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Thoughts on India

There are clearly no zoning laws in India.  Commercial buildings sit right next to ramshackle houses.   The rich live right alongside the very poor. The people are incredibly industrious. They make something out of nothing. It is quite ingenious.   I saw corrugated tin used for siding on a building of what I would call a shed. It was someone’s house. The front of the house was littered with trash so thick it covered the entire ground.   I saw construction workers laying gravel in the foundation of a building by scooping the gravel into what looked like a very large plastic salad bowl with a shovel and carrying it on their backs.  There were no wheelbarrows in sight.   They worked in a circular pattern were either carrying the load or getting in line to fill their bowls. There are more people than there is equipment here, so they make do with what they have and work hard.

 Security

My hotel and the company facility were surrounded by a fortress wall that was topped with shards of broken glass on the top to discourage scaling the walls. There are guards at the entrances carrying rifles.  Every time you enter, they check the trunk and the scan the under carriage of every car with a mirror, every time you enter.  At the hotel there is a scanner like at the airport. You go through the scanner and place your belongings on a belt and they are scanned as well.   Then you have to swipe your room key to get into the elevator and you can only access the floor that your rooms are on. There was a car bomb at one of the hotels in Mumbai a few years ago and now the extra security measures at all hotels are Indian law.

 Weddings

Wedding chapels are everywhere.  They have garlands of flowers draped all over the outside and entrance to the chapels.  The garlands are thick, lush and brightly colored. Marigolds are commonly used and there are so many flowers it is quite impressive to see.  My driver tells me these highly decorated chapels are for the very rich.  I would never have known, as the chapels are located next to broken down buildings and street vendors are outside selling whatever they can to make their living.  It appears to be quite a poor neighborhood. The conversation with Ravi turns my perspective. Despite the surroundings, the scene has beauty.

 Traffic & Motorcycles,

Driving is an art here.

Men are most commonly the drivers but it is quite common to see women in a brightly colored Sari riding sidesaddle on a scooter/ motorcycle, holding a young child on her lap. .

How many people can you get on a motorcycle? The most I saw was 5.  The father was driving, a young child   stood in between the father and the handlebars.  One child was sitting between parents, the woman was riding sidesaddle with a child on her lap. Amazing! It appears this was the family car.

The large motorcycles we see in the states are not as common in India. The traffic frequently stops and starts and smaller scooters/ motorcycles are much more nimble. 

 In addition to the buses, cars motorcycles and auto-rickshaw traffic, pedestrians run in an out of traffic and cross the road with alarming regularity. I would not drive here for any amount of money. I am thankful for Ravi’s steady driving. He does not take chances and despite all the chaos he maneuvers the car quite easily.

 My team is beginning to arrive in Bangalore and a few of us go to dinner with our Indian teammate. He picked us up at the hotel and drove us into downtown Bangalore for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Am I really eating Asian food again? 

Tempura vegetables and teriyaki chicken…. It tastes like comfort food.

 I only get together with my teammates a few times a year. We all live in different parts of the US and India so it is nice when we can get together outside the office and get to know each other better.  That night we had people from Seattle, WA, Fort Collins CO, Cupertino and Sacramento CA and Bangalore India. When you are so far from home it is nice to see familiar faces and teammates begin to feel like family.

 Despite all the strangeness and poverty, I am comfortable in India.  There is something I can’t quite put my finger on but I continue to be amazed at the spirit of the people.

 

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