This is our last…

June 26, 2014 at 18:27

Okay. We are at that point now. For every thing we do, we always comment: “This is our last time doing this”. Whether it is eating at our favorite lunch place Le Pain Quotidien (ok, that one we will honestly visit a few times more), having a beer at Chillies with friends, paying the gas bill, or whatever, sadness seems to creep slowly and steadily over us. Granted, some things I won’t miss that much, like the incessant honking, the humidity and extreme heat, and… Come to think of it, that sums up the large of it.

There are quite frankly so many things we will miss when we leave India. The many friends we have met here, who along with a million things have contributed to the one thing we’re stuck with: that India is an almost magical country, that have left us with impressions and emotions to last us a lifetime.

On the other hand, we have so much to travel home to! We haven’t seen our friends and family for so long, and we miss them so much. Whether it is Monopoly in the evenings, a game of chess in the lunch break or getting my butt kicked in FIFA14, or dinners and parties, there are so many things I can’t wait to pick up with our friends and family. Oh, how we miss them all. My parents are moving home after four years in Belgium almost on the same date as us, so this is really going to be a family reunion!

And while I’m on picking up tabs, it will be good to get back to work in Norway. I’ve gotten a position on the Norwegian side of the project I’m at here with the Norwegian postal services. This summer will definitely be spent sitting down and reflecting on all the things I have learned over the past six months. I mean, how does one effectively use, and communicate, such a unique experience. Luckily, finding that out is actually my field of work: Information Management. I’m looking forward to presenting what I have learned to Capgemini Norway. What that is I will spend a good time churning out in my mind. For now, I only know, more than ever, that Capgemini is the right place for me.

Best regards, Marius

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

Keep on Rickshawing in the FRRO World

February 4, 2014 at 19:37

Allright! So here we are. We’ve passed the one week mark of our stay here in Mumbai. The city is treating us good and we have closed a deal on an apartment, and are just waiting for the money transfer before we can move in. The apartment is in the Verona building in Hiranandani. We’ll be staying on the 28th floor, so we can expect quite the view.

This week started out with me going to the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office). It is about an hour and a half drive (with heavy traffic) from where we live, next to the Victoria Terminus train station. That is sort of familiar land for us as we stayed at a hotel close by last time we were here, and we even took the train a few times. It was fun to be back! The FRRO is the office where all foreign nationals who have visa for more than 180 days need to register, or it will not be possible to open a bank account, get a post-paid phone plan and several other details.

 

Victoria Terminus shot on mobile camera in passing.

Victoria Terminus shot on mobile camera in passing.

The office itself is dreaded by all foreigners and you can read a million blog posts on it if you care to Google it. My trip there was rather problem free. Capgemini has an agent who handles expats going to FRRO, and he made sure all my papers were in order before I got there, and met me outside and pointed me in the right direction. He even knew a girl on the inside who fast tracked me a bit, and I was out before I knew it. So no horror story from me about the FRRO – almost. It turns out I didn’t need to register, as my visa is exactly 180 days. So I got a stamp on a piece of paper stating I don’t need to register. Now, here’s the thing: The apartment’s owner is waiting for me to open a bank account, so I can transfer funds there and he can cash the checks. I had gotten a check book from my bank, pending my account opening after I returned from FRRO, so I had already written up the checks for the owner and all was to be well. Only problem is, the trip to FRRO went so well that I didn’t even need to register – meaning – I could not open a bank acccount.

So now we are doing an online transfer of the funds, which it seems Indians are quite skeptical of. Well, I’m skeptical of checks, so I guess we’ll have to agree on having different views there. DnB (my bank) is saying I should expect the funds to be transferred within three days, but saying it could take about fifteen days at most. The owner of the flat, however, is saying no way on earth will it take more than two days. We’ll see. Hopefully he is right. We have to stay in a hotel until he gets the money, so if you are reading this, cross your fingers, and pray to whatever deity you have that he is right! :-)

This is getting to be a rather long post. I initially wanted to say something about working at Capgemini India, but I’ll wait for another day. Currently I haven’t actually started working, since Andrea and I are both doing an introductory program here. It is quite interesting to see how the Indian consultants are inaugurated here. It’s not really much different to how they do it in Norway. I will say this about Capgemini India before the next post, though: My colleagues are absolutely wonderful! They are always smiling, always helping and so warm and friendly that walking into the doors of the office, I feel really like I am at home.

Best regards, Marius

Our first week in Mumbai…

February 2, 2014 at 12:30

.. is almost over. And we are so happy to say that we don’t have any regrets about moving here! When we talked about moving here it was the first week we thought would be the most challenging. And if that is the case we will probably have a really great time in this mega city. So far we have just loved it!

Hiranandani

Hiranandani

This week we have been viewing apartments, met with our new colleagues and just tried to come to know the area. We are really happy about Powai, where we are going to live. Hiranandani is a beautiful area, just filled with good shops and restaurants. And we could not be more happy about the Capgemini offices in Mumbai and the people who work there. They have just been so welcoming and they made us feel at home straight away. Obviously those are the two places we will spend the most of our time, so we are oh so glad we feel comfortable at both our neighborhood and our work place. 

Other than that we have spent quite a bit of our time shopping, eating and exploring. We have been to some malls, among them R City mall, which is the nearest mall to where we stay. Here they have international restaurant and café chains like TGI Friday’s, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Starbucks and so on, in addition to indian and other asian restaurants. They also have lots of good international shops like Tommy Hilfiger, Gant, Sunglass Hut and indian shops like Global Desi and Fab India.

R City Mall food court

R City Mall food court

We have also been to Infinity Mall and Inorbit Mall in Malad, which both host my favorite inexpensive shop abroad: Forever 21.

Forever 21 in Oberoi Mall

Forever 21 in Oberoi Mall

And the food.. For some strange reason we haven’t had too much Indian food yet. Maybe it is because we’re still trying to adjust to moving from Norway, where everything is familiar, to India, where everything is supposed to be very different. But still, we have tried some really good food this past week. For our Japanese or Chinese food we go to the incredible beautiful Skky Lounge in Powai, for our Italian we go to Red Olives and to satisfy our Belgian and French liking we go to Le Pain Quoditien.

Skky Lounge

Skky Lounge

 

Pasta at Red Olives

Pasta at Red Olives

Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien

It is safe to say I will need to start working out soon before my pants won’t fit anymore.

- Andrea