Week One and Two In India at the Taj Krishna

Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Monday, April 9, 2007

Long entry today folks...pictures coming soon.

Arrived into India late Saturday night the 31st of March.  The trip over on Lufthansa was uneventful...pretty much the same as my previous trip.  I ate a lot and slept a lot but managed to still be tired when I arrived...so getting to sleep at the hotel wasn't going to be a problem.  I'm picked up at the hotel by my driver from the Taj Krishna hotel.  Last time I came to Hyderabad, I stayed at the Novotel...I stayed there because it's a little cheaper, closer to the office and was the hotel recommended to me by my new boss.  It was a fine hotel...but for this trip, I knew that I was going to be in a hotel for at least three weeks so I wanted to stay somewhere more posh and closer to the neighborhood that I wanted to live in...Banjara Hills.  The Taj Krishna is right in the middle of Banjara Hills (B.H.) and definitely a more luxurious place to stay....but more on the Taj later.

As we leave the airport terminal and walk to the car, I can tell a huge difference from my previous trip...it's hot as hell and it's after midnight and still hot!  Welcome to India in the summer time!  I'm from Texas...I can handle the heat...but as we get into May, I hear that the temps will be around 115F.  The car to the Taj is a nice BMW and within a few minutes we're pulling into the main drive of the hotel.  I'm greeting at at the car roundabout by name and immediately taken by the concierge to my room....no lines to stand in, no waiting....right to the room...nice.  At the room there's a bottle of wine, a fresh glass of orange juice, a guy who can change some money for me....etc, etc.  This is definitely a different experience than the last time I came here.  The room is a standard room on the Taj Club level...overlooking the pool, king size bed, 52 inch flat panel HDTV, teak floors....very, very nice for U.S. standards.  I'm given a list of the amenities I get for being a Deloitte employee and it includes a free breakfast every morning, free pressing of my clothes, free happy hour with appetizers/beer, free wi fi internet, 25% discount on food and bev, etc, etc, etc.  I can already tell I'm going to get spoiled here. :)  I arrived purposely on a Saturday night so I could take it easy on Sunday getting acclimated to the new time zone...which I did....by laying out all day at the suh-weet Taj pool.  Very, very nice...I'll try to post of picture of it.

Day one at the office on Monday was basically meeting some of the same people I saw earlier, getting acclimated to my new environment, making a plan for the rest of the week and not much else.  My new boss is insistent of me getting comfortable first before I start the daily job duties she brought me over to do...and I'm very appreciative of that.  Major to-do's at the job this week include the basic stuff you would expect of any new employee...meet the team, get up to speed on the project, get all my office equipment figured out, etc.  Personally, I have many other things to do...including getting an Indian based cell phone, getting a bank account so I can transfer money to it, searching for apartments, finding a car and driver and getting used to the city and my new surroundings. 

Of the above, I managed to accomplish getting a mobile phone and getting the bank account paperwork started.  The apartment is another story.  The firm uses a group that will take you out searching for apartments....let's just say the 6 we saw weren't up to my standards.  Seriously...one had a squat toliet...puh-lease.  I'm not trying to be a prima donna...but I need to feel comfortable in the place I live.  I did have a little bit of luck though based on a connection I made before leaving the US.  There is an exiting company Senior Manager who is returning to the US at the end of April.  She has an apartment, car/driver, housekeeper and all the major appliances I might need.  She's having to return to the US unexpectedly and needs someone to assume her lease and take over her staff.  By the way...it's expected that expats have a staff to help them keep there lives in order...including a housekeeper and driver...that's how you "contribute" back to the local economy.  Anyway, I got the chance to check out her place and it has become my back-up place if I can't find anything else.  I'm definitely taking over her housekeeper and maybe her driver.  She sort of screwed me over and sold the car she told me she would lease me...but more on her later.  Regardless...the housekeeper is awesome and I'm definitely keeping her.  My current driver is a temp driver from an agency and he's an angry, angry man...and he doesn't know this city at all....so getting anywhere has become a matter of driving for a few minutes, stopping and asking for directions, driving some more...and then stopping again for directions.  Fortunately this guy is just temporary and paid for by the firm.

The first weekend was also fun.  Friday after work there was a company Cricket competion of which I was volunteered for.  I got to go out to a small cricket pitch and embarass myself for a while.  After cricekt, I went to a club called the Walden and met up with a local expact club called Hy Tea.  After a couple cocktails there, I met up with 3 other people from my company (Deanne, Melissa, Brad) at a bar called Liquids for drinks and fun.  The cover was 1000 Rupees which is about $25 US..OUCH!  But you got all that back in coupons that you used to buy your drinks...fine...I can buy $25 worth of drinks, no problem.  I bellied up to the bar and saw that they had Corona...a little taste of home!!!  Each 12oz bottle was 400 rupees or over $9 bucks each.  CRAP!  Switching to the local beer from here on out.  Liquids was fun...lot's of people, decent music and a good crowd.  At midnight everything pretty much shuts down and they have a very effective way of getting people to leave...they turn off the air-conditioner.  With a couple hundred people in a club...when the AC goes off, you want out fast!!!  Saturday night Brad and I had a great meal at Fuzion 9...good place, but again...the cocktails are $15 each.  PERSONAL NOTE TO ALL OF YOU:  IF YOU COME VISIT BRANDON IN INDIA...BRING ME GOOD WINE AND/OR HIGH QUALITY LIQUOR...PLEASE!!!   After dinner Saturday night Brad and I met two Australian nanny's who take care of one of the firm's partners kids.  These poor girls have been here for 3 months and haven't been out once so it was good for them to get out of the house for a change.     The four of us met out at a bar called Ahala which just happens to be attached to the Taj Krishna.  Pretty pricey place, but good music and a good crowd.  We actually ran into another coworker and along with her and her friends, we went to a private party at a guy named Sonny's house.  He is originally from New Jersey and lives in Film Nagar and has a great patio that was made for entertaining people.  There were a few other Deloitter's there along with a lot of others who are all my new friends...Aditi, Victor, Sonny, Rebecca, Nick, Steve...and many more who's names I forgot.  Before I knew it it was 5AM and I needed a ride back to the Taj.  Everyone had a good time and I'm sure this new group will get me in trouble...

Week two at work and things are starting to crank up.  I was given some more responsibilities, helped put together a couple presentation, more conference calls and meetings....it's all good though.  I need to be challenged in order to force me to learn how our India operation works and to prepare me for the tasks coming up.  I'm going to be "the guy" who helps globalize our India operation so applying a little pressure now will help me deal with the huge pressure that's about to come down the pipe when we actually start going global.

Week two was also spent looking at some other apartments...they were nicer, but much more expensive.  One was $1800/month...in India!!!  I pretty much decided that I'm taking the expat's apartment I saw last week...it's a nice place, good patio, and I think I can make it into a home.  I went over to her place Wednesday after work to let her know I wanted it and the appliances she promised me.  But like the car she gave away and promised me, she now is informing me that her washing machine and stereo both do not work and I will need to purchase new ones.  Information I could have used the first dozen times we talked.  This woman is starting to piss me off.  That's OK...it' a great place and I still want it.  Thursday night I went out with my new boss and her husband to one of their favorite restaurants...Little Italy.  It's a veg Italian place very close to my new apartment and has surprisingly good pastas and sauces.  They also offer some Tex Mex selections which I find a bit odd...but the pasta is pretty legit.  The weekend was another fun time...had a company dinner Friday night at the Novotel with my boss and about 12 other coworkers.  Afterwards I headed out to Ahala to meet some of my new friends to listen to some big DJ from Banglore who was in town.  Power outages are pretty common in India and sure enough, around 1AM the power goes out in the club.  What would typically start a mass exodus towards the doors in the states turned into a good time as someone started playing the bongos and Aditi got up on the dance floor and did some dance for the entire club....good times.  Saturday night was dinner at Ashish and Sonia's beautiful apartment at Stone Valley...it probably is one of the nicest apartments in Hyderabad.  Four bedrooms, marble floors, modern kitchen, intricate wood-work and great views.  Dinner was great as was the wine and company.  Afterwards Nick and Beck (Aussie couple I met at Sonny's) were having a get together at their place so I got there just in time to see the apartment security guard start to shut it down.  Everyone (20+ of us) crammed into cars and headed over to Liquids where we pretty much took over the bar.  Some drunk English dude tried to start crap with Nick and that pretty much ended the night at Liquids.  So back over to Sonny's we went which I can tell is becoming the official after-hours hang out.  I stayed out until 4 and felt bad about waking my driver up who was sleeping in my car in the street.  Sunday I relaxed by the pool at the Taj and enjoyed some peace and quiet off of Hyderabad's crazy streets.

Week three coming up...last full week at the Taj and the week before I move into my apartment!
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