Friday, April 20, 2007

Coming up for air

Wow! It's been almost a month since I started this blog. I had no time for it before I left for Hyderabad, and since I arrived on April 3rd I've been working like a fiend just to keep from drowning in the shock that is India.

This is my third trip to Hyderabad, and I thought it would be a lot easier this time. What I hadn't considered is that this time I'm really going to live here, not just visit, and it's been a loooong time since I set up housekeeping from scratch. Here near the end of my third week, I'm starting to get my "systems" in place and establish patterns, but it's been harder than I expected.

So - a little chronology first. I arrived just before midnight on Tuesday, April 3 on a Lufthansa flight from Boston, via Frankfurt. The trip crosses some of the most politically volatile places on the planet: Turkey, Iran, Pakistan - but you can't see the unrest from the air. What you do see is natural beauty: mountains, water, desert. As usual, I had a window seat, but unlike prior trips, there was heavy cloud cover for much of the air time. I was also struggling with an unfamiliar camera (I borrowed RuthAnne's little CoolPix 3200), so the pictures were a disappointment. But here's one, just to provide some sense of what I was seeing.

My home for the first 10 days was a "guest house" in the apartment complex "My Home Navadweepa" in Madhapur, close to CyberTower and the IT buildings around it. The guest house is actually several 3-bedroom apartments; short-term visitors like me stay in the bedrooms and can optionally eat meals at "the hub", an additional apartment that serves as a collective dining and hang-out space, as well as a home for the guest house manager and staff. IBM provides guest houses as an overhead service in India; there are enough people traveling at any given moment, and guest houses are sooo much cheaper than hotels that it's not worth charging back to the employee's department. Usually out-of-country visitors like me stay at a hotel, but I wound up using a guest house last time I was here, so we continued the practice this time.

My first week was a short one; my first day in the office was Wednesday, and India takes Good Friday as a holiday. On Saturday I took an auto-rickshaw to Punjagutta (close to the guest house I stayed at on my last trip) and walked around, and wound up doing some apartment hunting with Faisal, a guru of sorts provided by IBM (via contract to Cartus) to help me find housing and get settled.

The househunting continued on Monday, and I eventually settled on a 4-bedroom house in Banjara Hills. Why 4 bedrooms for a single guy? Because that's what there is. Housing is geared towards families, often multi-generational families; the notion of "having your own apartment" is pretty foreign.

I moved into my new home on Friday of my second week, and spent the weekend shopping (with limited success) for household goods. Here's a picture I took Saturday evening from my roof.

I worked all this week, and tomorrow (Saturday) will be another shopping day. I'm in the market for various electrical items and small appliances (extension cords, outlet adapters, an iron and ironing board) and a bicycle (to give me a little transportation independence and not have to rely on Hertz cabs all the time).

When I got home from supper this evening there were two things going on: some sort of very loud musical event at the nearby temple, and this lovely moon and Venus over the buildings to my west.

I'll take the camera with me tomorrow and see if I can get some interesting shots of Hyderabad street life.