JASHN 2014!

March 4, 2014 at 17:53

This weekend was a weekend of festivals. Following our trip to Suvarna Temple on Thursday, we headed to Capgemini’s own festival on Saturday. It’s for employees and their families only, and it gathered an impressive 16.000 people in an outdoor complex in Bandra, a little south of where we live. Quite the contrast to the max 150 people that Capgemini-parties in Norway gather! To think that they host these types of parties at every major city Capgemini is represented in makes the whole idea mind-numbingly huge. There were fashion shows and talent competitions with singing and dancing, all with only Capgemini-employees on the stage – apart from the two hosts – one guy who is a Bollywood actor and a girl who is an anchor on a TV-station here.

The stage.

The stage.

Another thing there was an abundance of, apart from people, was foooood. They served everything from Sheesh-kebab to Chaat to sugar-cane juice. I ate till I was close to exploding, and then we had some ice cream :-)

Pressing sugar canes...

Pressing sugar canes…

... into this refreshing beverage.

… into this refreshing beverage.

Sunset at Jashn

Sunset at Jashn

After the sun set, we decided to head on to a bar, as it was our Indian friend’s birthday. We headed in a cab, south, towards Worli, along with two Indian friends and another Norwegian colleague of mine who is here to work for a month, driving over the bridge that connects Bandra and Worli. Of course we went Indian-style, with six people in a taxi. We even got pulled over, but our Indian friends told the police that we were tourists just looking to see the city, and they let us go without any hiccups:-)

The gang who notoriously raided Mumbai on Saturday.

The gang who notoriously raided Mumbai on Saturday.

The choice for club fell on Hard Rock Cafe where we had some more food(!) and beers (and unfortunately, tequila). After this, we headed around the corner from there to Shiro, a club which we, funnily enough, got thrown out of the last time we were in Mumbai. It is a semi-formal club, and the last time we were there, we were actually looking for Hard Rock Cafe, which of course is around the corner. But that time, we thought that Shiro was the place (it’s rather poorly marked and signs are pretty non-existent). We were told at the door that we weren’t properly dressed to go in, and as such had to leave. We though it was kind of strange, as we had never heard of a dress code to get into HRC, but I remember us thinking that “Oh well, India is a strange place after all!” Haha! We did find out at a later date though, courtesy of our taxi driver, back then, where the actual entrance to HRC was.

Anyway, we danced the night away at Shiro – which is sort of strange for me, as I don’t really dance – but hey, that’s what tequila is for, right? After Andrea had, unsuccessfully, tried to wing man our friend into hooking up with what we found out was a bride-to-be at her bachelorette party, we decided enough was enough, and headed out for some more fun. We took a taxi even further south, past Haji Ali Mosqué, and to Marine Drive, where we jumped of and went for a nice night-stroll. Along the way, these guys with huge cans of chai on the back of their bikes sold us some hot refreshment, and we bought some fresh fruits from some kids. I almost choked, as I found out they put spices on the fruits. Like, really, really, really spicy spices. After walking around for a while, we decided to say good night to South Mumbai and Nariman Point and head on home to hit the pillow sleeping.

Best regards. Marius

A different kind of day

February 5, 2014 at 18:55

Yes, that’s exactly what you get when you live and work in India! I wasn’t actually going to post anything today, but after getting home and thinking back on the day, I couldn’t really help myself. It was the kind of day that you don’t experience… Ever!

We started off taking a rickshaw to work. Which we always do, but I wish I had filmed this trip. It’s rather hot here, and sitting in the cool breeze of the open carriage is awesome in the morning. Plus, it’s the fastest method of travel in heavy traffic, and it costs us between 20-60 rupees (2-6 NOK). Our driver today decided he didn’t want to deal with traffic, so he took us out into the oncoming lane. I am usually pretty calm in these things even though, if you are a bit anxious about driving, you are going to feel like you are crashing every twenty seconds. This time, however, veering through oncoming cars and people and cows and whatnot, I was pretty sure it was my last moment in this world. It turned out alright, of course, as it has a tendency to do with everything in this city.

Arriving in Godrej IT Park, M4 office, we headed to the last day of inauguration where we got a very good and inspiring seminar about people with disabilities, and how we need to change mindset about disabilities.

Upon leaving the office, we see a bunch of people standing near the pond on one side of the building, looking at some workers emptying it. It turns out a little turtle is hiding in a waterpipe at the bottom of the dirty pond with polluted water, unable to get out, so they need to save it. Which they do, and after cleaning it of the muddy water and making sure it’s okay, the first thing they do is show it to us and let us hold it. It’s funny, because all the people standing around really wanted us to experience this, and no one swooped in to touch it or anything until they were certain we had held it and gotten a picture. I think it’s a good example of the love and pride Indians have of what their country has to offer, and their kindness towards foreigners – or firang – as they call us.

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Emptying the pool

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Finally got it out!

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Andrea gets to hold it.

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Cute little thing, no?

I went off on a meeting with the project leader of the project covering services for the Norwegian post office. We decided to try and find a suitable position for me there, with regards to me having some technical expertise as well as a good network on the Norwegian side. I can thus contribute both on the front and back end. It’s a good project for me, as I can get a place in the project on the Norwegian side when I get home as well.

It is rather funny, I go to India, and I still work on a Norwegian project:-)

The building that I will be working from is like the “store front” of the Capgemini office in Mumbai.

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Visiting companies logo's, created with loose marble rock

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Rose petals

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The waiting area

We spent the rest of the day getting to know more people around the office, all of whom are so extremely nice and friendly.

I will update again a bit later. Just had to share this with you:-)

Best regards, Marius

So it begins, this story…

January 28, 2014 at 19:59

In the first chapter of Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, he describes in detail the feeling of that first meeting with Mumbai. He describes the first thing you meet, the very distinctive smell, which he calls the worst good smell in the world. The next thing you notice is the heat. It’s a clammy, dense sort, and it will make you sweat more than you thought possible.

It’s true what he writes, about the smell and the heat. I know this from the last time we visited. Back then, we arrived in late July. It was the warmest I had ever felt, and the humidity was extreme. It took a few days just to get used to breathing. But this time, arriving in January, it wasn’t like that at all. The smell was still pretty distinct, but the temperature was just right. Coming from -15 degrees Celsius in Norway, to about 25 degrees here was a blessing. So what I feel I have the most in common with Gregory David Roberts on this visit is the premise, as he writes: “So it begins, this story, like everything else – with a woman, and a city, and a little bit of luck.”

I have my amazing wife with me to Mumbai, the city we, thanks to the hard work of good colleagues in Capgemini India, are fortunate enough to be able to visit and work in.

We arrived during the night to Tuesday, after a rather long trip from Oslo. We travelled with British Airways to London first. The plane from Oslo was unfortunately delayed, or as the stewardess so politely told me: “We’re not late, you probably just didn’t read the clock right.” Well, it turns out we WERE late. About 35 minutes. Which is a lot when transfer time is a mere hour. Fortunately, another steward moved us to the front of the plane so we could run from there. He also made sure someone met us so we could be fast-tracked through security. Thanks to that, and the fact that they checked us in even after the gate closed, we made it.

Flying over Dubai

Flying over Dubai

Landing in Mumbai, we went through security, customs and passport control with no big happenings, before we boarded a taxi the hotel had sent. What you’ll notice first and foremost, travelling by car through Mumbai, is the diversity in living standards, people, and architecture. The taxi took us through slums, fancy hotels, past Indians, both Hindu and Muslim, rich residential areas, forests and lakes, under a water pipe line, past homeless people and into our 12 stories hotel, Ramada. We were beat, and went to sleep pretty quickly.

The streets of Mumbai at night

The streets of Mumbai at night

The day following, we got up for breakfast, slept some more, and ordered a taxi to go to the R City Mall. We had to drive through Hiranandani, hopefully our home in a short while. It is absolutely huge, and we spent a few hours trekking through. After the obligatory vacation-coffee/frappuccino at Starbucks, we ate at T.G.I. Friday’s. The prices here are quite different from Norway. We ended up spending 1800 rupees for the two of us, or about 180 kroners. I dare the statement that it would have cost us three times as much back home.

Driving through Hiranandani.

Driving through Hiranandani.

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After buying a few things at a local store, we headed back to the hotel for the SKKY lounge experience. It’s a rooftop bar next to the hotel, with great food and great atmosphere, as you can see from the pictures.

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Best regards, Marius