Monday, November 26, 2001

If you want someone to do something for you in India you should only ask for one thing at a time. As good as their english appears their ability to really understand complex conversations is often limited. Why am I writting this? Well to help of course. Why now? Well, I was feeling very cold and I asked my cook to pick up a space heater at the store. At the last minute I asked him to pick up coffee in the store next door. I saw the lights really go on at that point. We'd talked about the coffee last week. Now he was off. He came back 40 minutes later to tell me that the coffee shop wouldn't sell him a space heater. No shit . Oh well, second times a charm. He's off again. I really hope he gets one this time as I am quite cold (although I need to take my temperature because it may just be me that's the problem).

Sunday, November 25, 2001

How about those Steelers? They're 9-2 and looking pretty impressive on both sides of the ball. I'm bummed that I haven't been able to watch any of the games this year.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

I've got a booked flight back to Vegas and Denver (and Hong Kong), here's the itenerary:


Should be fun.
Arrrgh ... I'm sick yet again . Hopefully this will not last long.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Oh BTW, if wasn't already annoyingly obvious. I've added Yahoo Smiley's to the blog (as well as some other bigger, more pretentious ones).
Amy is back in Austin this weekend tasting food for our wedding reception. I wish I could be there.

I think I know what my travel plans are for the my early December Bachalor Party/Holiday Party (in Denver w/ Amy) trip. The plan is to leave Delhi on Thursday, December 6th and arrive later that day in Vegas. I'd be in Vegas through Sunday and then hop on a plane to Denver. I'd stay in Denver all week and then leave on Monday or Tuesday depending on how much time Amy can take off. Then I fly back but I'm hoping to navigate through Hong Kong and have a day or two there on the way back. The last part may not make sense but that's what I'm aiming for.
My plans to go to Hong Kong this weekend fell through. My "waiting till the last minute" tendency only gave me really expensive flights (north of $1000), really awkward flights (stop overs and long layovers taking most of the weekend away), or a direct flight on Indian Airlines (IA). IA, however, is a risky choice. It's aircraft aircraft are very old and it's track record way below average. I just said no.
Diwali just passed this Wednesday. It is considered the biggest Indian celebration of the year, comprable to Christianities' Christmas in religious significance. As far as how it is celebrated it feels like a cross between Christmas and the 4th of July: there is gift giving and an incredible number of fireworks that are exploded. There isn't the US equivalent of an organized fireworks display but rather everyone is loaded to the teeth with their own personal fireworks, it's pretty crazy the number of explotions that take place.

Regarding gift giving I needed to find out what responsibilities I had to my cook, driver, and other help. I asked around the office and got slightly different answers but what emerged as a pattern was that money and sweets are the lingua franca of gift giving and that whatever monetary amount you chose make sure it is some nice round number + 1 (the "1" is for good luck). So I decided to give our driver and cook 1001 rupees each and a box of chocolates. My driver was nice enough to get me a box of sweets too. Unfortunately on Wednesday I was tired so I forgot to get anything for our security guard. He didn't forget. He insisted on bringing my bag upstairs for me and then clearly was waiting for his present. Jeez. Well I didn't have one so I said thank you and good night. The next day my cook informed me that the security guard wanted to "remind me" that today was Diwali. Merciless. Ok, so I decided to be sneaky and I re-packaged my driver's sweets gift as a gift to the security guard and gave him the same 1001rs. He was psyched. I guess that was sort of a mistake because he get's gifts from each of the three floors and also makes considerably less money than a cook or driver (the gift giving is normally prorated by how much a person's salary is). Oh well. Then it hit me. Shit we have two security guards, one for the AM the other for the PM. This was getting expensive. I gave the PM guard 1001rs but no chocolates. Then the garbage boy stopped by and asked for a gift. Are you kidding me?!? Well I gave him 101rs. Fontunately that was it for people I actually had to deal with but according to my cook the phone company stopped by looking for handouts wheh I was out. Can you believe that? This is the same phone company who hasn't been able to install international dialing on our phone for 3 months and I guess they are also paid off by Sapient for Diwali so they really aren't supposed to stop by.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

About a month ago one of the teams I work with had a deadline coming up and the leadership team told them that they should come up with a reward for hitting this goal and we would try to accomidate the goal. Well, they said they wanted "slave day". I had no idea what that meant at the time but turns out it meant that they brought in slave clothes for the leadership team to dress up in. I took it a step further by walking around the office saying "Ram Ram" which in very loose translation means "How may I help you master". It was fun and people still come up to me and say I remember when you were a slave for a day.

Here's a picture of myself and Raja, one the team's track leads.

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

UConn college hoops are back! I hope I can see a game this year but I'm definately going to be glued to the ESPN website.
I'm reading a good but largely depressing book by Robert Kaplan called The Coming Anarchy. It's all about the world's political landscape over the next fifty years. The book is really a series of articles that Kaplan published between 1991 and 1999. It's very interesting because I think most people are starting to be aware or open to some substantial changes in world relations/politics since the September 11th catastrophe and while this material was written before the event the material is only more relavant (or at least believable). Kaplan has spent the last 30 years as a political coorespondant in the Middle East, Russia, Africa, and a little of Latin America. In his introduction he mentions that while the book's outlook is grim and divergent from what you read in the popular press it is very much inline with what the intelligence community has been thinking for years. The book is well recieved by both popular press (NY Times, NY Times Book Review, Washington Post Book Review) and intelligence community (James Woolsly, former director of CIA).

I was mentioning the book to some colleages at work and they mentioned that in South Africa every house has "the button" which when pressed drops bars into the windows, locks all doors (in many cases shutting a steel security door), and calls for an armoured car to come to the house. Most people never press the button but everyone has one and they all live with the knowledge that it may need to be used sometime. One of the people South Africans that I've known over the years -- Cobus -- apparently (this is word of mouth, I haven't talked to him directly as he is now in Germany) went home to S.Africa recently and said that for the first time truely felt unsafe. His next door neighbor had recently been shot to death in her home in some random violence and things are escalating out of control. Crazy. Well anyway, enough on that tangent for now. If anyone decides to read the book let me know what you think.
Star World TV has many American television programs -- reruns from shows that are mostly still showing in the US -- and I've found myself watching both Drew Carey and Who's Line is it Anyway. I'd watched these a little in the US but I've really started to fully appreciate how funny these shows are out here. Drew Carey is just plain funny, Who's Line Is It is equally funny and impressive at the same time. The ability of the team members to improvise so well is amazing, especially the tall guy from the Drew Carey show. Reminds me of the SF Improvisational theater but on steroids. It's funny how all the adds for the American shows show an Indian national talking about how they can relate to the characters and how this imported culture is relavant to Indians. For example an Indian woman saying that while she sees differences, she see's herself being like Dharma from Dharma and Greg. Seems like a stretch but fine, you gotta make television relavent to sell it.

Monday, November 05, 2001

I have some good news...looks like I'll be able to make it back to India for Christmas/New Year's! That's a good thing since we have guests coming at that time. :) Things are looking good for me spending some time in Delhi over the next few months; I just have to work out when it makes sense from a project perspective. In the mean time, Ken may stop off in Denver before heading back to Delhi after his bachelor party in Vegas in December.

Have I mentioned that Denver is absolutely gorgeous? The weather is great - if it gets cold, it only lasts for a few days, and it's almost always sunny. If I'm not in Delhi, at least I'm in a pleasant place. I live in the Embassy Suites downtown (a corporate apartment), and that's pretty convenient to restaurants and clubs. I'm starting to get into a groove here (after 8 weeks!), and I've made some friends, so the weekends aren't too lonely. Jill visited a few weeks ago and might come back for another visit, so that helps, too. :) Hey, Ken, wanna keep renting out the house when we come back to the US and spend a year in Denver? Heh...just kidding. ;)

Did I mention that our couch folds out? Anyone? Bueller?

Hugs to all,
Here's a picture of our new cook Thomas, his wife Mary, and their daughter:

Ok, now that I can again post images I'm addicted ... here are some pictures from my visit to Bangkok. Both were taken on Friday's "Boat and Barge Tour":

Just hanging outsittin on the doc of the bay, just watching the tide roll away. Sittin here wastin' my time ... Otis Redding, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Sunday, November 04, 2001

Well it's monday morning and for the first morning in a long time I feel pretty healthy. The cold I've had for the past 5 days can't yet be spoken of in past tense but it's getting close and I won't waste any time with formal good byes. I'm off to work in another 1/2 hour to address the technology worker's never ending burden of reading email. Since I missed 2.5 days of work last week my Inbox got so full that my account won't accept any more mail. Jeez. I wonder how many unread messages that is. Probably over 500, maybe even over 750.

On a more upbeat note, due to my being sick I did have a little more time to fix up, I already mentioned the images for the blog now being able to be hosted but I also have done a little work on Amy and I's wedding site. Still not really ready for public consumption but it'll be there soon. For an advanced preview, take a look at:
Well, it looks like my Journey through India will continue to be centered in Denver, Colorado. I was supposed to fly back to India yesterday for 2 weeks, but it didn't make sense for the project. I'm still trying to work out when I will go back, but this part of the project goes on until February.

Last weekend I went to Austin to see my parents and celebrate the birthdays of my friends Melissa and Katie. It was a quick trip - I flew in Friday night and left very early Sunday morning - but busy. My cousin's wedding was on Saturday (Congratulations Gary and Anita!!), and my mom, my dad, and I did a little wedding related shopping (tuxes and dresses for Mom). My parents are building a house, and it's really coming along. I hope to go back and visit them weekend after next when my brother is there putting the tile in.

This weekend was nice (considering I'm not in Delhi!). I went to see David Sedaris speak and read some of his new work Friday night; he was hysterical! I got a lot of sleep and had a chance to work out. I hope to get some wedding stuff taken care of today, and get ready for next week from a work perspective. If anyone wants to come to Denver, let me know!!

My phone numbers here are:

Corporate Apt.: 303.297.8888 x3212
Cell: 303.241.5685
Work: 303.390.3494

Thanks, Jon, for getting rid of the ads!

More later...aes

Saturday, November 03, 2001

Some of you probably noticed that two things on the site disappeared recently: the advertisement headers and all the India pictures that had been a part of the blog. Why? For two completely independant reasons:
  • Jonathan paid to have the advert's removed from the site. Thanks Jon!
  • I stopped paying for the old Pacbell DSL account 5-6 months ago but they only recently shut me off (this is where I was storing the pictures)
Well I finally got around to setting up so that I could use it to host the images. So on that note, here are a series of images from the past number of weeks:

On our second day in Thailand we took a tour outside the city to the old capital of Thailand. This picture was taken from a old government center that had been raided by Burma in the late 1700's, the Burmese army decapitated all the statues of Budda and burned down all the wooden structures but even after all the damage it is still an impressive sight.Every young man in Thailand spends at least 3 weeks as a Budhist Monk, these two guys/monks were hanging out at another temple in our tour outside of Bangkok.
Thought this was a cool looking picture, behind my back by a couple hundred yards was Buckingham Palace.As a kid I always loved traveling on the top deck of a double decker bus. This picture was taken in the financial district of London a couple of blocks from the Sapient office.
I went to India Gate and all I got was some crazy monkeys.The two of us when we were at Becky and Carlos's wedding in Napa.
Becky and Carlos eating dinner at the reception.Becky's mom comes over to talk to Amy and Mel.
Isn't it nice to see the young couple sharing. This picture was the last one before things got messy. :^)This picture of Becky and Carlos was taken right after the ceremony.

Friday, November 02, 2001

When I was at the drug store getting cold medication I recieved my change and noticed that one of the 10rs notes was a very different style than all the ones I'd seen. I asked our driver Deepok and he said, "Yes, this one is very old. May I keep it?" Selfishly I said that I would actually like to keep it because I like to collect these things, he smiled and reached into his pocket and handed me 50, 25, and 1rs notes from Nepal. When I had taken a look I tried to return the money and Deepok wouldn't hear of it. He said "I do not care about money, only happiness. If you are happy then you keep." This is just another example of Deepok surprising me; as he's told me "I am not an educated man, sir" but he is so well intentioned, enthusiastic, and while strangely naive also very intelligent. It's great having a driver like this, our first driver spoke much better english but he was a stiff. :^)