Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beach Resort

yed is a joy. I am staying in a spacious fishermanshut with AC. In basic it is a wooden hut with leaf roof, but inside the bedroom & living area are closed. The bathroom has the open roof though.
Dinner here was ok, buffet again but as said: I was not up to traveling again. Was pretty tired so went to bed early, hence was awake at 5 am. Dozed off until it was light, and went out running. Saw some restaurants for this eve to get myself some grilled fish. And then it almost is over.

I have stayed all day in the area of the resort: in front of the house watching the water, on the beach, back to the house. And now it is almost dinner time, so will find myself a place to go in the little village here.

For some pictures, look here

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kerala trip 23-27 March

Long drive (5 hours after our 2 hour flight already) to get into the mountains. Very green and beautiful area, but also hardly any network connections ... not mobile nor wifi. But a great time. Nice temperatures at 1500-1600m hights. In the Tue & Weds evenings sitting on our Munnar balcony and having to wear our long sleeves and trousers, but still very comfortable. We are amidst tea gardens, so we have to visiting a tea garden and museum. This is followed by a flower garden, the church, mosk and temple in one village just by walking distance separated. Weds eve an Ayurvedic massage and off to diner at our balcony.

Thursday a 4 hours mountain drive (on the slicks the car already had when it picked us up from the airport btw) to get to Thekkady: Periyar park where the monkeys stole our lunch, martial arts show and typical local dance show. We had a boat trip, and all wildlife was at least 2 kms away. We saw buffalos, some more waterbuffalos, a deer, and some birds. We all had expected a bit more. But we had fun to see how an Indian complained about overbooking the ship. He and his family did not have seats allocated together (free-choice for seats), and he was highly annoyed because of that.
We have a room in the Ranger Resort with wildlife view. We only get to spend their way after sunset, so no wildlife to be seen just monkeys to be heard. In the morning, while having breakfast we were hoping to be surprised... and yes ... we see some wildlife .... in a hurd, nicely walking as they are being chased ... and of course the shepard follows. They were buffalows or cows, but nothing more specific or exotic. Thekkady actually requires for a person to stay for a few days and to do a 3 day hike into the darkest areas of the park to even have the slightes opportunity to see some wildlife.

Another 4 hours drive (4 hours = ±100-120 kms a day, so many curvy roads, a lot of traffic, you name it) to get to Allepuzza (Allepey) and to get onto the houseboat. We have to speed up, as the boat departs 12.30. We make it in time, but then a 1.5 hours stop is introduced for grocery shopping. Then we move a bit, see people washing themselves, washing clothes, get to a fish market where we buy our appetizer and then be lazy and enjoy the views.
The next morning checkout at 9, and then anther 3 hour drive starts to get us to the beach resort that I have booked to stay my last 2,5 days. On our way, our driver wants to sightsee, and we are not in the mood. we have spend days in the car already, we just want to enjoy outside. But we get to see some of Allepey and old city part of Cochin. We later learned it took 20 mins to get into the old city, now we had to get out again around 12.30 because we wanted the beach resort !!!!! 30 kms.... busy roads, so again 1.5 hours. Just give us the beach NOW. Stefan has to leave the beach around 3 pm to catch his flight. So he gets to enjoy 1 hour on the beach only and then off to shower and get ready. Of course I stay on the beach as long as possible, have a shower and see sunset over there. The evening I will spend at the resort, I am not up to another drive now and all seemed to be at east 5 kms away from the resort. Maybe tomorrow. I will get up early and go out running along the beach, and maybe I find a lunch and/or dinner place for that.

Have to stop, my hours webaccess is expiring. Just find a quick selection of the pictures to get you a flavor.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Golden Triangle

We are having vacation now. First trip: Golden Triangle, meaning Jaipur, Agra with Taj Mahal and Delhi. From Hyderabad a direct flight to Jaipur was a good decision. On Saturday Michel joined us by train from Delhi, so he had to get up at 4 am, where we got to sleep until 7.30. All day tour in Jaipur, including Elephant ride, visit to the Amber Fort, some other stops and sunset at Sun temple, a.k.a. Monkey temple. We had us dropped at a nice restaurant for dinner and got back to the hotel by 11pm, long day. For Michel a bit longer: his return flight was cancelled due to strike, so he had to make arrangements to change ... took him about 1.5 hours and a lot of frustration.

Sunday: breakfast at 6.30 and leaving for Agra. On our way, the driver stopped at a Palace. A nice intervention after 3 hours in the car. A car a little to small to carry 4 passengers and the driver, so the backseat was packed an uncomfortable. Then another 1.5 hours to Taj Mahal. Very impressive buildings and tombs. BTW: very contractdionary event at the Taj Mahal: I had to throw away food and candy as it was not allowed to get that on the premesis, whereas half the country here is suffering from hunger I was forced to put it in the bin.
By 5 pm we started the drive to Delhi. A difficult route was said ... 200 km only, but 5 hours drive .... it appeared to be 6 hours in the end - without dinner. Very busy road and heavy traffic. But we got there, and into a nice hotel: Hilton. So comfortable bed, bathtub, shower, you name it.

Monday morning: Michel got up early to get his luggage from his other Delhi hotel, as he did not want to go there and stayed with us. I got up when he left, got myself some Dutch coffee that I still have, and got into my 5 kms running again. After breakfast, we relaxed a bit and got ourselves a car again to explore Delhi a bit. We had to wait an hour for the car to arrive, and only had until 6 pm as Michel needed to catch his newly booked and planned return flight. So we saw some highlights, unfortunately not all. But hey, we got a flavor.

*** Pictures here ***

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 19: days of finalisations, goodbyes and vacation start

The last day already. Yesterday evening we had team dinner and we all pretty tired, hence quiet. Many appetizers appeared, and we know that now so skipped a lot of these already as dinner was supposed to be served one hour later. We talked a bit, shared somereflections, and then to bed. No more workouts for me at the gym from now on

Friday, 3 out of the 5 teams had to work. So do we.

First packing the bags, then up to the 7th floor for a last time. We still have to try to complete our deliverables A1 and A2 (critical mass and where to get funding), B3 we already had to skip due to lack of time (B3 is reviewing the 165 page document Sundara gave us at the end of week 1). In contrast of these items not being ready, we worked on two additional items this past week and a half as these requests came in from Sundara. In the end, he seems happy with the things we did, even though it many times appeared to be “yesterdays newspaper” … I started to call items we brought up and of which he immediately said he already tried that “yesterdays newspaper” as our creativity seemed to be old news to him. He laughed when I was saying that again and again … it definitely reduced the tension a bit regarding the high expectations, the lengthy list of deliverables we had to work on and the pressure that was being built between the 3 of us due to communication mismatches. Michel and I were more tired than before, so we endlessly had to try to understand eachother. Also, where I had to let go in the beginning due to man-woman understanding in India, I wanted to deliver and make my points as well. By now, Sundara seemed to better accept my contributions, so I wanted them to be in.

Lunch in one of the places nearby…. And the food was too spicy for me. I only could complete half the fish dish that they cook so nicely. Sadly enough, now I have to stay hungry the afternoon.

Then, in the evening we had to get ready for the airport. Stefan and I were completing some logistics regarding our Kerala tour package. I decided in the last half hour to stay in a beachresort near Kochin after Stefans return to Hyderabad on Saturday the 27th. So that day we can relax there and I will return to Hyderabad airpot on Monday the 29th to return home end of morning 30st. And then the goodbyes in the lobby. We will meet some again in Delhi, but some are returning home now. Stefan, Jinjun and myself are off to Jaipur for our Jaipur-Agra-Delhi trip. Upon arrival we learned it is a small militairy airport where no pictures can be taken –also no “welcome” sign-. Off to the hotel, and the taxi driver had to call the hotel to ask for the route twice. That whereas the guy just befor

e offered his services for both Saturday and Sunday telling us that he knows the routes and the places to visit. The hotel is a basic hotel in a dead-end street. The painting however are beautiful: on the walls ant the circle on the ceiling in my bedroom.

The bathroom reminds me to some places I visited when being a student. The mattress is almost like a rock … luckily this only is for two days :-)

PS: the hotel does have wireless though ....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 17 & 18: last few days

The last few days are here already. We still have many things to do. Wednesday was dedicated to get as far as possible regarding all deliverables. Michel was very edgy and impatient, he is tired. I skipped lunch, as we have had to cancel dinner with Sundara and his wife due to the deliverables AND last minutes work on the press event on Thursday ... so teammeeting at th 7th at 6.30 pm. We kept on going, I did some 5.5 km running on the treadmill again and 9.30 dinner time in the hotel. Joined a group of 4. Handed a gift to the travel desk guy, who has been really helpful in making all kinds of car arrangements. He was so happy ...

Thursday press event. Clients present as well, 10 am dress rehearsals started, 11.40 the real thing started. After an intro by IBM Communications VP, all clients spoke, and lastly our own team presentation was given by selected spokespeople John and Nana. After lunch: work with Sundara until 5 pm, find a hotel in Delhi to stay Sun - Tue and then ... Kochin.
It seems that we will be able to leave our luggage in the hotel after 3 times a "no" .... we just have to confirm by phone when they need to drop what luggage at Hyderabad airport to initiate our return flights after our vacations. I will going home on March 30, 1.30 am .... Up to then: vacation and relaxing. Friday eve: off to Jaipur. Looking forward to relax a bit now, after all these long days - especially this last week. Early rises (usually 6 am now) and late bedrest (1-2 am). But no complaints, this is a wonderful experience. We even now know what it is to be a real minority type of group. The "white guys" are famous in the immediate surroundings of the hotel, but a few blocks away ..... we are the exotic creatures again. Great experience, and I would do it again if I could.

Chennai, March 15 & 16

Michel and myself went to Chennai. The alarm was earlier than the Sunday as we were to leave the hotel at 6 am now. We got into the Chennai Taj Connemara hotel by 10 am, worked until 1.30, had lunch and went on to a 4 hour tour through the city. We saw some of the hotspots so to say. The evening we worked during dinner again, and early the morning up to 11.30 as well, before we could allow ourselves to enjoy the tour to the Mamallapuram Temple complex about 2 hours drive outside the city. It was a beautiful complex, and we we spent almost 3 hours getting over the entire ground and climbing on the "rocks"to get to the top of most of them. A quick selection of photos can be found in the Chennai album.

Magnificent views, and then my camera decided to quit due to high humidity and salt I am afraid. I just could not motivate itself to allow me taking more pics, so have to revitalise and clean the camera ... all dust and heat is no good to things here in India. I already have two broken necklesses, a zipper of a pant that no longer works, you name it and it has stopped funtioning by now. Michels razor also suffers from the same problem, so he had to ask the hotel to get him a new one as we are so busy in getting as far as possible to finishing our deliverables.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

5.30 am: the alarm goes: visit to FARMERS

It is dark when I get up, the imman is silent up to 15 mins later: sunrise. 7 am at the Secunderabad trainstation, we eat some of the breakfast the hotel prepared for us and wait for Sundara to arrive. 7.30 in the train normal class (no A/C, no windows so natural A/C actually), 10.15 we arrive in the mandal (± province in NL) where we visiti the kiosk. We are picked up by a mandal-coordinator and get into a mini-bus (6+2 in the back seater) for 45 mins, and then an autoriksja to take the last stint of 30 mins.

Roads are surprisingly good, houses are brick houses to our surpise. The kiosk looks very good, the guys are friendly as well as the farmers we shortly meet. Telugu is their language, so we are challenged in communications. The “largest” farmer with 20 acres speaks some English, the 10 acre or 7 acre men a lot less. Simple questions help, as we drink the generously offered warm milk (yep, not my thing but very impolite to refuse so I have to swallow). Up to 2 pm no power supply in the village, so we cannot charge the battery of the laptop nor can we see the demo prior to that time. So we walk around in the village –pretty warm-, get some lunch (rice with curd (karnemelk) and white bread. The safest prepackaged food we can get, so this is our lunch). A discussion on Sundara’s –not-profitable at goup level- business model and than: power so demo.

Than route home starts. Autoriksja and bus as the train does not run within the next two hourse. A good 3.5 hours in the bus, and muscles hurt allower. Ears even more because of the horn that sounds LOUD & CLEAR.

We have learned a lot again today; and more ideas to market Janani. Of course, this again requires money so that is the explanation to clarify our observation that it all is very silent. The even not is a Janani sign on the building, only e-Sagu. How to build and grow a business with lacking communications and marketing mechanisms, let alone being it a somewhat profitable construction within one pyramid … and we need 50-100 pyramids. What a job, what a challenge!