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Mar. 26th, 2007

Выяснилось между делом, что Анька активно писала, пока я была в декрете... сегодня я выложу довольно много её писем. Все они под тэгом "Индия".



Ladies and gentlemen!

It's been a long while since my last report and I sincerely apologize for such unacceptable delay. I promise I will be a good girl going forward and will send you updates every week...or better yet every day...or maybe we should schedule an hourly job? :) Kidding :) I hope you had a nice break and now are all excited to hear from me :)

So...we have a significant period to cover and few unanswered questions...

>>>In case you are short on questions, how is your job (interesting, challenging)?

My job has gotten really busy during the last 2-3 months. We were all involved in that crazy project of new addition to our existing tool, earnings season support, our main production DB server crashed right in the middle of battle field, when all around the world people were busy collecting data and saving it to that poor DB server (no wonder it crashed), 2 people in our team got married on the same day and so on top of all problems we were short of staff...it was an interesting time and looks like finally things start to slow down...2 married people came back, DB server was successfully resuscitated, new addition project is approaching its final destination (i.e. production) and we have two holidays coming in up in march.

>>>>>What political issues preoccupy your colleagues?

The main political problem India is facing is Jammu&Kashmir/Pakistan. It looks like things have calmed down a bit lately, and all local media doesn't stop talking about how precious is this cease-fire and how good it is to live in peace...As for the topics of discussions with my colleagues, since we don't have anybody from Kashmir and Bangalore is pretty far from the hot spot, more peaceful problems preoccupy their minds. The hottest subject of discussions is our newly-married people's problems: how to invest money, where to buy a house, what to buy first, how to deal with new policies for taxes...how to get most...blah blah blah...

As for me, I've moved yet one more time. My new house is a really cool place. View from the balconies on 12th floor is absolutely amazing, air is fresh, sunrises are absolutely stunning and the best part...mosquitoes don't fly as high as 12th floor, so I finally started to get a good night sleep :) Everybody who came to visit me so far loved it so much, they didn't want to leave, and so I had a really hard time pushing them out the door...kidding...I love guests, so why don't you come to visit me? My humble opinion is that apartment-wise, this is the best place I've ever lived in...

There were few other events worth mentioning during the last month or so.

One of them, I went on a one-day trip to Nandi hills, former escape of British royal families from summer heat of Bangalore city. Beautiful place with a British royal touch: well-planned park, accommodations with royal ambience and dozens of beggars all over the place...one could feel he's in a touristy place:) Hotel room here costs ~$25 per night and this buys you a royal suit, which is not as lavish as the one in Mysore palace, but still there's no doubt it belongs to royal family. Former rooms for servants of the palace, which are smaller and dirtier then the cheapest motel room in US, go for ~$5 per night. By the way, Nandi hills is 65km away from Bangalore, yet it took us 2 hours to reach the place. Not only the quality of the road is such, that you wouldn't be able to go any faster then 50km/h. We were lucky to travel on the last day of infamous air show in Bangalore. And although it was quite interesting to spot those cool military planes which can fly pretty low, do all types of cool tricks and make lots of noise, the traffic was absolutely horrible. Not once our driver (we rented a taxi with the driver for the day) switched the lanes to drive against the direction of traffic, and then had to implant himself back into the "legal" lane, which was next to impossible...I hope you guessed it, he wasn't the only one who would go in the opposite lanes, drive on sideways, dividing lane...basically anything which is not yet covered with other cars and bikes and buses and horse-driven something...and anything that moves...Anyhow, 2 hours of this complete mess and we're in the beautiful Nandi hills with its cool crisp air and unparallel stunning views. Few times we were followed by beggar-boys, about 10-12 years old, who tried to hire themselves as tour guides expecting us to pay them at the end of the tour, and few times we were successful in getting rid of them somehow, until that last guy, who would follow us quietly wherever we go. We finally figured that we could buy ourselves a peace of mind if we give the guy some small tip, so that he leaves us alone. Oh, well...the guy got so encouraged by 5 rupees, he started to follow us even more enthusiastically, telling us names of historic places along the way. To make the long story short, he became our tour guide for the day. First he showed us few touristy places, some temples, some remnants of British fort, hidden pathway to the fort (built by Tipu Sultan), small waterfall...then I asked him to bring us to the hidden Tipu's path to Fort, then I wanted to walk down this hidden path a little bit, then a little bit more, then a little bit more...at the end we went all the way down the hill (about 1km vertical drop) stopped on the way to drink coconut milk as we were out of water after an hour of hiking and ended up in the village where this fellow lives. The guy is about 10 years old; he has 2 older sisters and mother, his father died some time ago. So he is the man of the family and has to feed everybody somehow. Only days when he can work is weekends (since he has to go to school), and he is really lucky to live in the area where tourists come, and so here and there he manages to collect some money from them. The distance between his village and Nandi hills is about 6km, and it takes him about 1.5 hours, since he has to go up or down that really steep hill. Living conditions of his family is way beyond any acceptable standards...they have one small room, they sleep on cold stone floors, their furniture consists of 2 half-broken chairs and old radio...Needles to say, half of the village lives in the same unacceptable conditions and all of them gathered around us when we came, because according to this little fellow, no white person has ever stepped a foot in this little village...We were completely wordless...we gave this guy 200 rupees for his guidance, we gave him whatever leftovers of the food we had with us (some cake), and witnessed him sharing the crumbs of it with as many people as he could...it's already been almost a month since our trip, and I close my eyes and see this cute little fellow, who is so serious about life at his 10 years of age...it was just too touching...
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and rather peaceful. We went back up the hill, as our taxi driver was waiting for us there, had a good heavy lunch, enjoyed absolutely stunning sunset from the top of that hill, waited until new moon came out...enjoyed the quiet peaceful evening and returned back to Bangalore. One more interesting piece of info. It's cheaper to rent a car with the taxi driver for the day, then just to rent a car...mostly for insurance purposes. One day of traveling costed us around $30, which is pretty expensive for Indian standards, but this includes a car with AC, driver and up to 250 kms per day.

That's about it for today.

Please, keep your questions coming. And by the way, if you're interested in any Indian souvenirs/products, let me know. It's not that I'm already arranging my return flight, but this way I'll keep your requests in mind and if I come across, will just get it for you.

All the best.

Yours

~A.

P.S. This mail was sent yesterday, but
For some reason
it got lost somewhere in the outer space I suspect.

So, one more piece of news. I came home yesterday
night after work to see a cloud of bees flying around
on my floor. Trying to be as small and invisible as possible I made my way to my apartment, but as soon as I opened the door and turned the lights on,
the cloud of bees rushed in as well...If you still remember "The Book of
Jungle" by Rudyard Kipling, and the invasion of bees when all animals
in the jungle had to find escape in that river, you would have
a picture of what was going on yesterday around my apartment. The
good news : apparently these bees fly towards light, hit the lamp, get
burned and die. Bad news: they die and lie peacefully on the
floor, until you step on them. Then they resurrect, perform
their last wish of stinging poor me and die again :) The situation was even
more complicated, because I had to switch lights off, so that more of
them wouldn't come. Therefore walking bare foot was about as
dangerous as walking in the mine field. With all that I managed
to step only on really dead bees throughout the evening, which means no
bee stings in my feet. Well, the best was yet to come, as when I
finally finished cooking my dinner and walking back and forth in
that mine-field/bee-graveyard, when I finally sat down on my cool couch
with a sigh of relief ...that's where I got stung. Right in my fat
butt...The worst news : it was still dark in the room, so I couldn't
even find the offender and punish it for such
inappropriate behavior. The best news : that bee was half-dead at the time
of stinging, so I had to rub my butt for 15 minutes, then the pain was gone
and then I slept like a baby :) Guess it was the case when little
poison does your body good. In the morning I finally opened my
balcony door to find another bees graveyard on the floor. And since
everything comes in big quantities in India, the density of bee
population was such, that I couldn't really see the floor.

OK,
this is really it...I'm sending the mail now before there's more news
to report :)

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