My first time to India for official work, third time all around. I came to speak to our employees about the urgency to reskill and cross skill. Original plan was Bangalore only, ended up with 6 sessions across 5 cities – so a tour of Indian IBM offices really – and subsequently airports and drivers and horrific sleeping habit. Summarizing the travels all around:
City #1 Bangalore – In a hotel at 4 am after 24+ travel – Marriott Hebbal was vibrating with youngsters when we got there as there was a DJ – hip place. Sunday to recover, take a nap, have dinner (going all Indian) and ready for Monday to Wednesday tour of various offices. The city is a bit of a dichotomy of western offices of every high tech company you know in the midst of construction mania and shanty towns. Didn’t see much of a city at all.
City #2 Hyderabad – quite the cultural experience as my driver didn’t show up at the airport (but I received over 50 unsolicited offers for taxi from young men – well hello male India I remember from 4 years ago!). After an hour of figuring out at 1 am how am I going to get there (another 1 hour away) and phone battery out, I made a big fuss at the counter of the car company (and scared half of the airport around me). Got there at 3 am – my no show driver shows up at 5 am after I finally fell asleep. Once in a car on my way to the office, he had no clue where we were, where to go and asked me to pull up map. Hyderabad service industry 0, Hyderabad IBMers 100. The team was absolutely awesome, wouldn’t let me out of their sight, Praveen drove me to the airport after roundtables and the roadshow, I got a small gift and even got to award their quarterly Hall of Fame! Too bad I had less than 24 hours there.
City #3 Chennai (Madras) – Hot hot hot, gorgeous hotel where I finally spent more than 1 night and the whole weekend. Did shopping with 2 colleagues who were generous enough to take me to the chowk. Saturday and my only off and no travel day, I booked a tour to Mahabalipuram, the UNESCO site. Let me just say that touring anything at 42C is a really bad idea. My clothes were sticking to me and were soaked, I drank 4 liters of water and barely looked at the carvings. In all this heat, every single Indian person is in either in jeans or long pants or long sleeved shirts – and looks fine while I puff around.
Heading out to Delhi in a few hours for last 2 sessions and then off home.