feels “greasy”

After immigration, we go to baggage claim, and my bags arrive relatively unscathed. I am impressed! Of course I have not opened them. On my customs form I declared $300 worth of stuff, hoping they would not care to look, and would overlook the Indian sweets I have brought back for the cricket team. Pick the bags, walk to the customs line, which is forming big, and a young guard looks at my cowboy hat, asks “you from Texas”? to which he gets a BIG smile and “Heck pecker yeah, wherabouts you from?” He replies “Tyler” and hears back “heck, I am from Longview” and he waves me through. They appear to be checking every other passengers luggage, and I get to SHINE THE LINE! YAY!

Down another hall, where I re-check my luggage, which has one more opportunity to explode on impact, hopefully not. Yet another hall, and escalator, and into a train station. I am stuck on the tram behind a guy sporting a very hideous “Skullet” The mullet for the balding. Do I look this bad? I ask a young lady next to me, she laughs and says “no way, he looks slimy, you look tired” YAY! I am not a goober. Yet.

Off the train, another escalator, another hall, another escalator, another hallway, and finally, I see the entrance for gate L. Security in the states is a joke. The asian man operating the machines could not explain to me that he wanted to know if I had COINS in my bag. I kept hearing “you gah gon in you ba?” And thinking, “Wouldn’t a gun show up on the X-Ray?” While the other guy is harassing me about my boots and hat.

They must be trained, one question at a time, one person speaking at a time. I remember a line form Keith’s presentation and I use it. Hear that boss? It works!

I said “Excuse me sir, I cannot understand what you are saying, could you please rephrase the question? What item are you asking is in my bag”

To which he said “gon! You know, gon gon you know gon you got gon!?”

Well, I did not know. I have been traveling for 25 hours, I am tired, some guy is pulling my belt buckle, I am thinking “Madras was MUCH better, and, according to Louise, they feel you up there”

“I am sorry sir, I do not understand, I am hearing G-U-N, which I do not have, please help me understand, could you point at the object?”

And a guy behind me gets it before I do. “Coins!” and we giggle.

“You are asking me if I have COINS in my bag, yessir, I do”

and they pass me through the checkpoint.


The announcer just askes a “Mr. Jack Mehoff” to meet his party at security gate H. This has to be a joke.

Get to gate, find plug, Charge Laptop. Time to board, more later.

On the plane, passing over Omaha, Nebraska, I am tired. VERY tired. I am told we will pass over Fort Collins, Colorado, that’s where my pal Flash lives, I would try to moon him, but I do not think he will see it.

This flight is not empty, but not full, They did switch one guy out of my row, so the middle seat is empty, yay.

I am simply wore out. Next Stop San Jose, Luggage, Cab, Home, Kisses, Shower.


Monday, October 07, 2002

India Departs.

Trip Day 11
Monday, 10/7, 10:15 pm Chennai Time

Woke up at 3:45am, yes, 3:45am, to get ready for my drive across town, and flight to Bangalore. You know what is happening at 3:45 in India? Same thing that is happening in your hometown. NOTHING. People are asleep, drunks are passed out, dogs are no longer barking, NOTHING is happening. Except every man over the age of 37 is getting up to pee. (That’s why it’s called the WEE Hours of the morning) Only here, it is on a wall outside the house.

So shower up, get dressed, unload the circus bag as much as possible, and go downstairs. The driver is not Mani, but some other guy. I do not know who. He drives like a maniac, honking and swerving and hollering, he is definitely in a hurry to get somewhere. I have no idea why. Along the way, I really notice the traffic signs. In the center divide, there are round, red, informative signs. My favorite is :Beware Dazzling Headlights, reminds me of a topless dancer I used to know.

Anyhow, we make it to the airport after cutting off an ambulance, sideswiping an auto-rickshaw, an promoting general dissaray. I waltz through the terminal, through security, onto the plane and am SLAMMED in the middle seat. No Air Luck for ME! Rough flight out, 30 minutes, get to Bangalore, there is a guy with a sign with my name on it. Amazingly, I am STILL thrilled by this. He brings the car, and while less of a crazed driver than earlier, he is still NO Mani!

Get to the Cisco Offices, Karthik it there, and the floors are covered with newspaper, I bet they thought I would whiz on the floor… Set up, answer emails, catch up, then phone Sara on the magic phone. I hear her voice for the first time in a LONG time, and yeah, it still sounds like bells to me. YAY.

Then meetings most of the morning. I have an opportunity to work with a really smart guy, he just is not wanting to do what we do, and helps out from a sense of ability, rather than job. I also interview a woman who has all qualifications to be “on the team” but she still needs to make decision. Lunch at some fine Chinese restaurant, we have prawns the size of my face. HUGE Shrimp. Then back to work, where I have a “win-win” situation over lab temperature. My man on the ground in Bangalore is great, I wish everyone was as solution focused as he is.

Off to the airport to catch my early flight, I try to photograph some 4-wheel scooters, but my driver is going too fast, and simply tearing through town like a madman. At the airport I sit next to a very wise man, his luggage was entirely books, we spoke about American political policy for quite a long time, and the perceptions of the average man. War is bad, is it really US against terror, or is it finding a viable sea access for oil shipping? That kind of stuff. Very fun, very thought provoking.

My flight has me on an Aisle, on an emergency exit. I should request this on every flight. It is legroom, simply, leg room. Back in Chennai, see Mani’s smiling face at the airport, and I am relieved. Not home, but I know he will not kill me in traffic. Back to the Taj, clean up, and meet Arul & Tanigai for dinner. We go to the Park Sheraton hotel, and eat at their version of Southern Spice, the Park’s Indian restaurant, where I have MORE great food. Banana Dosas, Iddlyappam, veggies in coconut milk, mango veg stew, oh my.

Arul is tired, so he heads home, and Tanigai and I take an autorickshaw ride to the beach. Chennai has the second longest beach in the world I am told. I do not know how it compares to Padre Island, but it is long. I Instantly regret forgetting my camera, there are stacks of fishing boats, like the one I show photo of, but new and bigger, that people are still using today. Very cool.

We ride up through town and go to Snow Bowl. Barefoot bowling is difficult, and my shoulder is totally blowed out for some reason, I stink on ice, but it is fu to play, and Tanigai is very good. It is fun.

http://www.zatang.com/locals/cityc/chot17.htm

http://www.chennaionline.com/toursntravel/cityguide/hangingout/snowbowling.asp



Walk back to the room, and go to sleep early, tired and sober as a churchmouse. YAY!




Tripped over this site:
http://travel.indiamart.com/tamil-nadu/cuisines/south-indian-cuisine.html

with menus and food shots. “Filter Coffee” yeah, check it out!

>>>>>

Bidet Info from my pal Vikram, who is obviously amused at me being here:

Some reasons on why people prefer bidets over paper: (obviously from a
Bidet manufacturer's website http://www.gobidet.com/bidets.html)

For one, you do not get a one-year warranty when you buy a roll of Toilet paper; nor do you get an installation kit! And then there is the added bonus of not having the proverbial "toilet paper from the top or bottom?" argument.

Check out Tushy Clean at http://www.juscuzz.com/ They claim that it is "Positively great for hemorrhoid relief."

Adopt a Healthy Habit
* Attachable bidet system transforms your toilet into a bidet.
* An improvement on personal hygiene.
* A healthy habit for the whole family.
* Cleansing with water is more comfortable.
* Easy to install on all standard commodes.
* Installation kit included.
* One-year warranty.




Sunday, October 06, 2002

India Departs.

Trip Day 10
Sunday, 10/6, 10:15 pm Chennai Time

Tourista!

Dinner last night was a blur, I barely remember it, I am tired, wore out. Then this morning I woke, had a wonderful breakfast at the Taj, knowing I have only one left. Onion Dosa, make it spicy please, Idli, with Aloo, the chicken sausages, and some coffee. Read the paper, then back up to my room to catch up and prepare for the day.

I spent time on IM, Julia helped me get in contact and get Sara connected, and my sweetie and I got to chat for a while. I miss her, course, ya’ll all know that.

Then Arul phoned, we are supposed to meet, maybe noon? Then Louise phoned, she and Diane, co workers, made it in last night, and can I meet earlier, we have a busy schedule. So I mail some post cards, change some money, the hotel driver takes me over to the Park Sheraton where they are staying, and we all meet up in the lobby. So great, the ONLY time I have for socializing with these wonderful humans is when I come to India? Cool! More trips to India.

We drive to? Fisherman’s Cove! For lunch. But we arrive at an odd time, the beach restaurant is not serving. We take some photos, buy some carved seashells from a fisherman/vendor, then leave for tourista destination ONE!

Mahabalipuram
http://www.indiatravelinfo.com/tamilnadu/mamal.htm

http://www.freeindia.org/tourism/chennai_mamallapuram/mamallapuram/around_mamallapuram/page1.htm

a small town built around some “oh my gosh old!” temples and monuments. It is almost impossible to describe. Entire Granite land formations carved into temples and houses of worship. Imagine taking a solid granite hill, 10 stories tall, and carving it down to build an entire city. Yeah! Like walk from one building to the next, knowing they used to all be the same rock? Wow! It is absolutely; take your breath away, amazing. I snapped tons pics, will post them.

We wandered around and were pestered and harassed by salesmen, one of whom finally got me with some jewelry, and a carved elephant. More photos please?


Back to Fish Cove for buffet lunch in the main building, I had curried spicy seafood with garlic sauce, rice, potatoes, veggies, and topped it with strawberry ice cream for desert. We spoke about work, about India, about life in general, it is always lovely to spend lunch with 3 brilliant people, you learn good stuff that way, ya know?

Tourist Stop Two:
Back in the car, and over to Dakshinachitra

http://www.dakshinachitra.org/what.htm

to quote the web site: 'Dakshin' is Sanskrit for 'South'. South as in South India, ... Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, each distinctively different yet invariably clubbed together. 'Chitra' is 'picture' or 'sketch'.

a living museum, where they have replicated the styles of four regions of south India. Again, amazing. Houses and people, shops and crafts, we see tons cool stuff, but are also beginning to melt.

We take the car back to drop Diane & Louise at the Park Sheraton, Arul & I head back to the Taj. I have had a brilliant day, I was very tired, but would not trade it for anything.

Back at the Taj, Arul & I have dinner at Southern Spice. The fantastic restaurant I had eaten at with Keith.

http://www.tajhotels.com/luxury/coromandel_chennai/new.htm

Arul knows the manager. He won’t let me get by on starters, though I try. We eat like kings, Idli, Banana Dosa, Shrimp, Idli A---- (I cannot remember the name) and some wonderful potato spicey dishes, topped with coffee. I am so full I cannot breathe.

Up to the room, download photos, get ready to sleep, remember my tickets, and discover, OH NO! Wednesday is NOT an 11pm flight, it is an 8AM flight! OH MY GOD! I have to totally rearrange schedules. I will make this happen, but I just got more rushed.

Will fit in everything I need, damn, a whole day flying. This is gonna suck

Well, I cannot write more, cause I have a 6am flight to Bangalore in the morning, and I need sleep.

Cool touring, check the web sites, more later kiddoes!



Saturday, October 05, 2002

India Departs.

Trip Day 9-B
Saturday, 10/5, 6:15 pm Chennai Time

Shopping like a Rock Star!

Aparna and Mani get to the hotel a little late, but I have had breakfast already, these yummy chicken sausages are so addictive, I have no clue how I will live without them when I get home. Also had some bacon, potatoes Aloo, hash browns, toast, fruit cup, grape juice, REAL Grape Juice, not made form concentrate, and not yet wine. OMG is this stuff the bomb! Some coffee, and then to the room to clean up.

Aparna calls from the lobby and away we go on a whirlwind tour of Chennai. For Keith, and other folks coming here, I now know THE hot tickets. I will try to list name, address, what we shopped for, in order hit.

First:
Cane & Bamboo Indian Handicrafts
20 Commander-in-Chief Road
Chennai, Madras 600-008
Ph: 8275180

These fine folks carry wooden elephant carvings, clay pots, shirts, table linens, brass dishes, and many small “things and stuff” that are definitely gifts, and definitely the flavor of Madras. I cannot recommend them enough, and a bunch of my pals will be getting gifts from there.

Second:
Amethyst
14/30 Padmavathi Road
Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram, Chennai 60-086
Ph: 8203582

This was a beautiful little shop, with a jewelry store, clothes, linens, candles, and then some more of the same, in an older, restored house with a beautiful garden. When we first arrived, Aparna was hungry, so we ordered a small sandwich, and I had a watermelon juice. Yep, Squeezed watermelon, without all the pits. The builing feels like a southern plantation, big porches, verandas, plants everywhere, a restaurant and a shop. I also liked them because of the boom box playing Dixie Chicks on tape when we walked in.

Third:
SriSukra Jewels
40 North Mada Street
Mylapore, Chennai 600-004
Ph: 4940699
http://www.sukra.com/

Okay, Keith took me to the fancy shop last Sunday, Aparna took me to a less fancy, more “put yo hands in it and see” shop. You can look at their website, but basically, you sit at a counter, and tell the young lady what you want, bangles, bracelets, toe rings, earrings, necklaces, and what color stones, and she will start bringing trays of goodies.

While you start adding and converting rupee/dollar in your head, and looking at stuff, you pick certain items, like a bracelet, then she sees what tastes and colors you like, and pulls out more trays full of same looking stuff. Then you seem to settle on stone color, and she pulls matching stone, different jewelry, so you have a bracelet with blue stones, she will pull a tray of necklaces with blue stones, to match, then rings, etc…

Oh my, the females in my life are gonna be happy when I get home, and that is all I have to say about that. J

Fourth:
Benjarong
146 T.T.K. Road
Chennai, 18
Ph: 4322640

Lunch at a thai joint Aparna favors. It was incredibly pretty, they carved the carrots into flowers, designs int garnish, etc. And you are right, “Charles, Thai makes you have rumbley belley in US, what the HELL are you thinking eating in India?” Well, I wasn’t, but it was very good. Delicious. I had chicken fried in banana leaf, coconut milk chicken soup, chicken green curry, veggies, and noodle salad. OMG yummy.

Fifth:
Interim stop at Kapoor’s Fabrics to pick up swatches for Aparna’s mom for some drapes. This store is cool, and there is some stuff that would look great on Sara’s chair, but I cannot remember how much, or if it would be something she would like, and I am starting to feel hot and pale. I am sweating and feeling lightheaded. It is not air condition, it is hot, I am looking at fabric, and I feel woozy. We need to get to the hotel.

Rest stop at hotel, I “mind the needful” and pop a pill, drink some water, splash my face, and I am back and ready to go. Still have not fulfilled Mark’s “pants crappin” prediction. HA!

Sixth:
Thakurdas Choitrhram Fabrics
No. 173, (Near LIC)
Chennai 600-002
8516967

This is the big fabric shop. Of course, they see a dude in a cowboy hat and they go nuts, straight for the silks. Well, I am not really after silks, I am after fabric to make Sara some new harem pajama pants. She has a pair of heavy green silky looking pants with a blown out knee. So I think, buy new stuff, make new pants! And boy do I find stuff. Lots of beautiful fabric. I only buy as much as is reasonable. Ha ha ha. I also found some grey and white fabric with what looks like explosions of liquid metal drops on it. This stuff SCREAMS “Rebecca wants me” so I grab some for her.

If you need fabric, this is the place to go. The staff was friendly, and definitely surprise to see a guy in a cowboy hat.

Seventh:
Landmark Books
Spencer Mall
Chennai

Bought some really cool CDs for Sara, got a few gifts, postcards, etc. Bookstore. Saw Ashish and family. And yes, I am getting tired. However, at the mall, people were slack jawed and staring, saying “look Look, Cowboy” Much to Aparna’s delight.

Eight,
Sorry, no name or address,

Samoza stand, stopped for snacks. Yummy samosas, my most favorite food.

Then back to Taj, where I am writing this, catching up on emails, and recovering.

More later




Friday, October 04, 2002

okay, quick note before I leave to go shopping

for the THREE people out there who are actually following this,

What the HELL is with a Bidet? Do people REALLY shoot a stream of water at their butthole to clean house? Is it more environmentally wasteful than toilet paper? What about water shortage? How do you prevent it from hosing yourself all up the front of your clothes. (yes, I need to change) and where do you learn how to use one of these? Does anyone we know have one in their house? Are there instruction manuals? What is the whole, (*or hole) point?

Next thought. How can I bring everyone I know to India? This place is fun.

and finally, special, incredible thanks to Miss Julia Green, who is faxing my MC racing pre-entry form on Monday I emailed a document to her, and she will fax it in. I hear the Friday before the race is open track day, and will arrange to do that as well.

Ciao! off for shopping!

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.

Corrections from my pal trying to keep me honest:

>>Bore the cylinder? Ticket and fine. Too custom, fine. Paint the gas tank? Fine!
Not always, depending upon the amount of changes done ;)

>>Kandan also showed me a Pulsar 180cc. Indian manufactured, very powerful, 23hp
18bhp.

>>And yeah. Kandan! The man!
Thanks for the appraisal :))

odd note. sometimes when I look at this page, the text is correct, and reads okay, other times it scrolls too far to the right of the screen. it is a problem with my template, I am very sorry. And will try to figure it out.

India Departs.

Trip Day 8.5
Friday, 10/4, 4:15 am Chennai Time

Whee! I did it. You all KNEW I would. I did. I have DRIVEN a motorcycle in Chennai! Yahoo! My pal Kandan helped me out, we rode his Suzuki 150 through the mad streets of Madras. Then he pulled over and swapped spots. I drove, he passengered.

More in a sec on that.

My Driver did a wonderful job this morning, we came through traffic just fine, and stopped for some photo shots. I keep updating my Yahoo Photos site (see sidebar for link) and just did. There are some shots of Fish Cove and Keith, and the crazed Aussie singers in the bar, and MilkStraw Psycho Cow drink, as well as some of me on the MIGHTY 150.

Got to HCL Headquarters, and got to work. Found a way to help the lab in Bangalore with a large problem there, it is WAY too cold for the engineers, so we found a standards site, that will allow the facilities guys to raise lab temperature some. Then worked on getting my airline ticket to Bangalore for Monday’s day trip.

And yeah. Kandan! The man! He showed me his bike, we went for a ride. I got many questions answered. People do not customize bikes here, because there is heavy tariff on modifications. If you put a different exhaust pipe, the cops will nick you, and ticket city. Bore the cylinder? Ticket and fine. Too custom, fine. Paint the gas tank? Fine! Wow, so everyone drives very sedate 50 – 150cc machines that run about 40mph. Someone needs to bring a YSR50 over here and clean the clocks.

Kandan also showed me a Pulsar 180cc. Indian manufactured, very powerful, 23hp. Though I like his Suzuki, it is very clean. Bikes also come with Sari guard as standard equipment. Then we went for a spin. I tried to shoot over his shoulder, and give the biker perspective, traffic is nuts, streets are narrow, and everyone lays on the horn, less warning, more driving by sonar, warning others you are there.

When he pulled over and we swapped places, I was jazzed. Riding bikes is cool All bikes, Anywhere, anyhow. The 150 is not v strong, and they shift with a 4-down pattern. Meaning you are in neutral, click the foot-pedal down, first, down again, second, down again third. I am used to 1 down, 5 up. Shifting up is really down, and down is up? I got confused, but managed to go through traffic at speed, not get us killed, and make U turns, and pass auto-rickshaws, and break the recommended speed limit.

YAY Kandan! My wish was fulfilled, I have ridden motorcycles in India! I am a hooligan on Many continents. Photos on the web.
After the ride, I gave him some copies of the Las Vegas Extremes Video, and Crusty Demons of the Dirt, just to encourage hoooliganism. Unfortunately, I am so strapped for time, I had to decline invite to his home. Next trip, I swear!

Back at the office, I met with Ravi, one of the brightest minds in my business division. We walked next door to Hotel Aadithya for lunch. What we call restaurants, they call hotels, what we call hotels, they call Luxury Hotels. Anyhow, had “starters” of baby corn and spring rolls, then ate way too much spicy shrimp curry with my hands, topped with fruit salad for desert, and I am full like pig. The conversation was great, he gave me some spectacular ideas for my lab team, and has offered help as necessary. YAY!

Back to the office, Mark (did you crap your pants yet guy) shows me the most beautiful earrings he bough his wife, classic cut emeralds surrounded by diamonds in a heart shape. V cool, V classy, V NOT Sara. I will not spend tons on stuff she will not like, but they were still cool.

Trying to arrange trip to Bangalore, uploading photos, meeting with Shajahan, my direct Report here, talking to people, distributing chocolate, yay! Good day at work. Hopefully I will have plane tickets here soon, then can go to hotel for a shower, I am filthy. I plan to spend the weekend shopping for trinkets, will keep posted.

Charles!

Thursday, October 03, 2002

India Departs.

Trip Day 8

Friday, 10/4, 10:00 am Chennai Time

Yesterday as we drove back from Fisherman’s Cove, Keith and I tried to plan out all the activities I should accomplish after he leaves. It is incredibly obvious I need at least 4 more days! J ha! But I will not have the time, and really am missing my Sara, so I will work hard and smart with the time I have.

On the drive back, we come up the ‘new’ highway, where they are doing construction. Keith explained to me that encroachment is a large problem here, folks will just build houses and shacks wherever convenient, property lines be damned. Well, when you are building a highway, it is bad news for a house to be in the way. Solution? Just bulldoze the right of way, and clear the space you need. As we are driving back, we can see shops and homes with as much as the front three quarters sliced away. As if a giant had cut them like a birthday cake. I guess if you build in a known right-of-way, you kind of should expect it, but I wonder how I would react to waking up and seeing the living room traveling away in the front of a bulldozer?

Since India has such a large population, employment is an issue. The answer? Do NOT hire out so much large equipment, instead, utilize the labor pool better. Which they do. The construction techniques are amazing, people using 15th century iron digging implements, moving dirt behind bulldozers, women carrying rocks in baskets on their heads, men carrying rebar two men to a length. Build a rock bed, spread dirt over the rock, lay in some rebar, pour concrete, have a fellow with a brush paint lines. Amazing.

When we got back to Chennai we had a quick lunch at the Taj, OH, btw, if you want to see photos, their web site is

http://www.tajhotels.com/luxury/coromandel_chennai/new.htm

I am being thoroughly spoiled. J

After lunch, we went to the Cisco Office, said some hellos, and I spent time with Aparna trying to work out my travel plans. Apparently Cisco Travel has booked me a non-stop adventure full of pain for the flight back to the states, and we are trying to sort it out. I do not think it will happen, as the airlines want to charge a cancellation fee, and I feel very VERY bad about doing that just for my comfort.

So We chat for a while, then I hit some email, trying to catch back up to speed with folks in San Jose. Working split days is rough, information does not move quickly enough, and I worry that we could be doing better.

Keith delivers his Accents course, and I feel it is well received. If all the people listening ONLY remember one thing, I hope it will be the “Slow Down, Speak Louder” part. It goes well, and I think he is evolving a very valuable course.

Back to the hotel, where he cleans up and repacks for the flight back. We meet Mr. N & Mr. K in the hotel bar for drinks before departure, The Aussie gals sing, and now some of the natives believe our stories. Mr. N and I depart for the Radisson hotel’s famous Kebab Factory restaurant. Leaving the driver to take Keith to the Airport, I am sad. There goes my guide. Now I am really at it by myself. Eeek! He has asked me to keep a better record of where I go, and what I see, so I will try to be more specific with addresses and photos for the next few days.

The food at the Kebab Factory is delicious. Basically, you sit, they take drink orders, then ask you “veg or non-veg” and that is your menu selection. For the next hour or so, the waiter, clad in bright orange jump suit like factory worker, comes around and drops different things on your plate, fish, chicken, lamb chops, etc., that have been kebabed! After dinner, desert was an Indian ice cream that was heavy on the cream. I thought it wa sliced banana at first, then I ate it, and OH MY! Amy form Amy’s Ice Cream may have a competitor in the really sweet and tasty and high zoot caloric contest!

Arul, I mean, Mr. N, has dismissed his driver, so we have my driver take him home, then me back to the Taj. I feel very bad for keeping him out late, and suggest a late morning, I will stay in the room and work a little from here.

Wake up at 6am, with the sun, and realize I have not heard from Sara in a while, and I freak out a little. What if she crashed her bike? What if terrorists abducted here? Aliens? Lions? Tigers? Bears? Oh MY! No, she is not online, and I do not get any email. So I look for anyone I know online, Someone in San Jose, to call her. Sharon, one of the wonderful test engineers from my past team is online, and offers to call Sara’s cell and ask her to log on to AOL IM. YAY Sharon! She gets Sara! YAY! The Aliens have been vanquished! Sara is online! We chat for a bit, and I feel MUCH MUCH better.

Run downstairs for some breakfast, and everyone is asking where Keith is. And disappointment that he left. Eeek! Maybe now they treat me worse, cause the big boss is not here? Nah! Breakfast is great, then back to the room to write some cards. I printed address labels before I left home, so I could just write the card, then slap on a label and not have to look up the address. I hope it does not look too cheesy. On the other hand, I am sending cards from India, that is cool?

It is about time, I will go look for my driver, and head to the office to arrange my day trip to Bangalore on Monday. Oh, yeah, my nose is not as runny now, I can breathe through both nostrils, however, I do have to go back to Bangalore Monday, so I will clog it right back up. Doh!



Wednesday, October 02, 2002

India Departs.

Trip Day 7 (I think)

Wednesday, 10/2, 9:00 pm Fisherman’s Cove Time

We leave the hotel a little later than expected, but earlier than really expected. Yes, drank way too much for my light weight status, and had a bit of a headache. Mani, our driver, took us out of Chennai, headed towards Fisherman’s Cove. While driving, we passed some road signs that said “helmets, law or not” I think trying to encourage the use of helmets on motorcycles?

It is apparent, the Indians are very fond of signs. Keith photographs the more interesting ones, usually there are signs everywhere, giving long detailed instructions. “Stop then Proceed”, “Slow Driving is Safe Driving”, “Accidents cost your life and can be expensive” “Stop then left when signaled” Everything is posted and explained in detail. Maybe this is why I get such long explanations to my questions? Maybe trained since birth, they MUST give full justification?

We passed some motorcycle shops, on the roadside, it was amazing to see a giant ox outside a shop, while some guy inside is WAILING on the side of a bike with a large hammer. I got a photo of a sign for “Water Jet Auto Wash” that showed a Honda Spree scooter being hosed down by an elephant. (I saw neither, clean scooter, or elephant at the shop). And passed a luxury apartment colony “Affordable Luxury” Is there such a thing?

As we got closer to the Fisherman’s Cove, we had to change highways, by going over a VERY narrow causeway, at one point, there was a truck taking the entire road, I thought we would be pushed into the water, but no, they worked it out with horn beeping and light flashing.

“Fisherman’s Cove strives to be the finest luxury beach resort in south India.” Is what the paper says. And you know what? They may have succeeded. Remember all that moom-bah about me wanting to move into the Four Seasons in Singapore? Well, apologies to my pals on the staff there, but this joint wins, hands down. My hotel room is a cottage, very comfy, with a back door that opens onto the Bay of Bengal. I am sitting in a rocking chair right now, looking out onto the bay at night, listening to the breakers coming in. OH MY GOD it is beautiful here. The only thing that would make it better was 2 things Sara was here, and I could breathe.

Yeah, the allergy thing has not really cleared up. I am sniffling and shorking like a messy St. Bernard. But enough of that, back to the Taj Fisherman’s Cove!

Arrive about noon, check in and am amazed, then go to lunch with Keith in the dining room. Huge buffet of Indian food, a scrumptious seafood soup like I have never tasted so good before, and swell conversation. After I eat way too much for lunch, we decide to look for the catamaran driver, and arrange a cat ride into the ocean for later. Keith finds someone, arranges, and at 4:00 we will take a catamaran out to the bay. I am thinking the same thing most of you are. Hobie cat. 2 floats, a trampoline across, a large colorful sail. Off to the room for a little catching up on some presentations, a little reading, a light nap, a little nasal drip.

3:45 I meet with Keith, who had brought sun screen, thank god, while I really hate putting greasy stuff on my bod, I know a nasty sunburn would not help. I grease up, we walk to the beach, we see the lifeguard stand, he finds the driver he knows, and we get ready to go out.

Now I had a great time, so don’t think I am bitching, but this boat is NOTHING like anything the folks at Hobie make. 2 hulls, fiberglass? NO! one hull, made from 4 logs that have been squared some, and lashed together, with 4 more tiny logs on front, lashed into a small, triangular “lip” that juts upward. Maybe 12 feet long, maybe 2 ½ feet across? Brightly colored sail? How about no sail, it is powered by a Greeves brand 4 cycle diesel motor, that 2 guys have to attach to the boat before we go. Greeves made motorcycles in England in the 60’s. This looks like a tractor motor on a special mount that lets it swivel up/down and left/right. There is a motor, and a LONG output shaft with a prop at the end, and the tiller is 2 sticks of wood lashed to a broken aluminum handle. This is gonna be so cool!

We motor out into the bay, and the guide points out all the jellyfish. Great, and we are gonna float in life jackets in this? They are everywhere…. No, they find a nice place with less fish, and we float in the bay for about an hour. It is VERY relaxing. When you are in the water, it does not matter how much your nose runs.

After floating for a while, the cat drifts too close to shore, so we climb into the boat, they start the motor, and we go out a ways, to re-drift. This is fun. I must mention, getting into the boat is less than graceful. On the second leap into the water, Keith sort of rolls backwards and out of the boat, and all I can think of is “and once again, the crew of the Calypso enters the water, diving with Jacques today……” it is fun.

We finally drift back in, crank the boat, and go to shore. Before returning to rooms, Keith and I play a little in the waves, this is fun, like being at Galveston, or Padre Island, the water is warm, but not too warm, but not frigid like in Santa Cruz. Splashing and playing in the breakers, Keith jumps up to “surf into” a wave, and his T-shirt balloons with water, he is swept in the current, and looks like a kite being blown away in the wind. Seconds later he stands up giggling, it looked like a lot of fun. Something brushes his legs, and he gets a slight sting from one of the jellyfish that came too close to shore. Eeek! Fortunately, it does not appear too bad, and we walk to the cottages to clean up.

LONG shower, I rinse all the salt water off, and rest for a while before dinner. Laying in a hammock, with a warm breeze AND the ocean? Oh yeah. VERY nice. Just what the doctor ordered. Then I got re-cleaned up and met Keith for dinner. The hotel has opened a new restaurant, outdoors, and we give it a try. Actually, we are the VERY first customers. It is on a raised field, with tables and benches under the stars. The benches have too narrow a seat, and the back is at a 90 degree angle, so they are not the most comfortable, and the table is a little low, but other than that, it is cool. Salad Nicosia followed by pasta and seafood in tomato sauce. Keith attempts to order some wine, but because it is Gandhi’s birthday celebration, the sale of alcohol has been prohibited. Actually, this is a good thing, as neither of us needs it.

The dinner was great, but the waiter, chef, host, manager and I think bottlewasher all came to ask us for feedback and comments. I bet it was day one jitters, but for no reason, the food was swell. They comp’d the meal too, since we were the first, yahoo! The only thing better than good food is FREE good food, and the only thing better than FREE good food is Free good food with naked ladies around. Well, we settled for free good food, and were happy.

Went back to the room, where I adjourned to the hammock to write this. I am considering wandering to the front building to ask where the business center is, and maybe plug in and post this, but maybe I will just crawl in bed and call it an early night.

I’d be very happy If my nose would quit running. Oddly, it is ONLY the right side, and only in little bits. I have woofed up some Afrin, but there is only so much of that a person can do, and I will not take antihistamines, as they put me right out. So if you have any suggestions, other than shove an earplug up it, I would be all willing to listen.

Tomorrow we head back to Chennai proper, and work, and Keith departs for home. More as it develops.






Tuesday, October 01, 2002

India Departs.

Trip Day 6 (I think)

Wednesday, 10/2, 9:15am Chennai Time

Yesterday was a mixed day, I got tons accomplished at work, but was miserable with allergies. Like Austin in cedar season, I could barely breathe, my eyes were red & watery, running nose, etc…. that part blew chunks. The good part was I met lots of people, all of whom were excited and willing to work with me. With ONE exception (who I do not have to work with) everyone else was positive and looking for action-based solutions.

However, giving a presentation in front of a room full of brilliant, inquisitive folks is particularly difficult when you are thinking “oh my god, is snot running out of my nose? Did a big snot blob just drip on my shirt? I cannot breathe!” I managed to do the presentation, maybe they think all Texans have drippy snouts. Maybe wet and cold is good, like for dogs.

After my presentation, Keith gave the first presentation in a series he is developing on accent awareness, and possible strategies to communicate better. This went over fabulously, and when he spoke in his native French-Canadien accent, the entire room was laughing like there was no tomorrow. That program went very well.

One of my co-workers, who I also consider a friend, from San Jose, asked me “So, have you crapped your pants yet?” It came from out of the blue, was totally unexpected, and made me wonder if he has a delicate stomach, or if I have been lucky.

Met with a few more people, hammered a little more email, then beat feet back to the Bangalore airport for the flight to Chennai. The security guards searched the Circus bag, but apparently, unlike the brick of batteries from the morning, they did not find anything that “had to go”. Want to guess what seats we drew on the plane? Ya, LAST row. The BACK of the bus. But Keith reassured me, sometimes they load from the front and back of the plane. Which they did, we were on quickly, and before takeoff there was an empty row, so I moved, and we both had aisle seats with some room.

Landing in Chennai was not as rough as the last time I did, but still bumpy. De-planed, found the driver, and I barely remember the trip back to the hotel, I think I slept. At hotel we were a little hungry, dropped bags in the room, went back to the bar with the singing Aussie girls, had some G&T and “starters”. Snacks have been working much better for dinner, and they were wonderful. Talked about work, dumped information I learned form my team, got more information on the dynamics and makeup of the Bangalore operation. This place is sometimes like walking the tightrope, juggling, blindfolded, backwards, while randomly being smacked by raw fish. Big ones.

To do business in Bangalore, there is a constant balance of business and social, mixed with attempting to make requests form a group that is absolutely, positively, no doubt SET in their ways, and resistant to change in case it may introduce the possibility of failure. I am amazed at how well Keith walks the rope, while knowing the wet “smack” of a raw fish is coming.
We talked smack, told stories, caused him to laugh over the one where my ex boss at the political consulting firm barfed all over lunch one day, it was a fun time. We were about ready to leave, then the Australian singing girls came to talk. I need to say this right here and now, Sara, I love you, my thoughts did not wander. Actually, my thoughts were very firm. I think these ladies may have, at one time in the past, been men.

Yep. Men. Not that they are hideously unattractive, just unattractive enough that you think, “hmmmmmm, operation or not?”

But, we were curious as to how to possible trans-gender Aussies came to sing lounge in the Taj bar. So asked for the story. Ya know, sometimes you should go with your first instinct, this was one of them. Dull story, should have left and gone to bed instead. J

But we chatted till their boyfriends came down, then for the real shock, the boys who followed these two from Australia? You are gonna love this, they were FEMININE! OMG! Fortunately the bar closed and we beat feet upstairs and to bed.

So all night, fighting with snotty nose, add in a small touch of the Bombay Flu, (the Bombay SAPPHIRE Flu) and I was not good for sleep. About 4am I started the heaves, but no relief. Then at 5, everything cleared out enough I slept well till 8:30. Packed and re-arranged, we are going on an overnight to Fisherman’s Cove since there is no work today, Gandhi’s Birthday. More as it develops, less drinking, more eating.

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