December 17, 2010

India 2010 - Day 13

Friday night -- my second Friday night -- has finally arrived, and I'm nearly finished packing, nearly ready to leave. I'm hoping to catch some six hours of sleep tonight but it really doesn't matter. In less than twelve hours the time vortex known as international jet travel will begin to play it's nasty tricks on me again. It is what it is.

It was a day of change in the office here, as one of my oldest friends from the Hyderabad office left the company today for a new opportunity. I was lucky to be here to say farewell for now to Utkarsh, and to wish him the best in his endeavors -- I'm sure he'll succeed in all things.

There was a small appreciative going away party for him and I grabbed a shot of the team here. Wonderful people, each and every one. Left to right, Deepali, Tamisra, Nishitha, Pavithra, Idris, Utkarsh, Srujana, Swaroopa, Vamsi, Sujan, Hari, and Sunil.

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While walking back from lunch with Sunil I took this picture of a courtyard in another building on the campus. I was struck by the shadows cast by the canopy -- I'd seen this spot earlier in the trip but at that time the shadows weren't aligned to allow the picture I saw in my mind. This one turned out just right.

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Everyone in the office has been very kind to me, complimenting my photographs, and several budding photographers wanted to talk to me about shooting and show me their pictures. And they had some really nice shots! Apparently when I've shared photos in the past with Utkarsh he has passed them around the office. Hari has one of my Block Island sunsets as his wallpaper -- I use that shot sometimes too. Anyway, maybe the best compliment I received was when some folks didn't recognize the photo above, saying they've walked by that spot many times but never saw it that way before. I think that's a special way to praise a photograph and I truly appreciate it.

And so my time is up. As I end each trip I never know if or when I'll ever return but I always feel privileged and blessed for each chance I have to visit India.

December 16, 2010

India 2010 - Day 12

Things are winding down here. It's Friday, time to tie down lose ends at the office and return to the hotel tonight to pack. We get up around 3:00 or 3:30 tomorrow morning, do the final pack, check out and get a ride to the airport. The plane leaves around 7:30 for London, and sometime around 8:30 PM Saturday night we land in Philadelphia. Whew!

Yesterday I took a walk around the campus and over lunch we visited an open market not far from the office in a pretty park like setting.

I've been trying to take this picture for several days now and I've finally decided this is the best I can do -- it's a reflection in the window of one of the buildings.

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Here's a stall at the market.

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There was a mama dog with two pups lounging in a field in the sun. A young boy walked across the field in the direction of the dogs and one of the puppies took off in a run to greet him, rolling over for the boy to rub his belly. The boy picked up the dog and returned him to the mother. Obviously the boy and the dogs were well known to each other.

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Here are two more shots of the market -- all sorts of things were for sale from clothing to furniture to rugs, statues, etc.

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Late in the afternoon I climbed the exterior fire stair on the side of the office building to see above and beyond the construction that now blocks the view. The cranes are ubiquitous in Hi-Tech City -- outside the office, the hotel, everywhere. Three years ago you could see clearly across the city from the third floor balcony -- this is taken from seven stories high (almost 100 steps up!).

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Turning in the other direction, you can see beyond the city towards the countryside.

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And so it goes -- I may have one more update -- we'll see.

December 15, 2010

India 2010 - Days 10 & 11

I finally got out and around Hyderabad but not in the way I'd intended over the weekend. On Tuesday I came in late to the office because I was due to stay late to meet with our team staffing the second shift. I left the office at 9:00 PM Tuesday night and figured that the traffic would have died down enough to make a trip to the Old City something we could manage. Well -- the traffic was down from rush hour but the city was by no means asleep!

We headed over to Charminar. I'd seen photos of the 519 year old signature Hyderabad monument lit brightly at night but didn't know what I'd find -- well it wasn't well lit as you'll see, but first, the trip.

We were treated to the full panoply of hectic, anarchic Hyderabad traffic in all it's glory. A co-worker who stayed late with us hitched a ride home, and when we let her off at the side of a multi-lane heavily congested road my traveling companion Jessica couldn't believe our friend was about to cross all those lanes of traffic -- but pedestrians do it here commonly -- she probably had close to 20 years experience.

Although it was obviously dark at that hour, store fronts were well lit and open for business, and all the streets and sidewalks were crowded. I don't know when this city sleeps but it only starts to slowly shutter after 10 from what I could tell.

On the way I got my first ride on some of the new "flyovers" -- elevated roads built down the middle of wide boulevards to create a sort of upper level express lane. Here we are driving on the ground, but you can see a flyover to the right. It's a like an automotive El.

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We passed countless shops, storefronts, and restaurants, like this one --everyone wants Biryani!

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And there were many small shops selling furniture, electronics, clothing, etc., like this one.

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Finally we reached the Charminar -- we passed through a large arch to reach the square where the landmark dominates the scene.

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But the Charminar was not lit last night. Undaunted, I asked the the driver to let me out (joined by my companion and soon to be protector Sunil, from the office) and told him to drive the traffic circle around Charminar as I tried to find an angle to shoot. We walked over to a corner of the square and I got this shot, with the half moon in the upper right corner.

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We continued to walk around the square until I reached the side opposite from where we entered. I finally realized that the real shot had to include the traffic, and so we walked into the traffic to the median, a row of concrete blocks 6 or fewer inches high off the road bed, where I squatted, dropped the shutter down low, and came away with my favorite picture of the trip so far.

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India traffic drives on the left, as in the UK. So the traffic to the left in this shot was driving away from me, and on the right it was driving towards me -- except -- note the two wheeler coming towards me to the left of the median in the picture. It's driving on the wrong side of the street against traffic! As we went to leave I looked to my left to check if it was safe and began to step out as Sunil, in his usually understated way, said "Wait". I did, and avoided being struck by another two wheeler driving on the wrong side of the street, just as depicted in the photo from a few minutes earlier! Yikes!!

We walked back to where we left the car and in short order the driver wound his way around the traffic circling the Charminar and picked us up. All told, a bit of an adventure and a fun way to see a busy Indian city go about its business. I'd love to see the Taj Mahal, I'd love to see the game preserves and all that, but I'm happy too if I can see every day life as it's lived on the streets.

Moving along, the office campus has scheduled athletic contests of a sort, and late this morning some folks from our office squared off against the local office of EA Sports in a game of volleyball. Alas, we were outmatched -- but it was fun to watch and shoot. Our team is in the near court, and my friend Utkarsh helped to man the net (he's in the gray and white striped shirt).

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Well there you have it. I've got two more days -- we pack up Friday night and leave early Saturday morning. With a bit of luck I'll have a post or two more to come.

December 12, 2010

India 2010 - Days 7 & 8

We planned to stay at the hotel on Saturday as the weather was unpredictable, and to visit some sites on Sunday. Bad plan. Although not optimum Saturday would have worked, and on Sunday I felt poorly enough to decide to stay at the hotel. Arrrgh!

So here it is Monday morning and at least I feel better, which makes me think at least that it was a better idea to not try to get out yesterday. Still . . . .

So instead of some shots around the city, here's what I have in the queue since Friday and Saturday, around the office and hotel.

Friday afternoon several local dogs decided to relax in the small garden behind the office. I've mentioned the dogs that freely wander the city before. These are relatively healthy examples -- some of dogs are pretty scrawny.

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This one is a handsome example.

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Another relaxing day at the office.

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Here's an interior shot of the room. Note the glass wall into the bathroom -- there's an electrically operated shade to grant some privacy.

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Here's a view of the interior atrium from the 15th floor, just outside my room.

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This is the large buffet style restaurant in the lobby -- you can't really see that it's a restaurant but I liked the angle.

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Here's a shot of the impressive array of the fresh seafood available at the buffet Saturday night.

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And finally, I kept hearing a "boom boom boom" sound outside my window the other night. I first thought it was work at a construction site nearby, but when I looked out I saw . . . fireworks?

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December 9, 2010

India 2010 - Day 6

Finally slept through the night! It's Friday morning and it's the first time since last Thursday night that I got a full night's sleep. Jet travel -- who needs it? (Just kidding, Tom).

As with every trip here there's a pattern to the day. This time it means getting up early (because I haven't slept well), taking a very short and not very interesting drive to the office, maybe walking around the office campus at lunch time a bit, then leaving the office after sundown to return to the modern hotel -- I don't think I've given a link -- it's the Westin Mindspace. If there's one thing I miss from earlier trips its the view of older parts of Hyderabad on the drive back and forth.

I try to find things to shoot but it's hit or miss, and so far there's not much variety. I shot these over the lunch break yesterday -- although it was dark and gloomy at sunrise on Thursday, the day quickly brightened up and became very comfortable. I shot these over lunch.

The office complex is known as "The V", and if you weren't sure there's a bit of signage and landscaping to help out.

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Turning 180 degrees from that shot, here is the facade of the building where the office is located -- we're on the 4th and 5th floors.

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And here's the by now famous rock fountain in the rear of the building. In a few months that crane will have done it's job and the sky will by gone from this view.

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Over the weekend I hope to post a few more explicit before and after shots, comparing my photos from earlier trips to the shots I've taken this time. The change is radical.

December 8, 2010

India 2010 - Day 5

Another cool and gloomy morning here in Hyderabad. We're still under the weather influence of a storm near the southeast coast of India and the heavy cloud cover prevents much warming I suppose. Yesterday the local paper, the Deccan Chronicle described the weather as a "cold snap" because temps would only reach to the low to mid-70's!

I'm still fighting jet lag -- only slept 6 hours last night -- my body just doesn't want to sleep at the wrong time yet, despite my being tired.

Back during my first trip in 2006 I posted some photos taken from the 4th floor balcony at the office. Things have changed so much since then as construction of new offices continues apace. Compare those views to these, which show approximately the same angles. The change is quite striking.

Looking to the left

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And to the right.

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And finally, another shot looking out dead center, taken as we were about to leave the office last night at 6:00 PM.

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I don't have the same opportunity to take photos on this trip unfortunately -- the hotel grounds are much smaller and not as photogenic, and the ride to the office is brief. I figure to get some more this weekend though, and I still have a few I can take around here.

P

December 7, 2010

India 2010 - Day 4

It's Wednesday morning, which makes this the 4th day here. I guess all I did yesterday for the blog is update some stuff from the 2nd day. Yesterday (day 3) went well but it rained and I didn't have much in the way of photos to post.

I'm slowly overcoming jet lag -- Monday afternoon was really rough and Tuesday was only slightly better. I've been sleeping ok though and by tomorrow at the latest I'll think I'll be acclimated. The first Wednesday of my last two trips were spent ill in the hotel room but I'm feeling fine today so I've got that monkey off my back.

Training in the office is on-track as well but I learned yesterday that Murphy lives in India too. I'm meeting with the team in a training room using a projector to show the computer screen I'm working on to the team, and the projector lamp died inside of five minutes of the start of the day! After 30 minutes or so of down time we started again in the board room using a portable projector and a laptop -- not the best configuration but workable. By the afternoon session the projector had been replaced and we were back in business.

And speaking of back in business, I finally figured out how to get my Mac up and running on the hotel wireless network! Woo Hoo! A big shout of thanks to Carole for all the tech support assistance!

With a bit of luck and some help from the weather I hope to have more to post tonight.