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

Even fairer than Verona… Goa!

April 26, 2014 at 19:15

We traveled to Goa for the week of Easter, and what a trip it was! Previously, Andrea and I have traveled to northern Goa, more precisely Anjuna. We loved it back then, but this time, heading south to Agonda… Well, what can I say? It was probably one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever been to. And what more: We had a stretch of probably 5 km of white sandy beaches pretty much to ourselves, if you don’t count a few cows, some dogs and a batch of newly hatched sea turtles.

No people!

No people, just cows!

We stayed at the Mariposa Beach Grove. I haven’t tried any of the other hotels/beach huts in Agonda, but I find it hard to believe that any other could match this one. We stayed at rs. 2250 (NOK 225) per person in rather luxurious beach huts with huge comfy beds and roofless bathrooms – for showers under the starry sky, or the searing sun, whichever is preferable.

The huts at Mariposa.

The huts at Mariposa.

A view to the sea and bar area.

A view to the sea and bar area.

The insides.

The insides.

Bathroom under the open sky. Our toilet even housed a little frog - which the staff where nice enough to set free.

Bathroom under the open sky. Our toilet even housed a little frog – which the staff were nice enough to set free.

Mariposa is as far from a resort as you could come. Basically you rent one of five huts next to the owners house. They do all their cooking at home and the bar and restaurant area is pretty much just an extension of their house. This gives a feeling that you are staying at someones home at the same time that you enjoy your own total privacy. The “homey” feeling is increased immensely by the sincere hospitality they show you. I wouldn’t call it service – it’s just plain friendliness. But they really do know how to keep their guests. Lunch and dinner was dictated by our own wishes, as the owner asked everyday what we would like to eat, and based on our answers headed to the fishermans village next door to bring back a newly caught delicacy. Whether it was red or white snapper, calamares, king fish, prawns or lobster, they always made a delicious meal, which we ate with some beer, wine or champagne on the side (all from Sula, of course:-).

Some unfortunate freshly caught lobsters on their way to becoming a delicious meal.

Some unfortunate freshly caught lobsters on their way to becoming a delicious meal.

Fresh seafood!

Fresh seafood!

We generally floated the days away on our sunbeds, everyone but me getting a healthy tan (at least I didn’t get red either), or just out in the ocean body surfing the waves. One morning we even managed a bare feet biathlon along the beach, which I lost because I have eaten way to much Indian food since I came here! The evenings went by with too much good foods and drinks and a great deal of card playing – which pretty much is a description of what I consider a perfect vacation.

That is not to say we did nothing on our five days. We had one day of boating where we went to some other beaches and had a bit of dolphin safari. We managed to see lot’s of dolphins, even though they were a bit camera shy. The other beaches were really beautiful, but we felt really fortunate as we all came to the conclusion that we had settled on the best one.

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Dolphin safari!

Maja had her birthday when we were there, which we celebrated with cake and champagne. Mons also took her to a spa at The Lalit futher south. All in all, I think she could have done worse for her birthday than Agonda :-)

We enjoyed our week very much, although I had to spend a bit of time working from the sunbed. It wasn’t too bad – if you need to work, Agonda is probably one of the best places to do it!

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Andrea wasn’t complaining. And how could you, when you look like this.

Best regards, Marius

Our guests love India

March 30, 2014 at 06:47

We welcomed our guests at the airport Thursday night. Friday we took things slow, and Saturday we went for a trip to Borivali. We went to Sanjay Gandhi national park, and we took a hike at the Kanheri Caves and went on a tiger and lion safari among other things. It was great fun, and our guest agreed that if this was the only thing they would experience for the whole trip, they would be happy, because thay had such a great experience.

My father and Marianne at the Kanhei Caves

My father and Marianne at the Kanheri Caves

Some people wanted a photo of our guests

Some people wanted a photo of our guests

But luckily their vacation in India have just startet, and there’s much more to see and do.

Ancient Buddhist caves

In front of one of the 109 ancient Buddhist caves

Buddha

Buddha statue

My father with some of the many monkeys in Sajay Gandhi NP

My father with some of the many monkeys in Sajay Gandhi NP

Today we’re going to have a relaxing day with a Sunday brunch at the Renaissance hotel. We’re just going to eat a lot of food, drink a lot of cocktails, read books on a sun bed and spend some time in the pool. I can’t wait!

- Andrea

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

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

 

Here we go!

January 25, 2014 at 21:55

All right!

The people at the visa application center now know us by name after we have called and called again to enquire the status of our applications.

Truth be told, I got my visa approved a long time ago, it’s only Andrea’s approval that we’ve been waiting for. Her visa-type took a while longer than mine.

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I waited outside the application center while Andrea went inside to pick up her passport. I took this amazingly boring picture to have something other than text in this post. :-)

So we’re leaving this Monday. Tickets and a week at hotel Ramada ordered in Powai. We are very happy that everything is sorted – and very nervous.

I’ll be posting more on Monday/Tuesday after we arrive in Mumbai, hopefully with more interesting pictures:-)

Beat regards, Marius

 

Our last trip to India

January 5, 2014 at 02:06

Our first meeting with India was a good one. I was just out of high school, 18 years old, and ready to see the world. Marius and I paired up with to other friends and landed in Mumbai without a clear plan. Immediately I kind of fell in love with the big city. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Noisy, polluted and dirty at first glance, but still – it was something quite special about the place. The smell, the people and the atmosphere we experienced just driving from the airport to the hotel with cows in the roads – we were all blown away.

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Since then Marius and I have travelled to quite a few other places in the world, but we have never had that kind of first meeting with a new country. Some people call it a culture chock – I like to see it more as an epiphany. As we had never been outside of Europe before we got to experience a country that was so different from our own – and we all loved it.

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Mumbai was a great city to start of our journey in. Thanks to our friend Tonia we got to see all of the major tourist attractions in a very short time. Being a Lonely Planet-fan at the time, she got us covered. We experienced Elephanta Island, Gandhi´s home in Mumbai, The Gateway of India, The Taj Mahal Hotel, parks, national parks, beaches, mosques and temples. We even went to see a Bollywood movie at the cinema, and later ate at Leopold’s and was offered to be extras at a movie when we went outside. Sadly we had to decline.

After a few days in Mumbai we took a 22 hour train ride to Agra. Like every other tourists who visits India, we had to see the Taj. The train ride itself was a great way to see the country. Lonely Planet, or “the Bible” as we called it, recommended to stay in sleeper class instead of first class even though the prices wasn’t that different (in European tourist standards), and of course we did.

It turned out to be good advise as we got to know very interesting people when we shared our space. We even got to know a new friend, who we still keep in touch with today, who was kind enough to help us arrange a fantastic round trip from Agra to Jaipur, so we could experience even more than we had planned. We got to see Fathepur Sikri, Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, Baby Taj – any many other places and museums I can’t remember the name of. Our friend invited us to his beautiful restaurant and hotel Yoshis Resort on the way – for free, and we also met him and his family for dinner in Agra when we came back. It was a great experience.

And then, we got to see the great Taj Mahal. I must say I think it is everything it’s cracked up to be. It was beautiful – and huge! We spent hours wandering around it, studying the details and just sat there looking at it.

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After a great time in the north we headed towards the south for some relaxation much needed after a very busy week of sightseeing. We sat on a train for two days to reach Anjuna in Goa, and we stayed there for a whole week. There was some sightseeing there as well, but for the most part we just relaxed at the beach or by the pool, and shared delicious meals together on the local restaurants. Oh, Indian food! I love it!

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Our trip to India in 2008 was the perfect first backpacking trip. We came home after almost three weeks feeling we had been gone for months and with more souvenirs and stories in our backpacks than our friends and families could carry.

 

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Now we’re finally going back to our first crush – curious of how much she has changed in the last six years. We can only hope that she will treat us as good as she did the last time.

Andrea

The beginning of a journey

January 4, 2014 at 18:37

This year shoots off with a bang. And I’m not talking about the fireworks either. Andrea and I are going to India in only a few short days.

So that means we are spending the first few days of this new year going from emotional extreme to emotional extreme. We are psyched to go, and are looking forward to this new challenge that we’ve worked towards for a while. At the same time it’s – how can I say this – fucking scary!

We’ve tried giving ourselves a good start, so we’ve booked a suite for two days at a five-star hotel close to where we are going to live. After that we are hoping our apartment will be ready. Capgemini in India have really done a great job setting everything up this far, so were not really worried about that part. But we are anxious to get settled and start our life there, away from the uncertainty of not knowing what the daily life will be.

We still have a few things to settle, important things, like visas, contracts and work permits, so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe we aren’t going anywhere after all. Haha! Imagine that! It would make me so sad, happy, relieved and stressed out at the same time. In other words, it wouldn’t make a difference to how I feel right now:-)

We’ll update as soon as we (hopefully/regrettably) leave for the busy streets of Hiranandani, Mumbai.

Best regards, Marius