Jesse’s Blog

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Shop till ya drop

Today we headed to Delhi to do some shopping at CP. I’d tell you what that stood for but I really have no idea! We made tentative plans to do this with a few of the people at iEnergizer, but realized that we didn’t know how to contact one of the girls (Christina). She doesn’t have a phone of any sort (house phone or mobile), so we decided to just drive by her place and see if she was there. We were a little skeptical about this attempt, since we didn’t actually know her last name or what unit number she was in (to tell the guards), but we were actually able to breeze right through the gate without talking to anybody.

Alas, to our dismay, she wasn’t home! As we walked back to the car it turns out we were followed by one of the guards (one of the old, senile-looking types who probably spends most of his shift guarding the chair he’s sleeping on). He said something to us in Hindi and threatened us with his broom handle, but we had no idea what he was saying.

We decided to check at the office to see if she was there, but she wasn’t, so we started to head back to Sector 18 with Chris now tagging along. I decided to give our other friend Saumya a call, who works the night shift. It was about 2pm by this point and she was just waking up. She said she would go with us, so we made plans to pick up her and her friend (Minnie) in Sector 19 (which is, believe it or not, right across from 18). Albert and Lara were really happy to finally be heading to go shopping since there was no way we would have survived without some locals to go with us.

This picture is actually from the end of the day, but how would you know?

I haven’t ventured in to Delhi much, especially in daytime, so it was good to see what I have been missing. In general, at least where we went, it’s a lot more organized and a bit more tidy than Noida. Noida is semi-rural – a booming suburb on the edge of the big city that has just as many animals as it does people. We passed by a few really nice parks (unexpected) and some interesting architecture before arriving downtown at our destination! I made a mental note to come back and check those places out some time.

We hopped out of the car and immediately followed Saumya and Minnie to a subterranean entryway. Odd. An underground mall. I was only able to snap this picture before they stopped me and said I couldn’t take any more! I bet it’s because of all the shady goings-on down there:

I didn’t really have a desire to buy anything, but bargaining is kind of fun. For instance, Albert was trying to buy a shirt that was “worth” rs. 500-600 but was on sale for rs. 300. I told the guy this was ridiculous and we’d only pay rs. 150 for it. He started to justify his price when Saumya chimed in and started arguing from a local’s point of view. The guy actually told her to stop talking! I immediately scolded him for telling my friend to shut up and said we were leaving. We barely took 5 steps before he was chasing us down offering to sell the shirt for rs. 150. That really cracked me up!

I did find something I wanted to buy, a camera case for my digi. I must not have bargained so well for myself, because Minnie and Saumya came in and asked if I had “gone mad” for attempting to pay rs. 225 for something that was clearly worth only about half of that price. They dragged me away but the guy didn’t seem to object this time. Maybe the price *was* good? Who knows… I still prefer Amazon.com for shopping but I doubt I’ll see that in India any time soon.

After a few more minutes we went up on the street where I was able to take some pictures. It was a pretty nice day despite the humidity and we shopped for another hour or so before deciding to head back.






We called up Mahender and waited for him in front of Wimpy’s. Wimpy’s sells hamburgers. Or so they say. Often when you see that here in India it’s not *really* a hamburger, but rather some substitute hamburger-textured but not-quite-tasting… thing. There were a few westerners inside (I resisted the urge to stare at the white people), so I walked in and scanned the menu. They did indeed serve “hamburger/cheeseburger”, along with “Aloo Patty”, “Bean Patty”, “Veggie Burger”, “Chicken Burger”… it seemed everything was covered and there wasn’t much else they could substitute in for beef/buffalo. I went and got Saumya and asked if this was for real. Her immediate response was “of course not”, that it wasn’t beef or buffalo. But as she scanned the menu I saw a gleam of doubt in her eye.

“Ask.” I said, and pointed at one of the workers. She sort of looked at me funny but she knew I was dead-serious. This was important. I was getting my hopes up, I could feel it. She popped the question as I held my breath…

DENIED.

Lamb. LAMB! Seriously, what the heck? Don’t call it a hamburger. It’s a lamburger for crying out loud! I tried to explain to Saumya, a life-long vegetarian, why it was so ridiculous to try to pass off a lamburger as a hamburger. She didn’t quite get it.

Next we headed to Ruby Tuesday’s for happy hour in Centrestage Mall. Ruby Tuesday’s is really expensive, so we literally got 2 beers and an order of fries. We thought we might go eat at the Raddison, but first decided to head over to a place called Ice Cubes in Sector 18 to meet up with some of Saumya’s friends. This place was pretty cool, a chill night-club like joint that had a nice decor and decently-priced drinks. We only hung out for a few moments before hunger compelled us to leave for some food, but Saumya decided to stay behind. After dinner Chris and I returned for an awesome time… dancing and singing Hindi songs to which we didn’t know the words (mixed in with the usual Western club thumping tunes). The DJ was actually pretty good and I was completely tired by about 11:30pm. Chris and I headed back to the house while our Indian friends continued their night of fun at a 24-hour place in Delhi. Maybe I’ll try it out some time when I’m not feeling like such an old man!

posted by Jesse at 3:37 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, July 16, 2006

Day of Rest

Today is Sunday, so I took the opportunity to seperate myself almost entirely from work and the office (I say almost, because I *do* have to get some small amount of work done for tomorrow so everyone can hit the ground running, so-to-speak).

We started the day off around 11am by feeding the neighborhood. This costs us rs. 500 (about $11). There were a lot more people today since the weather was very nice. We actually ran out of food very quickly!
After the feeding I threw some laundry in the machine and read some more of my current book, Transmission. It’s about an Indian programmer who comes to the U.S. on a “slave visa” meaning they pay him much less than his real worth. I finished the book later in the day and was left with a bland impression. I found that at the end, I didn’t really care about any of the characters or what happened to them. In fact, one of the main characters even died in the Epilogue. So weird. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Anyway, after about an hour of reading, it was off to Subway for one of our bi-daily visits. Subway is in Sector 18 so we quickly got there and back. I got a foot-long tuna sub with all the veggies. I don’t get all the veggies in the U.S., but Subway is the only place I feel the vegetables are safe enough to eat.

Our friendly neighborhood Subway. I bet Jared didn’t eat at this one.Looks just like any other Subway.Our usual guys, working their 12-hour shifts!I’m a one-man marketing campaign.Albert and Lara love Subway as much as any of us.

I ate half of my sub and saved the rest for dinner. As we walked back out to Mahindar’s car I though it might be nice to make a video of the drive back to the house! Here it is, enjoy: Driving Home

Mahindar Andretti

Centrestage Mall and the side of the Radisson

When we arrived back home I took my laundry load out and went up to the roof to hang it out to dry. Unfortunately all of the lines were taken up with clothes, so I found some unused rope and claimed it for my own. I went back downstairs to my balcony and constructed 3 of my own clotheslines and laid my first load out to dry before starting another.

Boy Scout training in actionIndian washing machine

I finished my book and sat down to do a little work. The guys came back from the office and assumed laptop configuration around the dining room table: 4 seats, 4 people, 4 computers – all of us plugged in to one sketchy-looking powerbar.

Dining room (Waylon sleeping on the couch in the living room…)

So now I sit here typing this, sipping on a Mint Chocolate Bailey’s I just poured on the rocks. I picked up a few bottles in Singapore at the duty free store because it’s hard to find this stuff here. I use it sparingly – my first day off in quite some time is the perfect occasion.

posted by Jesse at 9:35 am  

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Lots of work…

Well it seems like it has been forever since I have last posted. We’ve been pretty busy with interviews and trying to find the right artists to start training at our studio. Paul came to visit for a few days all the way from NYC to check out the operation and do some planning. We had a great time hanging out at nights, too.

Whaley left today to head back to the States. He’ll be gone for about 2 months tying up loose ends and getting ready to move his family here. He was pretty emotional about leaving… he loves this place. Garland was supposed to leave today as well (with Esther), but he has extended his stay until the 15th to make sure the company finishes getting set up. We still have to finish the incorporation and set up bank accounts for everyone.

Also, it looks like I’m back to getting the Bajaj Avenger. In fact, everyone is going to get an Avenger except for Albert who wants a scooter. As soon as the company bank account it set up we’re heading down to the Bajaj dealer to make the purchases! Everyone is really excited.

Oh and, Happy Birthday Bree and Dad! I wish I was there to celebrate with you guys. I promise I’ll bring you something nice back from India soon. :)

Oh, and Happy 4th to my fellow countrymen everywhere!

posted by Jesse at 7:05 am  

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bad news…

I think I may have gotten sick from the salad after all. It started bothering me after dinner on Saturday night and by Sunday my stomach was turning over itself all day long. I won’t go into details.

Still, it wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t go out and about. After I met Raj for lunch to discuss some business, Garland and Esther joined us and we all went out to go shopping at Spencer Plaza (a really *big* mall in Chennai). It’s full of little stores and big stores, food vendors, service providers (like dry cleaning)… pretty much everything you’d need! Garland and Esther got some lunch at Mary Brown while I grabbed a smoothie at a juice store (they only use mineral water and “safe” ice as it says on their menu – they better not be lying!). After buying a present for Rachel (hmmm… wonder what it could be, honey??) everyone bought some cookies at Cookie Man. Except me… my stomach was getting worse.

Spencer Plaza, Chennai.
Picking out some cookies at Cookie Man in Spencer Plaza.After Spencer’s Plaza we hit up a street market where Esther wanted to buy some bracelets like the ones she bought on her last trip to Chennai. Garland and I wandered up and down the block looking at the various goods people were selling. Everyone was begging us to come and look at their stuff.

Raj helping Esther negotiate some bracelet prices at the market.Garland wandering around the streets of a Chennai market.I was pretty eager to get back to the hotel and take a nap. Esther was tired, too (since she just arrived late the previous night) so her and I conked out while Garland did some work. I slept restlessly until I had to leave for my flight.

I waited at the airport for about an hour and a half for Albert and Lara to deplane and get through customs. They had flown Lufthansa from Frankfurt, but one of their bags got damaged. After figuring out how to report it to the New Delhi Lufthansa office, we made our way to the domestic terminal to take our SpiceJet flight back to New Delhi through Hyderabad. I barely noticed the flight – thankfully I was sleeping the whole time. Mahindra picked us up from the airport and we went straight home and passed out after talking to Rachel for a bit on our new wireless connection with my PDA. It’s great to be connected at home. :)

Albert and Lara on the SpiceJet plane from Chennai to Delhi at 2:30am.
See all my Chennai pics.
(Note – you do NOT have to sign in to view the pics. Just click “View Slideshow”)

posted by Jesse at 2:58 am  

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