Thursday, December 20, 2001

If you'd like to still get the low-down on my travels through India you can at:
Ok, for those of you who haven't heard yet ... Amy and I have called off the wedding and have broken up. It was a tough decision but it was mutual and I think we both feel like it was the right one. Thanks in advance to all of you for your friendship, we look forward to seeing you next time our paths cross.

Monday, December 03, 2001

Looks like I'm finally heading back to Delhi! Planning to fly out 12/20 and stay through New Year's. Then I'll be back in Denver for ~4 weeks.

It's been pretty cold here in Denver, and there's been snow on the ground (in patches now) for a couple of weeks.

Drove up to Estes Park yesterday just to check it out (and get out of Denver for a bit), and saw a ton of elk grazing along the road - very cool. The mountains were amazing, and the drive was very relaxing.

Not too much going on; lots of work to get through this week, so that I have more time to spend with Ken when he arrives on Monday!!

Oh, and I'm moving apartments this week, since Pam (my roommate) is going back to SF. I'll be moving into a single, since there aren't any other female travelers. I guess it'll be good to have to clean stuff out a bit before I go back to Delhi.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

It's been so long since I've been 100% healthy I almost can't remember what it feels like. I'm feeling better now but still have cold symptoms and occasional cold spells. Ahh well, now it is all about me getting healthy in Las Vegas (seems like an oxymoron doesn't it?).

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. :^)

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

I'm sick. Damn! I have a sore throat and general body ache. I slept until 4:30pm today, pretty much straight through.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

I went to Bankok over the past weekend! It was good fun, the basic itinerary was played out as we went through the weekend rather than being planned in advance but ended up being as follows:
  1. Friday -- arrive in Bangkok at around 6am. While at the airport we notice a woman who seems to have many, many credit cards and is taken turns with people using the ATM machine and rotating her cards in to take out large sums of money, seemed pretty sketchy so we tried to alert security unfortunately no one could really speak english. Interesting start. We spent the majority of the rest of the day taking a "boat and barge tour" of the city of Bangkok. The tour was a good introduction to Bangkok. In the evening we made the mistake of signing up for a "traditional Thai dinner and dancing". What a tourist trap! The dinner was very below-average Americanized Thai food and the dancing was from a poorly training group. I suppose the dancing may have been traditional but I'm sure Thailand wouldn't want this show to represent their dance tradition.
  2. Saturday -- since this would be our only full day we took the opportunity to do travel outside the city on a all day tour to the old capital city of Thailand ... can't remember the name of the city right now. We toured several mosques, took a short elephant ride, another boat ride, and finally had a great Thai meal.
  3. Sunday -- didn't do a damn thing of consequence. This was according to plan. I woke up late, got a message, read a book, took a nap, ate some Sushi, took another nap. We left to the airport around 6pm and flew back to Delhi.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Angie and Tucker came over to our place last night and we met two cooks who might replace Shanta at the end of the month. The first cook, Thomas, came with his wife Mary (who works as the housekeeper) and their 18 year old daughter ... they seemed great! Very warm and Thomas has lots of experience. The problem? Well, there are two. One, the servant quarters are too small for the family but they have a car and so that might not matter. Two, they're expensive. 11,000rs a month for both Thomas and Mary and then another 3000rs for their rent (since they can't stay here). Ouch. We were only paying 4000rs a month for Shanta. Jeez. Well the reason that Angie and Tucker were here is that we're thinking about sharing them (and the costs).

By the time that the second cook (Rosy) arrived I knew that I already wanted Thomas and Mary. She was good too but not at the same level ... not the same amount of warmth, less experience, and overall the costs weren't significant enough to really consider her too much.
So I think I'm heading to Bangkok this weekend! Looking forward to getting outta Delhi for the weekend, it is a 3-day weekend for us. I'm not sure what the Indian holiday is but right now I don't care. :^)

Monday, October 22, 2001

Amy returns to India a week from Sunday ... I can't wait

Sunday, October 21, 2001

I went to Bangalore over the weekend for a hiring event. Bangalore is a city in the southern part of India and everyone I've talked to -- bar none -- seems to love Bangalore. The weather is very much like the Bay Area in the the US (although warmer at night), the air is very clean, is known as a great pub and restaurant city, and has the largest concentration of technology companies (it is India's Silicon Valley). Unfortunately for me the weekend was largely spent doing work (e.g., hiring people) but I was able to go out to dinner and have some amazing food and the weather was fantastic. Once Amy gets back out here I'd really like to go back and spend more time.
On Friday I went to a cross-cultural training course. Sapient has brought in a 3rd party company to teach these classes and expects all expats to attend. It was interesting but the focus was a little too much on "I know you're really struggling to adapt, it's scary, you are not alone" type crap instead of where I think almost everyone is which more just "so I've noticed people do this, what does that mean? what should I tip? etc." One of the things that was probably the most useful was they brought in a father and son to talk about different generations experiences with India. The son, who was about 25 years old, was working in the IT consulting space which was nice because IT in India is more westernized than other industries. One of the things he mentioned is that companies that are Indian owned versus multi-nationals have a very different polical environment. In Indian companies, your first priority is to please your immediate superior and to make sure that he/she looks good; after that the next goal is to do the right thing. Multi-nationals are more competitive and encourage more openness. Since this difference is so well known it is self-enforcing, most of those who believe they can compete effectively against their peers prefer the more open environment where movement within the organization is closer tied to capability. When talking about gender differences both the father and son said that woman in India today "have something to prove" and therefore are very motivated to play roles in all parts of top Indian politics, IT, and other power positions. The father made the claim that 7 out of 10 top graduates from IIT (the top Indian university) were women these days. I asked a co-worker and he said that he thought that was exagerated but still it is clear that the "glass ceiling" in non-traditional industries (and some traditional like politics) has been removed and women are doing great things here. On other force that helps women here is that corruption is considered a problem in government and most people believe that women are less likely to be caught up in corruption. In one case a couple of years ago one of the Indian states dealt with corruption by firing all the men in top government positions and replaced them with women! As always though, India is a case study in contrasts. With all the progress that women are making there are also clearly areas of industry and parts society that women are not treated equally.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

For those of you interested in the current status of India, here's a report from SOS International:

SOS members are strongly advised to monitor events in the media and to avoid all demonstrations due to the potential for violence. Refrain from travelling to Kashmir - whether to the Indian or Pakistani side. This area is not only a scene of fighting, but large demonstrations, which often turn into violent clashes. Be more aware than usual when travelling in India and avoid rural areas. Maintain a level of awareness when visiting public places around Delhi.

SOS members are advised the following:
1. SOS does NOT advise evacuation from India
2. SOS advises that normal business travel to India should proceed but travelers should be briefed on the security environment and met by colleagues on arrival.
3. SOS advises that members minimize activity on the streets of New Delhi today

Overall status remains green ... the US and Indonesia are orange, Pakistan and Afghanistan are red.
I had to leave work early today due to "Delhi Belly II". It's not too bad this time -- no fever or hot/cold spells -- and I'm just trying to figure out what it was that I ate that got me here. Weird.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

I went to see "India Gate" and Indira Ghandi's old house yesterday. It was fun. Along the way I got a chance to see some street vendors have monkey's dance for me (even had one monkey sit in my lap while another climbed on my back). While I was playing with the monkeys another guy came over with cobras and put one around my neck. Of course, what better time to negotiate how much I should pay? He suggested 1000rs! No way! I told him to get the snake off of me but I think it probably did have an effect on my negotiating skills ... I ended up paying 200rs.
Shanta came and talked to me this morning ... due to the problems with the guard and the lack of space in the guest quarters she is going to quit at the end of the month. She said she was sorry but her daughter really needed more space. Makes sense ... well I guess you we'll know more about what to expect from a cook/housekeeper by having a second one to compare with Shanta. I wish her the best of luck and I'll talk to our operations lead -- Sanjay -- and see if we can start the search for a new person.

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Talked to Shanta and told her that we needed her to not be on the terrace but if she could live by this rule then we'd like to keep her. She wasn't too happy but she's thinking about it.

Friday, October 12, 2001

So I'm in the middle of a household dispute and it all started before I even had any coffee! Jeez. Our cook was making breakfast and then started to explain to me that the security guard had done something and then started to cry. About five conversations later and at least as many cups of coffee later I think I have most of the story ...

1. Shanta (our cook) has both a husband and a daughter who stay in the house. They were supposed to stay in the servant's quarters but they've been -- sort of without asking -- using some of the roof deck to sleep/live in. Whenever I come up they leave me alone up there but it doesn't feel like our place anymore. I've been trying to figure out how I should feel about this for some time with no solid conclusion (and therefore no solid conversation with Shanta).

2. Since we've had furniture delivered in many batches, had electricians and plumbers, dry cleaners and others up into our apartment it may appear that Shanta & Company have had TONS of people visiting. Our ground floor neighbors were concerned about this. Shanta claims -- and there's really no way to know for sure -- that she's only had her sister and her daughters school friend over. No one else. I want to believe her and I did this morning. I'm not sure where I stand now (read on) ...

3. The security gaurd -- and this is what Shanta was so upset about -- apparently comes out to the roof deck and stares them down every morning around 5am. On at least one occation he has told Shanta "you are a very bad woman" and raised his hand as if to hit her. He is apparently mad at her for all the people too.

4. I talked to our ground floor neighbor (Anil) on the phone and he confirmed that he was concerned about the amount of people coming and going. He also told me that because Shanta & Company are using the roof deck his servant was wondering if he should also be able to use it and felt some resentment toward Shanta. I sort of noticed that this morning because he is usually such a cheerful guy. Anil is Indian but has never really lived here before (he's an expat from Toronto). Since the whole "servant" thing was new to him too he asked friends whether the servants occuping the roof deck was normal and said that everyone thought it was highly unusual.

5. One interesting thing ... apparently Shanta's husband doesn't get along with the security gaurd at all. He yelled at the security guard for not soluting him when he came in and the security guard said "you are just a servant, I will not salute you ... I only salute the people who live here". Then there was some complaints about loud music being played from the roof and even food being thrown from it at one point ... not a lot of details here.

6. I talked to our operations guru -- Sanjay Solenki -- and he said he'd noticed that they were occuppying the roof and thought it looked bad. I explained the scenario of events and he thought it made sense to get rid of Shanta. He went on to explain that Shanta had tons of relatives living in the neighborhood (also as servants) and that was not so good because they could easily swap groceries, eat food, have social get-togethers, etc. I pushed back some because Shanta really seems very trustworthy and I've gotten used to her but I'm feeling less sure now.

Decisions, decisions. Well we're not going to make any final calls until next week but Sanjay's going to do some investigating and we'll see what we come up with.

So I went to an islamic rally today. Didn't mean to actually. The protest took a different path than it was supposed to and ended up near the restaurant district of the city (CP for those of you who know Delhi). We were in a car and drove by quickly, guess I should start being more careful.

Sunday, October 07, 2001

Seems like there world has been filled with so many pieces of bad news, it was nice to to wake up this morning to two very good pieces of news: two new happy babies have been born into the world! The proud parents are Keith and Maria Kay and Winslow and Kara Taub. The Taub's welcome a baby boy named Gavin, the Kay's have a baby girl! Congratulations to all six of you ... made my day.
I have lots of photos to share here but I need to get some sleep too ... here's one of Becky & Carlos right after the wedding. I'll make sure other pictures get up here soon.

Ok ... so I'm back in India. Watchin' CNN @ 2:30am ... looks like phase two of this "war" has just started. I was in a plane when it started, maybe even over Iran at the time. My heart goes out to all of you in the US right now -- even London, where I was only 12 short hours ago -- that nothing goes wrong tomorrow.

Thursday, October 04, 2001

Ok, this one's going to be really quick. The wedding in the US was great! London is very cool too. I'll post a few of the wedding pictures on the blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

ok ... back to business. our inverter sucks but at least there are enough electricians in town to get quick service.
it's 6:30pm. I'm in the dark in my flat because the electricity is blown. for whatever reason the inverter refuses to work. weird thing is that the a/c keeps coming in and then going out. this couldn't have happened at a worse time because i was about 75% done with packing but now I'm at a standstill until the lights come back. urrrrr.

what i was going to say ... before we lost power ... was that it's weird getting on a plane heading to the US. I haven't really let myself think about until now. now that I have no choice but to think about it I'm not too thrilled. it's scary if you let it be. well they invented a cure for this type of problem a long time ago, it's called cocktails. I'm sure I'll be taking what the doctor ordered very soon. :^)

Ok, gotta run. In case bad things happen out there I'm flying British Airways from Delhi to London to SF. It's too dark to check the flight number but the flight leaves here around 1:50am from here; get's into London around 6 or 7am. Leaves again around 10 and finally arrives in SF at 2:35pm. I'm sure that was unnecessary but then I haven't had a cocktail yet so don't blame me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

These kids were talking in the streets of Jaipur, I took this from the car when driving by. It seems to tell a story, wish I could have found out more about the story.
I was feeling kind of sick today. General cold symptoms ... sore throat, ear ache, congestion. I hope I can get over this before I fly out tomorrow night.
More elephant photos:

Here's a shot of me grabbing the tusk of Pinky the Elephant. I had just stepped out of my car, had only about 1/2 cup of coffee in me, and this was the first thing I did that dayHere pinky get's ready for me to climb on top of him for the ride. It's weird watching an animal that large get into this position, doesn't seem natural but I suppose it must be. Elephant's have to sit too!
Thought it was time for some new photos. This another shot from my Elephant Safari, this woman was just hanging out by herself in the middle of nowhere:

Monday, September 24, 2001

I've got my airline tickets for the wedding almost closed. My original flight had me flying east on Singapore Airlines but since I am now planning on stopping off in London on my return (a client I work with is based there) it made sense to change it around and fly west on British Airways. I arrive SF 5 minutes after Amy's flight arrives! I can't wait.
Got my hair cut today. Wasn't that a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? Oh that's right ... the song was "Almost got my hair cut today". Maybe I should have listened to it before I went. I've had the same person cut my hair for 5 years so it was a shock to have someone else do it. Ah well. Guess I'll either grow to like it or grow out of it.
Whoa. It's fall here in Denver. Just like that. Actually, it's still supposed to be 80 degrees today, but it feels brisk, and Pam and I drove to Aspen yesterday to see the trees changing color. They were really amazing. Pictures to come as soon as I can get the external drive for the memory cards to work with NT. :(

Only a few more days until Ken and I meet up in SF!! We'll be staying with Jon and Jill for the nights that we're not in Napa, and I'm hoping that we can do a little wedding registry on Thursday. It may be the only time that we're back in the US together before the wedding. Can't wait to see Ken! And our Bay Area friends. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2001

When I was a kid in Ireland I had a favorite breakfast cereal. I'd swear that it was called "Alpen" (Mom or Dad can you confirm?). In any case, if it was indeed Alpen, I am happy to say that after all those years I have been finally reunited with my favorite breakfast cereal and we plan to spend breakfast together tomorrow morning. :^)
Yahoo! voice chat actually works between US and India (and pretty well I might add). I had heard it was illegal and had been shut down by Indian government. I guess it still might be illegal but it isn't shut down.
I miss US super markets! They really are super. In India they only have markets. They are an experience, and for the experienced I'm guessing you can navigate the maze of shops and find what you want. For the rank amature it is a haphazard, seemingly random collection of shops, shacks, and roadside vendors. Don't get me wrong, I'm still loving India but there is something to be said for shopping for food in football stadium sized containers.

Monday, September 17, 2001

Things haven't been too exciting here in Denver. Last week was kind of a blur for me, as I'm sure it was for many people. I feel very lucky to have flown a day before the hijackings; otherwise, I could have been stuck in Frankfurt with no real way to communicate with anyone. Very scary times.

I finally got a cell phone last week. The number is 303.241.5685, and it's the best way to get in touch with me right now. My desk phone is (303) 390-3494.

It's snowing at 12K feet here, but luckily that's just rain in downtown Denver. I did a little shopping this weekend, so I'm able to stay warm, but my mom is going to have to send me a winter coat soon! Ken's also kindly volunteered to bring me some winter clothes when we meet in Napa.

I'm trying to enjoy Denver, but I miss Ken and our home in India, and I can't wait to get back.

Yesterday after dinner I went up to the roof deck to relax. When we first got to Delhi it was just too hot to really hang out up there but now it is beautiful at night. So anyway, I went up there and our cook and her whole family was up there hanging out. I was trying to decide how to feel about it. In one way I felt like they were invading my space but at the same time I felt like I was being pretty selfish. They have a little room with poor ventilation and the roof deck is rarely used. I decided not to say anything.

BTW, the picture on the left has nothing to do with paragraph above. This is from our trip to Jaipur. Along the way we noticed many women carying things on their heads. I felt these two women made a good photograph due to colorful garb and interesting payload but was unable to excape the fact that I was in the car so the bottom of the photo is obstructed by the car's windshield.

Friday, September 14, 2001

Yesterday was Amy and my official 3 year anniversary although we celebrated it last weekend (god that seems like a long time ago) because of her trip to the US. I'm sure most of you know that she made it safely to Denver before the bombings, but in case you didn't know, she's fine. I've got my fingers crossed that I can still fly back to the US in two weeks for Becky & Carlos's wedding but I don't have a good feeling for how likely that flight is.
I'll always remember exactly where I was when I found out. I'm sure you will too. I only hope we can steer away from massive bloodshed. That's not to say that some bloodshed isn't now necessary, I think it is, but we need to act with logic and wisdom not just emotion and fear.

Monday, September 10, 2001

So I'm back in Delhi now but Amy is somewhere in the air flying back to the US. She'll be in Denver for work for 5 weeks! We both know it makes sense from a work perspective and it could have been worse but it's still really a bummer ... I miss her already. The only saving grace is that I am flying back to the US myself in three weeks to head to Napa for Becky & Carlos' wedding. I'll only be there for a few days so it should be a bit hectic but I'm totally looking forward to seeing Amy and bay area friends.
Here are some more pictures with short descriptions:

View from countryside near Jaipur. This is taken from the back of "pinky the elephant" and was the starting point for the safari (mentioned below)Two of the kids who I met at the end of the Elephant safari as they pressed their faces into the car window. I stuck my tongue out at them and then I was off. :^)As we were leaving Jaipur I told the driver that I was bummed that I hadn't gotten any Camel pictures yet. They were all over but I'd seen most of them from the car and I had no good photos. He mentioned that it was probably too late but sometimes you can see Camel herds being brought back to the border towns. The border people migrate out of the desert during the summer but head back in late August/early September. Anyway, we got lucky and ran into a camel herd of about 150 Camels!Amy's red hair got a lot of attention when we were visiting an old fort on our way back from Jaipur. The man in the picture appeared to be a teacher and he asked if he could take pictures of Amy with the children. Each child took turns getting pictures taken and finally we took this group photo.

On Sunday, while still in Jaipur, we had planned on getting up early and taking an elephant safari. Unfortunately when we woke up Amy had a migraine so only I went. It was pretty fun. Honestly the terrain that we covered wasn't anything too special but I'd never ridden an elephant before. I think the most fun I had was when I dismounted the elephant. There was a group of children who had gathered to see the funny white man. They were all smiles and although they didn't speak English we were communicating at some level. I asked them if they'd like to be in a photograph. They recognized the word and were quite excited to be involved. We took several pictures, made funny faces at each other, and had a great time. Before I got into the car one of the kids reached out a hand. He might have been looking for a donation of money, this is pretty common, but it didn't seem clear that that was really what he was looking for. I shook his hand and immediately all the children wanted to shake my hand. It was a blast and it was nice to see so many children so genuinely happy.

Looking at the picture to the left ... the elephant's name was Pinky. The guy riding him didn't speak english at all but seemed to know a lot. The guy next to the elephant was the guide and spoke good english, walking beside the elephant the whole time and occationally taking my camera so that I could have pictures of myself on the elephant. The little girl in the forefront was one of the village girls who was so eager to have her photo taken
So we went to the Oberoi resort in Jaipur. Wow! It was amazing. I guess president Clinton stayed there a couple years back but staying there makes you feel more like royalty than a president. It felt like there was 5 staff to every guest but in a good way. They weren't obtrusively in your face asking you if you wanted this or that all the time (unlike the Ruby Tuesdays in Delhi we went to where I think the young Indians waiters are fed a diet of speed and andreneline ... talk about annoying, I'd rather have "bad service"). At the Oberoi, it felt like someone was invisibly watching you and if they could help you they appeared quickly to help out. At one point the man at the front desk asked if we'd like to have some sun tan lotion delivered to our room. I said sure. He said, "it will be done". I asked him, "don't you need my name or room number?" He responded, "No Mr. Ken, we all know your name." It turned out not to be an exaggeration.

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

It's too late to say much but since I've been so bad about posting recently I wanted to put something out there. Amy and I are trying to decide on what to do the next two weekends. Initially we were thinking of doing a camel safari but it looks like the desert will still be to hot this time of year. We'll definately do this as soon as it cools down. It now looks like the following:

  • This weekend go to Agra and check out the Taj Mahal
  • Next weekend celebrate our 3 year anniversary in Jaipur. Apparently the Oberoi hotel there is amazing! Breakfast in bed, sunken marble tubs, satellite TV, 32 acres of beautifully landscape grounds, full spa. Friends of ours went last weekend and barely left the hotel.

Monday, September 03, 2001

Ken and I have started to collect a few items with which to decorate our apartment. We found a set of three elephants that are made out of rice paper (like paper mache but smoother and more detailed) and painted black with a gold pattern. We'll post a picture later - they're so fun! We also found a couple of wall hangings that are brightly colored and beautifully embroidered. Gotta love that Dilli Haat (translation: Delhi Market)! We found patio furniture there, too, which we can start to enjoy now that the temperature is starting to cool off.

Gotta get home and have some dinner made by our wonderful cook! I didn't realize how much I was missing veggies until she started cooking for us. Mmmmmm....

Thursday, August 30, 2001

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have seen monkeys!! I saw two on the way to work today - an adult and a baby (though, not tiny, Katie). I guess there's a particular corner that's on our way to work where people bring food to the monkeys.

I hadn't realized it, but last night was the first night that we stayed out late (past 10pm). Turns out our neighborhood is gated - go figure! Anyway, we went to the Grand Hyatt, a gorgeous hotel, to see its workout facilities and have dinner. Dinner was wonderful, but the workout facilities are far from complete and aren't scheduled to be done until late fall. We'll have to check out more gyms this weekend. Many of the available gyms here are in hotels; there aren't any gyms like 24 Hour Fitness or Gold's.

I got cell phone service yesterday; the number is: +91 98105 30267

and our home phone number is: +91 11 615 6243

To call either of those from the US, dial 011 and then the rest of the phone number.

Ah, well. Must get back to work. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Wanna get a drink while you are in Delhi? No problem, there are plenty of places to go. Check out:

for a comprehensive list. BTW, "tully" in Hindi means "drunk" and "ho-na" means "to be" ... a literal translation might suggest that the site is a philosophical site to reflect on the state of drunkenness (e.g., "to be drunk") but through underground informants I have been led to believe the real message may be far more sinister; some people even suggesting that the true message is "go get drunk". Join me now in a moment of silence. Ok, on that note, I'm leaving the office. Talk to you soon. :^)

Until next time, Ho-na tully!

Monday, August 27, 2001

I'm writing from home today. The past two days have been spent largely in bed. I have a case of "Delhi Belly". Not too fun. Ahh well, I appear to be getting better. I just feel a little drained but not sick anymore.

Friday, August 24, 2001

The cell service guy showed up but only had one SIM card (annoying). So ... Amy doesn't have a cell phone number until Monday, mine is:

+91 (981) 050-1397
We bought cell phones in the "grey market" yesterday. There is nothing grey about this market, it is completely black. Fortunately for us we had a negotiator from work come with us to guarentee us a good deal. We'll have service and the cooresponding phone numbers soon. For now, I thought I'd share our home phone number:

+91 (11) 615-6243 (no answering machine for now)

If necessary you can reach us at 6240 (bedroom phone) or 6241 (guest room). We'll probably change this later -- it's pretty annoying having three numbers at home -- so please use the 6243 unless it is a complete emergency.
Last night we had a cook/housecleaner stop by for an interview. She had lots of experience, spoke english, and had good references. We didn't hire her though. Why? She had a teenage daughter and son, as well as a husband who would all be sharing the guest quarters. There is plenty of room for a single person up there, probably even enough for a married couple but there is no way a family with children could live there. Oh well. Amy and I made breakfast this morning all by ourselves. Please don't feel too sorry for us. Apparently there is another candidate who will be interviewed today and we may have someone as early as later today.
Last night was relatively cool and I took a break by taking some photo's from our roof deck. Here is my favorite (had to "stitch" two photos together to get the wide-angle effect):

Thursday, August 23, 2001

I'm splitting this post into sections cause I was having trouble posting the whole thing all at once. Ta! -aes

Part 1:
Wow. Giant ants, custom-made furniture, dueling cooks - I feel like we're living in an episode of National Geographic meets Bob Vila meets Iron Chef! I'm having a wonderful time, but I haven't quite gotten used to the fact that we're not going back. I keep thinking things like, "I'll have to before we leave." Granted, it's still possible that I'll be staffed and promptly sent back to SF, but for now it appears that I'll be in Delhi for awhile.

Our adventures began Sunday, when we moved into our flat. We tried to find our local market, and after using a mix of English and pidgin sign language, we managed to find our way there. First reality check: we cannot communicate with random strangers as easily as we thought we might be able to. Fear not, however, because we have signed up for lessons in Hindi, and I got over my fear of our Loney Planet Hindi and Urdi phrase book and started digging in.
Part 2:
We met our downstairs neighbors as we moved in - a great couple from Toronto - Anil and Anjali. We went to dinner together Sunday night, and they shared some of their experiences and knowledge with us. Anjali speaks Hindi, and offered her help if we get in a pinch.

Work on Monday was rather uneventful, and we left the office early to try to return to the market to a store recommended by Anil and Anjali. We went and found a few staples like ice cream, chocolate, milk, and frozen samosas. We have about 6 bags of lentils, a bunch of spices, 12 cartons of juice, and 2.5 dozen eggs at home, and I couldn't turn them into a meal if my life depended on it! (We haven't quite figured out the stove yet.)

On Tuesday, I went to the furniture and fabric stores, where I got to pick out new couches and the material that will be used to cover them. I also picked material for curtains. It was a ball, but we had an hour total, and Ken wasn't there, so I was a bit conservative. We're having an American dresser made cause Indian ones don't really store a lot of clothes. The Indian dresser that we do have has a little stool that slides out and makes a dressing table - we'll have to upload pics when things are settled a bit more.
Part 3:
Yesterday was rather uneventful, though I had a fun task at work interviewing project managers about their experiences with distributed delivery - very educational. Our neighbors' cook brought his sister by to see if we needed a cook, and we'll be interviewing her and another woman tonight. One of our Operations team members is suggesting that we have both cooks work for us for a week and see which one we like better. Makes sense, but it's a little wacky. We're going to look at tri-band cell phones (can be used in Asia, Europe and the US) and cars today, as well.

Ken mentioned the mosquito destroyer in a previous post. Well, it appears that it kills more than that - we found ~6 dead, giant ants this morning. That's better than yesterday morning, when I woke up with one of them crawling on me!!

Even though we don't have "help" yet, someone comes into our apartment to straighten it daily (dishes done, etc.) and our laundry is picked up (to be returned the following day). The thing that continues to surprise me is that people will bring anything to your house if you're interested in making a purchase. The phone guy comes by the office, and comforters will be brought by our apartment this evening. People will even bring cars to your house for you to look at!!

Anyway, gotta run to check out phones.

Take care, aes
Here are some a few random images:

This is a junior police officer (the full officers wear white), his unenviable job is a human traffic light. He must run out in front of traffic and become the "red light"Some guy selling lemons (at least that's what I think they are)
People stare at white people here. I caught this guy staring at us and waved. He lightened up after that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

I wore my Indian dress into the office today. Everyone is giving me compliments but it turns out that I overpaid for it by quite a lot. Overall not too surprising but the magnitude of overpayment surprised me. I paid roughly $120 (although Amy swears it was more) and I probably should have paid around $20-25. Ooops
Our office is in the "helmet district". This is not an official name -- actually I just created it -- but for roughly 4-5 blocks before you get to our office there is business after business (read: outdoor stand after outdoor stand) selling only scooter/motorcycle helmets. Weird, but I guess it makes sense considering how many scooter are on the road.

Monday, August 20, 2001

Rolling blackouts in the California cause headlines in the US, in India it is just par for the course. We lost power in the office probably 8-10 times (only for a few seconds) yesterday. The only bad part, however, was when we got back to our flat and found that some of the electricity (and air conditioners) had gone out. Arrrgh. The dream of watching TV while comfortably sprawling in our nicely cooled living room was quickly squelched. We had to switch to bedroom (with air conditioning) for last night too. Ohh well, hopefully this should be fixed today and not be a problem going forward.

Sounds like progress is being made on getting us a cook and house keeper but still no "help" yet.
We're Baaa-ack. Amy and I flew out Friday afternoon and arrived around midnight on Saturday night. We crashed at a hotel on Saturday but the driver gave us the keys to our flat and we headed over there on Sunday morning to take a look. To our surprise they had furnished the entire place! Guess that's both good and bad. On the plus side, we were able to move in comfortably that afternoon but on the minus side some of the furniture is definately not our style. We're going to look into changing it around a little over the next week. One of the things they put in our apartment is an anti-mosquito device ... officially it's called (and I quote), an "electronic liquid mosquito destroyer machine". Awesome. And if you weren't already impressed, ours is loaded with extra MMR (that's Mosquite Mortality Rate). Yes!

Friday, August 10, 2001

Haven't posted anything recently so thought I'd quickly say hi. The big news is Amy and I finally both have tickets back to India! We are flying out on Friday the 17th of August. Even though it has been fun being back in the states, I'm looking forward to getting back to India. Here's a couple pictures of our US trip back:

Amy and my dad in NapaAmy and I in Calistoga

Thursday, August 02, 2001

Since Amy and I have been over in the states it seemed less important to post updates but now that we've both been here for longer than we expected I feel the need to give a quick update.

First off, we rented the house! That was the biggest obstacle in front of our moving and we were lucky enough to find friends (Pam & Dave) as tenants. In addition to just peace of mind that meant that the property management company was comfortable with us renting the house furnished. Packing should be much easier.

Around the date for our return to India ... still trying to finalize that. It's looking like Amy and I may have different dates which is a bummer. Well, we'll let you know when we know.

Saturday, July 21, 2001

Also, here are two shots from our new house

View from our roof deck in IndiaView from the 3rd bedroom ... this will likely end being our study

Oh alright, here's two more ...

A woman wearing a beautiful sariThere are still some bike-rickshaw's (see below images) but the auto-rickshaws are far more common today in India. If you don't have a driver, this is how you'll get around. Unlike the US, however, there are no meters so be prepared to negotiate price.

Friday, July 20, 2001

Now that I'm back in the US, I had a little more time to go through the pictures and I thought I'd share some more on the blog:

A bike rickshaw and a scooter (taken in Old Delhi)An old Indian tomb, this was our first site seeing visit in Delhi. This area was free but there were some areas that had an admission charge. It cost 10 rupees for non-Americans, 10 dollars for Americans. Thats a 40x markup!
I'm not sure the history on this tower but it was in the same park as the first Indian MosqueThis guy used to be professor but now that he's retired he hangs out at the tomb and tells folks the history. He expects to get paid for his services. (BTW, that's a water bottle next to him)

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

I'm back. While it was a long trip my experimentation with narcolepsy has helped me to sleep through almost the entire journey. :^)
A few quick notes...Ken and I have gotten a number of questions from people, and I'd like to take a moment to answer them:

1. Where exactly are we?
I am currently in SF, and Ken is currently somewhere over the Pacific Ocean between Hong Kong and LA. I'm expecting to go to Denver next week to prepare for a potential project. Aside from that, Ken and I are both currently planning to be in SF through 8/13.

2. Is it cold there [in Delhi]?
Whoa. No it is not. It was in the 90s the whole time we visited last week, which is much cooler than the months of May and June (lucky us!). August and September should cool down a bit more and be very rainy (monsoon season), and then it gets downright chilly (40s). Most places don't have heat, so we'll need to stock up on blankets for the cooler months.

3. Will your staff (driver, maid, etc?) live with you and will that be weird?
There are actually servant's quarters on the top floor of our flat (sort of opposite the terrace), so, they could end up living in our building. Yes, the whole thing is weird and uncomfortable. I hate the word servant, and the rooms provided for them are small and not very nice.

4. Are your parents till visiting SF?
Yes, they arrive tomorrow morning!! Yeah!

So, that's about all I can think of right now. More later...*yawn*


Tuesday, July 17, 2001

I guess the last day before anything is hectic; today being my last in Delhi for a couple weeks, was no exception. Besides doing regular "project stuff", I went furniture shopping, helped to close the flat (today it moved to 99%), got more info on cars (looks like the Ambassador is not the way to go but rather the Maruti-Suzuki Esteem), talked some more on finances during the year, and a million-and-half small things.

For those that are interested (and I'm guessing Amy is probably on this list), I didn't get too much furniture. The pressure of choosing all of our surroundings for the year without Amy broke me and I decided to just get the bare essentials (2 beds, 2 dressers). This should allow us to move in (the fridge, stove, and air-conditioners are not considered "furniture" but rather "electronic goods" ... Sapient will pick these out for us) and we can pick up the rest of our stuff when we get back here (they have same day delivery). When looking at beds one thing that is quite different is that most Indians use foam mattresses not springed ones. I made sure that we had a 10" springed mattress for the master but it cost about 5 times as much money as the 5" foam mattress that almost everyone uses here. Here is a small picture of the bed for the master bedroom:

Earlier this morning I found out that the flat we were already expecting to be closed was in a competitive bid situation with the French Embassey. However, I got the our operations owner -- code named "the godfather" -- to make some calls and he promises me it will be ours (he's still looking for a 5,000 rubees discount). The address is:

A 8/4, 2nd Floor
Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, India

Regarding the car situation ... I talked to the VP who's running the Delhi office about what we need to do and it looks like there are two possiblities:

1. Rent both car and driver
2. Buy a car for the year and pay for a driver

He recommended buying for a number of reasons (e.g., outside of small cash flow blip the costs are lower, 24hr access versus 10 hour, weekend access, etc.) and I think we will likely do it. Amy and I both really like the Ambassador cars but after talking to a few locals it sounds like it is on it's way out the resale value is not good at all. The car we've used on this trip -- the Maruti-Suzuki Esteem -- is the Ford Taurus of India and everyone has had very positive things to say. No one, however, said it was sexy. It is not. Oh well. It's reliable, safe, has air-conditioning, and a stereo. What more can you ask?

Though I'd include a few more pictures from our weekend journeys. Hope you enjoy them:
Amy at the Quwwatul-Islam Masjid. The mosque is known as "Night of Islam" and is the earliest in India (a.d. 1197).An elephant hanging around outside a temple (and tourist trap)
The Bahai Temple is modeled after the lotus flower. It was designed and is still maintained as a place of worship for all religions.Found this guy just hanging out charming snakes. :^)