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. :^)

Monday, July 16, 2001

Well, we're moving right along. We had hoped to go look at furniture today, but the warehouse was closed, so Ken will have to do that tomorrow on his own. Yep, that's right, I fly out bright and early tonight/tomorrow morning at 2:45am. I'll go on to the airport around midnight, get checked in, and try to stay awake long enough to get on the plane. We boarded almost an hour before the flight took off last time for both our Hong Kong and our Delhi flights. Luckily, I'm in business class all the way back again, so I can stretch out and sleep a lot of the way.

Ken and I had hoped to avoid getting too roped in to projects during this trip, but neither one of us succeeded. I managed to hold out until today, but, alas, I have been staffed. I'll be heading to Denver on Monday for a week to work on a proposal for a large potential project for the Delhi office. Should be a fun experience, but it'll make the rest of our preparation a bit more stressful. We've moved out our relocation date to August 13, so we'll be in the U.S. about a week longer than previously expected.

Looks like I'm going to be involved in quite a bit of office level PM stuff when I get back, so that'll be cool, too.

Sunday, July 15, 2001

I'll try to follow this up with a more complete post but here is a quick update on our weekend. On Saturday we unfortunately had to cancel sightseeing plans in favor of coming into the office and helping with a "super saturday" which is a super-charged hiring event where 10-30 candidates are brought in and run through three interviews each. On Sunday our driver -- Govind -- drove Amy, Mary (a colleague of ours), and I around the city to do some sightseeing and shopping. We looked at some amazing Indian rugs, some old military forts, the Bahai House of Worship (which while built by the Baha'u'llah, the house is intended to be for all forms of worship), we also visited the first Mosque built in Delhi, drove through Old Delhi (Govind said it would not be safe to get out of the car in this area), and ate at a very nice India restaurant (they were in-between lunch and dinner so they could only serve a "snack" but that ended up being a full meal for the three of us).

During dinner/snack the television was on so that everyone could hear an update on how the Indian-Pakistani talks were going. This is a very big deal for everyone out here but the news conference was devoid of any real information (politics at it's best?); the conference continues today and hopefully there will be some good forward progress made by it's conclusion. Expectations from most are that this is just the beginning of a long process rather than a beginning and an end.

Friday, July 13, 2001

What a relief. I was so worried that the housing would be a serious step down from what we'd gotten used to in Oakland, but it's looking like we'll find a pretty nice place. The places we looked at today and yesterday were gorgeous!! Ken mentioned the place that we really liked, so I'll go into more detail. It's on the second level (which, as Ken explained, is the 3rd floor), and it has a number of windows that face the little park that's in our area. The place is 2 doors down from Soumya, another Sapient DOT (Director of Technology) and is close to the Visant Vihar Club. We're not completely certain what the club has, but there are tennis courts. We're also very close to the market, within walking distance if I recall, and there is a very nice cinema.

The house has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a living/dining area, and a small kitchen. One of the bedrooms is smaller and would be the study; while the two larger bedrooms will be the master and guest bedrooms. Evidently, there are servant quarters on the same level as the terrace (just above our apartment). We're not quite sure how this works or what it means.

The house is furnished, which means that it has light fixtures and hot water heaters, and that the owner may put air conditioners in. There are no appliances and there is no furniture as we know it. Evidently, we can rent nearly everything, and there's a person that Sapient has worked with who can furnish the apartment "smartly" in just a couple of days. Ken and I have agreed that this would be a great place for us, but that we can relatively easily find something else if it falls through. One thing we need to keep in mind is the fact that diplomats are mostly away for the summer right now, but school starts up again in early August, so housing may become a little more difficult to find then.

We hope to find out more about what projects we'll be working on today; we should find out before we leave at the latest. My project will determine what city I go to when our preparations for moving are complete. I may not be coming back to India with Ken for a number of weeks. How strange it would be to move out of the house and end up in a corporate apartment in SF for a few weeks!

I'll try to post pictures of our potential flat later today.

We looked at three places yesterday in Vasant Vihar, Malcha Marg, and Shanti Niketan (all three are "diplomatic" areas which means very good security, electricity, and water). From our trip yesterday it seems that all three are very nice and while Malcha Marg is considered the most desireable, we liked the house in Vasant Vihar better and the area has newer houses in general (with better plumbing).

This morning we looked again but this time only in Vasant Vihar. In Delhi, unlike other cities in India, it is a challange to find 2 and 3 bedroom houses/flats as most are much larger. We saw two new places today and relooked at the place we saw yesterday. One place was 4 or 5 bedrooms, a bit too much space for the two of us. The other was a stand-alone house. It was gorgeous with a second floor (although they call it the 1st floor out here) deck. It was also quite expensive -- 90,000 rupias per month! (roughly $2000/mo) -- but in immaculate condition. That said, Amy insisted she like the house we saw yesterday better so we went back to look again.

On second inspection I have to say I was won over too. It has beautiful marble floors, a nice balcony overlooking a small park, and one thing we hadn't seen yesterday was the roof deck that is apparently solely for the resident of the 2nd floor (which is the flat we were looking at). The roof has a marble floor too and plenty of room for having parties. I think the two of us have pretty much decided this is where we would like to live, there are some more conversations with Sapient folks that need to happen to work out some of the details ... we'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

A few pictures from the trip (hold mouse over image for brief description):

Amy in the lobby of the hotel In downtown Delhi, the house of the president
a random sign on the street.  where were you June 2nd? a popular market in downtown Delhi; we have eaten lunch here the past two days
I have changed the timezone setting on our blogger. Hopefully the date/time will start to be reported more accurately now.
Today should be fun. We are looking at apartments/flats with a real estate agent this afternoon. Looks like we should be able to get a really nice place for no more that 60,000 rubias a month (that's roughly $1000/mo for you flat foots out there).

One other interesting footnote ... we had a small automobile accident this morning. No one was hurt. In fact at the speed people drive, I'm guessing the only folks in danger are those on two wheelers (albeit there are a lot of them out there). Our driver was new ... and not nearly as good ... and he side swiped another car. They got out and yelled at each other briefly and then we both just took off again.
Looks like I'm behind in posting! Well, we did get business class seats for the entire flight, and that made things so much better!! We were able to get quite a bit of sleep in our lazyboy-like chairs.

Ken mentioned our hotel; it's really beautiful ( It's a member of the Leading Hotels of the World (, and it's definitely delaying most of our adjustment to our new standard of living. I'm really looking forward to looking at places with the real estate agent later this week. I'm glad we'll have a chance to get a perspective for what our long-term living arrangements will be like.

I have to admit that having a driver is very nice; though, I think it will make it harder to get to know the city in some ways.

Based on some of our recent conversations, we can expect to rent a flat (a floor of a house converted into an apartment). Often, I guess people don't rent an entire place; they leave some rooms for servant quarters. Wild, huh? We're expected to have servants, by the way. It's considered selfish not to hire them. Many people seem to have a cook, housekeeper, laundry person, and a driver. People with children also hire nannies.

The traffic is really interesting here. People use their horns to warn people that they're coming, to let people know that they're there, and to push their way through traffic. It's almost like a giant coriagraphed dance. Cars weave in and out with autorickshaws, motorcycles, and cattle. Speeds don't seem to get too high, so maybe that's why it works okay. The thing that surprised me the most were the motorcycles. Women often ride sidesaddle on the back of a motorcycle, and sometimes they only have one hand on the leg of the driver. It's crazy! I've seen a couple with a child wedged between them, and a couple where the woman was holding an infant. Susan, another expat here, told us that you sometimes see families of 4-5 on a single motorcycle. It's wild.

We've eaten at two restaurants outside the hotel now. At the first one, we had Chinese food. It was good, but hot. We had Indian food for the first time today, and it was great. We went to one of the markets (a collection of a ton of different stores kinda like a strip mall) with Susan to get books and a coffee maker (for Susan). We found a restaurant there and decided to give it a shot. I had a vegetarian combo plate that had a kind of cheese, and what looked kinda like a sushi roll, but instead of rice/seaweed/fish/veggies, it seemed like some kind of squash that had been stuffed and sliced. Nan, dal and a cucumber/yogurt-like mixture were served on the side. So yummy! Susan and Ken had similar combos but with meat (chicken and something else??).

Whew. Well, that's all I have to report at the moment. ;)


Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Looks like the areas to live are Vasant Vihar, Defence Colony, or Malcha Marg. They are all south of the city. There is a travel agent that will help us look at places either tomorrow or Friday.
You say Tuesday, we say Wednesday. :^)

Just noticed that the posting time is off by 12.5 hours. This post -- and the last -- were really posted close to noon on Wednesday, the 11th of July.
Well we made it. Today is our second day in the Delhi office and both Amy and I are doing well. With all the conversations we had about the shock value of India we have been largely unaffected. That is in large part due to our cushy environment. The hotel we are staying at -- the Oberoy -- is considered to be one of the nicest (if not the nicest) in Delhi, we have a driver that takes us where we need to go in an air conditioned (four wheeled ... which is not the norm) car, and the office is a very friendly place where everyone speaks english. The hotel is probably the biggest boon in making us feel at home ... the water, the fruits, the food in general are all both safe and westernized. There is definately some local fair but we eat pancakes and omelettes for breakfast after working out in the gym and relaxing the pool and sauna. Life's tough, eh?

Today we are planning only half the day in the office with the second half of the day focused on looking at different areas of the city. This will help us to understand where we would like to live during the year. After talking to both Soumya (DoT) and Subbu (Arch) yesterday I think we are both starting to feel a little more comfortable with the lodging details. Not that we have a lot of the details yet but the pieces coming in suggest there are nice accomidations available.

Saturday, July 07, 2001

Holy shit! I can't believe we're actually going. But we are and it's less than 12 hours before we jump on a plane heading west. Our flight goes to LA, then Hong Kong, and finally Delhi. We won't know if we're able to upgrade to Business class until tomorrow morning. I'm usually fine with the cheap seats but for 20 hours? Got my fingers crossed.

Friday, July 06, 2001

On a totally non-Indian related note ... found a kinda cool little movie clip on the Rockridge area (e.g., where our house is). Check it out at:

Thursday, July 05, 2001

Oof. Only 2.5 days until we head to India, and we've had some great luck. We got upgraded to Premier Executive status on United's frequent flyer program, and a friend of ours from work has some international upgrade coupons, so we may be flying business class. We're hoping to upgrade the LA->Hong Kong leg if nothing else.

Looks like we have a hotel for our first visit, and by the time we're ready to move (near the end of the month), Sapient will have moved into new office space. That should be really nice because then we can find an apartment near the office. This is becoming very real now that there are only a couple of days left to finish off last minute work and errands.

Quite a few Sapient people seem to be heading to India right now; I think that'll be good for us, considering that the office will be growing so quickly. I think it's going to be quite a challenge to instill the Sapient culture in a group that's growing so quickly.

Ken mentioned how easy it is to get Visas; well, we're about to find out how easy or hard it is to get work permits. We each had to update/create resumes for the process, and we have to provide quite a bit of other information. I just hope that we can get them taken care of before we're supposed to move (i.e., by the end of July).

More soon; fingers crossed on the flight upgrades. :)


Tuesday, July 03, 2001

We've got VISA's! Not too hard really. Just stop by the consulate ... wiz, bang, and two hours later you've got yourself a VISA to India.

On another note ... we are getting mixed messages on exactly what vaccinations we should take for our trip. Initially we got: Hepatitis A & B, Polio, and Typhoid. Now it looks like it MMR and Tetanus are good to have too. Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies are maybes as well. Finally -- while not a vaccine -- Malaria pills are also a question mark. Got any opinions? Feel free to contribute to our confusion.

Ok, one final note. I passed my Siebel certification exam today. Glad that's over with.

Monday, July 02, 2001

Sapient laid off 14% of it's workforce today. Ouch. That's never fun. It makes me wonder what the SF office will look like in a year when Amy and I return. I guess we'll still know a lot of folks but will the culture have shifted? Well it's unanswerable for now, guess we'll see.

Sunday, July 01, 2001

It is Sunday, July 1st. Still in sunny california. Wow. A lot to think about. Instead of thinking about India, however, I find myself thinking about the economic/cultural changes of the past 6-9 months. While it was refreshing to leave the "bubble" behind, the new new economy has a way of sucking that I hadn't been prepared for. I hope we can find a happy medium soon. I guess being in India Amy and I will be removed from this "1st world phenomenon" but we do plan on coming back not to mention that our friends and family will still be here. Well, here's to finding the middle.