Trip to India


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
, 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


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.


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

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