Daily life

March 13, 2014 at 21:27

This is it! :-)

We finally had a few days in a row that were more or less routine. We’ve been running up and down mountains for the last month+ trying to get everything sorted with the apartment, paychecks, work, phone, internet access, you name it. Our free time has generally been spent exploring new restaurants, areas, temples, shopping malls and other fun stuff. But these last couple of days we have been able to just quietly sit down and reflect on the matter that we are actually living in the second biggest city in the world.

Up until now, it has felt a lot like a vacation in some regards, like we haven’t really been able to set any sort of roots. I think this week was for exactly that. I’ve gotten into things at work, and Andrea’s research is coming along well. We’ve spent some evenings just watching True Detective (which, I have to say I give 10/10, even though it disappointed me in the end – I think that says a lot) and relaxing.

I think Matthew McConaughey is racing towards one of the very best actors in Hollywood history! (courtesy of truedetectivequotes.blogspot.com)

So, we are basically settling into life here quite nicely. It’s been good to get a few days to breathe, because it won’t be calm for long here. Next week, on Monday, we have Holi coming up. It’s that festival where they throw colors at each other, the very same festival that is featured on every camera commercial in the world. :-)

Holi! (Courtesy of t2india.us)

Oh. And I need to find out how to pay my bills here. You would think you could just go the bank and pay them, but nooo. I have to get to a Vodafone shop to pay my phone bills, Airtel shop to pay for Internet, somewhere else I don’t know to pay for gas, and a different place yet again to pay for electricity.

… Incredible India!

Best regards, Marius

Slumdog Millionaire

March 7, 2014 at 06:27

During breakfast this morning, we were watching TV and the movie Slumdog Millionaire came on. We came in right around the scene where Jamal and his brother are sitting in an unfinished building looking out over their old slum, and we were like “Whoa!”, that looks familiar. We didn’t quite catch the exact whereabouts of their location, but it definitely looked like our home area, Hiranandani Gardens.

A shot from Slumdog Millionaire looking out on Hiranandani Gardens

We did some Googling and came up with this picture. Lo and Behold – this is almost the exact same view that we have from our apartment. In the bottom middle of the picture you can see a green area, that is the Heritage Park, in which I do my running in the morning. The two tall buildings you see center, are the same two buildings between which we took a picture of the fire a couple of weeks back (notably, the one on the right is Octavius, where we originally got our heart set on moving in). All the way to the right, behind Jamal’s back, is the Nomura building, where our neighbor works. Given, the movie was shot some years back and Hiranandani is evolving at a crazy rate, so there are a few more buildings now Most notably in this picture, there are now three more buildings to the far left. I dare say that had the scene been shot with the camera pointing in the other direction (left) you would have seen the building we live in (I don’t know if it had been built yet, though).

The view from our apartment

The view from our apartment

You can see from this picture the two buildings in the center, the heritage park, the Nomura building, the tiny slum, and the ridge in the background. In addition, you can see the three new buildings on the left. I took this picture out of the window in our bedroom this morning just to illustrate how close the two viewpoints are.

On further scrutiny we gathered where the picture was originally taken. I can’t really decide which of the two building in the following picture it is, but it has to be one of the two on the right, and my guess is the one in the center, Torino, and that Adonia, on the left hadn’t been built yet, as you can see straight “through” it to the Nomura compound.

Avalon and

Avalon and Torino, with Adonia on the left. This is also a view from our bedroom, only from a window in the other direction.

We thought it was rather fun, so I wanted to share it here:-)

Best regards, Marius

How to train your dragon

February 15, 2014 at 11:39

Okay. Maybe the title is a bit misleading. Or in fact, doesn’t have anything to do with the following post… But they do have HBO here, you know! I was watching “How to train your dragon” the other night and it got me thinking how much my cat looks like the dragon the kid rides, Toothless. See:

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Toothless!

But, oh, I digress. I was really going to write about how you get an apartment in  Hiranandani. It is not very simple, it seems. Luckily we have been able to get a really great apartment in the 28th floor of the Verona building here.

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Verona!

We only lease for six months, since we won’t be staying here longer than that, and leasing for that short of a period is almost impossible. We of course found our dream apartment in the Octavius building, very similar to the one we have moved into, only renovated this winter. The owner, however, requested a minimum 1 year lease, which meant that wasn’t going to happen.

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The view!

We are however, very happy with our new apartment, paid for all up front (yes, that’s what it takes to get a six month deal). Overall it is nice. We are going to decorate it a bit more here to make sure its nice and “homey”, so you’ll have to wait for the pictures until then.
But you can see the view from our living room:

I need to give a big thank you to Pritesh at Expatprops, and to Tina Nair who has guided us around Powai, looking at apartments. She’s been a great help, and if you are considering to move here, I would very much recommend that you let her and Pritesh sort you out!

A little info on what you may expect financially when leasing here:

1 month rent to broker
3 month rent deposit (this goes straight to the owner, no deposit account)
1 month rent up front (maybe more)
10 000 rupees for registration
15 000 rupees entrance fee (amount depends on building, some even charge exit-fee)
2 000 rupees for police fees (1500 if you go to the station, but that was advised against – they may charge you baksheesh on top)
1000 signatures on 100 formalities and documents

Luckily it all works out fine:-)

Best regards, Marius

Lazy Sunday

February 9, 2014 at 15:11

This Sunday is the most relaxed I can remember being, in like forever. We wanted to sleep long, but awoke by ourselves at around 9. We just put on the TV and cozied under the blankets for about an hour before we got up and went to the pool.

I started reading Paulo Coelho’s new book, “Manuscript from Accra” on the sun bed. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with his books. Some of them I think are really boring and stupid. Others are really  inspirational and great, in the sort of way that makes you feel like you grow as a person. My favorites are “The Alchemist”, “The Pilgrimage”, and “The Devil and Miss Prym”. I really like how his books are always centered around a really simple subject, that he splashes a bit of spirituality and magic on, to create a story that is really fun to read.

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Anyway, we hit the shower because we were to meet our future neighbor and her friends for lunch at the Renaissance Hotel. They were really, really nice and we had a great time!

The lunch buffet at Renaissance is crazy. There’s one section for starters, one for main course, and one for desserts. And by section, I sort of mean restaurant. We payed about 2600 rupees (NOK 260) for the food with free drinks. Free drinks doesn’t mean two cokes and a coffee. It means full selection of cocktails, beers, soft drinks and wines. I was in heaven, of course. The price also covers a trip to the gym and the swimming pool, which we will be sure to visit another time.

After the four hour meal, I came down with a severe case of itis, so I had to sleep it off at our hotel. So that’s where I’m still at. I haven’t moved an inch. We were planning on heading over to Juhu Beach again tonight for some rooftop open-grilling, but we’re beat.

Oh. Tottenham’s playing now. That’s my queue for a trip to the bar:-)

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