Archive for January, 2008

Best and Worst Transportation

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

J2EE training has finally drawn to a close. The last few sessions included some soft skill training and observing Infoscions in production. I think the 7.30pm teleconference I shadowed with a US client on a Friday evening shows how hard people work here.

Jason and Andrew have been placed in Chennai. Too late to book a flight on Friday evening, I caught an overnight train to Chennai (460 Km away) to see them. I originally wanted to buy an overnight sleeper seat, but since the train was fully booked, I ended up traveling third class all the way for £1.45! This included sleeping on the floor for a few hours. I really didn’t mind it; I predicated it would happen. I got to experience what it is like to travel third class: a lot of poor people crammed into a fully booked train; the angry ticket officer checking for tickets; the poorest people without tickets crying and pleading for forgiveness; poor people sleeping rough and utalising newspaper as bed sheets; the scenic misty morning view of the country and finally the slums next to the railway as we entered the heart of Chennai.

Train
Typical express trains that run
between Mysore and Chennai

Chennai itself was a good city. The development centre (DC) was quite pretty like in Mysore but appeared tiny, though it wasn’t tiny, the Mysore campus is just a monster in comparison. The food court was air conditioned and the rooms were just like those in Mysore except they included wireless internet and a small fridge. In the evening we went out to an excellent Thai restaurant, easily £50 a head in London. There are also many bakeries, with deserts just like in Germany. They were surprisingly cheap too, without compromising on quality. We also went to Marina Beach. It was nice to have a stroll down the beach, but unfortunately the sand was heavily polluted with plastics and paper ice-cream wrappers.

ChennaiDC
Basketball & Volley Ball
courts at Chennai DC

AfternoonSun
Afternoon sun barely visible due
to the pollution in Chennai

RepublicDay
It was republic day, hence
the artwork at the entrance

I took a flight back to Bangalore for £36.77 and experienced the best flight available, and it truly is the best flight I’ve taken. Firstly, the bus carrying us to the aircraft had leather seats and flat TV screens for advertisement. At 55min, I didn’t expect any food on board, but they served up a really nice ‘Singapore stir fried chicken with black bean & celery’ with a chocolate truffle cake as desert. It was immaculately presented with metal cutlery. They played Tom & Jerry on TV. The air hostesses were pretty attractive too! The flight safety, take-off and landing instructions were given through the TV screens by this model looking presenter (link).

In Bangalore I got to catch up with a few friends. I met a friend of a friend who is currently working night shifts for a US accountancy firm, from 7pm till 4am in the morning. Real-time communication is so imperative that work has to be conducted live. Even with all the western negative press of ‘back office operations’ in Bangalore, he really enjoys the job and the experience in the finance sector. I don’t think it’s that bad either: young Indians gaining knowledge in western white collar jobs and working with colleagues half a world away. I recently said goodbye to a friend working for a major client in Seattle. He worked for them off-shore for a while and is now over there working on-site. That is great to see, that today, young bright open minded people here have opportunities to earn jobs, live in enticing Western cities and become professionals just like aspiring yuppies back home.

Mangalore Prawns
Sambu and some delicious
‘Mangalore Prawns’

Hemant in Bagalore
Hemant in Bangalore

Xmas & New Year’s

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Happy new year everyone! Hope you are having a great start to 2008!

Due to exams it wasn’t possible to go anywhere far for Xmas or New Year’s, but I definitely enjoyed them both in Bangalore. We stayed at the dazzling Leela Palace both times. For Xmas I took a bog-standard 75 Rs. (£1) 3.5 hour bus from Mysore to Bangalore. It was fine really, just a bit noisy. Once meeting up with Andrew, Jason, Sambu and Hemant we toured around Bangalore in a nice chauffer driven Leela owned saloon. We also went to a packed Forum mall and had nice Thai massages too.

Xmas Forum Mall
Shambu & Jason at
the Forum Mall

Our chauffeur
Our chauffeur

For New Year’s we arrived by train and there was plenty going on at the Leela again. On New Year’s day we went paintballing which was great fun but exhausting due to the heat. It was an hour out of the city in where we saw plenty of software company buildings such as those of IBM, Accenture, Oracle and Intel. Accenture’s building actually has a helicopter landing!

Andrew on the train to Bangalore
Andrew on the
train to Bangalore

Overstaffed?
Overstaffed?

Topless Lamborghini
Another nice car at the Leela Palace.
This time a topless Lamborghini.

Paintballing
Paintballing

Johnny gets serious
Johnny getting serious

Training Update

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Due to training winding up in the J2EE stream we’ve not really had a chance to go traveling anywhere far. We’ve been learning about threads, RMI, JSP, advance JDBC and more. During weekends we’ve had time to enjoy Mysore. There are good places to eat, nice scenic hills to motorbike up, play Virtual Tennis on the PlayStation 3 on big LCD screens for 50 Rs. an hour, get clothes tailor made and make most of the facilities on campus.

Origami Building
A groovy software development building on campus,
known as the “Origami Building”. Click to Enlarge.

Local Dam

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Thanks to Google maps, Jason found this dam nearby that was completely deserted. The route to the dam was really scenic, especially with the green/golden/sun burnt rice fields. Once arriving there I was a bit apprehensive to swim. Eventually I did, it was fresh water after all, and the massage from the waterfall was quite refreshing.

The Dam
The Dam

Enjoying a good water pounding shoulder massage!
Enjoying a good water pounding
shoulder massage!