Brindavan gardens

October 8th, 2007

Last Tuesday is it was a national holiday as it was Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. We decided to explore more around Mysore.

As we drove to the Brindavan gardens (19km NW from Mysore), we saw the Krishna Raja Sagar dam:

Andrew with the Dam in the background
Andrew with the Dam in the background

Other side of the dam
Other side of the dam, the water
pouring down the Kaveri River

We then arrived at the Brindavan gardens. It was a nice garden with a mansion that was left by the British which is now a hotel.

 Brindavan Gardens
Brindavan Gardens

The mansion
Outside view of the mansion

The dining hall
The dining hall

Chandelier
The chandelier in the dining hall. It’s got that
beautiful 20th Century touch to it.

There was a lightshow in the evening, but we didn’t stay that long. On the way back it rained and there were hundreds of moths in the air which we drove into, mainly near the dam. There were about five on me once back at the campus. It was okay though, they were harmless.

Yum for less

October 8th, 2007

It is so great to hop on a scooter, go to the nearest recommended restaurant and eat without worrying about the bill. Dining really is one of the best experiences so far. The other night we had a ‘sizzling chicken’ for 71p!

Desert
Andrew and Jason enjoying some desert
at this random restaurant we found on
the way to the Brindavan gardens

Floating petals
Some pretty floating petals

Weekend in Ooty & Coonoor

October 8th, 2007

Two weekends ago we set off Saturday 5am and headed for Ooty. It was a bumpy ride there since there roads were scattered with pot holes, so we were grateful for the suspension the 4 x 4 taxi had. Our first stop was at the Bandipur National Park. The 300 Rs bus ride was disappointing. We only saw some peacocks, dears and a few elephants running away. Next stop was Ooty, but we detoured and went via Payakara where there was a lake and waterfalls which were both quite pretty.

Payakara Lake
Boating the Payakara Lake

Payakara Waterfalls 
The Payakara Waterfalls

The uphill roads to Ooty offered very scenic views. At certain times we were above the clouds. Our car was so close to the edge it was a bit scary for those sitting on the side.

Roadside break
Taking a break during the
long drive up to Ooty

We went to the ‘Botanical Gardens’ too, it was good but nothing really impressive.

The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens

Ooty is 7,440 feet above sea level, so it was pretty cold in the evening and morning. I completely forgot to bring more than one layer. But it was fine. It got down to about 10 Degree C at the lowest. Our stay overnight was lush: three rooms with a dining room and living room. Each room had a TV and separate bathroom. All for £4.85 each.

Sunday morning we took a scenic train ride to Coonoor.

Train Platform
People waiting on the platform

Enjoying the ride!
Enjoying the ride!

Scenic view while on the train
A scenic view while on the train

After that, we went to a tea factory to see how tea is processed right from picking the leaves to packing the granules. There was a variety of tea on sale too including ‘Masala Tea’, believe it or not! That had a strong scent of ginger to it.

Singara Tea Garden
Singara Tea Garden

We later went to several viewpoints including one called ‘Dolphin’s Nose’. I can’t figure out why it is called that. It had a waterfall running through the middle of it though.

Dolphin’s Nose Viewpoint
Dolphin’s Nose Viewpoint

Finally we headed back to Mysore. We stopped at the Bandipur National Park again to see if we could ride some elephants. We were in luck, they were available. It was interesting to note the driver push his legs onto the elephant’s ears to direct it. He also used a cane a few times, though I hope it didn’t hurt the animal. Elephants have very tough skin so hopefully not.

Riding Elephants
Riding Elephants

Busy, intensive, slightly sleepless too …

October 8th, 2007

GEC
Stairs leading up to the
GEC (Global Education Centre)

Last week was pretty intensive due to a team project assignment and a class test. Some memorable analogies include, “It’s like being in finals week!”, and regarding the information intake, “It’s like drinking water out of a fire hosepipe!”. Both the test and the project went fine. This week should not be as hectic. We have moved onto learning about databases.

Mosquito Bite

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

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

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

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

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

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.