This will be the last post. Hope the following information helps anyone deciding to work/travel in India. Thanks for reading.
Job Opportunities: Infosys definitely offered this. Not only is this for the IT training and the great facilities in Mysore, but also for being able to meet all the Indians, Brits and Americans. A student from Surrey also got in contact with me a few months back, he will be working for an Indian engineering company for his placement year.
Traveling: Without doubt, India is a great place to go traveling, mainly because of the low expenses and has so much culture. Being located just near South-East Asia also opens up travel destinations.
Scooters & Motorcycles: Most people would be petrified about driving in India, understandably so (YouTube). But if you start slow on a scooter and have a few years driving experience, it really isn’t that bad. Granted, the road conditions aren’t great with the unmarked bumps, cows, pot holes, black cows, the odd dangerous lorry driver and the almost impossible to see black cow at night; but there are plenty of people driving along as part of their daily routine in the organic, slow, chaotic traffic. Personally I’m really going to miss flooring Andrew’s Apache going up Chamudi hill. He never minded me revving it, and would say “Knock yourself out!”. The closest I got to crashing was to a black cow at night in a dimly lit road in Mysore. As it was crossing the road at right angles to me driving towards it, I was too late too countersteer around it (anything with two wheels countersteers: Wikipedia, YouTube 1, YouTube 2) … but luckily the cow turned it’s head and I missed it by a whisker! It wouldn’t have been that bad anyway, I was only going about 15mph and I had my helmet on. But please note: avoid driving at night down dark roads, and if you do, make sure you know where the pot holes are in the dark (you can get used to it after a while).
Food: The delicious food! Most of my Indian colleagues find battered fish and chips at work so bland, and rightely so when one compares it to Chicken 65, Butter Chicken, Mangalore Prawns or a mouth watering Hyderabadi Biryani.
Weather: We really couldn’t complain about the weather. Very sunny and warm, it was perfect conditions to head out and scooter around. Part of me wants to put this bullet point in the worst section because it got too hot sometimes and I really hated the feeling of being dehydrated– it has definitely made me appreciate playing football in the warm rain the other day.
Delhi Belly & Malnutrition: It did take some time for everyone’s digestive system to “adjust”. It wasn’t so bad I had to go to hospital but it was an annoyance. I really missed having a nice cold glass of milk there too, not as prevalent as it is here in the West.
Dust, Dirt & Public Infrastructure. One thing that was visible was all the dirt on my clothes from the smog of the Bangalore traffic after being out of an hour or so. What was worse is the thickness of the air that you can feel at rush hour traffic. I’d advise buying a face mask.
Internet Access: It is really annoying when one is unable to stay in touch over the internet which can be a challenge sometimes. I’d recommend buying a USB stick that can access high speed Internet over the mobile network as soon as you arrive.
& 5. I can’t really think of anything else, it really wasn’t that bad.
I’ve been back for two months now working in Macclesfield. It is a quant town in the North of England. I’ve luckily moved in with some nice roommates. The project at work is definitely challenging and my workmates are very hardworking, there is an air of motivation in the office. I recently went to the peak district nearby with James and took some pictures.
My sister Yasmin was in town so we stopped off here on our way back to India. I didn’t expect much from Singapore, but it is a fascinating little country. I read this 4.5 million populated island is a tourist friendly destination which attracts 10 million tourists a year (compared to India’s 5 million) and has heavy fines for petty crimes like littering, spitting on the street or being drunk in public.
However I didn’t know how very capitalistic the country is. The lazy don’t survive here. Students are closely monitored and any slip in performance means they can only work in skilled labor rather than pursuing higher education. This has produced a very developed city (the most developed I’ve ever been to) with intellectual based industries at the forefront of the economy.
Our main aim to hit the beach in Sentosa island. We met up with a few relatives and KT Tunstall was also in town, the gig which was decent. It was noticeable to see the number of ex-pats at the concert who I assume must live and work in Singapore.
Next stop was Hong Kong. The main aim was “To get high in Macau. 100% natural high!” – this was is marketing slogan used by the bungy jumping company AJ Hackett who operate the world highest bungee jump (at 233 metres) on top of Macau Tower, and hour ferry from mainland Hong Kong. We paid for three jumps, the first at full price and the next two half price. The fourth jump was free!
Hong Kong itself was a great city: bustling, neon lights everywhere, tall buildings, large street TV screens at every other turn and a very reasonable but contemporary underground system that even has mobile phone reception. The local people we met were very nice. For example, Andrew and I went into a sushi restaurant and within seconds we met two locala who about 15 minutes later insisted on buying us some ‘meat fish balls’ from a street vendor.
Andrew & I decided to go on a trip to the Far East. First stop was Bangkok. The main aim was to pet tigers. We also ended up seeing temples, a floating market, held snakes and watched Thai boxing bouts.
I was in Pune for a week meeting the offshore team. Pune is really hot and dry. The average midday temperature was at least 35 degrees Celsius while there. The city is laid back compared to Mumbai, which is about three hours drive away.
I didn’t stay long in Chandigarh. The SAP training was intensive and weekends away made time fly by. For all the facilities the site didn’t have compared to Mysore, it definitely made up for with the Indian batch I worked with. They were upbeat, hardworking and generally very well natured.
There were enough little organized events too. There was a singing competition one evening, a few birthday parties another (with the ritual of cake cream going all over the face and rather painfull birthday kicks) and also an ‘ethnic day’ where everyone wore their state’s formal dress which was a nice change from office wear.
Chandigarh itself is a pretty good city, even by western standards. The local cinema is decent and there are plenty of places to dine and easy to get to using an auto rickshaw.
Chetan’s birthday. Yep, this is what
happens to the birthday boy/girl!
Ethnic day evening
Yep, even I didn’t escape the ‘cake on face’
ritual for an early birthday/farewell party!
Said to be made of 750 Kg of gold, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is the beating heart of Sikhism. We had to take off our shoes and step through a puddle of streaming clean water and cover our hair before entering.
The clear blues skies on the day gave the temple a gorgeous reflection in the water that surrounds it. We went inside after waiting in a patient queue and observed the singing and rhythmic beats of prayers. It made me wonder how music must be linked in with religion through our evolutionary past if one considers how main stream religions and tribes use music today, if not at least rhythm, in their prayers.
Side view of the golden temple
Front view of the golden temple
Queue at the entrance
We had a free lunch there too. Donations allow food to be bought and followers to perform a selflessly free duty to feed anyone, even the poor. The dahl & rotti (lentils and flat bread) was quite tasty and filled me up.
Afterwards we went to Waga border. Here, everyday, a ceremonial lifting and bringing down the of Indian and Pakistani flags occurs right at the very border, only meters apart from each other. Surrounded by a large seating area on both sides, the crowds patriotically cheer on their nation. Tall soldiers perform with the utmost esprit de corps and lift their legs as high as their chests.
Soldiers at the border
Crowds at the evening ceremony
For dinner our taxi driver recommended a Punjabi museum/restaurant/entertainment show place that was on the road between Amritsar and Chandigarh. As we walked in a Panjabi drummer wearing a full dress was beating a loud drum that hung from his neck while a dancer spun and showed off a few moves. Inside there were clay model depicting the old village life of Punjabis, a camel ride, a Punjabi pottery maker, a Punjabi puppet show and also some live Punjabi dancers (see the video below). Bhangra music is very lively and has fantastic beats. The place was educational and entertaining at the same time. The restaurant inside served a full Punjabi village meal. The dahl, rotti, aloo rotti, paneer masala, and other items made it the best vegetarian meal I’ve had in India.
So, the big one. The Mughal beauty definitely lived up to expectations.
We aimed to get there at sunrise but due to security restrictions we had to leave our bags at a hotel. We ended up having breakfast and catching up. Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of westerners who also paid the 750 Rs ‘non-Indian national’ charge. The extra 730 Rs does buy you a bottle of water and shoe covers for walking inside the Taj though.
Upon entering the main gate the monument is a pretty spectacular view with the sunlight reflecting off the marble surface. It was fun seeing so many poses in action, including this one yoga student from Australia who posed while standing on her hands with the Taj in the background.
We hired a guide who told us all sorts of facts. The Taj Mahal (“Crown of the Palace”) was built for an emperor’s favorite wife after her death. They had 14 children together. The Taj is crowned with a brass finial several stories high and the towering minarets stand two degrees away from the main building, just incase they ever fall. Up-close the there was plenty of detailed Arabic writing, marble carvings and marble inlays.
It was nice to catch up with the gang, especially those who all traveled all the way from southern India.
I’ve been posted to Chandigarh DC for a while. A flight, a four hour train journey and three taxis later I arrived at Chandigarh, a city in the Northern India state of Punjab. I’m currently undertaking business specific training.