Saturday, January 23, 2010

India Wed and Thurs

Ok, so this is first time that I have had time to write in my blog since Tuesday. Here is what happened……
Wednesday India
Not too much going on, still the same traffic. I have been trying to get a picture of a family of 4 on a motorcycle but I have only recently seen 3 at time.
Tonight we went to an Italian restaurant that was open air near the beach. You could not see the beach from where we were but if you walked down the driveway to the road you could see it. In India people go to the beach but they don’t swim or wear bathing suits. So there is really nothing on the beach, no surf shops, no condos no boardwalk. Just a beach, its kind of nice. But there is the litter, but that seems to be all over Chennai. The food was very good I got lemon chicken in butter and if I could have had seconds I would have.

Thurday India
We go finished early (2pm) So the driver who has been taking us to and from the office all week took us on a sight seeing journey. We went to Pancha Rathas its basically one large rock cut it small temples. This was amazing! Then we went to Mahabalpuram there we saw
• Thirukadalmallai, the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was also built by Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean. It is told that after building this temple, the remaining architecture was preserved and was not corroded by sea.
• Krishna's butter ball - a balancing rock
• Arjuna's Penance - relief sculpture on a massive scale extolling an episode from the Hindu epic, The Mahabharata.
• Varaha Cave Temple - a small rock-cut temple dating back to the 7th century.
• The Shore Temple - a structural temple along the Bay of Bengal with the entrance from the western side away from the sea. Recent excavations have revealed new structures here. The temple was reconstructed stone by stone from the sea after being washed away in a cyclone.

There are a bunch of people that are trying to sell you crap. Things carved out of stone, jeweler, silks and guide books. And of course they see us coming from a mile away, they try every sales tactic from being aggressive or trying to be your friend ,not giving up after you say no, having a starving baby in one arm, being a tiny man or missing a limb. I had no money on me so I couldn’t get anything If I wanted too.

On the way back we stopped at some other places….. Ok on the way back I didn’t realize we were taking all these detours. First we stopped at this store the driver said to wait here. He ran in and talked to someone then came back out. Alrightly. Then we drove back to Chennai it was about a 1 hour drive so it was dark once we got back to the city. We pull into this run down hotel and drove to the back parking lot. We have no idea where we are and the driver says get out. Ummmm yeah, so we get out, he asks if we want coffee we said no. Then we have a restroom break. Thank God I only had to pee I didn’t want to touch anything in this bathroom. There was a bucket of water on the floor that water from a spicket was dripping to. I assumed this was for flushing since the tank of the toilet had no top and no water in it, I did not flush. Then we start walking down a very crowded street with shops and street vendors and we are told to take our shoes and socks off. I asked what are we doing here and he points to the temple entrance. "Are my shoes going to be here when I get back?" I asked I was wearing Doc Martens, the driver asked a lady in a shop next to the temple to put them in her shop, which was really just a table with some trinkets on it. Ok If we didn’t know this driver from all week I think we would have thought we were being kid napped. Well this ended up being one of the coolest things I have seen. We had ended up at the Temple of Shiva, there were people inside praying and a stage show with children dancing to a live Indian band. I could kind of tell they were depicting some story but couldn’t tell you any more than that. Then there was the temple that was pyramid made of a bunch of smaller statues of people and animals. This was a highlight and a nice thing to see to end the night.
We headed to a shop then back to the hotel had dinner and waited to go to the airport at 11pm for a 1:50 am flight to Germany.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

India Monday and Tuesday

Monday and Tuesday

Getting ready for work, You have to make a conscious decision not to use the water from your tap. So for brushing your teeth you need to use bottled water. You also have to make sure you do not open your mouth in the shower. Otherwise you could end up with some bad diarrhea, and nobody wants that.
So far both days we had a good breakfast. They make fine omelets here and they even have bacon. They have not yet mastered “crisp bacon”. Though Tuesday was much more crisper than Monday. They also gave us some puff pastry things filled with vegetables. They were pretty good. I don’t think you get enough to drink, the glasses are small so you have to ask for refills a million times. Its ok because the servers seem to be plentiful and pop up everywhere. It seems like they are always grabbing and touching something at our table.

Driving on the roads here is very different. I think the best way I can describe it is organized chaos. Cars, small trucks, auto-rickshaws, motorcycles. bikes, people, everywhere. I still haven’t figured out why the bother painting lines to make lanes on the road, no body stays in any kind of lane. You MUST honk at all times. It’s the way you announce your presence. We saw a family of four on a motorcycle. The women sometimes ride side saddle on the back of motorcycles and they have even modified the foot pegs so that you can do this. Plus there is nice handle on the back for holding on. You will also see stray Cows, Goats, dogs horses walking down the street in the city. There is a lot of trash everywhere and I am getting better figuring out the poorer areas. You will see camps set up on along the sidewalk and people washing clothes on the side of the road.

On Monday for lunch we had little individual 5-6” pizzas from Pizza Hut. They come with packets of “Italian Seasoning” and a packet of ketchup. Pepsi and Diet Coke too. We had it out lunch in the cafeteria which is a somewhat open-air place on the roof of our 8 story office building. You can get out and get a good look at all the area around the building. Most of it is flooded. I saw a few animals wondering around.

Tuesday we went to an Indian restaurant. When you walk into a restaurant you get overwhelmed with the smell of spices. It’s a bit much at times. We had the kebob platter and the food was good. After work I came back to my hotel room and had a granola bar for dinner.
That’s all for now.

India Trip sunday 1-17-2010

Sunday 1-17-2010, still sat 1-16-2010 back home
Sunday was very uneventful. We had arrived at 4:30 am at the hotel. By the time I got to my room I just wanted to sleep even though it was 6pm back home. So I took at “nap” for a few hours thinking I would wake up at 8:30 to go have the free buffet. I over slept some and we ended up going to this really elaborate Sunday buffet that the hotel does every week.
I am not sure how the tipping thing works here. I have no cash on me except 2 American dollars. I am hoping not to need cash since I don’t want to have to come home with extra cash I don’t need and its not worth it to exchange because exchanging it will cost as much as I have or something like that. Chennai is not a place where you can just walk out of your hotel and walk around. You could, I just don’t think I would do it unless there was someone that knew where to go. I guess its like any city. So we pretty much stayed in relaxing and trying to adjust to the new time change…
A few things I noticed after watching tv. They have a lot of shows that remind me of what you would see on the Spanish channel except instead of all the crying there is singing and dancing. Goofy characters, slide whistle sound effects, bad green screen location effects. They have HBO here which is nice. But they are behind on movies that are coming out, for instance Dark Knight is coming out next month on HBO. Another thing on HBO is the commercials. So you will be watching a movie and then Bam! Commercial that seems like its one of those Kay Jeweler type commercials all mushy and sweet except this one is about an arranged marriage where 1 year and 2 months later they realize they are in love.
I am really into the commercials here too. Some seem to run long and they are almost mini infomercials. Like this is this one that is about an inflatable couch. Its this big black designer couch that turns into a bed. In the commercial they demonstrate that you can run it over with a truck and then drag it behind through the desert. They also demonstrate how it is more comfortable than a cushion couch and even better than a mattress bed. No house is complete without it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Going to India

We had to check in at the international desks. Its been a while since I have checked a bag. Apparently 50lbs is the max weight, which I think is ridicules for international flights. If you go even 1 lbs over this limit its $150.00 extra, Me being a good employee trying to save money I took my jacket and toiletry bag out. 48lbs! made it! Delta uncomfortable flight to JFK.

JFK Terminal. 8PM
Its been a while since I have flown into JFK. Its normally LaGuardia since my propose to of going to NYC is to go to Manhattan or visit family in Queens. They have done a lot of construction at JFK and built nice new terminals. I have never needed to go to the international terminal so it was a bit confusing. You have to take the tram to a different terminal. We couldn’t find signs that said anything about that. When we got there we found our airline check in counter and started waiting in line. We were approached and asked where we are going, “India!” We said, then they said to come with them and we were escorted to a ticket agent with no line. Somehow I lost my boarding pass from my first flight so. Well I didn’t know I was going to need it again. It got me on the plane right? Well they needed it to transfer my luggage to the international flight to Qatar.. oops, is this going to be a problem? The agent was nice and was able to cal Delta to get it transferred. I was worried about my luggage the whole trip. Then you get to go through security again. This one took a while. Grant thinks the metal detectors where set extra sensitive, I just don’t think international people don’t know the us rules. It was a long process. Later I think I figured out why it took so long at security.

This was on a 777. This is the biggest plane I’ve ever been on and it was awesome.The plane was new and state of the art. Economy class was almost as good as first class on domestic flights. All the seats had access to entertainment systems. It helped that the plane wasn’t full and there was an empty seat between me and the person on the aisle. I got 2 hot meals the dinner was a bit exotic some kind of mango chicken and rice, but for breakfast I had pancakes. I also got to enjoy the ice cream social and snacks. I watched 3 movies, a lot of TV and listened to music. This was a 13 hour flight and I think secretly I didn’t want this to end since there were more movies I wanted to watch. My only complaint was they needed to add some foam to the seat and also my seat cushion kept moving around. Qatar Airways is very nice.

The airport in Qatar doesn’t have gates that the plane goes up to. You walk down the ramp from the 777 and get on a nice bus in the middle of the tarmac. It was dark out so I didn’t know where we were and where the terminal was. You take what seemed like a long bus ride to the terminal. Then you go through security where you don’t have to take off any shoes or laptops out of their cases. I didn’t even realize it was a security check point. Then you go upstairs and go find the gate for your next flight. You wait at that gate until they are ready then they check you in a heard you downstairs to get on another bus to go find your plane. Once we pulled up to the plane we got to stand up on the bus for a good 20+ minutes while they waited to start boarding.

This was 4.5 hours in a fairly packed Airbus A321 and I felt every minute of it. All the luxuaries of the prevous flight are gone and while it’s a newer plane, it was very basic. The food starts getting a bit more interesting and somewhat spicy. You get some kind of chicken in a red sauce or a vegetarian plate. Also, a lot of people take off their shoes (and socks). I didn’t watch the movie but Grant did and it was India movie with English subtitles. It was a wacky movie about an arranged marriage gone all crazy and awry and Bride A wants to be married to Groom B and Bride B wants to marry Groom A. Dad and father-in-law have it out and everyone ends up happy. I guess you have to see it. I have no idea what it was called. Once the plane was at the gate we must have waited there for more than 30 minutes. Then it started . The guy sitting next to me starts farting. I knew it was him because I could hear it and smell it, and his wife slapped his knee. Then we got introduced to a new first when near the end of the flight an announcement comes on saying they are going to spray the cabin with a pesticide and asking of this is going to be a problem for anyone but before the announcement can finish the pilot breaks in saying something I couldn’t understand but by then one of flight attendants is walking down the aisle with three aerosol cans above his head fogging upward.

MAA arriving at 3:30 am
After being on the plane at the gate for more than 30 min and the humidity level rising on the plane, I looked out the window hoping to see my luggage, but the windows fogged up and I couldn’t see anything after a while. Then they finally let us out, down the ramp on to some really old crappy non air-conditioned busses (compared to the ones in Doha). I pointed to a building and said watch they are going to take us there which was 30-40 yards away to the terminal, ha I was right! It was a very short ride, why did we have to take this bus. We made it through customs and found our driver just outside the airport. Driving in the car was interesting. Our driver was a normal taxi type driver going fast and dodging traffic along the way. I guess there are no driving rules in India since the lines on the road meant nothing. Cars drove in the middle of the lanes and motorcycles just kind of went around everyone. I kept waiting for the area around me to become nicer but it never did. Everything looked run down and old, lots of trash and rubble in some places. We get to the hotel and stopped at the gate the driver turns the car off. Grant and I look at each other and think are we supposed to get out. Grant goes to open the door and the driver yells “wait!” Some men come out and open the hood and roll a mirror under the car and a dog sniffs around the car to look for bombs and stuff. Then we get through the gate to the hotel and load our luggage onto another x-ray conveyor and walk through another metal detector before being allowed in. nape time. It was probably 4 or 5 am by the time I got to my room.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When the trash can is just too far.

I know my blog has become some place where I complain about food that is 1/4 eaten or man handled bagels. I am trying to get away from this. There have been at least 5 other incidents with trash left on the counter, open coffee creamers and no paper towels. But I have not posted anything about them. I think I am just going to get back into posting the those interesting and not so interesting moments in my life shifting from one to another. But this time its all about the trash can.....I really don't get it, is it too hard to just throw something away? Who does this?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Just when I thought I had seen it all with the muffins.

So Dave was nice and brought doughnuts in to work this morning. Yum right?... Well take a look at what someone did. They really got into man handling this one. Yes this is a picture of 2 doughnuts. Someone actually cut the sides off it and then left it there!!!!! WTF!

Honestly I really only want a sliver.... please no more!!!
Well OK, maybe a little bit more.

Oh my, Ill take another slice please.
By the time they were done it didn't look like a doughnut anymore. Also these were in nice box, I put them on the plate to take the pics.
That's it I am putting a camera in there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Paper Towel

I am not sure who does this but we have this problem at our office where someone uses the last paper towel and does not replace the roll. I made this sign to help people figure out that we don't have a maid here. Sad part is there are about 25 rolls in the cabinet above.