Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall in Hyderabad

I'm back in India for what's become an annual trip to Hyderabad. From now until November 16, I'll be working with the PX engineering team at IBM's India Software Lab, showing them where the bodies are buried in the Orchestrate source code.

This trip began with the customary 21 hour plane trip: Boston to Frankfurt, a long layover, and then Frankfurt to Hyderabad. I managed to catch a few hours of sleep on the first leg, which made the layover a little less difficult. After stashing my carry-on in the Lufthansa business lounge I wandered around the terminal for a few hours, picking up some gifts in the duty-free shops and stretching my legs.

Duty-free shopping seems to be mostly about sin of various stripes: booze, tobacco, perfume (sex), and candy (gluttony) are the featured items. At least one of them comes with some degree of truth in advertising.

From India arrival 2008

After a while I returned to the lounge and dozed, then climbed aboard another Airbus for the second, longer leg to Hyderabad. The mostly sunny skies served up some very attractive views of the rugged terrain of Turkey, northern Iraq and Iran. I've often flown this route in early spring, when the mountains are covered with snow; in early October, they were mostly brown. Pictures through the plane window are always a disappointment, but hopefully these will offer some idea as to what I was seeing.

From India arrival 2008

The plane landed at the new airport at the new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad, some 23 kilometers south-southwest of the old airport in Begumpet. As usual, I cleared customs very quickly (the new airport has many more immigration control lanes, and they were all staffed), and my baggage arrived much more quickly than usual. BUT - the ride into the city is much longer. I finally settled into bed at the IBM guest house at My Home Navadweepa at 3AM local time.

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Tuesday, my first day at work, was a short one. I collected a temporary badge, and Rajesh showed me to my desk. I got a list of potential serviced apartments from Lakshmi and headed out with Srinivas to hunt.

Our first stop was the Airtel store. Before I left Hyderabad on my previous trip I converted my "postpaid" Airtel account to "prepaid" and got a "lifetime recharge" that was supposed to keep the phone number active. Well, the number was indeed retained, but I had to buy additional minutes for it, and it turns out that "lifetime" meant "one year." I purchased additional time, and when I leave India this time I'm going to leave my phone with someone who can periodically make an outgoing call with it to keep the frakkin' account active. Aside: it drives me crazy that IBM isn't willing to provide prepaid cell phones to visitors.

We then began the apartment search in earnest. I intend to provide a detailed report at a later date; for now, I'll just say that nothing was perfect, but I'm probably going to take a place in Jubilee Hills.

On Wednesday I tried, with only limited success, to actually get some work done at work. People stopped by all day to greet, though, and I made little progress on the stack of chores I had planned. Late in the afternoon Nagesh took me to Srinagar Colony to search for more possibilities. In the process we wound up stopping at Anil's flat, and I met his new daughter. Anil has gotten an H1B visa and is leaving IBM, bound for San Francisco, at the end of October. I hope to spend some time with him - and get pictures - on Saturday.

Today is Dasara. For the second year in a row, Srinivas graciously invited me to his home for dinner. I met his brother's new son and was treated to his wife's wonderful cooking. Here's most of the route to Srinivas' house.

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Srinivas have me the customary missed call when he arrived to pick me up, and when I got downstairs he was cleaning the car from the previous night's drive; it poured rain as we were leaving Anil's, and we drove through a muddy flood.

We stopped on the way to his house at the All Saints' Church in Tirimala Giri (or Tirmulgherry; spelling is always dicey...). Srinivas had never been inside a Christian church; the caretaker allowed us to enter, and for few minutes Srinivas and I switched out usual roles as I explained the inside of the church. I liked the sign at the main doorway.

From India arrival 2008

Our next stop was at Venkateshwara Temple. It's a busy place on Dasara.

From India arrival 2008

Finally, we arrived at his home, and I met his new newphew.

From India arrival 2008

There are more pictures in the album.

After eating, Srinivas brought me back to the IBM guest house; I crashed for a few hours (I still haven't entirely shaken my jet lag) and I posted this. And so starts another season of my Hyderabad blogging.

1 comment:

  1. Jerry

    Stumbled upon your blog. I work for IBM too here at Tulsa,OK. Hope you have a wonderful time in hyderabad. This is the best time to visit weatherwise.

    During the weekends if you want to kill time and do some photography, i suggest you visit