Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Sunset at the Kerela beach 30 kms from Mangalore

Yes I know. I haven’t written like for ages. No, I didn’t forget all about blogging. There was too much happening in life. Both professional and personal. And blogging sometimes takes a back seat. Even temptations of undergoing blog therapy didn’t motivate me to come back to the blog. But the important thing is, that I am back. It doesn’t matter now why I went missing, right? A crab is allowed to crawl back into his shell once in a while, allow me the liberty.
Now for the updates. I am in India. After nearly 10 months, which is a long long time. On a “pure” vacation (hopefully) for the first time in the year. The last few times it was more of a partial vacation. The past 2 weeks have been a crazy rush.. almost like a mad chase, I don’t even know what it was all for. I’ll cut to the essentials, because it has also been interesting :). Heres what has been happening for the past 2 weeks.

  • Hectic week before travelling to India... as if millions of things were chasing me.. almost as if my manager didn’t want me to travel back..
  • Customer escalation.. the worst ever. Last day of work at Sweden.. My nastiest meeting ever.. senior clients screaming.. multiple projects escalated.. enough to worry both internal and client execs..
  • An eventless flight to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt to Bangalore.. the latter filled with Indians settled in Canada. Good to know there are people other than me trying to escape from minus fifteen degrees!
  • Royal treatment on reaching Bangalore... a new apartment, me likes. An Ayurvedic Rejuvenation massage leaves me rejuvenated :).
  • One last week of work from Bangalore.. much more hectic than the one in Sweden. Killing traffic takes most of the time.
  • No time to breathe, but a lunch at IndiJoes and a beer at TGIF thanks to some friends. And comfort, peace of mind and good food at home, thanks to MBF :).
  • Journey to TAPMI Manipal for MBA Workshop, I lose my travel bag on the way to the station (with my MP3 player, camera, and T-shirts I got from Paris, Amsterdam and Rome :( sniff sniff ). I manage to retain my Man Utd jersey coz I am wearing it :phew:
  • For my senior exec and me, we have one ticket on RAC and one wait listed. We also have confirmed Volvo AC sleeper tickets, but we decide to risk the train.
  • The ticket checker allows us to board the train, we do not have a seat, it’s a 12 hour journey. After 3 hours the ticket checker gives us one berth for 2 of us. No bribe asked for! I am shocked. India IS changing!! Or is it just South India?
  • Very little sleep on train (2 people on one berth.. we manage).
  • Royal reception at Mangalore. One small glitch, the banner says “TAPMI welcomes Merlin and team”. My senior exec is 10 years senior to me, and 4 band levels above me, he is anything but “my team”. But he has a good sense of humor, just winks at me. When will students realize corporate protocols :sigh:
  • Vada sambhar breakfast at Mangalore. I realize I am in a football jersey and jeans, and have no luggage on me except a laptop and a laptop bag. No deo, no toothbrush, no formal clothes. I need to go shopping.
  • In Manipal the Alumni committee generously gives me a pulsar and directions to a shop I can buy a shirt.
  • Its been 10 years since my senior exec sat on a bike, I am tempted to show him some bike stunts, but I suppress my wicked urges and drive carefully.
  • A discovery that Manipal, the hep the yo and the happening student town does not have one decent shop where I can buy one Allen Solly shirt
  • Forced to buy an unbranded black (the other colors were HORRIBLE) shirt from Riverdale, which is a shop which is planning to close down and has NO options
  • Awesome workshop. I think we managed to keep 98% of the students awake for 2 hours (bless the girl who blissfully slept through it all on the last bench), which at a 2pm lecture is the greatest feat for any speaker.
  • Lot of attention from students post the workshop, am successful in diverting all the attention towards my senior exec saying (he is the guy who will make hiring decisions if any, I am a small fry)
  • Hire an Apache bike for 24 hours for 1500 bucks and a 5000 bucks deposit. Yes you are right - I have been fleeced. Its all right, I am a NRI in India, and this is the only way I can get a bike in good ol’ Manipal
  • Thanks to my “juniors” I have an awesome dinner and “bakar” session till midnight. I cant believe TAPMI has a in time of 12 am for girls AND guys! I miss my late night bike rides!
  • A most enchanting dawn!! Up at 6 am.. don’t remember the last time I got up at 6am without having a meeting.
  • Joined by MBF and family.. A bike ride to Karkala and other nearby places. Finally give up bike and shift to a diesel Ford Fiesta. An awesome car.. but I prefer driving petrol cars on highways.
  • Lunch at LX in Udupi.. refreshing old memories… awesome buffet topped with caramel and bread-butter pudding desert.. Drive down to Mangalore, movie “Rocket Singh” at AdLabs.
  • Some rest and then draught beer and a Chinese dinner at “Froth on the Top” at Mangalore. I can vouch that it’s the best draught beer in Mangalore!
  • After being deprived of sleep for 2 days, I finally sleep like a baby.
  • More draught beer at 10 am, its not good staying a 100 metres from “Froth on the Top”. The earliest I have had beer ever!
  • A drive down to one of the Kerela beaches in the Ford Fiesta. I was driving but I was well below the minimum driving alcohol level ;)
  • Awesome trip to one of the temples and the beach. A romantic sunset.. with some romantic company :).
  • Drive back to Mangalore.. more of Froth on the Top and American Choupsey for dinner :). An affirmation that I love “Indian Chinese” more than authentic Chinese :).
  • Morning and a beautiful train journey from Mangalore to Bangalore on Konkan Railways. The train trip is certainly recommended if you want to see the Western Ghats... absolutely breathtaking
  • Feels so good to be back to a culture where everybody on the train talk to each other.. the children are playing with each other even before we have put the luggage in. The adults start talking about the trivialities of life.. family, politics, rising prices and education. Soon even some common family ties are found.
  • Everyone shares their lunch, either bought on the train or from their “tiffin boxes”. They also share snacks, marriage related opinions and a lot of advice for one kid who is ill.
  • Incidentally the lunch on the train (vegetarian biriyani with raita) costs Rs 20, for the benefit of my European friends that is approximately 3 SEK or 0.3 EUR!! And I have a feeling it’s more expensive on the air conditioned coaches, I don’t know if it cost lesser in the non AC coaches.
  • And now.. back to the Bangalore grind :sigh: When the time comes to retire, Manipal will certainly be one of the options as a place to retire in :). By the way, the second option is Paris, the third is Rome !!