Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Last Day

Sadly, my time in India is quickly coming to an end.  This has been an amazing trip.  It's been so much more than I ever could have expected, primarily because of the folks on the India BI team who have been such incredible hosts.  Sanjay Dutta, Sanjay Agrawal, Vikas Choudhary, Naveen Ramidi, Usha Dugganavandla and Krishna Kumari have made this trip into something I'll never forget.

There are a lot of other photos we've all collected along the way.  When I get my hands on them all, I'll post them to Picasa or Photobucket.  More to come on this.

Thanks again to everyone in the India office who made this trip a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Hyderabad - The Old City

Today we were fortunate to be able to visit the Old City of Hyderabad.  There had been some recent safety concerns in that area and we were all recommended to stay away through 8am this morning.  Luckily, that left us one full day to take in what is the central, high volume area of the city.

We started out with a visit to Birla Mandir Temple.  This temple is primarily dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara and his two wives; however, it also has shrines for a number of other Gods like Shiva, Ganesh, and Lakshmi.  The temple is built entirely out of white marble and is located at the top of a hill.  You're not allowed to take a camera inside the temple, so I don't have any of my own shots.  Here's one I grabbed from Google Images:

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Our second stop of the day was Salar Jung Museum.  This is a museum that was created by the last Nizam monarch, Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III.  The Museum name comes directly from the name of the kings of the Nizam dynasty.  These guys were a 7 king dynasty that began in 1724 and ended in 1949.  Here's a shot from the outside of the museum:


With all the folks that are packed in to the Old City and our lack of time, we simply drove past Charminar.  When you see Charminar you're reminded of the big arches you see in European cities like Paris and Rome.  Things like the Arc de Triomphe, etc.  Charminar wasn't built to celebrate a military victory however; it was built to celebrate the end of a plague.

I would have liked to spend a little time looking at it; however, we had other things to move on to, namely Chowmahalla Palace, the home of the Nizams.  To me, this is a pretty amazing palace.  Some of our hosts felt like India had a lot more to offer with respect to beautiful palaces.  For me, I love walking around places like this that are still significant, but have seen better days.  I find it fun to imagine what once was.

We had a lot of fun here, particularly with all the school children who were touring the castle on field trips.  If they weren't shaking our hands and asking where we were from, they were trying to get their pictures with us.  It was a lot of fun.  Here are some of my pictures from Chowmahalla:







Main building

Vikas

Beautiful ceiling and pillar of the main building

Court area of the main building



Ram, Krishna, and Vikas




Friday, December 7, 2012

Golkonda Fort

One place in Hyderabad I really wanted to visit is Golkonda Fort.  Golkonda means shepherd's hill.  It is famous for two things:

1. Acting as fortress from the 13th through 17th centuries.
2. Storing important diamonds, like the Hope diamond.

There are a lot of impressive things built into the fort including acoustically designed domes that reflect sound around the fortress as a means of communication, multiple wall systems, water transport systems, gardens, etc.

We visited on Friday evening, just before it got dark.  Here's a view from the front gate.  Note that this is only the first set of walls.  The fortress goes on and up for miles:


Here's the main gate.  Here you're passing through the second set of walls.  Note that there's a canon mounted in behind the arch that opens in to the courtyard.  The arch in the background is also the location of one of the communication systems designed in to the fortress.  The vaulting above that area contains a number of parabolic depressions.  If one stands in the middle of the area and makes noise, the sound is reflected around the fortress, providing a mechanism to provide alerts or announcements:


Unfortunately because it was night time, we couldn't walk up the stairs to the top of the fortress; however, we did get to attend the light show, which presents the history of Hyderabad and the fortress.  Here's an image from the seating area during the light show.  You can see just how large and vertical this fort really is.  The show presents the history of the different dynasties that rules Hyderabad, major invasions of the fortress, and security details like the 8km tunnel from Golkonda to Charminar (the old city of Hyderabad):


Finally, here's a shot of the fortress on the walk back to the gate:


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visit to TCS Consulting

TCS Consulting is one of our technology partners in India.  Wednesday we headed out to their office to meet with the teams that support our BI Center of Service.  Here's a picture of me with the flowers that TCS gave me as a welcoming gift:


Here's us with the TCS team:

(Pujitha, Rhadika, Pradnya, me, Ganesh, Vikas, and Sanjay)

We sat down for a nice meal in the TCS dining room:


Shilparamam on an Auto

The India team was nice enough to take me to Shilparamam this evening.  Even more fun is that we all piled in to an auto to get there.  5 of us crammed in.  Vikas and Naveen in the front with the driver.  Krishna, Usha and I in the back.

Shilparamam is a large park, cultural center, and market that is located near the Hyderabad office.  We spent some time checking out the cultural exhibits - things like a modeled Indian village that illustrates how people live in India.  Everything from pottery making, to milling grain with stones, to typical daily life.  I also had a guy draw a portrait of me, did some shopping, and rode on a traditional bollock (cow driven cart).

Here's some pictures from our afternoon:

Vikas and Naveen in the front seat of the auto:


Usha, me and Krishna in the back:



The Bullock ride:
 


 

Krishna driving:

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I'll add more pictures later, when I get them from others.

Funny Rickshaw Story

For those who might not be aware, these small motor rickshaws, better known as autos, are everywhere here in Hyderabad.  Whether you're seeking transportation for yourself, or your entire family, these guys can make it happen.  Here we see an auto (not my photo) carrying a reasonable load of two people and likely doing a good job of it:



Last night we went to a nice dinner on the other side of town.  On the way back there was a slow moving vehicle ahead on the road.  Traffic was slowing in front of us.  If you've been here you know slowing can happen for nearly any reason - a car making a turn, someone parked in the middle of the road, etc.  In this case, I look ahead and there's an auto trying to chug up the hill.  All of a sudden two guys jump out and start pushing it up the hill.  As we passed them, there had to be 6 people literally stacked into the back seat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Team Lunch and Puppet Show

I'm running a little behind on some of my content.  Here's some highlights from a team lunch from Tuesday (day 2).

First off, I have to say how refreshing and satisfying it is to see how well our entire India IT organization works together as a common team.  These folks are supporting many different US based teams, often in groups of 3 to 8 India resources.  Each of these 3 to 8 person teams partners with its own team in the US, so while they all essentially work in the same org structure, there's plenty of opportunity for cliques to form.

The team lunch was a lot of fun, with everyone from the India team present.

This photo is of Krishna (one of the gals on the BI team) and I in one of the motor rickshaws that was inside the restaurant.  Note that I plan to ride in one of the real rickshaws this weekend, plenty of video and stories to follow:


And here's a shot of the puppet show from the lobby of the restaurant (my apologies for the over exposure due to the windows):


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let's Cross a Street in Hyderabad

We spent some time shopping in the Abids area of Hyderabad this evening.  The business of crossing a road in one of these busy areas is quite an adventure.  I took this movie during one of our crossings.  This by the way was one of the less frightening ones.  It can get a lot wilder.

For those not familiar with Indian traffic etiquette, honking is a common courtesy, not an expression of anger or aggression.  When you drive in this stuff, you can quickly see why the honking is so important.  With cars not really driving in the lanes, buses merging in to traffic all over the place, motorcycles diving everywhere, and pedestrians making like a frog in Frogger; there simply isn't any way that a driver could use only their eyes to stay out of trouble.

As our taxi driver was navigating through this sea of vehicles I was wondering to myself, why it was that there weren't more accidents.  The one thing you realize when you observe for a while is that there are no asshole's in Audis (sorry Audi drivers, but you're by far the worst for this) trying to speed up the side of the road and cut off other cars.  People in India show patience.  They honestly seem to work together for the benefit of all.  It's too bad you can't find more of this sort of thinking in North America.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 2 - Here we go

I'm feeling really rested today.  I got a solid 8 hours sleep last night.  Had a good breakfast and I'm ready to roll.  I even ate the fruit in the hotel (I've heard different stories regarding its potential to make you sick - we'll see how I feel for the rest of the day).

Today I'm fully booked with meetings, I'll avoid boring you with the details.

This evening I'm looking forward to seeing some of Hyderabad, possibly joined by some of the folks in the India team.

Day One Complete

I had a great day at the office today.  The primary goal of this trip is to meet in person with the India team, discuss short and long-term strategy, especially in regard to our Business Intelligence Center of Service, and plan the strategy for handing off some web and integration applications which would be better supported by the India development teams.

Our India office has something close to 150 IT resources that are dedicated to the needs of our company's Enterprise Resource Planning related solutions (we have about 2,500 total employees in India).  My immediate team has four members in the India office.  Only one of those folks have had the opportunity to visit us in San Diego, so getting to meet the remaining three in person was a big positive.  While I do get to meet with these folks over the phone on a regular basis, nothing beats being able to meet in person.  We were also joined by three Application Admins and four additional BI resources from associated teams.  So, we had a large group today.

The team was nice enough to present me with some flowers at the beginning of the day (pictured in my temp office):


Over the course of the day we were able to discuss long term roadmaps, drill in to project details, and share feedback and recognition of all the great things our India team members have been providing to our customers.

Tonight will be a quiet night at the hotel, dedicated to getting some sleep and getting my internal clock aligned to India time.

My first walk to the office was nearly my last

My company's Hyderabad office is located in Hitec City (wikipedia.org), which is a pretty slick place.  It's nice in that things are very closely located.  The hotel is a simple 5 minute walk from the office.

Luckily for me, a couple of my India team-mates came to meet us at the hotel and walk us to the office.  Along the way, you need to cross a fairly simple two lane road.  Note that this crossing does include a crosswalk.  As we headed across this thing, I did so with my normal, I'm a pedestrian and I've got the right-of-way approach.  When I got to the middle of street I looked to the left, saw an oncoming car and continued walking, with the expectation that the car was going to stop for me.  Not the case.  I came within a foot of being run over.  The only thing that saved me was Vikas, one of my team-mates, bringing to my attention that I needed to stop and wait for the car.

Lesson 1 learned - pedestrians do not have the right-of-way in India.

I'm Here!

What was advertised to be a long, arduous trip from San Diego to Hyderabad India ended up being pretty smooth.  A co-worker and I traveled on the same flights - San Diego to Los Angeles, LA to Dubai (16 hours), and then Dubai to Hyderabad.  We left San Diego at 1pm  (-8GMT) Saturday and arrived in Hyderabad at 4am (+5:30GMT) Monday.  I'll leave it to you to do the math on that, I'm too tired right now.


The 16 hour leg seemed to pass pretty quickly.  I'm not sure if it's part of the master plan or not, but Emirates Airlines is able to drag out the dinner service into what seems like 2 or 3 hours alone.  Throw in a couple movies and an 8 hour sleep and you're getting woken up to get prepared to land.  Throw in the extras that Emirates provides, such as a complimentary limo ride from the airport to your hotel and everything comes together very nicely.

After getting checked in to the hotel by 4:30am and a 3 hour sleep, I was off to a 9am session at the India office.