Tuesday, June 5, 2018

To India and Back Again

Todd spent two weeks in India for work from mid-April to early May.  He will be writing four guest blog posts here at listgirl.com over the next few days to talk about his experiences in India.    ~Christine

In the last part of April I (Todd) went on a two-week trip to Bengaluru, India for the job.  The work purpose was to train a group of contract programmers for an 18 month project.  1) to write good code (as I define it), 2) teach them some technical skills, and 3) refine a process to maintain quality standards as they hand code off to me (which I also came up with).  Piece of cake, right?

But this is not going to be stories about work.  I'm here to tell you what it was like to head to the other side of the world on my own and jump into a different culture.  What did I eat?  What did I learn?  What's it like to be the tallest and blondest person anyone has ever seen?  Read on to learn!

What does everyone hate about travel?  The process of getting places.  Let's start there…but not for the purpose of venting.  Rather what I thought were the interesting parts.

The first thing I discovered was the best job in the world.  That job being the money exchanger at the San Diego airport.  I never saw this worker.  I walked by 3 times and every time the "Be back by..." clock had been updated but as far as I know nobody ever actually shows up to exchange money.  I wouldn't mind drawing a paycheck from that while spending my time reading, jamming in a funk band, and making cookies.  Yeah, that's my next job!

My flight was on British Air with layovers in LAX and Heathrow.  Heathrow is about halfway between - I had a pair of 10 hour flights excluding the jump up to LA.  As a non-executive business traveler I had seats in premium economy but not business class.  For about 2x the price of coach, I got wider seats with more legroom and more food.  All the bad wine I wanted to drink was available to me.  I chose not to dehydrate myself.  Business class costs about 6x coach and has seats that recline all the way down for sleeping.  I assume they have the same crappy wine.

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I was excited to eat some pasties in London but no such luck.  I couldn't find any.  I did manage some fish and chips and Cadbury chocolates though.  The London airport is different from those in the states.  There was only one station to get water in the whole international terminal.  OTOH, the bathrooms smelled really nice.

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When I finally arrived in Bengaluru I thought, "finally, I'm here!"  I was wrong.  It was a good 60 minutes of nausea-inducing driving to get to the hotel.  Thankfully after a couple of days I got used to the driving style.  Bengaluru traffic is crazy.  Experience it in this brief video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzwYFKxRzhY

BTW, if you've ever wondered why duty free shops exist and if you really get good deals there, they have an interesting backstory.  My return trip happend to be on 5/4 as in "May the 4th Be With You."  London decked out the monitors with the Star Wars font.

20180504-2018-05-04 15.14.59_blog Speaking of the way back, I had to get up at 2:30 AM local time.  But by getting 12 hours back, I landed on the same day that I left (barely).  That was nice mentally as opposed to the way there when I seemingly lost days.  I kid you not, my passport was checked five times in the Bengaluru airport (3 of them in immediate succession).  India loves to employ people and throw them at problems.  There are people to tell you where to park.  People to tell you how to navigate a driveway.  People to guide you to the right entrance.  People everywhere!

In my dreams I was going to read the long book Shantaram on my 40 hours of flying.  But I had started a couple of books before I left which I wanted to finish (American Gods and The Magicians).  I finished those two in India and I couldn't muster the energy on the return flights.  Neflix won my attention instead (Stranger Things 2 was the bomb!)  I'm still progressing on Shantaram though.  If you want to know what India is really like without actually going there, this is a good place to start.  Very nice book.

I'll finish here for today.  I am far from a travel lover.  I think most, if not all of the mind-broadening experiences can be gained by reading.  Fortunately, I am a book lover.  Nonetheless I made the most of this trip and have stories to tell.  Check back next time for those stories and many more photos!


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