Archive for September, 2007

Mosquito Bite

Friday, September 28th, 2007

 Badminton

I got my first mosquito bite today, not bad going since it has nearly been four weeks here. I haven’t mentioned about the creepy crawlies here … well there aren’t that many really. There is this section by building two where a few of the UK students are living that has: a) lots of bats flying around at night and b) a swarm of dragon flies during the day and night! At first I thought the bats were birds … but after paying closer attention and asking, yes they are definitely bats. They literally fly past you, especially at the cark park next to building two where Jason parks his scooter.

Photo: Played some badminton this evening. One thing I really like is the layout of the lights: they are placed in between courts as opposed to on top of the courts. This makes it easier to smash since you can see the shuttlecock and not be blinded by the light.

Pursuing Happiness

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Multiplex 

We’ve been kept busy past few days. We’ve had two tests, both went fine. Although writing 35 odd programs in 4 days might seem boring, I actually enjoyed the refresher because I learnt it about 2-3 years ago now. One of the lecturers we had the past few days really burnt a lot of calories while presenting slides! He was very eager to answer questions and was passionate about teaching algorithms.

I remember watching a BBC documentary on happiness once. There was one idea presented that a person would be less happy the greater the triangular distances between work, leisure and shelter. Bearing in mind all the greenery and grand shaped buildings here, I guess Infy aim to make their workers here happy and productive. Well, time is flying here and soon I’ll be joining friends back home with the long and expensive commute into London every morning. Good of luck to those of you who are about to start it, hope it isn’t as bad as people say it is!

Photo: The multiplex theatre on campus. There is usually a long line during the weekends when the tickets go on sale.

Mysore Palace

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Mysore Palace During the Day

Last Sunday at the very last moment I decided to tour Mysore with a few friends. We went to Subway (yum, with free wireless Internet too!), Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hill (there where some temples and a big bull statue), Mysore Palace again in the evening and finally to the Parke Lane restaurant to enjoy some live Indian music.

Mysore Palace was truly spectacular. We hired a guide who gave us intricate historic details. He proved his facts along the way by showing us visual examples of everything both inside and outside the palace. It was built by a British architect named Henry back in 1897 after the former wooden palace burnt down for the second time. Henry loved religions and traveled to many far reaches of the earth … and this is all evident with this palace he designed. On the outside one can notice the Arab/Islamic style rounded roofs, at the top a Hindu style monument and inside … oh inside there where just wonders from Europe and beyond including: chandlers from Scotland and Belgium; human figured lamps from Paris, white marble human sculptures from Italy, beautiful pots from China and there used to even be Rolls Royce’ parked in the garage back in 1912.

As for infrastructure: the man hole covers had molded ‘London’ markings to prove the British plumbing installed; British fire prevention pipes have been put around the palace to prevent another fire and there was also a basic but functional electrical lift inside. There were 3D paintings of what Mysore used to look like; cement sculptures that looked different from certain angles and very detailed railings, ceilings, grand doors, stairs, floors, etc. as one would expect in a palace.

I liked the peacock room the most. Apparently, for entertainment there would be lots of live dances and music for the Maharaja and family. It was interesting to note that a 118Kg golden elephant carriage had a red and green light on top that would be controlled by the Maharaja via a remote control!

The Sunday evening illumination was grand: 96,200 bulbs lighted the palace between 7-8pm costing 89,000 Rs (or £1,110) of electricity an hour!

Top photo: The Mysore Palace during the day.
Bottom photo: The Mysore Palace during the night.

Mysore Palace during the night

Rock Climbing

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Wall Climbing 

Highlight of the day was heading into class (yep, on a Saturday!) to finish off some assignments and find about 18 people there too! It’s all good though, it’s handy to be able to help each other.

The funny thing about the rock climbing wall is the stunned Indian faces passing by when someone is climbing. There is an instructor there at all times when the wall is open for climbing. The grounded belay device that is used automatically grips the rope if the climber is pulled by gravity, but at the same time frees the climber when going up. The wall was designed by a top climbing advisor from Mumbai.

In the evening some of us watched the third ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film. It had some good action and special effects but overall wasn’t really that impressive.

Photo: HP climbing on the outdoor wall.

CEO’s Speech

Friday, September 21st, 2007

 Go Karting

The CEO gave a speech today to the Indian, US and UK trainees. He was a very good speaker as one would expect. I was pretty amazed a busy guy like him, effectively making decisions that are affecting over 75,000 employees of the company, even had the time! He talked about how the company started, where it is now, challenges for the future and answered questions put forward to him. The major points I remember was how the appreciating rupee was increasing costs; the possibility of a campus in the US; how Infy are working with about 300 colleges in India to improve standards and also how customer relationships and “emotional intelligence” was important when facing clients.

The evening was fun, HR arranged a night out with the US. The ticket was a bit expensive but I thought it was a good deal in the end with the food and venue. There was also a go karting track nearby. It was a decent track with good karts and only 120 Rs. for 10 laps, that’s like £1.50! It was nice to take some tight high speed corners. I managed to spin into the tyre barrier once though!

Photo: The go karting track. An overtaking maneuver in action too.

Basketball Competition Final

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

 Basketball

Today was good: training was a good refresher in C, went to a club quiz at one of the massive conference rooms (we did pretty badly though!), went climbing on the outdoor wall with HP, watched the campus basketball competition final and also won 200 rupees on a bet that the new Subway isn’t open on campus! It still isn’t. There is at least another week to go before it opens.

Photo: The winning team from tonight’s basketball competition final. There was some live music at the courts and a fair turnout. There were quite a few Americans on the winning side. Actually, as expected, there were a lot of Americans playing in the tournament in general.

First Class Test

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Pool

Everyone I spoke to passed the first class test today. I got an A! But so did most people who did computer science. I think Infy has filtered the hardware concepts useful for industry quite well. I think the computer hardware and architecture course taught at Surrey was good but not as applicable to industry. I guess since Infy knows what industry knowledge is necessary (by being in the industry itself) and is a business relying on it’s intellectual expertise, it has far more of an incentive to teach the core applicable knowledge. In short, the training is good. However, the non-computer scientist graduates amongst us were a bit annoyed with the pace and quantity of information … but most of them passed (some did better than me) so I think the training has been balanced well so far.

So today news reached us of this and this. Quote from the Guardian:

“How did he find British graduates to deal with? Indians, he says diplomatically, tend to be a little more flexible.”

A friend who has been interviewed by the media and has been working hard to represent Infy well was understandably upset and requested an explanation from HR. A few hours later we were addressed by HR that the comments were misquoted surrounding the flexibity of locations. I should think so to be honest. The CEO only spoke to us for a 10 minute video conference on our first day in Mysore and we’ve only been here two and a half weeks! In my view, the very fact we are here in India for 6 months shows we are flexible. Once returning to London some will be likely to travel around Europe/Middle East/Africa and they are looking very forward to the prospect. Who wouldn’t? The chance to gain experience abroad, work on different projects, meet different people is not only beneficial but exciting too.

It was Mark’s birthday. He shared some good chocolate cake (yum!), the later we ate out and some went to High Octane (again!) but I felt tired and got back early. I rode the scooter in the night a bit too. Riding in Bangalore is easier than here in the outskirts of a smaller city. I feel this is because in Bangalore it is busy but predictable; here it is quiet and rather unpredictable with the bumps and the odd car or motorbike going by. Jason’s riding advice is handy too. It’s all good though.

Photo: The swimming pool on campus with the GEC (global education centre) in the background. We are training inside there at the moment.

Onboard a scooter in Bangalore

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Weekend in Bangalore Deux

Monday, September 17th, 2007

 Tea at the Leela

Last Saturday morning we planned to take the train to Bangalore. As we set off at 7.30am in the morning, Jason asked, “Shall we just go with the bike?”, so I replied, “Sure, let’s go!”. And so we did, it took us 3.5 hours!

Once arriving there we met up with his friends Samdu and Hemant (Jason has spent two summers in Bangalore previously). They were really funny and fun to hang out with. Together we went to some malls, coffee shops, the Leela Palace Hotel, a Chinese restaurant with ridiculously great starters (!), more excellent Indian restaurants and also a few places during the evening to chill out while watching some live 20-20 cricket world cup matches which are popular over here.

Since Samdu and Hemant both had scooters, I got to ride around Bangalore. It was pretty fun. Weaving in and out of traffic is comparable to driving in Bangladesh, except the roads are bigger in Bangalore. The driving is very organic. The traffic lights have countdown clocks on them too which is handy.

We got back on Sunday evening. It rained a bit but other than that it was fine riding back. Hats off to Jason for all the stamina driving there and back.

Top photo: At a coffee shop at the Leela Palace Hotel. The passion fruit ice tea was gorgeous. There was free wireless Internet like in the US. That’s Samdu (L) and Hemant (R).

Bottom photo: Jason having fun riding the scooter.

Jason_Bangalore

Park Lane Hotel

Monday, September 17th, 2007

On Friday evening we went to this restaurant at the ‘Park Lane Hotel’ in just near Mysore Palace. The food was quite exquisite, especially the ‘Lamb 90’, a similar dish to the ‘Chicken 65’. It was just so good! Jason had an excellent sense of direction to get us there while a certain road was blocked and through the many one-way roads.

Video: Live music being played at the restaurant. There is another clip on Kevin’s blog too.