Travel

India Trip – July 2013

Well, I just got back from my trip. It was really good and very productive. I think we got a lot accomplished. It’s good to be back. I have a lot of pictures that I took and I thought I’d put them all in one post instead of a photo gallery this time. So grab a cup of coffee and start scrolling!

It all started on a United flight out of Chicago. It’s nice they have the movie screens. This was an 8 hour and 40 minute flight – or basically 9 hours with the time you sit on the tarmac and taxi-ing through O’Hare (which sometimes makes you think the plane is going to drive there instead of fly).

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I then had a layover in Frankfurt, Germany where I had a Big Mac even though it seemed more like morning. I then flew on the next flight to New Delhi (another 7.5 hours) then picked up my bags and went through Customs in New Delhi, India.

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In New Delhi, I had a 5-6 hour layover, so I stayed in the airport hotel and caught a little sleep before heading on to Chennai. The room was basic, kind of small but nice and modern. It had a bed, desk, TV, and bathroom with shower (which I used twice… the shower – SO nice!).

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This is where I saw my first Starbucks in India – at the airport. I got a soy latte and bought a collector’s mug, which says “India” on it to go with the other ones I have.

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I then got my bags at the Chennai airport – the new Domestic Terminal. John took me to the hotel (Le Royal Meridien) where I slept for a bit and then had a really good dinner.

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The next day, Sunday (July 14, 2013), I mainly just caught up on sleep some more and hung out at the pool with a King Fisher beer.

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The next morning, I got up and worked out. They had a nice, little gym there in the spa area.

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Monday, I went to the office and came back to the room. They laid out some slippers for me and I ordered up a pizza.

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I checked out the pool that night and got a good night shot. It starts getting dark around 6pm there and that’s pretty constant year round. It might vary about half hour throughout the year – so pretty different than here in Wisconsin.

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I noticed in the hotel room that there was a tissue dispenser from Kimberly-Clark, which is based out of Neenah, WI. I thought that was interesting… from Wisconsin to India.

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I then had breakfast the next morning. It’s buffet style and good. You can also have the chef make you an omelet or else French toast or pancakes.

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Another breakfast from another day. I enjoyed taking time to eat and read the paper in the morning.

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I had lunch with Philip and some of our team at the Radisson Blu hotel. Most of the nice restaurants in town are at hotels.

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It was also one of our manager’s birthday (Raghu), so we celebrated. He had cake at the Radisson and then we bought him a nice, new shirt. The team then proceeded to smash cake all over his face.

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On Friday, everyone wore the Madison Mallards “Staff” t-shirts that I brought (since we help with the Mallards website). Two people are missing from the photo (plus Lennart, who was in the US, of course). Ok, we look like the cast of Glee in one of these photos… I was trying to get them to act goofy.

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It really didn’t get too hot there (not complaining at all – although I don’t mind hot weather). Most days were cloudy and there was a good amount of rain, too. It was actually much warmer/hotter in Madison than it was there.

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Noel and his wife had me over for dinner. I got to see his new house, which was really nice. I’m proud of him.

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On Saturday, I went out with the guys from the team. We played bowling, pool, video games and went to a mall where I got a shirt and we just sort of hung out.

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Here are a few more… including me acting like a mannequin (not very well… I used to be better at it).

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The mall parking is pretty tight and since all the cars there are pretty much compacts, they all sort of look the same.

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At the hotel bar, enjoying dinner (“Chicken 65″ I believe), my laptop and another King Fisher.

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Near the end of my trip, it was nice to achieve “fly on the wall” status with my team – versus everyone standing up when I entered. I prefer to be a fly. I was able to capture some pictures of everyone hard at work.

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Monday night (the second Monday – July 22), I took the team out for dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Chennai, which is really nice – great buffet there!

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Here are some random pictures from the city. One of the big differences there is that there are no Wal-Marts or stores like that. There are just lots (and I mean LOTS) of smaller shops that just specialize in a certain thing like light bulbs (“electricals”), tires (“tyres”), underwear, etc. Then, after a little while, it repeats and you start seeing the same kind of stores selling what another one sold 5 blocks down the road.

There are also hubs of stores… like Richie Street is where you buy computer stuff or we went through one area where there were lots of tire shops. You wonder how they all could survive selling the same thing. Well, that’s not how it works… there will be a lot of tire shops all together but each one only sells certain tires, so if you need tires, you’re best off going to that area since some store there will have the exact tire you need… versus going all over the city to find the right one.

The streets are also very crowded. They’re building a rail line throughout the city and things are a mess. It’ll probably take another year or two.

The cars are small. Auto makers develop a lot of compact cars for Asia, which you don’t see here in the US.

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Here is a BMW dealership, Mercedes-Benz dealership, Honda dealership and some more street scenes.

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With this last photo, I had to take a picture because it was very rare that the street was clear.

Here’s someone painting a mural and then a car with a sign for “Good Luckk” driving school, which I thought was a funny name… like it’s all based on luck – and that’s actually true to an extent. So funny but true.

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Things like the electrical transformers aren’t like in the US. Here in the US, you’ll see these things with a fence and barbed wire around them while in India, it’s just out in the open on the street and very unprotected.

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A few pictures of my hotel room (#1003, which you learn to say as “one double zero three” instead of “one thousand three” or they ask you to repeat what you said as if it made no sense).

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And then here’s the International Terminal of the Chennai Airport as I was leaving. This is the old airport and it should be the last time I use it as they’ve already done some test flights out of the new terminal. I thought the sign advertising Singapore was funny because the people there in Singapore pronounce it “Singa Po.”

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I kind of don’t get their electrical outlets there (this is one in the airport but they’re all kind of like this). They are the European ones and plugs just don’t stay in unless you have one with three prongs. It’s often a balancing act or getting the use of some other object to help keep the plug in. I mean, this really can’t be that safe, right?

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And then I flew back to Frankfurt and then Chicago where I picked up my car and drove home. Those flights were 10 hours and 9 hours. So a total of about 19 hours (plus layovers) to get there (3 flights) and 19 hours (plus one layover) to get back (2 flights).

You get on the plane and just know that it’s going to be a while and then sit back and don’t look at your watch at all (which helps). You watch movies, try to sleep, eat and get up and stretch every few hours. the flight from Chennai to Frankfurt is nice because it left at 1:45 am local time and everyone’s tired so everyone’s sleeping right away and the cabin is dark. By the time you get to Frankfurt, you’re chasing the sun.

It basically takes 2 days to get there and then on the way back, you gain that day back and you get back the same day. I left at 1:45 am on Wednesday and landed in Chicago at 3 pm the same day.

The trip was great, I really enjoyed it. I think we all got a lot done and it was nice to see everyone.

-Tony

WorldPerks Kinda Sucks

I just took 2, last minute flights on NWA / Delta and thought I’d sign up into their miles program – but no! They say, "Credit will not be given for flights taken prior to enrollment into the WorldPerks program."

What? That’s really lame!

Incredible.

-T

Rain and Floods in Chennai, India

Check out the pictures someone sent me (click into this story).

They don’t have much of an infrastructure set up like here in the US with storm sewers but if we had this much rain, we’d have problems, too!

-Tony

Back from Chennai

I just flew in from Chennai with 23 hours in the air and man, are my arms tired (yeah, that was corny but I still like that one). I’m still waiting for my luggage.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! Thanks too all of those who serve or have served in the military!

-Tone

Another Movie Experience

Ok, they just do it different here.

I went to see the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, which was good from what I saw and heard of it. So I go to the earliest show today, 11 am. When the movie starts, there are about 20 people in the theater – in assigned seats and all talking. The movie’s way too loud of course – I think they’re a bit too quiet in the U.S. but this was loud. Some people trickle in as the movie is going. Then, after an hour into the movie, about 60 people file in, all talking and some are even yelling and stuff – very rowdy. Then there’s the intermission. After it gets going again (they had to start and stop it since it wasn’t playing right), you try to remember what was going on since there’s no real place in the movie for an intermission – it wasn’t made that way. People are talking still and also cheering, sometimes for the wrong thing. It’s like being in high school, basically. Weird.

Then I try to get internet at this resort. I ask at least 5 times, all with the answer that the one guy who knows how to get someone a username and password is out or something. Finally, I get on after watching someone who has never used a Mac before get it set up.

What else? The phone keeps rining. We do the normal, "Hello?" "Hello?" "Hello?" thing, they mumble something I can’t understand, I ask them to repeat it and instead of saying it a different way or slower, I get the same thing and then another "Hello?". I say I can’t understand and then it’s just quiet. They don’t say anything and wait for me to hang up.

I think I’m about ready to head back home. It’s been good but some normalcy would be great.

-T