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Category Archives: India Trip

I’ve decorated my office with the souvenirs I got from India!

2013-03-12 07.11.13

2013-03-12 07.11.54

Now that I’ve had some time to process all my pics, I’ve created an online location where you can see them all.

I’m still working on getting them added, so check often.  :)

Sunday 3-10-13

So 16 very long hours later we land in Newark. Whereupon we go through customs and border patrol, then baggage pickup, and then baggage drop off (that’s right, even though the bags are tagged with their destination I had to pick them up and re check them). And yes, you guessed it, I had to go through security again!!!

Now I have a 4 hour wait for the last flight to Indy, which I’m sure will be a lane too small for my carry on bags.

Well, flight is delayed by 20 minutes, I am sooo homesick.

The pilot got us in on time and Dawn and the kids were waiting for me at the airport. Home sweet home!

Saturday 3-9-13

I slept in late and then went for breakfast. I tried to print my tickets but something was wrong and they said I needed to get them at the airport. So, I arranged for a late check out of 4 pm and went back to the room to pack and sleep and watch tv and read and play som iPad games.

I went for a late lunch at the panasian place. It was pretty good but way too expensive. Finally I called down for a bellboy to take my bags and I went down to wait for the driver in the lounge.

He arrived about 15 minutes early and we got to the airport in 45 minutes, about 5:40 pm or so. With 5 hours to kill, I decided to get my tix and go through security only to find out the United counters don’t open until 7pm!

I finally got my boarding pass and the. Had to go through some sort of passport check, then through security. I was asked to be at the gate at 8:30, so I hoofed it down there, but another flight was leaving so I rested and waited again. Finally, they opened the gate for United only to find out they have another security check!

Thursday 3-7-13

I got up early to join another IBMer on a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra. We left at 7:30am as it takes 3-4 hours to get there. But as it turned out, this time we were taking the brand new Yamuna Expressway, built especially for the trip from Delhi to Agra. It also goes by the new F-1 racing facility in India. There was practically no one else on the road and we were soon traveling a swift 90km/hr to Agra…still took 3 hours. :)

The first building we saw in Agra was the Red Fort (there is one in Delhi as well – built by the same guy – but I’ll get to that in the next update). It’s called the Red Fort for the obvious reason that it’s built out of red clay bricks and so…is quite red. And quite old.

Then we got to the Taj Mahal where we had to switch to another vehicle (electric as no gas engines allowed near the Taj Mahal) and another guide (apparently the Taj Mahal falls under the auspices of the United Nations since it’s one of the 7 Wonders of the World, only UN sanctioned tour guides are allowed).


According to the official story Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor of India (apparently he may not have been a Mughal) had married for the third time (he 47 and she 17) to a beautiful Persian woman Mumtaz Mahal, because his first two wives had bared him no children. As a Muslim he is allowed four wives as long as he takes care of them for the rest of their lives.

Mumtaz had 14 children and six lived to adulthood including four boys and two girls. On her death bed after delivering the 14th child, he professed his love to her and she said “prove it”. She had him make three promises. One, do not marry again. Two, build something lasting to show his love and three…I forget. Doh! Can’t find it on wikipedia either. Oh well, maybe Mark will remember.

There is a LOT to learn at this place and not the least is how the marble was made and how the gems were inlaid in it. All the color and art on the building is made from precious and semi-precious stones, inlaid in the marble! It’s incredibly detailed and manual process. We stopped at a marble place where the descendants of the original workers work and they make beautiful pieces. The marble is at once non-porous and very dense and also translucent! They actually put a light behind it and the marble glows! Here is a chess board I really wanted to buy…but it was $3,000!


After the visit to the marble place, we went to a restaurant in Agra and I finally found my yellow curry dish! It was kind of greenish yellow, but it was great! Mark was not too interested in expanding his horizons and so only had a bowl of soup. He did try it and thought it was too spicy. I think he liked the buttered Naan though…that stuff is like crack to me. Great meal!

We headed back to Delhi and as we went through Agra, there were a LOT of cows on the road…in fact, we saw one in the back of a cart, it must have been dead. Not sure what they do with the dead cows in India. I’ll have to ask somebody.

It was a long day and I slept like a rock, but we had more to see of Delhi starting at 10am on Friday!

Wednesday 3-6-13

Due to some strange planning on my part (or on the travel agents part I think) I had an 8:30 am flight to Delhi. But because of traffic in Chennai, I had to get up at 4:30 in order to be ready for a 5:30 pickup so I’d be at the airport in plenty of time for my flight.

The hotel had set aside a large box of breakfast items for me (the muffins were still warm). I’m certain they do think I’m the IBM liason for the Taj hotels! I got to the airport in plenty of time and worked my way through security (much easier in India) and then tried to nap a little. I didn’t have much luck, so walked around (it’s a very small airport) until it was time to board. The flight was 2 hours and they served a breakfast on board (I don’t even think US planes do that anymore).

After landing, my bags were pretty fast on the carousel and I quickly found my ride to the Sheraton. I ordered up some room service and logged on to finish up some work.


That night I had dinner at the restaurant and an Asian couple sang love songs. They were very good but I was the only one clapping. I think they were singing to me.

It’s off to Agra in the morning to visit the Taj Mahal!

Tuesday 3-5-13

I went in early today to meet with some folks who didn’t have a chance to talk with me yesterday. Once that was done, the Chennai team took me out to lunch to a place called BBQ nation. Basically they have a square hole in the middel of the table where they drop in a grill filled with hot coals and then you cook Kabobs of meat, vegatables, and fruit. The food was fantastic. Then Hema and the team presented me with a very thoughtful gift that I will proudly hang on my wall with my other souvenirs from India. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to the Chennai team.


Meenak and Navin then took me to a clothing store where I bought a traditional Indian outfit…I’ll post pictures as soon as I wear it back home. Then, Meenak took me back to the hotel where I finished my day and got everything ready for a very early flight in the morning to Delhi.

Monday 3-4-13

Today was a work day. I had meetings with the PMs and got some feedback. We talked about their projects and any issues they were having. Also, Meenak, Vamsi and Soukarya came over from Bangalore so we talked more about projects. I also got to meet several of the delivery managers. It was a good and productive day.

At lunch we went to a Pizza Hut! I think the pizza here is better than we than one at home. It wasn’t as greasy as PH usually is. I had the spicy chicken. It wasn’t spicy at all. It was good though.

That night I got back to the hotel and logged on to do some reporting work. Because of some limitations at the office, it’s easier for me to run reports from the hotel WiFi.

I had dinner in the main restaurant. I started with some Thai spring rolls with a sweet and very spicy hot sauce. They were fantastic. Then I had a spicy tomato sauce with spaghetti. Also very good.

No pics from today. But tomorrow I should get pics with everyone and we will be going to a BBQ place. I’m starting to sound like a food blog. :)

Oh, and this was waiting in my room. :)


Sunday 3-3-12

I spent the morning with a mild relapse, so I took the medicine the travel place gave me and voila…all better. Pradeep M and Hema both called to check on me, and we decided to try some more site seeing around 4pm, after the heat of the day had passed. I watched some TV, checked some email, and took a nap around 1pm. At 4pm I was ready to go!

Pradeep M showed up with Kumaran, a PM that I used to work with when I just took over Program Management from Marty Shellhammer. Kumaran has moved off the account but wanted to see me and volunteered to show me around with Pradeep. We went back to the Shiva temple because there are several stores there that we didn’t stop at on Saturday. I bought several more souvenirs and Kumaran bought me a tie! I don’t often wear ties, but I promised to wear it when I go downtown Indy to meet Bruce next week. :)

We then went to the Cathedral of St. Thomas here in Chennai. I was amazed to learn, that St. Thomas is actually buried here and this is only one of three church’s built on the tomb of an apostle. The other two are St. Peter in Rome and St. James in Spain. I took a lot of pictures but not with my iPhone so, you’ll have to wait until/if I upload them to FB or something. :)

We then went to a botanical gardens near the US Embassy. It was evening and the shots look very dramatic to me. Again, not iPhone. Sorry. We finished up the evening at a South Indian restaurant where they ordered some food for me. I don’t think they were too hungry as they eat much later in the evening, around 10pm or later. But I had not had anything since breakfast so I was hungry. We had a great meal, and Kumaran and Pradeep were wonderful hosts, I thank them so much for taking time out of their weekend. It means a lot! Here are some pics of the dinner.




Pradeep is on the left and Kumaran on the right. The green leaves on the plates are from a banana tree, I think, at either rate, I learned that they use almost every bit of the banana tree for food and now the bark for clothing. They serve their food on the leaves. Kumaran explained that they use their hand to eat with because it’s easier to gather up the gravy and rice with the bread. The naan was delicious, as good as any I’ve had here.

I got home and watched a little TV (Johnny English sequel…which I enjoyed very much) but couldn’t keep my eyes opened through the very end and just fell asleep. It was a good day! :)

Saturday 3-2-13

Today I got up early to take a tour of some local (and some far away) places. Hema and Pradeep M met me at the hotel with a driver at 8:30 am. Our first stop was Kapaleshwai temple in Mylapore. I didn’t take a lot of pictures here because I wasn’t sure what would be ok. I only saw a couple of non-Indian people and there were rules for non-Hindus as well. Basically there is a central temple that worshipers enter for Lord Shiva and another for his wife.

Surrounding those temples are smaller temples for Lord Shivas family, brother, mother and father. There may have been more. Either way, I probably should not have worn my “I didn’t do it” T-shirt, because clearly I offended one or all of the family. Probably when I tried to enter the temple that is restricted to Hindus only. Here’s the one picture I got, it’s not my best effort. It’s actually a picture of the gate house. Check the link above for more pics.


After that we dropped Hema off and Pradeep J joined us for a trip to a reenactment (like Conner Prairie or Colonial Williamsburg) park. Unfortunately what I thought the name of it was incorrect so I don’t know what it’s called right now. Anyway, this place has buildings and crafts from all the different Indian Provinces and also from different time periods.

Some interesting things about India that I’ve learned (some of this was over the past week but I thought I should write down all that I remember somewhere!

  • Each state in India has their own language on top of Hindi and English
  • Historically, Indians would build a house with a veranda (porch) that anyone could use. It was like a public resting place.
  • Entryways to homes were built low so that a person had to bow in order to enter the home. It was a way to force politeness, in a nice way.
  • Family is very sacred in India. Leaving home after college is not as frequent as in US.
  • The people who become spiritual leaders and who operate the temples do not choose their role. They are born into it.
  • Local municipalities treat their citizens better than those from outside the state. In fact, if I understand it correctly, you are always a member of a particular state and just because you move does not mean you change your state “nationality”. An example would be, you don’t become a Hoosier unless you were born in Indiana.
  • While there, I bought a few more souvenirs for me and others. Here are a couple of pictures of some buildings and statues I saw at the reenactment place.





    Then Shiva’s revenge hit me. It was hot that day, and you can sort of see the red from sunburn starting. In Chennai it was 90+ degrees and humid. I’d been sweating profusely all day, but really bad in this place. And I had some very uncomfortable moments, I can tell the curious more later, but suffice to say, we decided to call it quits for the day.

    Once I got back to the hotel and had a shower and a nap, I felt much better. I decided to have dinner and then go to the reception on the roof. Dinner was horrible…I should have known better. I saw they had a rib eye steak so I took a chance. It was pretty terrible, I only ate about half, if that. The chef came out to ask me questions about what specifically I didn’t like. He was very nice, and said he wanted to learn how to make the preparation better. Basically, I found out he grilled it a little and then put it in the oven to bake, in all the grease. I told him I’d prefer it grilled all the way and not to sit in the grease. I’m going to try the Indian restaurant soon and see if it is on par with the West End in Bangalore.

    I then went to the roof reception and met with the head of housekeeping and we talked about her travels. She told me how bad conditions were in Russia and that she could not wait to get back home when she was there. Then the general manager stopped by and I had a nice chat with him. Finally, I struck up a conversation with another guest. He was from the UK originally, but is living in Hong Kong permanently. He works for an engineering company and they are here to help with the train project. All over India more and more light rail is being built for commuting due to the traffic issues. He’s got a big job!


    I finished the night early trying to get logged on to work. For some reason the WiFi at this hotel is not talking nice with the AT&T and IBM VPNs. I’m not looking forward to getting my work done on Monday without better WiFi.

    Anyway, I fell asleep early…