Monday Jul 20, 2009

Farewell, Kingston!

I have come home. It always feels nice to be back home. It feels nicer to have come home with loads of good memories; memories about a very short period of my life in an Island, far from my home, its people, its culture and many many other things. Like every other human, I also long to keep all joyous memories safely and dearly. And as long as I can retain the memories of wonderful days of my life at Kingston in Jamaica, I know it always carry a potential to bring smile on my face. It's adorable; largely because of some kind hearted people.

Let me be frank: I badly wanted to get back home. This was on day one. I began counting days. But soon I got used to the environment, the people, their dialect, the music by the pool side of my hotel, the courteous staff in there, the strange and weird gestures by the street walkers, the hot climate, the sight of beautiful lush green mountains, but not certainly the food. As such I'm notorious for my poor eating habits. So the last thing that I want to discuss in here is about food. Barring that, I have only very fond memories of my journey to a Caribbean Island.



The tall man standing next to me is Devindra Sharma. People call him Dev. He was one of the first two people, whom I met at Fujitsu. That he is an Indian is painted all over his face. But it surprised me to discover that he was born vegetarian. To snatch from him some information around the secret vegetarian food outlets in Jamaica stood high on my priorities. Thus began my company with Dev that may have started with a very casual conversation around Vegetarian food or probably around the details of his favourite chauffer at Kingston, but went on to several other topics: some personal, some historical, some geographical, some cultural and what not. If I know that Lignum Vitae is the National Flower of Jamaica, that's because of him. I wouldn't have known that the consumption of unripe fruit called The Ackee, also the Jamaican National Fruit, invites disaster, but for Dev's detailed explanation. A few hours of conversation with him seemed like a quick flip through the pages of an Encyclopedia! Does anyone here needs more explanation on why I love exposure to the people the most. I thank Dev for all the wisdom that he shared, for all the time that he gave me in shopping around, hanging out in Indian restaurants, driving me around and lastly for his drop at the Norman Manley International airport in Jamaica during very early hours on a fine Saturday morning. I admire him for his linguistic capabilities and several other qualities.

Dev introduced me to Conrad, his colleague. Together we had some fun at a couple of Indian Food Outlets in Jamaica in the evenings.



On the other hand, during the daytime, empowered by the energy and enthusiasm of a youthful audience, I sailed through my assignment at Fujitsu rather smoothly. There weren't any hiccups in the program that I can think of. Well, if there were any that I am now unable to recall, I believe one among the group in the picture would show up and comment loud and clear. I thank each of them for all learning and fun in the class.



On the final day of the Boot Camp, they very kindly offered me a drive to the famous University Of West Indies. I found it difficult to turn down such an offer, especially when a visit to the UWI was always on my 'To Do' list while at Kingston. Consequently, I found myself taking a stroll in the huge campus of UWI, accompanied by some of its alumni. They would have had a stream of memories about their college going days while taking me around the beautiful University Campus. By the time we drove out of the UWI, I had just over a dozen hours left in Kingston.



Again, I am happy to be back home. I'm happy also to have got an opportunity to spend two weeks of my life in a beautiful Island, spending some quality time with some wonderful people, the memories of which, I hope, shall take a very long time to even fade. Farewell, Kingston!

Monday Jul 13, 2009

From Kingston, Jamaica

It has been exactly a week since I landed at Kingston in Jamaica. The stay so far has been very pleasant. The days have been quite busy and that coupled with an element of laziness kept me away from blogging for a full one week. Honestly, I haven't been able to see much of Kingston yet. But whatever I managed to see and experience in the last six days or so, I found this city interesting. Perhaps there are problems here, like every other city, that doesn't quite seem visible to a stranger like me, settled in the comforts of a luxurious hotel situated in the heart of New Kingston. Whatever it may be, the fact that many major Corporates have their presence in this part of the world and that the city caters to the need of all its visitors fairly well makes it appear a very good destination to me. And like I said, I have been enjoying my stay in this City so far.

The trip to Kingston from India was rather long. I had to hop a couple of flights before I finally landed at the Kingston airport. Visa is stamped on arrival at Kingston. En route, I halted at Miami for a day and seized that opportunity to see the South Miami beach. On the day when US celebrated its Independence Day, a long stroll through the beach roads exhausted me and I was left with no energy for any other activity except sleep. Luckily, flight from Miami to Kingston was scheduled only on the next day and it was the shortest leg in my whole journey with a flying time of just about 1 hour 25 minutes.

And thus I landed in the Norman Manley Intl Airport at Kingston, located so close to the sea that while landing, for a moment at least, I thought the flight was landing in water!!!

I was charged USD 25 for transportation from the airport to the Hilton Kingston and that I felt was reasonable considering the distance covered. It was water on either side of the road for a good distance from airport to the Hotel and I really enjoyed that sight. Like me, if you also carry a misconception that it's beaches and beaches all over this Island, please be clear that no one comes to Kingston to see beaches. There aren't many beaches in this part of the world. For beaches, there are other exotic destinations within the Island.

Being a strict vegetarian has always thrown some challenges during overseas trips. On my arrival at my hotel in New Kingston, one of the things that I did was to walk around the place to spot an Indian restaurant named 'Akbar," which always stood prominent whenever Google fetched me the results for 'Indian Restaurant in Kingston, Jamaica'. I did drop in there a couple of times for my dinner. It's a decent Indian restaurant worth trying while in this part of the world. They have hotel pick up as well, but yours truly hasn't made use of that facility yet, as 'Akbar' is a just few minutes walk from 'Hilton Kingston', where I am stationed. On one another day during last week, one of my friends took me to another Indian restaurant near by. 'Jewel Of India,' as it is named is also worth a visit. Most of the afternoons last week, I got into the Earls Juice Center to fetch some fresh fruit juice and strict vegetable meals. Not very tasty, but certainly healthy.

I love the beaches. Since Kingston offered no famous ones and because I had a weekend at my disposal I followed a friend's advice to book myself on to the Knutsford Express that carried me from Kingston to Montego Bay, an exotic tourist location in Jamaica, on a Saturday, dated 11 July 2009. I came back to Kingston the same day evening in the same bus.

On reaching Montego Bay from Kingston, after a good three hour drive (approximately) with one stop of ten minutes at Ocho Rios, I went and spent some time at the Doctors Cave Beach and then shopped around for a while. To kill some time, I walked around the streets in Montego Bay. It was crowded with Music floating all around the place. I could even spot a DJ standing on the street and playing music for the public! Some street walkers produced weird noise and actions to grab my attention and my response to all of it, as advised in this website, was to just IGNORE them. It works.

And here I'm resting on a Sunday in my hotel at Kingston. Oh yeah, before I forget, I'm here for a very serious reason, not to enjoy a vacation. A two weeks Boot camp around Sun's Software and Hardware Products at Fujitsu is what really brought me here to this Island. How well I managed to take care of the business purpose of this visit is for the folks in the photograph to comment. May be, their happy faces would well be a positive indication of a good Phase I of the Boot Camp.



Tomorrow I'm starting the Phase II of the program and I am looking forward for a wonderful experience full of learning and fun!

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