Jesse’s Blog

Monday, October 29, 2007

GOA!

From Goa_1

I finally did it. I took a trip down to Goa this weekend to hang with Zuko and the RZ2 guys. Even though my trip was shortened (due fully to my own procrastination and a missed flight) we still managed to cram a heck of a lot into 36 hours. I can’t wait to go back.

I was supposed to leave Friday night but due to unforeseen traffic and slipping work deadlines I left the office too late to make my flight. Following over an hour drive to the airport I arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled departure to find that my flight was set to leave on time. Imagine that. A flight on time in India. What bad luck! They put me on the next flight in the morning, but unfortunately that flight DID get delayed by 4 hours and I didn’t arrive in Goa until later Saturday afternoon.

It’s about a 40 minute ride north from the airport to Panjim (the capital of Goa and the city most densely populated with tourists). I was amazed by the views around me on the way there: lush tropical vegetation and rolling hills, set against a canvas of the Arabian Sea and inter-coastal rivers and waterways. There was no funk in the air, and everything was clean and green. I even stopped to take some reference photos of particularly interesting buildings and scenery along the way.

Video – Drive from the airport (~85 MB)

I met up with Zuko across from a nice school campus in Panjim and we waited for Pradeep to powerwalk his way to us from downtown. He showed up at a brisk pace with a pretty spiffy set of mid-shin-high socks and sneakers, and we hopped in the car to head for food.

The first thing that impressed me about Panjim is that it feels like a proper city… with a downtown area, parks, organized structure and facilities, and a pleasant overall disposition to the people and businesses. The second thing that impressed me about Panjim was the fact that I could get a damn good beef burger at the Marriott Hotel, which is the first thing we did!

It’s funny how some of the Indians want to always treat you like a foreigner, even if you have lived here for years. Zuko and I just wanted a quick snack but Pradeep insisted the only place we could go was the Marriott. I would have been fine with some street food or a small restaurant but apparently that wasn’t an option in his mind! It turns out Efford was hanging out at the Marriott pool bar anyway (as he usually does). All of that is really irrelevent, because the only thing that matters was the cheeseburger was AMAZING. Better than most burgers I have had in the States. I was blown away, and after eating it I had to talk myself out of ordering another one.

Video – Zuko, Pradeep and I at the Marriott (~7 MB)

Zuko and I were staying with the RZ2 guys that night so we headed over to their apartment after we spent some time at the Marriott Poolside Bar. We actually went out and had a great time that night, but the end of the Goa story involves me leaving my camera on top of Tony’s car before I left! I have a lot more stories left to tell, but I’m a firm believer in pictures to back up lots of boring writing. :) When I get my hands on the rest of the pics you’ll hear all about our night out to Mambo club, and our trip down to Palolem Beach the next day (where the beginning of Bourne Supremacy was shot). Stay tuned…

posted by Jesse at 7:43 am  

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It ain’t so bad after all…

From Delhi Nights 1

Ok. So I admit that ever since I have arrived in India I have been overly negative about this place. I never ventured too far beyond Noida and when I did I just got annoyed. But recently a friend of mine sharply criticized my overt attitude towards Delhi and said I was a “f*#$ing pessimist!” Well, that didn’t sit well with me. There’s nothing I hate worse than a pessimist (let alone being called one), so lately I have been making an effort to change my outlook on my life here. I have been finding some great places to hang out in Delhi and meeting some awesome people. It’s important to make time for fun, because I work too damn hard around here to stay sane otherwise. Even if I’m just tagging along… :)

So far this weekend we have been out to sushi twice and did a bit of bar-hopping in Delhi. Check out the pics!

posted by Jesse at 11:42 am  

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

SO SORE!

Wow, sorry for the radio silence. It’s been almost 2 weeks since I posted. A lot has been happening lately, but things move slowly here as always. Everything is on IST (Indian Stretchy Time) which basically means multiply time limits and deadlines by about 3 to get the actual result.

We started playing in the iEnergizer Soccer Mania competition this morning, which pits 8 teams from the company against one-another in something that mildly resembles a tournament. Our game was supposed to start at 8am, but true to IST form, it didn’t actually begin until 9:25. The teams that played before us were really good – so we were a bit intimidated. They had jerseys, cleats, and shin-guards. These guys were serious!

I haven’t played soccer since high school, where I was on the varsity team for 2 years. I think I did pretty well today – I was able to outrun nearly anyone and get the ball around defenders with a relatively high rate of success. But boy am I not in soccer shape at all! I was getting really tired by half-time and was pretty winded by the second half. We were playing a full 90 minute game on a full field. I told you this was serious business!

The end result is that we lost something like 7-1. But the good news is that in the second half they only scored on us twice because we replaced our original goalie with Chris Efford who actually played goalie for 2 years. Instead of having a bunch of stupid goals scored on us the 2 that were scored in the second half were legitimate goals – truly awesome kicks that barely snuck in under the top bar from outside of the goalie box. Here are some videos of the game:

Soccer1.wmv
Soccer2.wmv
Soccer3.wmv
Soccer4.wmv
Soccer5.wmv
Soccer6.wmv

All the sun exposure gave me a bit of a burn and my entire lower body is completely sore. I think I won’t be able to walk tomorrow, and perhaps not the day after that either. Speaking of which, they really need to install an elevator in this building…

posted by Jesse at 12:06 am  

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A world of a difference

Last night we went out to a lounge in the Centrestage Mall in Sector 18. There is a club upstairs that is really hopping on Saturday nights. The line was too long to wait in, but the price was astronomical – rs. 1,500 to get in. That’s about $33 USD! It was amazing to see the people lining up for this thing – it looked like any night in San Diego or L.A. I was used to seeing saris or jeans on women and didn’t think people got dressed up like they did last night! I was sure I had seen none of these people out on the streets at all.

We had a great time in the lounge drinking and ordering great food. We even hit the hooka, though Waylon was definately the poster-child for white boyz in India.

posted by Jesse at 5:40 am  

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Here comes the cavalry!

I can’t sleep again. It’s got to be the jetlag, though I think I only woke up because I was hot (the power went out again). Fortunately this time it came back on a few minutes after I awoke with a loud click and hum. I think the neighborhood generator is right behind our house.

Anyway, yesterday was a really fun day with everyone arriving. The 2 Chrises and I got up around 9am and went out to grab some breakfast. We walked about 3 blocks before finding an autorick taxi. Whaley asked how much it would cost to take us from Sector 44 to Sector 18. 50 rupees.

“How about 30?” Whaley demanded, more than asked, with his usual tough negotiating tactics. The guy came back with 50 again. “Fine, 40?” Nope – still wanted 50. “Forget it, let’s go guys.” We piled out of the vehicle.

Chris was a bit ticked the guy wouldn’t negotiate. “If we were Indian we would have gotten that ride for 25.” I’m not so sure – but I’m more generous (perhaps foolishly) than he is. At any rate we found a manual rick-taxi who gave us the ride for our desired 30 rupees and we headed off to Sector 18.

Sector 18 isn’t much to look at that early in the morning, with most of the shops closed and people seemingly just wandering the streets getting a lazy start to the day. We tried to go to the mall, which is a huge glass building about 10 stories high, but it didn’t open until 10:30. Instead, we found a little coffee shop across the road (a chain, though the name escapes me). It was there that I was reintroduced to the stark contrasts of India. Walking in from the street, which is cluttered and dirty by western standards, I was surprised to find myself in a trendy little coffee shop that may very well have existed in San Diego. It was almost as if we had gone through some kind of portal that kept the inside in a pristine state of existence despite the world around it. I ordered a paneer wrap (I don’t even know what paneer is – some kind of vegetable) and a Gatorade. I also had some of Whaley’s coconut and chocolate breakfast treat. I enjoyed everything very much. As we stepped back in to the street and my grogginess from the previous night was subsiding, I felt myself on the road to comprehending this richly interesting country.

Back at the house we arrived just at the same moment Garland, Tony and Waylon were pulling up. We all greeted eachother and helped carry bags up. The servants tried to help but everything was just too heavy for them. I think those kids should be in school somewhere.

Tony and Waylon looked a little shell-shocked. They said they were just hungry but it was obvious they were taken aback by the ride across the city and the arrival into Noida. We hung out on the roof for a bit while waiting for the car to come pick us up and take us to the office. We were going to eat at the cafeteria and explore the exercise and sports facilities before setting up our computers and getting settled in.

The company we are partnering with is very large – about 4 lac people (a lac is a thousand). Most of them work from 4pm on to be closer to the western working day. Even so, the exterior fortress-like walls were already lined with literally hundreds of motorcycles. We got some visitor badges and went to eat. I got the guys to try some Indian food instead of pizza and they liked it.

I was really happy because I got to talk to Rachel for a few minutes on Skype Video. She had taken the Wong Nuggets to the Del Mar Fair earlier that day and shared pictures. So cute! It will be nice when we have internet at the house so I can communicate with the U.S. more easily. Now I’m restricted to doing so at work, when everyone is asleep.

We did a few things around the office but didn’t have any monitors, so we took off for the local mall which is mostly a food court and some entertainment (a lounge and arcade). Chris Efford was complaining about his hair and disappeared to get it cut. The rest of us got some Baskin Robbins ice cream while Whaley got chinese for lunch (he hadn’t eaten earlier). The ice cream was tasty, especially the mango/vanilla I got. It was vegetarian ice cream, not made with cow milk. Maybe soy milk? I’ll have to find out.

Efford had been gone awhile so we took off to find him. We passed by a salon clearly marked “ladies only” with heavily frosted windows. Despite these obvious deterrents, Whaley pulled open the door and peeked his head in. I half-expected to hear screams of surprise coming from within! Typical rude American.

The guys found a nice billiard hall and bowling alley at the mall.

We found Efford in the unisex salon in the back corner of the top floor. Suddenly I felt like I needed a trim, too. I asked the price and it was 100 rupees! That’s a little over $2 USD. Literally 1/10 the cost of my San Diego haircuts. But that isn’t the amazing part. This was the most thorough haircut I have ever received in my entire life. This guy was good, and dedicated. He could have used clippers but stuck with scissors the whole time. For about 30 minutes he went over the same spots on my head, seemingly making sure that no hair was even a millimeter longer than any other. The end result could have only been achieved with clippers, or so I had previously thought. I was thoroughly amazed and tipped the guy an extra 20 bucks (rupees, that is – it’s weird saying “100 bucks” when it really means a little over 2 U.S. bucks).

When we left the mall it was pouring rain, but we still hopped on manual rick-taxis back to the office. We had meetings about cell phones and monitors, but didn’t end up with either (we’ll try to take care of that today). We talked about work stuff for a few hours before calling a car to take us to dinner.

Piling into the car 30 minutes later would have been pretty uneventful had my toe not been crushed under the latch for the middle seat when it slammed down. I don’t think anything is broken, and no skin was pierced, but now I walk with a limp and have some nice swelling.

We headed back to Sector 18 for dinner. I picked out a very nice-looking Indian restaurant for us to eat at (I had been threatening an Indian dinner all day). It was really expensive, about 550 bucks per person ($12 USD), but the food and atmosphere were great with a talented band and nice décor. I ordered my old favorite “butter chicken” with naan bread, as Waylon and Efford followed suit. Garland got Chicken Tikka and Whaley and Tony got a lamb masala and vegetable dish, respectively. Everyone loved their food and it was a huge success!

After dinner we tried to go shopping for monitors and phones but the stores were closed. Even so, Sector 18 really came alive at night with lights and people everywhere. It actually felt quite fun!

We explored the huge mall for a bit but found the Nokia store closed and the other stores in the process of doing the same. We called the car and headed back to the house after buying 6 bottles of water at McDonald’s for 14 bucks each. Get this: an ice cream cone at McDonald’s is only $0.15 USD. Pretty crazy.

I conked out right when we got home. When the power went out around 2am I went outside to take some pictures. The power outages here never seem to effect the lights or fans, so there must be some limited backup capability. The landlord is supposed to install a huge generator to power the house in the event of a power failure, mostly to keep the AC running.

Now it’s about 9:30am and I don’t think anyone is awake yet. I slept another 3 hours since I started writing this but I was awakened by another power outage about 30 minutes ago. I’m going to take a shower and see about getting some breakfast, though it’s raining lightly. Today I’ll pick up a cell phone. I’m excited to go out and about – staying cooped up in the house is the worst!

posted by Jesse at 3:34 am  

Powered by WordPress