Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This Better Be Good

Got up early das morgen so that my mentor and I could call  in the US of A. 8am for us was like 10:30pm for him, so it kind of wasn't convenient for anyone. Then afterward, he and I got some breakfast and had a long talk about "the new India" and all the money that is coming in from abroad, primarily in the technology sector. I am becoming more and more convinced that it (by which I mean outsourcing) is a good thing for both the US and India, but I'd be willing to hear doubts.

I forgot to mention the best part about the zoo that I went to last weekend. At one point this group of people came up and asked if we could "take a picture," which I assumed meant that one of us would take a picture of their group. Little did I realize, they wanted the picture to include us (me and my friend from Slovakia) I guess as sort of proof to their friends back home that they really did see two genuine westerners. Good times.

Going to Hampi this weekend via overnight train. I don't know too much about it, but it's supposed to be rad and I am going with a bunch of people from work. I should read up on it before I take off...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Le Tigre

Le Tigre
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Today I went to a Zoo/Safari place about 12 miles south of Bangalore. It was amazingly crowded, and I had my first true Indian line experience. We waited in line for tickets for about 20 minutes, and it was literally nut-to-butt (as Nick would say) the entire time. The guy behind me in line was resting part of his body weight on my shoulder, it was that tightly packed. Anyway, the zoo was neat although not too different from any one you might see in the US. The safari was also cool, even if it did have the feel of something you might do at Disney's animal kingdom. The tigers were all very blase, and you got the feeling they had seen 10,000 other tour buses like ours. Although ambivalent predators do make for some nice pictures. Saturday also saw me taking pictures, this time in my local neighborhood. The outcome was mostly crap though. Click the link to see some of the better ones.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle

Early this past week I finished reading "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami, a book that Rand recommended. I've posted a review of sorts where I always post these things.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dispatch from the Future

So I figure it's high time for another update of the old blog face. Join me, won't you?

So things are still going really well in India. I was pleasantly surprised to learn when I got here that we are now getting to the end of the hottest months in India. Apparently because it's a tropical climate, the hottest months are more like March-May. I'm not exactly sure how that works, but it's good news regardless. Also because Bangalore is at a relatively high elevation, it's even nicer here. So far the weather has been pretty nice, and in general it's been hotter in my apartment than it actually is outside. It does rain about once a day, but that's usually while I'm at work, so no biggie.

So here are a few more things I've noticed since being here:
  • Auto Rickshaws - In India they have these auto rickshaw things that are like 3 wheel motorcycles with seats in the back. They have little two stroke engines so they are noisy as hell and pump out a ton of gnarly exhaust. However, they are also an extremely convenient and fun way to get around. From my apartment to work (I've been taking one for the past few days) is 12.5 rupees (like 25 cents) and it takes about five minutes. They're really small, so the drivers are always trying to weasel their way around other cars and motorcycles, and they have this giant lever on the inside that they have to yank up in order to start the engine. The best part is that because the whole thing is open, you really feel like you are out on the streets rather than sealed up in a car, and I think it gives you a better feeling of the city. That being said, I really wouldn't won't to be hit by a car in one of these things...
  • Polution - So the polution is a little bad here, and I'm not the first person to notice this. There always seems to be something burning around, or at least that's what it smells like. Combined with the aforementioned rickshaw exhaust, and you have for a rather polluted city. It honestly doesn't bother me that much, but I guess I do kind of feel sorry for the people who live here, since I wouldn't want to have to breath it day in and day out for the rest of my life.
  • Power - The power goes out so often that people don't even bat an eye, at work and at my apartment. At work all the computers and Internet equipment are on UPS, so it doesn't actually matter, but it my apartment it can get a little hot without the fans...
  • Santosh - Santosh is the guy who works at my apartment (other people call him a 'house boy,' but I can't really bring myself to say that). He does a ton of stuff like cleaning the rooms, making the beds, bringing up our food, and filling our water. But an amazing thing happened when I came back a little late last night. I tried to get in and realized that the gate was locked. After banging around for a little while, I got worried because I realized I had no key to this gate. All of a sudden, I saw a head move on the porch, and Santosh hopped up to let me in. He had been sleeping on a bed on the porch of my apartment, and that's when I realized that he really did live there and was basically working all the time. Sounds like a pretty hardcore way to make a living.

There are a couple more things worth mentioning, but in order to keep this entry from getting out of hand, I'll cut it there. In summary, good times all around. Of course I like to point out the strange and interesting things, but honestly, it's been pretty normal here, and adjusting hasn't really taken all that much work. That probably has a lot to do with where I am and who I am working for, but it was still a surprise to me.

The Future

There was something I was thinking about today while I was taking a shower. I am nine and a half hours to twelve and a half hours ahead of most of my friends and the people who might be reading this blog. One way to think about this is that I am living in the future. In other words, when you get up early Friday morning, I have already finished with Friday. Don't even bother living through Friday yourselves because you can call me and I can tell you what happens.


Originally uploaded by fiatvera.
Just in case you didn't know, my friend Albert here in Pittsburgh is like a genius photographer. Even better, he does fashion photography, which is my favorite kind. You should check out all the pictures he has taken, as they are quite dope.

Even more impressive, he just does it in his spare time, as a hobby.

Monday, May 21, 2007

First Day at Work

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Today was my first day at work! It went really well, and now I am totally excited about this summer! (Not that I wasn't before, but these past two days where I didn't really do anything were kind of getting to me...)

So anyway, we started this morning at about 10:30 when the company car came to pick us up. I would have liked to head over there a little bit earlier since I had been up since about 5:45. but interns get last priority on the cab service, so we kind of have to wait in the queue. I am going to start walking to work pretty soon (it's like 2km, but I want to be outside) but I still can't figure out exactly how to get there. Tomorrow, one of the full-timers is going to walk with me so I can figure out how to do it.

Like I said, though, I am really exited about work. Aditya, my project mentor guy, laid out the full details of the project. It is sounding really neat so far, and we are even shooting for the summer POPL deadline. (Ahem, Rob, we need you here ;-)

Anyway, the office itself is quite swank. In fact, the contrast between life inside the office and the hectic/dirty Bangalore streets is staggering. For one thing, there is glorious A/C. There is free coffee and sodas and candy and fruit and most of the things that jaded tech workers have come to expect from their employers. We also have a delicious Indian buffet every day out on the terrace. The food is even better than the normal meals that they bring to my house. Then at around 5pm, someone brought samosas and this fruit drink to the lounge area. Again, quite delish. I can already tell that I may be putting on some pounds this summer (or Dehli Belly, as a certain J refers to it).

The people, of course, are very nice and interesting as well. Most of the other employees and interns are from India, but there are a fair amount who go to school in the US. A couple of Danes and some misc. Europeans/Asians round out the ranks. I went home at a normal hour tonight because of my jet lag, but frankly, given the nice environment and my excitement about the project, I can see myself staying late on a regular basis.

Okay, enough about work. Today I got a cell phone, and I am posting the number here:
I think from the US you have to dial a 00 first. I don't entirely expect anyone to call, but I thought I would put it out there just in case (oh, and texts work too!). It's actually probably much cheaper for me to call you, so let me know if you're into that sort of thing. Normally it would seem weird to post my phone number like this, but frankly any stalker willing to dial to India is dedicated enough that he/she should have my number.

Okay, enough for tonight. I post again when I have some real war stories/pictures.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I just arrived in India, and so far there's not a whole lot to tell. When I arrived, a driver from Microsoft was waiting to pick me up, which was nice because I had no idea where I was staying or where I was supposed to go. We managed to make it to my summer apartment without obeying a single traffic law, which was nice, and now I am here.

The apartment is actually pretty sweet. I have a nice bed, nice kitchen, everything is fully furnished... there is no A/C though, which was expected but kind of a bummer since the humidity is already starting to get to me. It's not really hot, in fact it's no worse than New Orleans, but in New Orleans we have A/C, and in India they don't. Still waiting until Monday to see if there is A/C at work. We are hoping for a hell yeah. I have a room mate, Sarjum, who is a student in North India. He is from here and fortunately is able to talk to the apartment manager, who is the guy who brings all our meals to our room and basically does everything. This is a big plus. He seems like a nice guy. Oh and the two meals they have brought me so far have been delicious, so that's another plus.

I basically haven't been outside yet, except for the trip from the airport. When I got here I took an unadvised nap; we'll see if I am able to sleep tonight.

Finally, India is ten and a half hours ahead of Pittsburgh time. I'm not exactly sure why they decided to throw that 0.5 in there. I think it's to increase the confusion even that much more. Nothing more here...

While normally India would be ten and a half hours ahead of Pittsburgh, because the US is in daylight-saving time right now and India is not, it will only be nine and a half hours while I am here.

New York

Welcome to the OC
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
As I mentioned in the last post, I had a great time in New York. I didn't take a ton of pictures while I was there because I didn't have it right away and I didn't always want to bring it with me, but here are a few of the more interesting ones.

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Travel Week

It hardly seems fair to describe all my recent activities in one post, written while waiting for a plane at the London airport as my 10 minutes of time winds down, so I won't try. What I will say is that I am currently in London after having spent the past four days in New York visiting high school and college friends. I bought a ton of CDs and books from my trip and a new digital camera (Rebel XTi) with associated awesome lense.

All of that was after a kickass send-off drink with my friends at the Harris Grill and an all-night final project scramble. While the flight from NYC to LHR was relatively painless (and short, at only 5:30) the next one doesn't look like it's going to be quite so fun. Although at this point, given how tired I am, I think I could sleep in the back of a cement mixer. More to come after I arrive, but honestly at this point I barely have the energy to type. 

Stay awesome.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Stories From My Parents: Part III

The last in a three part series of stories told to me by my visiting parents, this one is short and sweet.

My dad is a little under 65 years old, and he was talking with a radiologist from work who was about the same age. The radiologist was telling my dad a story about the time he visited New York when he was only six years old. Back then, apparently, when people visited New York, one of the popular past-times was to visit the lobby of the New York Daily News building and look at the large globe located there. (As my dad explained it, there wasn't a whole lot of cool stuff going on back in the 50s.) So as a child, this man went to visit the lobby of the New York Daily News and was standing on the railing examining the globe.

Apparently at this time, the Barnum and Bailey Circus was in New York, and one of the stars was being interviewed at the newspaper. So at some point the elevator opens up to the lobby, and a man walks out with a tiger on one arm and a lion on the other. Well, apparently something spooked the tiger, because it starts freaking out all of a sudden. Finally, it breaks free and proceeds to mauls the man standing right next to my dad's colleague. People start screaming and running over to help the man or alternatively running in the opposite direction, and the whole time this child is just standing there. Finally someone pulls him out of the room, and he said he never found out what happen to the man that was being attacked.

But to this day, he says that this particular memory, which occured when he was just six years old, is the most vivid of his entire life.

How to Not Die of Disease in India

  • 1 Adult Polio Booster (India is one of four countries in the world where Polio has not yet been eradicated.)
  • 4 Oral Typhoid Tablets
  • 4 months' supply Doxycycline (For the prevention of Malaria. Must be taken daily throughout and four weeks after returning home.)
  • Assorted lesser medicines and proventitive tools.

My body will be a super disease-fighing machine.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Ohhhhh snap!

I just found out (from a City Paper that I was using to wrap my dishes for the move) that one of my very favoritest bands, Fountains of Wayne, is going to be playing in Pittsburgh while I'm gone! I have never seen FOW before live, and therefore am very disappointed that this is all going down in my absence. It will be June 7 (my sister's bday) at Diesel on Carson Street. I demand that my friends who are staying behind go to this show, even if you think you don't like Fountains of Wayne.

In other news, I went to Coin Star today with a collection of coins roughly two years old. The results? Positive. $34, which included zero quarters! The breakdown:
250 Dimes
130 Nickels
530 Pennies
100% Awesome

As Kevin would say, "that's a lot of Yuenglings."

Stories From My Parents: Part II

This is the second in a three part series of stories my parents told me while they were here visiting Pittsburgh.

My parents are having a new back room put on their house, and for whatever reason they decided to get the whole house painted at the same time. And because in general there is a shortage of workers in New Orleans, the contractor that my parents are working with hired a group of workers from El Salvador. When they first started working, the contractor found out what part of the city they were living in, and strongly suggested that they move to a different part. Now my parents didn't actually get what part of town they were in, but apparently the contractor thought it was a dangerous enough place that a group of workers from a different country shouldn't be staying there.

Anyway, they appreciated his advice but said, no they'd prefer to stay there. It was pretty cheap apparently and they didn't feel unsafe. Well one day the workers go back to their apartment to find that a very large portion of their belongings had been stolen. When the contractor hears about this, he tells them again that they should move out of the neighborhood, but once again the workers say they are fine.

Well one day as they are coming home, the workers are approached by a group of neighborhood scholars. These guys make it very obvious to the workers that they are not welcome, and tell them that they "don't belong in this neighborhood." Again, our contractor recommends that they leave. Again, they decide to stay put.

Finally, something happens that make the workers decide it really would be prudent to leave. In the morning, they come down to head to work and find 80 bullet holes in their car. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but they seem to get the idea that, no really they aren't wanted in that neighborhood. As you can imagine, these fellows are properly scared and never show up for work again, having returned to Dallas (their previous place of residence) where things are a little bit calmer.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Stories From My Parents: Part I

This is the first in a three part series. My parents are currently in town, and they told me some funny stories, most of which show how crazy things are in New Orleans right now. My mom seems to think that everyone is really stressed out and on the edge, which I can imagine. Anyway, here's part one!

My parents are having their house remodelled right now. They are actually putting whole new room on the back of the house. We had this table in "The Breakfast Room" that is now going to be used in a much larger room. The table itself is one of those expanding tables that you can put 'leaves' into to change it from a 4 person table to a 12 person table, but my parents never had the leaves so they got this fellow downtown to make some new leaves for it. It took a while, but finally they got done. On the day that the guy's delivery men were supposed to deliver it, apparently they cut off some other driver on the way from the warehouse to my parents' house.

Well they get to my house and start unloading the leaves, at which point the driver that they cut off comes storming into our front yard and yelling and generally throwing a tantrum. At this point, he proceeds to pull out a can of mace and sprays the delivery men! With all the yelling going on, two construction workers come from the back yard, and they get maced too. Juanita, our housekeeper, comes to the front door and gets involved and starts screaming for someone to call the police. At some point, the guy spraying the mace says he's going to go back to his car to "get his gun" which apparently is code for "leave the scene of the crime" because he takes off. Someone heard Juanita asking for the cops, because they finally show up, and I think she was smart enough to get the license plate. Eventually they even catch the guy, maybe a few days later.

But the funny part was that this all happened in our front yard, and my parents didn't know about it until like a week later when one of the construction workers brought it up. Apparently they were pretty shaken up, and they mace really had a serious effect on them. In the process, one of the new leaves for the talbe got maced, and the finish was destroyed, so they're going to have to redo it...

Laissez les bon temps roullez!