Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Incredible India!

I had the incredible opportunity to travel to India last week on business. It was hectic, so I didn't keep a regular blog for each day. Instead, I kept a brief log of my travels which I'm posting below. I also posted pictures to:

4:30a local time, 23 Aug 2009

I'm in India! As I've only seen the airport and darkened roads at night to the hotel, I have to say it reminds me a little of Mexico -- the people look different, and the roadside adverts are in a different foreign language, but there are some strong similarities. On the plus side, almost everyone speaks very good English (except my driver) and are very friendly.

Favorite trip moments (so far):

  • Flying over Ireland when I was awake! It truly is the Emerald Isle!
  • Lime Pickles on the flight from London to Chennai. No, it didn't taste like lime OR pickles, but it was still very tangy and tasty!

I basically stayed up for 24 hours straight, since I worked early on Friday and then stayed awakefor the Denver-London leg. Sleeping on a plane is never great, but did get some rest from London-Chennai!

I'm a little bushed still, so am going to take a cat nap. We are going to see the sights at 8am!

6:15p, 23 Aug 2009

Just got back from a day of sightseeing in Chennai.

Our host, Abel, was very gracious throughout the day. We tried tender coconut, saw Mamallapuram and the Shore Temple, and ate at a wonderful place on the beach called Fisherman's Cove.

Unfortunately, I thought I was also pickpocketed for $5USD and 500INR. I thought I had left it in my pocket when I wanted to get some change. When I went to use it, I couldn't find it and thought the worst as I searched my pockets. Thought a bunch of street vendors that were very persistent had taken it. My host felt very bad, as did I (although I thought it was a $15 lesson to me...).

Turns out I outsmarted my jet-lagged self and moved it to a hidden zipper pocket on my pants!

Didn't find it until I was going through all my pockets at bedtime. Will issue an apology to my host when I see him again!

There are motorcycles everywhere! Tons of them. It's the easiest way to get around. It's funny to see ladies in sarees riding sidesaddle behind a guy riding the motorbike.

We then went shopping for sarees. Got some very beautiful ones, that I hope the girls will like.

Also jet lagging very bad now. Almost fell asleep in my food at dinner! Time to go to bed, methinks!

24 Aug 2009

Met with a vendor today. Very nice office, and very smart people. They are most gracious hosts.

They took us shopping for saree tops at the famous Nalli and Porthy shops. Must be a million sarees in there as they each had about 5 floors worth! Then they took us to dinner at the Pergola restaurant atop the Accord Metropolitan hotel. Very modern, top-floor restaurant overlooking Chennai. I told them it was the Rainbow Room of Chennai!

25 Aug 2009

Met with a new vendor today. It was quite a bit further and we got stuck in traffic. We started a bit late. The working conditions seemed much more "rustic". They also work multiple shifts, so they are open round the clock. Training went OK. John and I had dinner at the hotel at the Peshawari restaurant. It was very good, Tandoori grill. They had amazing, different ice cream, too. I also tried "filter coffee" today. It apparently is slow brewed with chicory root. I liked it.

26 Aug 2009

Met with another vendor today. Nice facilities, and another sharp group. They were also kind enough to take us to see St. Thomas Mount on the way to the airport, where it is said that the Apostle Thomas was martyred, and a bone fragment has been retained as a relic. Interesting history, and nice view of the city from up there.

Our flight was delayed about 2 hours, so we didn't get to Delhi until 1am. Didn't get to the hotel until 2am, unpacked until 3am. Had to get up at 7am to get breakfast before going to the client site.

The hotel, BTW, is outstanding! I can see why several Presidents have stayed here! If my room is this nice, I wonder what the Presidential Suite looks like?!

27 Aug 2009

Traffic was really bad, so we still started an hour late! More smart folks, and a really nice facility! They have 5 floors, too.

Ate dinner at Buhkara. It's world famous and right in the ITC Maurya, New Delhi. Very good food!

The dessert was interesting. Tasted like rose water flavored noodles alongside pistachio ice cream. Yum!

28 Aug 2009

Great day. Wonderful folks, and very smart. On the way to take John to the airport, we stopped and saw Qutb Minar - built in 200-300 A.D.! Incredible detail and design. Quite beautiful. Traffic was a mess at 7pm. After getting John to the airport, we had dinner at an amazing restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel. Beautiful hotel lobby, and then great food! The palatte cleanser was served in this teapot-looking thing, that was spewing forth vapors. It looked like it would burn you, but was actually dry ice! it was a yummy tamarind ice cream. very good company, food and dessert.

29 Aug 2009

Saw all kinds of things today: Red Fort, Humayun's Tomb, lunch at the Monsoon restaurant at Le Meridien. The water wall was very cool, and the best ginger ale ever! After lunch, went shopping at Connaught Place, then Akshardham Temple, then sunset at India Gate. Got a flower chain made of Chameli (Jasmine) blossoms - the Indian girls wear them in their hair for the flower's potent perfume scent. I also learned "BHAJSA" - the sequence of the Mughal Emperors: Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan (builder of Taj Mahal), Aurangzeb Alamgir.

30 Aug 2009

Today is my birthday! We tried to get an early start at 6am, but it was raining, so traffic was horrible. They didn't get to the hotel until about 6:40am. Then it was about a 5 hour drive to Agra. It was worth it, because the rain cleared so the Taj Mahal was beautiful! Momentous occassion to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World on my birthday! After the Taj, we had lunch at the ITC Agra hotel. They had delicious Moong Dal Ka Halwa - a sweet pudding made from lentils.

Then we went to Agra Fort. It's amazing how much inlay was done in both Taj and Agra Fort! Then we made our way back to the Intercontinental Hotel for dinner - they had made a birthday cake for me and requested the live band sing Happy Birthday to me!

31 Aug 2009

Traveling home today. It was a great trip, but I miss my family and look forward to seeing them!

Got a surprise upgrade from Delhi to London, so I was able to rest on this leg. Need to stay awake from London to Denver to get back on Colorado time.

Overall, I had a wonderful first trip to India! The people, places and food were all absolutely incredible. I hope to return again soon.