A couple of months ago, my employers decided that it would be a good idea to send me out to India at some point to talk user interface and user experience with the team members out here. Always keen to do such things (and not averse to going to india on the company dime) I said “okay”.
Early on sunday morning I clambered out of bed, did my usual morning routine and then clambered into a taxi to Heathrow. As is traditional, I arrived at the recommended time and so ended up waiting around for ages. I did get a spot of special attention at security, as is traditional for scruffy beardy-longhairs, but it was only a pull aside to check the contents of my bags. Nothing more… intimate.
After a not insignificant wait, I got onto the plane and worked my way to my seat. This took a while, as there were several families on board, scattered throughout the plane and using their entire baggage allowances in the form of hand luggage. There was also another family who’d used more than that, checking some baggage in under the name of somebody who wasn’t on the flight… which is apparently a bit of a no-no. We ended up waiting at the gate for a fair while as that issue was sorted.
When we got going, I confirmed K’s affirmation that active noise cancelling headphones are of the gods for air travel. I’d already discovered them to be useful for rail travel, but for air travel I now consider them indispensible.
Totally Memorable Entertainment
I watched “Ted”, having heard it get a lot of praise. It’s more than a little pureile, and the titular character (who wouldn’t be able to let the word “titular” pass without comment) was frequently just plain vile rather than funny. But I think that was kind of the point. As it happened, it managed to be passably entertaining all the same. Predictable
Next up was… something that clearly made such an impact that I can’t even remember what it was. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. I don’t remember disliking it, whatever it was. It just didn’t stick in my brain.
Lastly, I watched 50/50 – which was rather well done, if somewhat predictable. Predictable seems to have been the way to go for films on this flight, really. I’ll be honest and say that I’m hoping for a better set of entertainment on the return journey – which may actually be possible. The flight out here was on Jet, and I’m returning on British Airways.
One of the problems I had with the flight concerned the passenger next to me… the female half of a couple who were (for want of a better description) “a little bit daily-mail-y“. The couple were, for the most part, keeping their muttering about the indian passengers and indian food (on an indian airline, on their way to India) quiet and to themselves. Her right elbow, however, she clearly wanted to share with my ribcage. Repeatedly and persistently.
She didn’t seem to grasp that the presence of an armrest is meant to be a hint that you stay on your side of it. I was vexed by this.
Public Inconveniences and Social Interaction
The other of the two problems I had with the flight revolved around the loos. Namely that two of the loos on the right hand aisle were out of order – one in the middle and one at the rear… and the cabin crew weren’t letting people cross through the crew areas to get to the loos on the other side. So there was a *lot* of queueing for the loo, in precious little space.
I did end up spending ten minutes chatting to a nurse (from the UK, but I’m guessing she was of indian descent) in the queue, and then discovering when we got back to seats that she was sat across the aisle from me. We got chatting a couple of times, in the end, as we kept bumping into each other. I did wonder if I was being flirted with. I think it was either that or she was just glad of an english speaker, being stuck amidst one enclave of the baggage chaos family. She did keep reappearing, though. All the way to standing around and chatting at baggage collection.
A Nighttime Drive
The drive from Mumbai to Pune wasn’t as terrifying as I’ve been lead to believe. I’m not going to say it was without it’s moments, but in general things were just fine. As far as I could tell, lanes were optional. As were lights. Horns, however, not so much. But the attitude about them is different.
In the UK, beeping your horn at somebody is generally assumed to be car-speak for “Oi! Dipshit! You’re and idiot and I hate you”… in india, it seems to be car speak for “excuse me, I’m terribly sorry, but I’m _here_ and you’re _there_. It would be awfully nice if you could scoot over a bit so I can squeeze by”.
It was a refreshing change, and I think I could grow to like a place where a beeping horn is not an act of aggression.
The Cycle of… Life?
As we drove away from Mumbai airport, I did notice that every single huge building seemed to be either in the middle of being torn down or in the middle of being built. I saw virtually nowhere that was fully at either end. No space without anything being built on it, and virtually no buildings that were intact and complete.
It looked like some kind of strange dystopian arcology. I wish I’d had my camera out at the time, and enough light to shoot by. I may have to have the camera out and ready for the drive back on Saturday, although it won’t have the strange glow of orange streetlights to make it feel even more cyberpunky.
Getting into the hotel at 4:30am was less than ideal, but I got here and spent a while winding down in my
pokey little sizeable hotel room and chatting to K for a bit on Skype as we happened to be online at the same time. I’m not going to be online much outside of the office, but that night I was glad of a bit of human contact.
I’m not kidding about the room being quite large, by the way. I’ve lived in smaller a smaller flat.
I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about the work side of things, but today was a pleasant day of meeting my co-workers… including several who’s voices I’d heard or who I’d seen in video conferences but never really known who they are. They’re a good crowd.
Todays main meeting was largely about introducing folks to what I’ve been doing on the product I’m not here to talk about… for which I will confess to having been sorely underprepared. I had warned them I’d be so, though, and with that already a known thing, I was able to get away with it. Nobody really seemed to mind.
I spent the rest of the working day (and some of this evening in the hotel) working on being more prepared for later meetings. I’ll have to wait to see how that pans out.
Tonight, I am being lazy and aquatic. I’m more than a little “peopled out”, so have retreated to the hotel room for the evening to relax, bathe and (as mentioned above) do a little more work. The work seems to have gone reasonably well, and the relaxing is being aided by Thor being on TV whilst I type.
The bath also went well, helped a lot by the fact that the bath is kind of huge, and the shower has a ceiling rose that’s big enough that I can get all of me under the jets at once. It’s rather pleasant indeed!
I don’t know how often I’ll be posting, but there will be more posts to come whilst I’m here.