IndiaHotel

At least it is not Oakland.

Almost a year ago I learned Oracle would be adding some people to its office in Bangalore, India. Some of these people would be working on a product I am very familiar with. Thus I hatched some bugs, put them into some ears, and on February 1st found myself and a coworker headed to India to impart our knowledge. This turned out to be me my first mistake. As you know I am a lover of the greatest American sport and February 1st happens to be the date of its ultimate game. I had thought this was the date for the least ultimate game of the year, but I really should have checked. Regardless, plans were made, hotels booked, promises made, I could not deviate. Luckily, my team met with victory on the field which I found out mid flight. This was the highlight from all my air travel. Flying has got to be the worst indignity given unto woman and man. Every time I had to board an airplane I was cast (begrudgingly) into some yet new and wonderful rendition of security theater. A play with many actors, and yet more directors. I danced off various items of clothing, twirled for the benefit of machines and humans alike, and finally (with great flourish) had various forms and paper stamped. Truly a modern marvel. And what, you may rightfully ask, was my reward for my many labors? 17 hours of flying over two flights. Every time I fly I think, "It will be fine, I will just sleep the whole way." How optimistic past Paul is. I can never sleep on a plane. It is too noisy, there is too much vibration, I cannot get comfortable. Whatever the reason, it is a losing prospect. Earplugs, pillows, small flight blankets, all useless. The saving grace though: airplane food. I have such a low standard for food that I actually enjoy airline food. I dunno, maybe its all the colorful wrapping it comes in, but it always seems pretty good to me. Tis a bit weird though, silently eating food next to strangers. The takeaway is, In the future, I must acquire a greater title within Oracle. Not for the salary benefits, strictly so I can book business class, otherwise known as: not baby class. Every miserable time I have been flown there has been a baby not five rows from me. There must be some airline supercomputer that ensures optimal flight baby distribution. This is the only reason people book classes other than economy. More leg room, whatever. Some different food, do not care. No screaming babies, give me that ticket. It is like a little organic siren, howling every hour to remind you that, yes you are still strapped into this metal tube with me. Fear me giant, for I have a mighty roar. Unfortunately, I am still that lowly Oracle peon. Bring on the babies.

India though is awesome. Perfect February weather. Clear skies, a dry 70 degrees, nothing but sun. I am told this is the weather all year round. As much as I like the seasons, snow is only cool for one storm. Anything after is just messy commutes and delayed arrival. Lets talk logistics. first thing the hotel:

IndianHotelInside

I was not ready for the swankiness. This was some no name Hilton. Yup, the same company I stayed with for Java One and OpenWorld. I thought the one in Oakland was alright for sure, but nothing special. Its totally different in India. As we were driving to the hotel, the driver kept zipping us down these small narrow roads. There are cars and people everywhere (city of 4.3 million) and we are just bumping down these not great neighborhoods. I am thinking, "I have been watching too much Boardwalk Empire, every gangster dies this way." Then (no joke) we take one turn and it is glorious, gentrified, guarded office park and hotel. The security is a little strange at first, I was not aware crime was that bad. They even checked the car for a bomb, which as an aside must be the worst job in India. You know you are only ever going to find one bomb. Regardless, I thought the facade was going to fall away once in the room, that was not true. There were so many lights and switches it took 5 minutes to turn them all off when getting ready for bed. I had so much space I had a guest bathroom, A GUEST BATHROOM. Who am I going to have over. "Oh, thanks for coming guest, nice to have you. You need to use the bathroom? Use the guest bathroom you filthy plebeian, the master bathroom with its separate shower and bathtub with tv is for my use only!" They even gave me two jars of nuts for some reason. I hate nuts (except peanuts), but I took them anyways. There were three tvs in the whole suite. One in the bathtub, one in the living room, and one in the bedroom (not 10 feet from the other one), just in case you wanted to watch tv, but also wanted to lie in bed and could not be bothered to go into the other room. I have an actual kitchen, with pots and pans. There was even a switch to tell housecleaning you did not want to be disturbed. A switch, for a light outside your room. No door knob placards here in India. This hotel also gets the award for best free breakfast. A lot of places just put out some stale baked goods and dry cereal and call it "continental". Not the Hilton in India. Imagine a college dining place, with all the stations and options, now imagine it was good (minus the floppy bacon, crispy or get out), this is the Hilton in India. The only negative about my stay was blowing up my radio. I brought the correct plug converter, but you need an adapter as well or else the device will be given too much power. This manifests itself as a loud pop and thin wisps of smoke. My clock radio is now dead, casualty of traveling

On the subject of casualties, while in country Oracle blessed us with a personal driver. This was incredible and made me feel like a boss, spelled b-a-u-s. The thing is driving in India is terrible. No one stays in their lane. Sure there are lanes, but crank up the volume and people will start forming extra lanes. Two lanes become three, ones become two. This is because everyone is driving (4.3+ remember). Dads with three kids on their bike, tiny trucks loaded with food, buses packed with workers. Its crazy and everyone is trying to shoot for the gap and get in spaces there is none. I sat shotgun a few times, cars are not meant to be this close. Every turn looks like the start of an accident. Lights are optional in some cases and so is right of way. Luckily the office is not too far from the hotel. The placement is odd though. Oracle could have built it on the nice office park the hotel was on. Instead it seems like they picked a slum and installed an office park in the middle of it. Not to worry though, a giant wall surrounds the place to keep out the riff raff and ragamuffins. It is a strange feeling to be inside the wall looking out.

The actual training though, who cares. I talked for about two full days. They taped all of it in glorious HD, so there exists 16 or so hours of me perfecting the dry technical delivery.

All the talking though produced quite the appetite. First day come lunch I was stoked for that authentic Indian. In comes the boss with Pizza Hut. The offer was nice, and I was hungry, but what is the deal, this is Pizza Hut, not Indian. All was resolved come dinner though. We went to a place called Barbeque Nation. The deal is each table has a grill at it and they keep bringing food on spits for the grill. I am eating all this food with strange names, and it is good, but spicy. I am talking spice sweat spicy. Like you just woke up from a bad dream sweat, but caused by spice. So I gorge myself like everyone else and then they say, "that was the appetizer, it's buffet." You mean there is more food? So I eat even more food. This is where I hit spice critical. Before it was under control, drinking water between every bite, but now my mouth is just an oven. So I bail and eat desert. Paul G top tip: mouth too spicy, get some Indian ice cream.

That was my three days, survive traffic to the office, talk, eat lots of spicy food, survive drive back. Make sure to leave early or be caught in horrible Bangalore gridlock. On my last day I thought it would be a good idea to fly out at 2;50 in the morning.This was not a good idea. I had not anticipated being so tired. Generally I am an owl of the night. So when I was nodding off at 11PM, I knew it was going to be trouble. The problem with being sleep impaired in India is all the bureaucratic nonsense you are subjected to on leaving. I thought entering was bad enough: multiple forms and an extra security check (huh). Just try leaving the country. You get your passport and flight details checked at the door (good thing some flight offices are outside the airport). Then you check in, go through immigration (passport checked twice), go through security, passport checked twice. All the while people are stamping your boarding pass with all kinds of stamps and symbols. Finally, you get to the gate and then on boarding (which there is no announcement so be close to the gate) they check everything again. Even the little tag for my carry on. Glad I did not discard that, would probably not have made it out of the country. I get being thorough, but the law of diminishing returns comes into play here. My reward for my hoop jumping ability: 17 hours, two flights, snowy cold Boston. At least the Paris airport looks like one of those curved space stations.

ParisAirport

That was India in a nutshell, really far away with a lot of spicy food, and great weather. I give it six spicy chicken things out of 15 glasses of water.