I'm definitely ready to head back to the U.S.
It's been a good trip but I want to go visit my son Don in Kansas. It's been very hard to be here after hearing the news he was wounded in Iraq. I tried so hard to get in touch with him after he was flown to Germany. I made about 10 phone calls but couldn't get through. Faye kept me informed of his progress because she was getting word from Master Sergeant Brian Jackson, Don's sergeant and friend. By the time I was able to make contact with him personally it was my final week and it made sense to finish up here and arrange for a connecting flight out of Boston to Kansas City. I'll go see Don this Sunday. That will be a relief. It's been really good to hear his voice on the telephone after a year! He sounds good.
The work here has finally "broken through" and we're rollin' along in well-oiled tracks I think. It was very frustrating at first, at least for me. A stranger in a strange land working in a software environment that was unfamiliar. I felt like an old guy who didn't know all that much trying to show the ropes to a group of young, very sharp people who were just being polite. :-) It turned out that we all learned a lot together. It's a good team here. I'll look forward to coming back if I get the chance.
We went out to dinner at a local restaurant called The Tangerine. It's within walking distance if you're brave enough to walk along the roads here. You take your life in your hands with all the traffic, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and free-wheelers! I walked down there my first week but opted for a ride the next couple of visits. It a nice place with a variety of foods, "veg" and "non-veg".
After three weeks, I've learned everyone's first names (the abbreviated versions) but I probably don't pronounce them correctly. They don't seem to mind. We laughed together at the fact that my name is only 4 letters and 2 syllables but nobody seems able to pronounce that right either!
Here's a photo of us at The Tangerine with our group. From the left front to the back: Shrimathi, Manimala (from Chelmsford) Srideepa, Varad, Lokesh and Mohan. From the right front to the back: Prashanth, yours truly, Ravi (the boss!), Peri and Anish.
Toward the end of the meal I chatted with Prashanth about things like what age were people in India allowed to drive, etc. It turns out it's a lot like in the U.S. You have to be 18 to get a driver's license (and, I might add, you have to be slightly insane!). You can consume alchohol at 18, women can wed at 18, men at 21. There is no regulation regarding smoking, you can do that from the crib if you're parents will light up a stogie for you. (Cough!)
Four of us drove here in Anish's new Hyundai Atos. It's a "micro" car, just right for the roads here. The four of us fit comfortably. I'm not sure I'd want to go gallivanting around Route 495 in Massachusetts at 80 mph in it, but it's a great little car for this end of the planet.
By the way, my digital camera serves as a low-resolution video camera. I took a 5 minute video of my ride to work this morning. If you'd like to view it click the link below. A word of caution: This is a very big file: 45mb! It's not a streaming video so you'll have to wait until the whole thing downloads until you can see it. You'll need the QuickTime player's plug in to view it, it's a MOV file. Don't attempt to do this if you're on a dialup connection unless you've got lots of patience! It's not a high-resolution video, only about 2" by 2" and I couldn't hold the camera very steady on the bumpy roads. Still just gotta see it?! Ok...
Here's the link: Taxi Ride to Brooks in Chennai, India.
This will be the last entry in my India Adventure Journal. It's been a great trip and I'm glad for the opportunity. I've learned a lot!