Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

/dev/india – Day 4 – Rikshaw madness

17/06/2011

Chicken and mutton biriyani!

Met Hermine for the first time in the hotel lobby on the way to work! She seemed very nice and had a quirky personality. 🙂

Also met all the workers at the office. They were all very friendly. Didn’t snap a picture but promise to post a group photo later!

After a productive day, we planned on going to mine and Hermines hotel with Oskari for some dinner and TV watching. (America’s Got Talent has started again!)

Unfortunately faith had other plans for us. India doesn’t use addresses in the same extent we do in Europe, and instead people explain where to go by major landmarks, intersections and names of larger streets. Since none of us speak Hindi, and the rikshaw drivers generally don’t speak English, it’s always a challenge to get back to the hotel. (From the hotel, the portier helps us get a cab.)

The rikshaw accidentally drove us to Goregaon station, and we had no idea how to gesture our ways back to the hotel, so we just got out and found ourselves lost in the night. After checking the GPS, we slowly made our way to the hotel on foot. It was about 8PM and pitch-black. The streets at night didn’t feel very welcoming, and it was kind of an unnerving experience for me.

The “boss stage” of the walk as Oskari put it, was crossing the street to reach the hotel. There are no pedestrian crossings around the hotel and the traffic on the four-lane highway felt almost as dense as the evening heat. After some hesitant flinches we ran over the street and found us at the hotel, home at last.

Once at the hotel, we ordered Biriyani, which I thought was a bit bland. (Think I was expecting a bit much from rice and meat.)

/dev/india – Day 3 – Getting settled

16/06/2011

Stopped by the office today and settled in a bit. Since it was Sunday, it was just me and Oskari. The offices are really nice and clean, with pretty decent computers (Spotted a few Core i3’s!)

The Office

Then it was off to the mall for shopping!

Short video of the mall below – lots of people!

The mall had a huge food court and seeing a familiar brand i quickly made my way to the Subway takeout. Interestingly, the vegetables that are being used for making vegetarian sandwiches are separated from the vegetables being used in meat sandwiches. Indians take their vegetarianism very seriously. I opted for a orthodox Italian BMT, which was delicious.

After that we stopped by a home and lifestyle store and purchased a small water boiler, some cutlery, a cup and a really cool bowl with engraved ornaments on the inside. Now i can make tea, noodles and soup in my room if I get hungry. 🙂

At the convenience store, I found a section that sold wines and asked the clerk to suggest me a good Indian wine:


Oskari came up with me to the hotel, and we watched Frasier and Seinfeld (Which Oskari did not seem to enjoy. 😦 )

We also uncorked the wine – it was really forceful with a strong woody taste. It was probably one of the strongest wines I’ve tried in terms of flavour. Think I’ll have to bring home a bottle!

After Oskari left, I watched some Frasier on the telly before drifting off into sleep.

/dev/india – Day 2 – The Long Journey Pt. II, or Everything is so new…

15/06/2011

We got to the hotel where I am staying at about 6AM, and I took a nice nap deep into the afternoon hours. Oskari came by and picked me up to go downtown for errands and showing me a bit of Mumbai. It was raining heavily most of the way and we got into a huge traffic jam. Luckily we had an air-conditioned taxi so it wasn’t all bad.


Road tolls are a common occurence.


Quick shot from the taxi.

Went to the local McDonalds, and it was quite a surprise. I knew that people do not traditionally eat beef in India, but it was interesting to see that I did not recognize a single burger on the menu.

For my first visit, I tried the Maharaja Mac, a Big Mac chicken equivalent. (But with a much cooler name!)


Hail to the king, baby!

After the mall me and Oskari went to the area where the offices are located, and stopped by Oskaris apartment where he showed me his awesomely massive tie collection!

In the evening, we went to get drinks at a local club with Shrenik, Oskaris right hand in India. Shrenik is a man of great ambitions, and we passionately discussed the finer details of our project, our lives and India in general.

The Brass Monkey club was impressive to say the least, with luxurious interior, stage lighting and extravagant drinks on the menu – it was a stark contrast to the rest of the India I had seen so far. Along the major highway we passed on the way, people were sleeping on the pavement, with nothing but improvised tents to give shelter.

There was just something surreal about seeing wealthy families in silk shirts and fine dresses as you thought about what it looked like just outside the walls of the establishment.


The club had a smokers lounge, right inside a huge shopping mall!


Classy interior inside the “Smoking den”.

As for drinking, I tried the local Kingfisher brand of beer, which was really good, with a deep yeasty aftertaste.

After having a sufficient (or slightly above that) amount of alcohol, I managed to rikshaw my way to the hotel and it was time to sleep again.

Photos

/dev/india – Day 1 – The Long Journey Pt. I

14/06/2011

I love travelling.

There’s something special about the jitters when you’re sitting on the train headed for the airport, the taste of an airport sandwich or that nervous feeling during takeoff. Travel makes me feel like a kid again – inexperienced and curious.


Arlanda Express

My day on the tenth started well enough, a good nights sleep, a nice breakfast and then taking the Arlanda Express to the airport.

From there I took the plane to Istanbul. The food was nice, a hot meat stew with crackers, and some kind of Turkish-themed dessert. I’m one of the people that actually really enjoys airline food even though it’s cold, there’s just something nice about the clinical feel of it, but I digress.

I had a two hour layover in Istanbul – the perfect time to get a coke and check my emails (of course).

The Ataturk airport seemed really nice and the shopping and dining areas were absolutely huge. Unfortunately I only snapped a picture from a café, but you can see in the background how it stretches on and on.

Then it was back to the gates to wait for the connecting flight that was going to take me to the Chhatrapati Shivaji airport in Mumbai.

This plane was one of the newer Airbuses and had a cool media center in the back of each seat.

The UI was pretty nice. I kept trying to test it for shortcomings but it worked great.

It also had a weird remote that you could pull out on an extendable cord, and if you flipped it you got this weird gamepad. Looked kind of like the offspring of an N-Gage and a Super Nintendo controller…


Chess has never felt this extreme!

The media system also had a vast array of movies and TV shows (I’d really like to know the legality of those movies, I didn’t see any TV logos but some of them had FOX watermarks in the lower right corner.)


Something that Oskar might have enjoyed. 😀

Apparently calling from the plane to a landline was 8USD/minute – passed on that novelty.

It seems they are planning on offering internet connectivity on board (The media center even had an ethernet connector!) but my flight did not seem to offer the service.

Again, the food was some kind of hot local cuisine with a Turkish bakery for dessert. Very tasty.

Just slightly before our descent, we were flying over with a giant thunderstorm roaring on the horizon. It was one of these completely insane, two giant bolts per minute thunderstorm that you have only ever seen in movies and nature shows.

To top that off, we were flying just above the clouds so you had perfect vision of all the stars in the night sky, and they shone brightly, only being overshadowed by the thunderstorm.

It’s hard to explain how beautiful it was. One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen and one I will never forget.

After we arrived at the airport I found out that you have to fill out a special arrival form. Didn’t have a pen (of course) and after scouring the vast crowd of people in the waiting hall I finally managed to borrow a pen from two Spanish exchange students and fill out the form.

After I passed customs and got my bag, I got stopped again because I forgot to fill out the entire form, so again I had to look for a pen and fill out the rest. I found one pen behind a dusty counter and picked up my ticket stub and passport to fill in the missing numbers on the form.

On my way out of the airport I was checking to see that I brought everything and suddenly realized I couldn’t find my passport anywhere. Quickly rushed back to the desk where I had filled out the extra parts of the form and it wasn’t there. Finally, after a tiny bit of panick I remembered that I had put the passport in my jacket pocket as opposed to keeping it in my bag like I always do.

Lesson to be learned here: Never put things in non-standard locations, you might forget that you put them there and almost have a panic attack as a result.

After I got out of the airport I finally met up with Oskari and Pauls contact in India, Irshad. I felt so bad for them, because my flight was scheduled to arrive at 4AM, and on top of that was an hour late. A high five to you troopers for coming to pick me up. I bounded with Oskari right away and Irshad was very nice an hospitable.

After the meet-up we took a cab to the the hotel. I was completely exhausted and fell asleep pretty much as soon as Irshad and Oskari left.

Photos

Here are some photos I snapped during the day. (Some of these are used throughout the blog post.)

/dev/india – Day 0 – Every story has a beginning…

14/06/2011

Hello and welcome to the /dev/india blog series! In twenty-three posts, I’m going to detail every day of my journey to the suburbs of Mumbai to participate in an internet venture.

Some backstory
A few months ago, my friend Oskari got me involved in a very interesting internet venture, a project that I have been doing part-time since. With the head of the project, Paul, and his marketing expert Hermine we decided to start an office in India to speed up development, my trip to the suburbs of Mumbai marking the beginning of the final push before the first private beta testing.

This blog series will last for twenty-three posts, from June tenth (Day of travel to India) to July third (Day of return to Sweden)

PS. The day of writing for this post is June 15th. Due to spotty internet connectivity and lack of time during my first days in India, I have not had time to post in the first few days. I am working on the backlog and will have everything posted as soon as possible until I get back in sync. DS.