Tuesday, November 30th 2004
In work-related news:
In family-related news:
Two more days until Florida! I'm packing tomorrow.
Num wants to get an Apple computer, but I'm telling her to wait. Exactly when did we step into the Twilight Zone?
Speaking of computers [yawn], I've given up on Apple iTunes. What a pain it is. First of all, I've definitely lost mp3s somewhere in this conversion. Luckily, I had some burned still on CD, but I had a heck of a time trying to add it to the iTunes library. If you didn't purchase the music through iTunes, it will hiccup and burp at you. Stupid application. Also, if you try to add music directly to the IPod (without iTunes), the next time you synch up with iTunes, it'll delete your new music off the IPod. How rude.
Real.com has their new Harmony technology that allows you to buy and transfer music to many mp3 players. I've started using RealPlayer for it, and I've got it all synched up. The only thing I can never do is start up iTunes again. Otherwise, Steve Jobs will try to delete my music.
Random comments alert:
Sunday, November 28th 2004
Just a few minutes before I gotta leave for church this morning. Num isn't feeling too well, so I'll be going myself. Considering I haven't been to church since September, I better get going quick.
We didn't have time for grocery shopping yesterday, so we'll try again today.
Sometime After Midnight
It's way past midnight, and I need to go to bed. Haven't I written that a million times this month alone? Yes, I visited my parents. Yes, we got the grocery shopping done. Some cleaning got done too.
The real reason I'm writing: to vent.
My friend George's father passed away from a stroke about a week ago. George wasn't even in the country at the time when they found his father. How scary is it to have your parents die? Haven't they always been around?
If that wasn't enough, I just found out today that a girl named Julie that my sister Julie grew up with in Congers, starting in kindergarten, and whose older brother Peter and I went to school together since the 1st grade, died of a drug overdose. They buried her on Thanksgiving.
I can not believe that the same little blonde girl with the short haircut, that I used to see around the neighborhood growing up, died of a drug overdose. Drugs? That little blonde girl who went to all the same birthday parties with my sister in elementary school? Her brother Peter and I would compare our little sisters, since both were named Julie. And her Mom, when walking their dog, would even recently make conversation with my Dad, how Peter & Julie were doing, how Joel & Julie were doing.
Saturday, November 27th 2004
Hello, folks. I'm back. Short summary? It was a good trip, very relaxing, and we only got caught in minimal traffic on Wednesday. Turns out, leaving early on Wednesday made a huge difference, and we got to Virginia by 9pm.
BTW, my new IPod is all charged, and I'm transferring songs to it at the moment. Confused? Continue reading.
Wednesday night was chit-chatting with Craig & Beeni. Thursday was the whole hullabaloo that is the nature of Thanksgiving. Basically, mostly Craig's family showed up. Friday morning, we were out of there by 10:30am. We picked up Missy by 4pm, and here we are. BTW, I've published what barely pass for photos in the Family gallery. Sorry folks, I'll try better next time. Captions to come later.
Now, onto why there's an IPod before me.
Thursday night, I decided that I'm moving to the world of Apple next year, post-baby birth. Here's my rationale: I don't play computer games that much anymore -- who has time? What do I spend the majority of my time doing? Surfing, emailing, managing my music collection, managing my photos, working on the various websites. Soon, we want to start making/editing home movies of Junior. All of these tasks are the bread-and-butter for Apple.
Looking at mp3 players, the IPod is what every other mp3 player is compared to. It's the standard against all other players are judged. If so, why am I looking at the rest? If I'm going Apple next year, and the IPod is the best player out there, just get the IPod. Also, there are a gazillion accessories for the IPod, such as equipment to play it in your car, on a home stereo, etc. If I'm going to be an Apple user, might as well get an IPod.
Now, why did we get the IPod Friday? Well, we've got the road trip next weekend, and it would be great to have tunes on our long drives. What sealed the deal? I called the Apple store in Short Hills, and they had a $20 discount on the IPod, with the sale ending today.
There you go. Three reasons that Joel went from no mp3 player to an IPod in a week. I'll have to add my latest gadget to the Toys page.
Speaking of the Apple store, we were wowed by the new iMac and the iMovie application. Seriously, very cool. I especially loved all the iMovie features, and the tight integration with iTunes. Even Num's eyes went wide.
Enough of that.
Love the Republican party. At least they know how to be bipartisan -- here's an excerpt from a Newsweek article.
In scuttling major intelligence legislation that he, the president and most lawmakers supported, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert last week enunciated a policy in which Congress will pass bills only if most House Republicans back them, regardless of how many Democrats favor them.
If the majority of Republicans don't back a bill in the House, yet it will pass because of Democrats and some Republican backing, the Speaker of the House won't let it come to a vote. Why? Because the "majority of the majority" don't agree. For instance, the intel reforms that came out of the 9/11 commission didn't pass because of this. Thanks, Speaker of the House, 3rd in line for the Presidency, for remembering that America (and not politics) comes first.
Later today, we're attending my coworker Mike's party on Long Island, instead of my 10-year high school reunion. Bah, I hated most people back then anyway. Pictures to come later. Plans to visit my parents late Sunday afternoon after some much-needed grocery shopping is accomplished.
Wednesday, November 24th 2004
Ah, the soft glow of the monitor.
It's 5:25am, and I'm up. My sleep has been rather typically Joel-erratic. In the office this week by 8am Monday (Woohoo!), 9:20am Tuesday (cutting it kinda close), and today should be 8am (Woohoo!). Jet lag hasn't really hit me to badly, but last night I was pretty woozy around 9pm and went to bed. I'm up now, since I want to get some work done this morning -- site updates, playing with Missy, last-minute bills.
Since Sunday, I've been on a tear with digital music, ripping CD after CD after CD. Damn you, Jorge, and your IPod. I am really all about the music right now, and have added over a gig of new music. Num can see the writing on the wall that I'm not going to let go of this new interest, but we've made a deal. In one month's time (end of December), if I'm still koo-koo for Coco-Puffs (uh, music), I can get an mp3 player.
An IPod would be nice, but since I've been making lots of Windows Media Audio files (WMA) in Windows Media Player instead of mp3s, those won't work on an IPod. Instead of the IPod, I've read very good reviews of the Creative Zen Touch. You may be familiar with Creative Labs, since they're big on computer audio, such as the always-popular Soundblaster sound cards. Anyway, the Zen Touch has 24 hours of play time, compared to the IPod's 12 hours, without recharging. I'll see what I like in a month, and what new-and-cool-device is on the horizon in a month.
Speaking of music, I've found a kindred U2 fan at work: Brian. Turns out, huge U2 fan, and he's got all the albums. I don't know much of their early work (albums War, Boy, October, etc.), but he's willing to lend me them today to try out. Fantastic.
Okay, just played with the cat for 10 minutes. She's been pretty good the past few weeks, so we feel bad taking her to the animal hospital this morning. Since Julie can't obviously watch her here (it's Thanksgiving, and my parents have to draw the line somewhere), Num is dropping Missy off at 8am. During Missy's stay, she'll get her claws clipped, and get booster shots for feline leukemia, rabies, etc. We'll pick her up on the way home Friday afternoon. Looking at Missy, I see that she has no inkling what fate will befall her in 2+ hours, and Num.
[Missy, in car carrier]: YOWL! Where are we going? Why are you doing this to me?
We're leaving for Virginia today, and I've been back-and-forth on taking a half-day in the afternoon. It probably doesn't make sense to use half of a vacation day to leave at noon, if we all get out at 3pm (early closing), but we think it'll be best. Otherwise, we're leaving here at 5pm, and BOOM! Thanksgiving traffic and rush-hour traffic. Leave here at 2pm, and that's saving us 3 hours. Eh, I have plenty of vacation time anyway.
I've been working on my India trip overtime sheet, my expense report, and sending additional questions to the client this week. Not the most exciting week, I must say. Still, I'm looking forward to going away. Also, the more I think about it, I'm really looking forward to the Florida trip. Yee-haw! To the land of sunny weather, friends and family, and old people driving big cars.
Okay, more play-time for Bongo (Missy), and then off to work. See you all Friday. Happy Thanksgiving.
Sunday, November 21st 2004
Okay, good news. I have the main Trips page redone to a point that I can live with it, until the next site redesign, which I don't want to touch with a 10-foot pole. Until I have to deal with that 800-pound gorilla, I've done some additional freshening up:
My illustrious goals for the rest of today? I think we have a Subway lunch scheduled for today, some grocery shopping (blech), and then visiting my parents around 4 or 5pm.
Saturday, November 20th 2004
It's good to be home. Just a lazy day home with the missus. Yesterday, I cleared off a lot of Tivo, including watching the last three episodes of Star Trek Enterprise. Finally, good episodes, but I'm afraid UPN will be cancelling it after this season. The world of TV has moved away from Sci-Fi, and more towards female-oriented pablum. Who's bitter? Anyway, after falling asleep last night, I woke up around 10 something, and then we went out to the Nevada Diner for dinner. Hmm, a real burger and fries. Yum!
My Dad sent me a pretty fantastic pic of a great white shark breaching near Cape Town, South Africa. I bring this up, because I didn't know great whites could get out of the water this high. Also, I was shocked when I heard about the brawl at last night's Pistons-Pacers NBA game. Whoa, can't believe I missed it, but can you blame me? I'm pretty tired. Anyway, 4 players suspended indefinitely. Damn, Ron Artest has a bad temper.
Would you belive the first thing I watched today was the Indian entertainment variety show? After three weeks of Indian TV, my first choice was more Indian movies and music. How sick. Maybe I've been brainwashed. Also, I kinda want to buy the Tera Mera Pyar Indian remix album, since I constantly watched the Teri Meri video on MTV India. Again, more brainwashing.
I've been trying to redesign my main Trips page, as I've never been truly happy with it. I'll take a break tonight, and will try again tomorrow.
BTW, we're confirmed for Virginia for Thanksgiving, and we've finished booking our flights on Song to Florida Thursday night (December 2nd). We'll be flying into Tampa, driving to Gainesville to visit Preethi & Milind for 1.5 days, driving our rental car to Fort Myers to visit Leena & Sanjay for 1.5 days, and then flying home Monday (December 6th) from Fort Myers. Should be a nice, quick, fun trip.
Friday, November 19th 2004
Somewhere over the Atlantic ocean: 10:23am EST
2.5 hours to go. You've never seen a happier Indian, because I'm on the way home to see my wife after 3 weeks. I'm sitting in Business class, aisle seat 14H, working on my latest batch of trip pictures, and Miranda is snoring right beside me. Thankfully, I have my MP3s blasting in my ears, and Alan Jackson's country coolness is blocking out the snores.
Sorry, Miranda, but I had to mention it. Haven't you learned that I have no ethics?
Num and I have no plans for tonight, except for some snuggling. Now that you know that, you may proceed with gagging. Listen, you wait 3 weeks to see your main squeeze, and then come back and tell me what it's like!
Still over the Atlantic ocean: 10:55am EST
Ah, the hot towels came around. So refreshing -- I could get used to this. Maybe I can talk Num into providing me a hot towel at home on a regular basis. Anyway, done with the pictures. After 2 years of this, I'm actually getting faster.
I watched just a few movies on both flights. Spiderman 2 (seen it already), Kal Ho Naa Ho (In and out just for the highlights), King Arthur (last half), Anchorman (most of it), and The Bourne Supremacy (all of it).
One hour and 45 minutes until we land. Obviously, by the time you read this, I've already landed. Still, blogging gives me something to do.
I'm looking forward to my next trips, because they're both for leisure, with Num, and coming up pretty quickly. Virginia for Thanksgiving, and Florida (I hope Num had no problems booking the plane tickets). I'm starting to like road trips.
Man, I hope I don't have to cook dinner tonight. Three weeks on the road eating at 5-star hotels can really spoil a person. :)
Thursday, November 18th 2004
Conference Room: 9:25am
Guess what time it is? It's time to get the hell out of here. We're at T-minus 18 hours until the flight.
BTW, dinner was funny. I walked back down, and found everyone waiting outside the hotel restaurant, irritated. The restaurant wasn't ready for us, another 20 minutes. We could have eaten downstairs at the cafe earlier, and had an earlier evening. Stupid. Ah well.
Quick dinner at the aforementioned cafe, and then we went to F Bar (Fashion Bar). Nice establishment, but the techno music was too loud. I like techno, but way too loud for conversation. BTW, you know when you've been in a country too long when the cabbies start repeating. One of our cabbies last night was Squiggy, from last Thursday night (Friday the 12th blog entry). Luckily, a hassle-free night.
We left at 12:30am back to the hotel, where some of the group went to bed, and Regina, Alex, Jorge, and myself went to Djinn's to wrap up the night. While doing tequilla shots, we watched 3 Chinese guys dancing together. Really really odd. Frankly, the weirdest stuff I've seen in a long time. When two Indian guys got up and danced way too close to each other, like Num & I would dance, that's when I felt dirty.
We got out of there at 2am (the 2nd-to-last people), and then I went back to my room, logged in to check mail and such, and fell asleep on my laptop just after hibernating it.
4 whiskey shots, 1 rum & coke, and 2 tequila shots for the evening. I didn't pack my suitcase yet. No wake up call requested. Everyone's meeting at 8am in the lobby. A recipe for disaster.
All of a sudden, I woke up in a panic. What time was it? Was I late? No wake up call! Checked the watch, and it was exactly 6am. How crazy is that? God was really looking out for me today. Two hours later, I'm down in the lobby. Joel the Great, with a little help from above.
Considering I drank a lot, 4 hours of sleep, etc, I feel great, and I'm heading home tonight. I just have to make it through my closing meeting today, and dinner with the COO.
Wednesday, November 17th 2004
Conference Room: 10:05am
Last night, we went to Baan Thai for dinner at the Oberoi Hotel. Turns out, we realized over dinner that we had dinner there exactly 2 weeks ago. It was Tuesday night during our first week. Even more, we had the same exact table, so we just took our same seats too. After the cab ride back, the 2nd cab driver's fare was 20 rupees less than our taxi fare, so he put up a stink that he wanted the same amount. How does that work exactly again? The nerve of some people.
As for today's adventure, this morning, I saw a dead cyclist laying in the street, with a big hole in his head, and his brains about 10-15 feet away. My first dead body the whole trip.
Conference Room: 6:05pm
Eight hours later, we're still in the same conference room. Stress levels? Getting higher. Mine? Nah, I presented my issues to the Head of Technology, he agrees with all of them, so hey, the day is done for me. Now I'll just document in the audit workpapers, and make a list of anything I still need for documentation. It seems like everyone else is pretty stressed out, but me.
Hi. My name is Joel the Great.
I read that U.S. forces think Margaret Hassan was killed. Troops have found a video of a hooded militant shooting a blindfolded western woman in the head, and they think it's her. Those bastards have no morals.
In about 30 minutes, we're having a surprise cake for Regina's birthday (it's next week). We have a 7:30pm conference call to management back in NY, so we don't know if we'll make it to our 8:30 dinner reservation @ Olive, but we'll try. If we have time, we're going to Fashion Bar tonight. Then, I'm home to pack my suitcase. We check out tomorrow morning, work all day, dinner with the COO, and then catch our flight.
Hotel Room: 9:15pm
Worst part of waiting until 7:30pm in the office for a status meeting via conference call across the globe? Waiting until 7:30pm, calling the boss, and then listening to the voicemail greeting that says he/she is out sick.
There's no way to know if they're going to be sick or not, but geez, you should have seen the shock on our faces.
Ah well, what can you do? We packed up really fast, and hightailed it out of there. It was too late to make our 8:30pm reservation at Olive, and we've gotta wait until 9:30pm for our reservation at out hotel's Italian restaurant. Afterwards, we're hitting the Fashion bar. I'm back in the room right now, sending my updates and pics, and packing.
Look at me: Mr. Multitasking. BTW, be sure to check out the suprise birthday pics. I could stay home tonight and pack, and I know all the bars close here at 1am. Maybe it doesn't make sense, but we really want a last night of drinking & dancing in Delhi before we leave. We're outta here tomorrow night.
Tuesday, November 16th 2004
Hotel Room: 1:18am
Just got back from dinner a while back. As always, an adventure. Out of the office by 8pm, hotel by 9pm, and ready for dinner by 9:30pm. Anyone back in the home office who thinks we're goofing off here can kiss my butt. I'm tired. Anyway, we had our company cars wait 20 minutes for us, and we asked them to take us to the Taj Mahal hotel for dinner at the House of Ming chinese restaurant.
We arrive at the hotel, everyone walks in, while I sign the paperwork for the drivers to go home. As soon as I get in, everyone informs me that this is the wrong hotel. The drivers took us to the Taj Palace hotel, not Taj Mahal hotel. So, we ordered two new cabs, and reached the restaurant another 15 minutes later. Always an adventure when you try to get from point A to point B here in India.
Still, at least dinner was good.
Whoa, you won't guess what old video is playing right now? C+C Music Factory's "Things That Make You Go Hmm." A classic.
Here's a funny story, then I'm going to bed. [I really mean that, because I'm already in bed, wearing my pyjamas]:
Spoke to Num for 30 minutes or so, making plans for going to Virginia for Thanksgiving, Florida in December, etc. Anyway, I ask about Missy. Missy still likes to lay on Num's belly. Recently, she was sitting there, kneading a nice comfy spot to take a nap on my wife when Junior kicked. Num said that Missy looked her straight in the face with the most startled look. Every time Missy is on top, Junior kicks, and Missy is extremely startled, wondering what the hell is going on inside my wife.
Can you imagine this cat looking at my wife's face for an explanation? That's gotta be a funny sight. We had a good laugh. Don't tell me animals aren't intelligent.
Conference Room: 5:49pm
Like I said, every cab ride in India is an adventure. This morning, our car started overheating, and we had to pull over. Our driver leaves us in a smokey car in search of water at a nearby construction site. Is it Thursday yet?
We had Mcdonald's lunch at the Metropolitan Mall. Hmmm, Chicken burger and a Veggie Surprise. Frankly, I hate McDonald's, so I have no idea why I have to eat it in another country. Dear Subway/Wendy's/Quiznos/Taco Bell/KFC, get ready, because I'm coming for you.
Just finished visually inspecting the security and configuration of four servers. Not fun, my friends. My voice is hoarse: "Show me user access rights. Show me the event log."
Still, it's nice to find stuff, and watch the auditee start squirming. I'm such a "Gotcha" auditor when I'm mad sometimes, it's not even funny.
I know it's cool to be in another country, but I'm still sorry to have missed my friend Abby's wedding. She got married this past Saturday, and I really wanted to be there. Congrats, Abby, my dear. Have a wonderful, happy life with Alden!
Conference Room: 7:22pm
I'm getting plagiarism criticisms. To make amends, I'm giving Regina credit for yesterday's quote of the day, and in regards to KFC. Also, I corrected Jorge's Quote from Sunday. Please re-read yesterday's 6:38pm entry, and Sunday's too. Okay, now I should be back in Regina's good graces.
If there are two things that I've learned in life, they are:
Conference Room: 8:19pm
Still here. Just an FYI, I've added slew of Trivia items today
Monday, November 15th 2004
Conference Room: 11:15am
It was so hard to wake up this morning. Remind me to get rich so I can make my own schedule. When are we ordering lunch?
Conference Room: 6:38pm
Today's Quote of the Day, courtesy of Regina:
You know, I think I'm okay with the first 17 hours that I spend with someone, but that 18th hour is killer.
Regina is using my computer to do her testing (we've broken all sorts of Corporate rules to set it up on the network here), so I'm using hers. It's okay, since I'm just reading, reading, and more reading. Can we go home yet?
For lunch, we went to a restaurant called Pind Balluchi, right next door to Vatika, where we attended the Diwali holiday party last Wednesday night. Best Indian food I've had in a while. Bhawana thinks it might be the best she's had anywhere...US or India. That's a ringing endorsement, eh? The word is Chinese cuisine (our 2nd try) tonight at the Taj Mahal hotel. I think that'll be nice, because we haven't had it since our first week. Our whole day seems to revolve around food. Hey, better than working. Hmmm, that's not true. Most of the week, we just order food in, just to avoid the "2 hour lunch" syndrome. You know what I could go for, food-wise? Call me crazy, but I'd love some KFC right about now.
Damn you, Regina, for making me think of KFC chicken!
This morning, I was trotting to the elevator to get downstairs to meet everyone, and the housekeeping guys and their carts took up most of the hallway. As I slipped past, I banged my left shoulder really hard into a low wall-hanging light fixture. Even the housekeeping guys closed their eyes and went "Ooooooh." Yeah, my shoulder still hurts. What a doof.
Sunday, November 14th 2004
Hotel Room: 11:55pm
Aww, I gotta get up for work tomorrow morning.
Today, we had afternoon spa appointments, but Amar took some of us quickly in the morning to go sightseeing. Well, he was supposed to meet us at our hotel @ 10am. After a miscommunication between the driver and Amar, and visiting Qutab Minar by ourselves, only then did we finally meet up with Amar 2 hours later back at our hotel. Still, we all went to see the Bahai Lotus Temple.
Amar said it was okay. He got to finish today's entire newspaper front to back.... twice. Sigh.
We made it back with plenty of time for the spa appointments, and I got both back and feet massages. Yeah, I added a feet massage today, because my right calf muscle was killing me. 800 rupees later, the back massage was no big deal, and my calf muscle is beginning to ache again.
If you listen closely, you can actually hear the Alanis Morrisette song in the background.
Speaking of our little Spa Day, I owe you a Quote of the Day, courtesy of Mr. Jorge De La Cruz. It's from late last week, when Jorge told us that not only does he get massages at a spa, but he also enjoys manicures and pedicures.
Quote of the Day: [Jorge, assertively and in a manly voice]
That's right. I'm a sexy pretty bitch.
It was nice to relax today. Starting this afternoon, I began working on new pictures starting Thursday last week, and just finished the remaining ones from today. I also "borrowed" (read: stole) some pics from Regina (you da best!), and have now added them. They're all scattered around, but here's the rundown:
Even if you've been regularly reading this page, scroll down, and you'll see new ones I've added that compliment my news items. I guarantee an even warmer, fuzzier feeling inside.....and with no MSG. Well, maybe a little MSG, but no mercury.
Maybe a little mercury, but no Freddie Mercury. This is a Queen-free site.
Whoa! I'm watching Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" video right now. I haven't seen this video since 1987. BTW, I just finished watching "The 6th Day". What a dull movie. You'd think I'd like a sci-fi movie about cloning, but it was rather predictable.
Oh brother. Now it's Mili Vanilli. "Baby, don't for-get......my......NUMBER!" Do-DOO-doo-doo.
Saturday, November 13th 2004
Shhhhh! I'm actually writing this Sunday night, but to make events less confusing, pretend that I wrote it Saturday night. Although, if you read how many whiskey shots I did, you'll quickly realize that there is no friggin' way that I could do any blogging in my condition
Here was the original plan: Everyone except Bhawana (gone this weekend to visit her relatives in Delhi) pile into taxis by 11am, visit Amar & family at his apartment in Gurgaon briefly, then we hopefully get Amar to go shopping with us. On Sunday, we'll rest.
Here's what really happened. We're 1.5 hours late after eating lunch at the hotel, and it takes a long time to get our rented cell phones. We meet Amar at The Bristol Hotel close to 1pm, and turns out he's waited 90 mins for us, expecting us at 11:30am. We arrive at his apartment, where we find out that they're feeding us, and Mahika (and family) will be joining us for lunch. Finally, most shops are closed Saturday, because of Diwali.
Uh oh. What was I going to do with these grumpy folks who wanted to visit Amar briefly and then go shopping for most of the day? Yikes.
In the end, it all worked out fine. Amar & his wife Seema fed us a lot of food, we drove to Mahika's apartment, and then we all went a nice Indian restaurant called Aroma. Afterwards, Amar & family led the way to a number of pashmina and handicraft stores. At night, Wayne, Jorge, Alex, Regina, Mary, and myself went clubbing at CJ's at the Le Meridien hotel. It was okay, but after 5 double shots of Jack Daniels, it was great. :)
BTW, so sick of hearing the word pashmina.
Friday, November 12th 2004
Hotel conference room 11:48am
Oooh, did I really not make any log entries yesterday? Yeah, I guess I didn't. Just a bit busy over here. Also, notice that I'm in a new location today. The reasons for both --- Diwali. Since it's the Diwali holiday today, the office building is completely closed today, and we've rented a stuffy conference room in the Hyatt. At the moment, everyone has taken a morning break to make a reservation at the hotel spa for massages / facial / manicure / pedicures / whatever on Sunday.
Why am I not there? Eh, I'm not a massage person. I don't get stressed out like that to need any massaging of my back muscles. Sure it feels nice and all, like when Num rubs my neck (that I like!), but a massage so fleeting.... I just don't see the value for me.
Last night after working in an empty office building until 8pm, we headed back to the hotel and made reservations at Diva... an Italian restaurant. Of course, after another taxi ride adventure, we had a very nice Italian dinner. Afterwards, Alex, Jorge, Regina, and I went to the hotel bar D'Jinn's for drinks and to play pool.
Have I mentioned that I'm personally naming all the cabbies we use? Our regular two company drivers are Janet and Chrissy, but Janet has been MIA for this week, so the new fellow this week is Cindy. Yeah, it's a whole Three's Company thing. I officially dubbed our two smelly taxi cabbies from last night Lenny and Squiggy, from Laverne & Shirley.
Not sure what the plans are for tonight. Dinner and drinks would be nice.
Hotel conference room 12:25pm
Under peer pressure, I have agreed to get a shoulder massage on Sunday. 20 mins, shoulder, neck, back, 400 rupees. I guess if the price is so cheap, I might as well get a massage for the first time. Heck, 20 mins for $10 USD. Doesn't sound so bad. Of course, some of the guys are getting facials, manicures, etc, which I will not be doing. I have to draw the line somewhere, and getting my nails done is definitely over the line.
Hotel Room: sometime after midnight
Just got back. I think I'm ready to go home. I'm almost too tired to even talk about it. I made reservations with our hotel concierge for dinner for 8 people tonight @ 7:30pm at the Bally Hi chinese restaurant at the Maurya Sheraton. We get to the Sheraton tonight, and there's on Bally Hi. Turns out, the restaurant has been closed for over a year. Exactly where did the concierge make reservations for when he told me today that it was confirmed for 8? Hmm, I got some looks today from my team, but they said it was alright.
Instead, we ate at the hotel's Dum Bukaht (spelling?) Indian restaurant, which incidently was not very good. After two weeks, I think we've run out of things to talk about. You never saw such a sad, quiet, group of people. Well, I hope you never do. I think people are just very tired now.
Afterwards, we tried to make it to F Bar, but one group in a taxi found it closed, and my taxi.... well, Wayne & I never found it. We went back to the hotel. Very disappointing. We met up with Jorge, Regina, Alex, & Bhawana, and we went to Djinn's again until just now, drank, watched the British folks dance in a very bizarre fashion, and played more pool.
Things aren't all so bad. I just complain/vent too much sometimes. I am glad that I made it to the hotel gym tonight. I got some stress out on the treadmill. I also got to watch part of the Nuggets-Pistons NBA game, which was a nice slice of heaven. This morning, Num surprised me with a phone call 6am. It was a really great surprise, and we spoke for an hour.
Still, I'm ready to go back home to my wife.
Wednesday, November 10th 2004
Hotel Room: 11:26pm
I'm watching an old episode of Scooby Doo, starring Batman & Robin.....in Hindi. How odd, and yet, depressing.
I've just returned from the company holiday party. The "festive" atmosphere in the office wasn't quite as festive as we were led to be -- just more decorations and people dressed up. However, starting at 5pm, they had a short pooja (prayer) in our office floor's lobby for 45 minutes. Then we got a few pictures with the CEO, and then we headed over to the Vatika Grand hall for the actual party. That went from 7-10pm, with drinks, food, games, and plenty of dancing. Regina has numerous pictures, and I'll steal all the good ones from her.
My feet still hurt from those stupid uncomfortable Indian juttie shoes that I bought yesterday evening. The things I do for fashion. I will say it was cool to get a picture with the CEO. It's good to be an auditor!
Although the office is technically closed Thurs and Fri, we'll be there. Meeting 9am in the hotel lobby tomorrow. Argh, can't we sleep in a little longer? Hopefully we're not pulling another late evening tomorrow. I'd like to go out tomorrow night.
I was testing a locked cabinet, and a door opened really quickly, and slammed me in the head. My head still hurts. You'll see me recovering in the photo gallery.
Tuesday, November 9th 2004
Conference Room: 2:51pm
This week is going fast. Too fast. We've got today and tomorrow, office is closed Thurs & Friday. Some Muslims wil be out of the office on Monday to celebrate Eid, and then we're flying out Thursday night. Yowza, this trip is going to be over before you know it.
After seeing the beautiful works of the Mughal emperors, I'm officially changing my last name to "the Great". Babur the Great, etc, sounds pretty good. I can pretty much get us anything here at this office, because I know who to sweet-talk. Yesterday, the coffee guy brought cookies and chips for the room, brought it to me first, bowed a bit and offered it to me, and said, "Sir."
At dinner last night, I wanted the Grilled Tikka Shwarma, but only said "Grilled Tikka". I got my plate, which looked totally different than the Grilled Tikka Shwarma that Bhawana got. I asked the waiter, and he said I asked for Grilled Tikka. Mary and the rest looked at the menu, and saw it wasn't even on there. They made me an item that wasn't even on the menu.
Joel the Great, I say. Even my kids will be "Steve the Great" or "Wanda the Great". How cool would that be? I think it's worth considering.
After much effort, weekend pictures are up, but only up to most of Saturday night. I think I have some bowling photos to work on yet. Still, you can see some of the journey, Akbar's Tomb, the Taj, and some of the hotel.
Seriously, "Joel the Great".
Hotel Room: 11:10pm
Back in the room after a quick dinner downstairs with the guys. The ladies just got back now from shopping. After work this evening, Sonali went with all of us to get clothes, which took about 1.5 hours for all of us. Next, the women were to go out for bangles, bindi's, and maybe even get their hands decorated with mendhi. Well, there's nothing worse for a guy than standing around while a woman shops for accessories, so we hightailed it out of there faster than you can believe.
Okay, I'm watching an India - New Zealand cricket match, and seriously, what's the appeal of this game? I know cricket is supposed to be in the Indian blood, but eh. I'm also watching HBO here, but what I don't get is that they have commercials here. Isn't that just plain odd? They also edit movies for curses and stuff. What's the point of HBO then?
You know what else is odd? I just saw a commercial for an Ali G movie -- of Da Ali G show fame. When did he get a movie? Why was it produced? Did people actually pay to see it, or is this direct-crap-to-video?
Anyway, I'm going to work on some more photos from our Agra road trip, then get some sleep. I'm pretty happy with my outfit, even though I spent a little more than the other guys on my clothes. Still, they got the basic stuff, because when are they really going to wear it? On the other hand, it's not so absurd for me to wear Indian clothes. I got a blue kurta top, white pyjama pants (the churidar version was way too tight for my calf muscles), a white dupatta (spelling?) scarfy thing, and somewhat-uncomfortable black shoes.
Tomorrow will be really fun. Everyone on my audit team all dressed up, a festive atmosphere in the office, and we're attending a Diwali reception/party in the evening. I hope there's food and dancing. That'll be great.
Hotel Room: 11:59pm
I'm done with the Agra pictures. Now you can look forward to the Wednesday Diwali office party pics. I'm a picture-posting machine! Time for bed.
Monday, November 8th 2004
Conference Room: 10:04am
Howdy ho, neighborinos. It's Monday morning, bright and early. We survived the trip to Agra, and not that it was that easy. Between:
In spite of all that, it was a great trip, and worth the effort. We all have about a million pictures of the trip to/from Agra, the Taj, Emperor Akbar's Tomb, and Fatehpur Sikri (an 300-year old abandoned city). I have to say that seeing a picture of the the Taj Mahal, and experiencing it with your own eyes are like night and day. The second I saw it, my jaw dropped and my eyes watered. It is just amazing. Num has to see it. She just has to. Anyway, it's going to take me a few days to get these pictures up, starting with those from Thursday night, but I'll start working tonight. We're supposed to leave at 5 tonight to go shopping tonight for our Indian clothes. I'm glad, because I'm sick of leaving at 9pm every night, including last Friday.
I know there's a picture somewhere with my Dad posing in front of the Taj Mahal back in the 70's before he got married. When I get back, I want to put the picture of him at the Taj, and myself at the Taj, on this site. I think that'll be cool. Him and me, both at the Taj Mahal, 30 years apart.
We're staying at the Hyatt now, and I had a pepperoni pizza last night from the Italian restaurant. Life is good.
Friday, November 5th 2004
Hotel Room: 12:50am
It's been a very long day, it's late, and I'm damn tired. I'll be brief.
Bush won. I'm personally a bit disappointed, but the results were the choice of the American people, and I'll back them 100% percent. I firmly believe that freedom and democracy just plain rock.
Very long day (after sleeping so late last night), but we couldn't go home until after our 7:30pm status meeting (via conference call) with management back home in NY. 90 minutes later, we were on the way home. Over dinner, we figured out the logistics for our trip this weekend to Agra.
We check out of the Hilton on Saturday, except for my room, where we store all our luggage. We take cars to Agra, stay the night there at a hotel, seeing the sights Saturday and Sunday. Sunday afternoon, we drive back to the Hilton, check me out, grab our luggage, and check in at the Delhi Hyatt Regency.
You'll be happy to know that the newest batch of pictures are up. Check out Wednesday, Thursday, and an additonal photo for Thursday's blog entry.
Conference Room: 5:25pm
Quote of the Day #1, courtesy of Alex:
What's the number for the coffee boy?
Quote of the Day #2, again courtesy of Alex::
I get Viagra all the time, but I don't know why.
Agra is a go! How exciting! The folks here have set us up with an A/C bus (with tour guide), hotel rooms down in Agra, and the costs for all sites (Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar's Tomb) in one low price. Pretty sweet. I will take loads of pictures, and an extra set of batteries to boot.
No idea what we're doing tonight, but hopefully nothing complex. We all need to pack tonight.
To the folks back home in CAD....the team here (except for Miranda) says a big hello! Also, we'd like to give a big shout-out to Laura -- enjoy Australia.
Conference Room: 7:34pm
Quote of the Day #3, [Alex]:
Why does Wayne have my stick?
followed by.... Quote of the Day #4:
[Wayne]:Uh, because you bite mine?
[Jorge to Regina, about Alex & Mary using infrared beaming on their laptops]: Regina! Look how far they are, and they're still doin' it!
Yeah, we're still in the office. I'm still working, but I'm tired, and want to go home already. Damn this work.
Thursday, November 4th 2004
Conference Room: 10:29am
Last night after work, I worked out, then we all took a cab over to the Hyatt again (see why we should just stay there?) for dinner and drinks. While waiting for a table to open up, we hit the Polo Lounge, and I taught everyone two British pub games. We had a lot of fun playing over drinks and dinner, such as Ducky Fuzz and 21. Which leads to our Quote of the Day:
[Joel]: "Ducky fuzz."
And that, folks, is the beauty of the British.
After dinner, we took the two worst cab drivers in New Delhi to get back to the Hilton by 12:30am, after getting lost, missing turns, hitting highway dividers, and them trying to rip us off (Trying. I was there.) A few of us waited in the lobby over 90 minutes for Mary to arrive, which was a litttle after 2:30am. Still, Mary arrived no worse for the wear. Like a trooper, she's in the office with us now. Good for her.
Conference Room: 12:05pm
Wayne is ill. He skipped dinner last night, is still ill today, and has now been taken to see a local doctor. I hope he gets better. He's the Director in-charge on this trip.
I like how Mary pronounces "croissant". It's not "crawsaunt", but "qua-sau". How cool is that? I also like when my friend Helen says "knickers" in her cute British accent. I love accents, but not the Hyundai version. Those are just ugly.
Conference Room: 6:12pm
Next Friday is Diwali ("Festival of Lights") which is a Hindu holiday, and about as festive as Christmas is for Christians. We found out this week that the office here will be closed next Thursday & Friday. Not good, because we kinda lose two days of work where we could be pestering the auditee.
What's better? On Wednesday, there will be a party atmosphere the entire day (think Christmas Eve.) Employees will come all dressed up in traditional ethnic attire, there will be competitions for best dress, and whatever else. Also, there will be an afterhours reception at a place nearby, and we're invited to that too. The company's organizer has invited us all, and says we're all supposed to wear traditional Indian clothes too. So, next week, we're all going shopping for salwar kameezes for the women, and kurta pyjamas for the guys.
Yeah, we're all going to get dressed up. In Indian clothes. Even Alex "The Flex" Anello. Regina is especially excited to buy an Indian outfit.
We are so not getting any work done that day. I'm sure that deep down, I'm upset about it. Very, very deep down.
Wednesday, November 3rd 2004
Hotel Room: 1:50am
Okay, we didn't make it to the Turkish thing tonight. By the time we got out of the office, it was close to 8pm. We went back to the hotel, changed clothes, and went back to the cars. On a sneaking suspicion, I asked the hotel front desk about our plans, and if we would need reservations for this event at "THE Intercontinental". Their response? "Which one? There are two."
Oh brother, here's trouble. After 10 minutes, and two phone calls, turns out that the festival was at the Intercontinental on the other side of New Delhi, a guaranteed 90 minute drive. Also, the place was all booked up for the evening. Change of plans, we went to the Oberoi Hilton in New Delhi for some Thai that our hotel staff highly recommended.
45 minutes later, our two cars finally arrived at the Oberoi. Verdict? Excellent Thai food. So, lemons into lemonade (or plain pad thai into....hmmm, spicy pad thai), we still had a good time.
Also, I found out where Cobra Commander has been all these years. Right here in New Delhi. Pictures are all up. I've tried a new format to show what we're doing each day, for each week. Hope it works out.
Conference Room: 9:39am
Madness descends upon the group. We're here in the conference room, and we're all singing the Scooby Doo theme song. Alex is starting to look good to me. We're hoping a rescue plane finds us tomorrow, but some have lost hope.
Wayne got word that Mary, our last remaining auditor to still get out here, boarded her flight back at JFK about an hour ago. She was a last-minute substitution, so she didn't receive her Indian business visa until today. Well, I'll tell you, she's missed a lot of in-jokes.
Looks like we're moving hotels. Our Hilton is nice, but we're limited in what we can do. No bars, limited restaurants. Don't get me started on why we switched from the Hyatt in the first place. Regardless, we're going to check out Saturday, leave our luggage at the Hyatt Regency in the early morning, visit Agra, and then get back and do check-in. I like Hyatts in general, and I don't have a real issue with switching, but I'm just not looking forward to repacking all my stuff. I got everything exactly where I wanted it in the room. I've practically moved in.
Small price to pay, I guess. I should just stop bitching.
Conference Room: 10:25am
Damn, I didn't realize that this dress shirt I'm wearing is getting kinda ratty in the left sleeve cuff. Threads are coming out, there's still that "unnoticeable" tear that I made a few months, and it's getting bigger. We're only in the 1st week. Is this shirt going to last me through the next 2.5 weeks? Fudge muffin.
My 10:30 meeting to review some applications was postponed an hour. I love when that happens. Unfortunately, it just means I'll continue documenting processes. Fascinating. When's lunch?
Damn, I gotta say -- Alex may be goofy, but he really knows his financial auditing stuff. According to him, he really enjoys the bizarre world of financial accounting. That's nice.
Conference Room: 10:35am
I wonder how the U.S. presidential election tallies are going? When I checked on the TV this morning, the electoral votes were at Bush 172 vs. Kerry 112. Dammit, Wayne! Stop using the phone line for work-related purposes, so I can find out what's going on.
It's funky to see women walking around an office in traditional Indian dress (sarees, salwar kameezes). Definitely funky, but I think it's a hoot.
Conference Room: 4:00pm
Wow, according to CNN, it's Bush 254 vs Kerry 252, with 3 states remaining. How Ohio can take up to 11 days to get results really is mind-boggling.
I don't know if we're going out tonight for dinner. Maybe I'll just get something simple from the hotel, and then go to the fitness center. It's a nice thought, but let's see if it happens. We're generally together all the time. You know, I think I had a dream about my team members last night. That's a sign that spending 14 hours/day with the same 7 people is probably bad for your health.
And it's only Wednesday of my first week.
Conference Room: 3:35pm
Damn, another meeting postponed. Something is definitely afoot in the IT department today. Wish I was a fly on the wall for auditing purposes.
Conference Room: 4:55pm
I've written a lot today. Either the normal audience is going to think this is overkill, or my manager is going to think that I've been blogging all day instead of working between meetings. In either case, let's make this one the last entry for today.
I will take this opportunity to say a warm "Namaste!" (in no particular order) to:
Tuesday, November 2nd 2004
Conference Room: 3:45pm
Quote of the Day: [Alex, wanting help with using Regina's USB flash drive]:
But I want Regina to show me how to stick it in.
We went to the nearby China Club for lunch with Mahika and Sonali from their Risk Management group. Seriously, really good chinese food and, according to Wayne, very authentic. I didn't understand why there would be authentic chinese cuisine in New Delhi, but if you think about it, China ain't too far away to the East, right? Lunch was excellent. Excellent with a capital E.
Lunch took an inordinate amount of time, so we missed a few 2pm scheduled meetings and I'm not sure when my "3 o'clock" will get rescheduled. I'd worry more, but you see, meeting times aren't such a big deal here in India. I figure we'll just reschedule to tomorrow. I'm not stressing.
I don't know if I mentioned it, but Alex has been all excited to see some belly-dancing while here in India. Although we've informed him that belly-dancing is in the Middle East, not India, we hope to have a treat for him tonight. Without his prior knowledge, we found an ad for a Turkish food and dance festival at the New Delhi Intercontinental hotel. According to the picture, there's belly-dancing. Everyone, except Alex, knows why we're going, so this should be fun to see his expression. :)
In a few more hours, the election voting sites in the U.S. will open, and Americans will make a decision regarding our leaders. Make sure it's a good one. I can't wait until tomorrow morning to hear the results. I will say that among all the Indian movie channels, the soccer and cricket TV channels, every news channel is talking about the American presidential election. I mean, everyone. I find it so odd that so much seems to revolve around our stupid country.
Conference Room: 6:47pm
I'm still in the office, but when I get back to the hotel tonight, I'll edit the pictures from today, and add them in here and on the trip page.
BTW, found the really bad movie about the killer Megalodon. It's called Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. Can't believe there was a Shark Attack 1 or 2 of this quality.
Monday, November 1st 2004
Hotel Room: 11:15pm
We went to the office today for the first time. What's odd is that we haven't been to the office until today, but it feels like we've been here for days. And it's only Monday. Still, everyone at the Indian office has been very nice. It's been hard to get connected there, so all I have is connecting here in the hotel every night or every other night. Please bear with me, and I'll have updates batched together then. Remember, I gotta check my office/personal mail too.
Well, nothing else really exciting happened today. At lunch, the office folks ordered Pizza Hut pizza for us, I did a lot of meeting-and-greeting, shook a lot of hands, etc. By the time we got back to the hotel at 8pm, we were so tired, we had lunch at the hotel.
Oh, and gossiped about office politics. Typical audit trip so far. Tomorrow, I'll have to get some pictures of the office for those interested and post them.
I miss my wife.