On the other side of the planet
By KitchenSink on Jun 15, 2009
Every so often it's good to take a trip to somewhere completely different, where you have never been before. For me, this year, a work trip to southern India fit the bill quite nicely.
Sun has several teams based in India, and a campus in Bangalore, the Indian IT mecca of the south. Like many companies we have outsourced some of our work to Indian companies, and for the identity management of Sun's web sites we work with a team in Chennai.
It is unlikely that I will be able to do justice to India in these collection of posts. India is a diverse, multi-cultural country of many religions and languages that can't be put into a convenient box.
Indian expatriates well know the rigors of traveling here. Many undertake the trip every year, or every other year, bringing their families on 20 hour plus journeys so that the kids will know their extended family. After back to back 10 hour flights with lots of such families (yes, it is summer holiday time) interspersed with a mad dash between Heathrow gates due to a delayed first flight, I arrived in Bangalore having lost my mobile phone and my luggage still in London which took over 30 minutes to report. The lines to get through immigration were slow due to a check of everyone's temperature to screen for swine flu. Everyone working in immigration wore a mask.
Not getting the chance to change my clothes like I would have liked, my next leg was a domestic one hour flight at 7:25 AM IST. Security queues divide into two lines, one for "ladies" and the other for men, apparently this is so the women can be screened in a little curtained room for privacy. I then queued up on the jetway with a collection of business Indian travelers (and the one token Brit), all wearing business slacks, long sleeved dress shirt and carrying laptop case. An hour later I was in Chennai with my scare belongings.
India's challenge has always been infrastructure and Chennai like many Asian cities, struggles with choking traffic. My driver, opted for a unpaved "shortcut" that we bounced over underneath a uncompleted overpass, but that quite handily led us straight to the hotel. The fallout from Mumbai's terrorist attacks was front and center at the gate to the hotel. Every vehicle undercarriage was examined with a rolling mirror and I had to walk through a metal detector.
Despite all this, everyone here has been quite nice. The security screener even asked if I was Ok, must have been due to the scowl on my face over my lost luggage.Next, a trip around the city to find some clothes.