Posted in Travel

In Transit…

My blogging seems to have taken a beating with some quick international travel in succession. As I type this, I am in transit again in Amsterdam. What amazes me the most is how busy these transit airports are. I love the excitement (it is a fair assumption that most travelers are happy traveling, except some who could be traveling on account of emergencies) that is in the air here. The cafes, The Gift shops, The Duty Free shops – they all breathe in and breathe out human voices. Add to it, the holiday cheer..! As much as I am down with cold, cough and lack of sleep, these few hours are sure exciting.

I am on my way to Cairo – Lots to see there..and I hope I will be able to do some kind of a travelogue as we travel through the sand dunes and the water ways.

Posted in Travel

Notes from the Road – Part Three

If 8 hours of your time in a day can be well spent in buying ONE computer, then there can be even better ways to spend the remaining 16 hours (as I would learn), when you are visiting family, while on a short semi-business trip, like I am now. There were courtesy calls, family dinner, career counseling for family youth, activation of wireless Internet on the newly bought computer, calling customer care center and in between a few calls from the US from my wife & my colleague, kinda kept me on my toes till about 10:30 PM and then it was time to embark on my mission. A 45 minute drive to my Indian office followed by 6 hours of night shift, were just too exhausting for me – So when I got back home and decided to sleep at 5:30 AM this morning, I realized that I had slept for about 4 hours in the last 48 hours.

Note 11: Time is not so precious in this part of the world – specially if it is not yours. I have to relearn the art of patience and 4 days are not enough to do that. Customer Service has improved a whole lot compared to a decade ago..but the lack of concern for what the other person’s trouble is simply beyond my cerebral processing.

Note 12: The RGIA in Hyderabad is simply stunning (In case you missed one of my earlier notes)..but their advertised free WI-FI inside is not foreigner friendly. You need an Indian mobile no. to activate your free 45 minutes. That’s exactly how much time I had before I had to board my plane – but I spent a good 20 minutes dabbling with different key strokes before giving up. Tata Indicom has got to come up with a better scheme.

Note 13: The Telecom revolution that has happened in India is beyond anyone’s imagination — but when it comes to subscribing to a new service, it is still a pain – I don’t blame the telecom companies but it comes from the very basic clutter that lies in our social system and the Indian way of governance. If that does not make sense, sorry – But you know what I am trying to say…

Note 14: The only difference between getting stuck in a traffic jam in Kukatpally (on the Patancehru Highway) and getting stuck on GST on your way to Adayar from Guindy, is that the former gives the vehicles thousands of “false” creative options to explore and the latter does not. The Kukatpally stretch of the highway in Hyderabad is pretty wide and has lot of dirt/sand/rocks on the shoulders..and there is still a good chunk of that is not utilized. This makes drivers think that they can get out of the traffic jam by maneuvering through the maze whereas the reality is that whenever someone tries to do that, he/she creates more problems and more pollution. On GST though, if you are stuck, you are stuck. You have hardly any room to move. You are better off listening to Suryan FM or Aaha 91.9 FM! At least, the pollution level is not that bad..

Note 15: Cricket clearly seems to have slipped down the priority rung in my life specially when it comes to following International Cricket scene. Imagine, I am in Chennai and tomorrow is the second day of the Fist test match between India and England & I have no interest in stopping by for a couple of hours (even though I have that time before I board my flight to Mumbai in the evening).

The list may grow.

Footnote: AR Rahman gets his first Golden Globe Nomination for SdM – Hurray!

Posted in Travel

Notes from the Road – Part Two

As my travel continues, I was up at 4:30 AM this morning (Indian Time), pretty excited about the travel ahead.
As I got to the Chennai airport, with a very mild drizzle on my way, I was reminded of how beautiful Tropical rain can be (even though driving through Anna Salai is nowhere close to being near the Western Ghats), This weather was just my kind!

Note 6: Indian Domestic airlines are the best form of any kind of domestic airlines..You can take it from me! Even for a forty five minute flight, there were two beverage servings (fresh fruit juices) and a snack box which included a small sandwich, yogurt and some mousse like dessert.

Note 7: The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad blew my mind. Absolutely stunning for Indian airport standards – and I actually would like to drive in and out of the airport several times to see the lush green pathways.

Note 8: The “Radio Cab” driver who brought me from the airport was having a time of his life as he got to drive at 120 Km/hour on a road that was empty by Indian traffic standards..and with a suspicious looking guy like me who wouldn’t strangle him by his neck and ask him to slow down. To add to it, every time he made a swerve to the left or to the right to avoid a pothole, his cell phone would invariably ring & the poor guy had to attend the call with one hand, while he carefully avoided a collision either with a pedestrian or a massive truck that was driven by a driver who does not believe in driving on the left side of the road. So as you can imagine, I had the time of my life too!

Note 9: If you are thinking of buying a computer (read it as desktop) in India specially Hyderabad – give yourself a day..I can’t get into the details but it is enough to say that if you want to get a good price you have to put up a brave face & starve, as you patiently maneuver through the labyrinths of computer spare parts shops and restlessly wait for the service guy to come to an agreement with you while he attends 100 other customers who came after you..all in the middle of a perfect conversation with you..(and you are sort of like — What did I do wrong?)

Note 10: Indian cuisine is so varied and so colorful…The get together I had a with bunch of well-wishers was well attended – The only sour point being that we actually started eating at the time when we were all supposed to disperse, as per my original plan. I know they didn’t mean it – But still an odd feeling to just let go off 2.5 hours of your planned activities for an evening for no fault of yours…

The list continues…

Posted in Travel

Notes from the Road – Part One

Yes, as I gathered enough muster to book my tickets for a trip to India at 11 AM for my travel at 6 PM, out of no real emergency but just to prove it to myself that the trip which was almost in jeopardy even after spending $700 extra bucks in making some last minute changes, due to some inefficient administration at the Egyptian consulate, could still be salvaged.
So, here I am – In Chennai — on an unusually cool day (cool for Chennai scale – 23 degree Celsius at 6 AM)..

Note 1: Coach class should be banned or all aircrafts should redesign their coach class..and give at least one extra foot of leg room. And by the way, no 3 seaters..or 4 seaters..or 5 seaters for a row..Stick to 2. It feels like a cattle herd when you are so close to your neighbor exhaling his morning breath on you..(or whatever time it is)..

Note 2: International cell phone service providers should make international roaming more reasonable/cheaper and more available. They have the technology to do that already..If this is not the time to do it, then when? It is certainly better than your customer throwing your SIM away and plugging a locally bought cheap SIM ..

Note 3: We have too many people doing not much work at our airports..If their energy is converted to something more productive, like cleaning the toilets or finishing up those yet to be completed repair work, then we can make the airports look better – They are already being paid anyways..

Note 4: Standing in Line is a necessity when you are receiving any kind of service, even if you are paying for it. You can’t just elbow your way in and stay pretending that it is natural..Actually, I will correct myself – they don’t pretend, it is natural for many. Be it, standing in a line to get boarding passes or trying to board an airport shuttle or deplaning..

Note 5: In my one hour research on good-eats in Chennai, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the city has so many choices..and in this trip, 2 eating out experiences I have may not be enough to do justice to that list!

Well this list may grow..!

Posted in AR Rahman

Fade out..

It is a tragedy of another sorts.

Mr. Sridhar, India’s leading Sound Engineer and a humble human being passed away today – Quite untimely for a 50 year old. He was a genius and I have had the honor of exchanging pleasantries with him & also looking at him in close quarters, when he was setting up the systems for ARR’s concerts, a couple of times. He is definitely a rare human being with utmost humility hiding all the talent he possessed inside.

May his family derive the strength they need to accept this loss. And Indian music industry will surely have to live with a “hollow” for a long time!

Sir, we will miss you and it will take a long time for me to come out of this shock! Why did you “fade out” so early?