Monday, September 3, 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

Ben in HYD #2


It's been a fun week in Hyderabad, but I'm now very happy to be home in Mountain View. I leave for Michigan in a few hours, but you're lucky enough to get Trip Report.2 before that. Notice how early I'm up - that's the magic of a 12.5 hour time difference.

As usual, this report comes in bullet-point form.

- There are a lot of poor people in India. Far more than I would have expected given the recent economic growth here from the IT industry
- There is a much larger dichotomy between rich and poor than you would think. Rich people make $10k+ / year, while poor people make at most a few dollars per day. And the poor far outnumber the rich.
- Poor people have little to no chance at success here. They can't afford schooling, won't be able to learn English, will never go to college, etc. Rachel is working on some of these issues in the US, but even the poorest people in American don't compare to the poor here. Starving children knocking on your car window begging for money are extremely common place. It was heart-wrenching.
- Because of the vast numbers of very poor people, there are an excess number of service jobs. These jobs are mostly filled by men, very few cleaning ladies or waitresses in India
-- There are so many people for these jobs, and they are paid so little that you are getting constant attention. Do you like it when people watch you eat? I find it disturbing.

- My teammates took me out to local cuisine where I ate some weird stuff. Pastries filled with a spicy liquid, some weird curds on flatbread, beans, vegetarian dishes, and random breads and spices
- I ate all my pop tarts, because they're delicious
- I have no idea how Lee survived here for 3 weeks. It must have been some sort of Indian miracle
- I enjoy Indian food, and I ate well here. However, because Indian food is so different than my normal cuisine, it all tends to blend together. So needless to say, I'm ready for some American food. Top eats when I get back:
-- Good breakfasts, including eggs, potatoes, bacon, etc.
-- Good orange juice. All the juices were so sweet here, I couldn't stand it by the end
-- Fried chicken
-- Pizza
-- Google coffee. The machines in Hyderabad just weren't the same. I miss my self-made espressos with the perfect kiss of foam

Getting sick:
- As far as I know, I didn't contract malaria or hepatitus. I'll keep you posted if this changes (aka, 'oooh, my duodenum is acting up')

What to do at night in Hyd:
- Not much, it's such a pain to get anywhere
- Mostly worked
- Eat dinner with the team

Entertainment during travel:
- Gameboy
- Laptop
- Books (reading Ender's Game series for this trip)
- Movies and TV, but only on the return trip. Partial viewings of the following:
-- Blades of Glory, Talledaga Nights, 300, Shooter, The Office, Simpsons, Futurama, Scrubs

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ben in HYD


This is my first tale of my adventure in India. And quite an adventure it's been. I spent over 36 hours traveling, including 14 hours on the flight to Hong Kong and a 10 hour layover in Singapore. The layover was actually pretty nice - the Singapore airport is the nicest I've ever been in. I rented a hotel room for the day so I could relax and shower. I got a 30 minute back massage from an old Sinaporan lady with really strong hands. And I got to go on a free tour of the city, complete with boat ride. Nothing was too exciting about the travels, except that I ran into three Googlers at the Singapore airport. We went on the tour of the city and had dinner together - and they helped me get a cab once we got to Hyderabad. One of the best things about working at Google is that when you run into someone you work with, there is a 90% chance that they'll turn out to be awesome. The people I met, who work in the Hyderabad office on Adwords, were no exception - they were nice, friendly, and very welcoming probably the whitest guy on that airplane.

Lest I not ramble too much, here is the Ben Lewis expected bullet-point version of my trip so far. More to come later in the week:

* Got into Hyd at 11:00 pm on Friday having gotten only a little sleep in the past 36 hours. Took 90 minutes to get my single piece of luggage, after which a 1 hour cab ride took me to the hotel. Yes, I was tired.
* Slept until 11am on Saturday, explored the hotel, and found out that breakfast was no longer being served. Room service was pretty good though.
* I had an early dinner of nice, spicy, Indian food. The menu only market my dish as 'one chili' and I was barely able to eat it, so I now know better than to order anything with the dreaded 'two chili' icon at this hotel.
* I took a cab into the city to explore a little and get a cell phone in case of emergency. By far, the scariest part of my trip so far was that cab ride to and from the city. Driving here is completely insane. The only rule of the road that I can perceive at all is "try your best to stay on your side of the road, but feel free to drive into oncoming traffic if you honk your horn". Cars are honking constantly, driving across lane lines, sharing lanes with other cars, etc. But despite this apparently stupid behavior on the road, I saw very few cars with serious damage. If there are frequent accidents (and I have to assume there are), the relatively small sizes of the vehicles here much make the accidents less extreme than the ones we're used to.
* I had a delicious brunch this afternoon with pancakes, bacon, indian food, naan, and dessert. I was also given the opportunity to make my own drinks which I thoroughly enjoyed.
* I'm about to head off to a museum and some sight-seeing. It's monsoon season but the rain looks like it's stopped for today

Trip Report.2 will come after I've had a chance to see our Hyd office.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007