Just like last time I was in India, I’m going to try posting pictures/entries as I go. So far so good!
Afternoon Sat Mar 14 –
Well, I made it to London! I’m tired but not dreadfully so. On the way over I read one good book and one decent book (reviews coming soon), and watched one decent movie (“Birdman” was pretty good although very weird) and one… umm, acceptable movie (“Foxcatcher”…what the hell? Also the editing style was super choppy and the dialogue was quiet and sparse. And that ending… that really happened? *checks Wikipedia* Yup, pretty much. Bizarre!)
I keep forgetting how long it takes to change terminals in Heathrow – I booked it to get to the shuttle to Terminal 5 (passing a bunch of people), and the shuttle left very soon after I got on, and it still took a solid 40 minutes from getting off the plane to clearing security in Terminal 5. So that’s, like, the best case scenario. I should have looked on my Fitbit to see how many steps that was, because I seriously bet it’s around a mile of walking (although mine was moving-walkway-assisted)
I’ve already taken advantage of the strong dollar and bought souvenirs on two continents! (yes, the dollar is strong in Dallas as well). I’ve tried to convert some money to rupees, but for future reference – the airport moneychangers are thieves. They were going to give me something like 3200 INR for 80 USD, when the true exchange rate would give me over 5000. So I guess I’ll just bank on there being an ATM in the Bangalore airport, which I’m pretty sure there is since that’s what I did last time, I think.
I managed to stay up the whole flight, so the plan is to wait until the first beverage service and then take some melatonin, which if it works like it did last time will knock me out in like 10 minutes. Then I wake up well-rested at 5 AM on Sunday, ready for the delight of going through customs, etc. in a foreign country! Right!
Evening Sun Mar 15 –
I actually managed to doze on and off for 4 hours on the plane, which explained why I wasn’t nearly as exhausted when we landed as I remember being last time. Clearing immigration and customs all went fine, although my big suitcase took a loooong time to make it onto the baggage carousel and I started to get worried!
A man from the hotel met me (he actually found me without holding up a sign – maybe he had my picture or something? Or maybe I just looked like I needed a hotel?), and I was driven the hour(!) back to the hotel. The airport is quite far out of town, and Bharath later told me that it takes more like two hours during normal (i.e. not crazy early) hours.
So I checked in and got situated, and the room is pretty nice! I tried to take a nap since it was still early, with limited success, and then watched a bunch of cricket while I played some of Sid Meier’s Starships.
Bharath picked me up at 12:30 and we went out for lunch and walked around the The Forum (a mall) Afterwards, more Starships, and then I went out walking in the park, which was nice. Then dinner by the pool, and…more Starships 🙂
Jet lag wise I’m feeling pretty OK right now (11:30 PM), and I’m going to take some melatonin to make sure I sleep. I definitely have been tired at some parts of the day, and severe jet lag has this irritating effect on me where I get dizzy at times. Which is no fun. My stomach is also doing OKish, which will hopefully improve.
The hotel is pretty upscale, and they actually have guards who inspect the trunk of every car that drives up, as well as metal detectors by the front entrance. (they made me go through it the first few times I came in but not the last time, so maybe I’m accepted now?) Of course, this actually makes me feel less safe…
Evening Tue Mar 17 –
So far, so good! Jet lag seems to be getting better – today I was only tired in the afternoon, not exhausted. Went out for a nice lunch with people today, and dinner at the hotel (when I go to the fancy poolside restaurant) has been quite good.
Sadly, traffic on the way to work means it takes anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes to get there, which means I get a lot of reading done but it eats up a chunk of my day. The drivers have been very friendly – one in particular is extremely chatty, which is sometimes nice and sometimes tiresome.
Evening Thu Mar 19 –
Well, I think I’ve pretty much beaten jet lag! Today I felt a little tired in the afternoon, but you know, that happens when I’m in Austin too. I haven’t felt can’t-keep-my-eyes-open tired or dizzy since Sunday. I haven’t been sleeping the best, but it’s been good enough.
Anyway! Today was a good day – India played Bangladesh so I wore my new India jersey. This was mostly fun, although it led to an awkward conversation at breakfast when a server came over and chatted about cricket. He kept asking me things like who my favorite Indian player was and such, and it quickly became obvious my knowledge of cricket was barely skin deep. (but I do know the rules now!)
I got up earlier than I had intended this morning, so I took the opportunity to go down to the park and walk a few laps. Especially since I’ve gotten used to a standing desk at work, I think not doing any exercise makes me feel lethargic. To that end I went down to the gym and did a quick 15 minutes on the treadmill before dinner tonight.
Work has been interesting. Today I finally finished an irritating task I’ve been intermittently working on for a few weeks, so I had to find something else to work on. (which didn’t take long!) I’ve already given three talks and I’m giving at least one or two more while I’m here. I keep running into people who I’ve worked with in the past, which is pretty neat.
And the food has been really great! Last night I decided to be brave and walk the half-mile to a place for dinner, and it was awesome. Although the walk itself is a little scary, it’s mostly well-lit, and everyone who asks where I’m staying tells me it’s in a very nice neighborhood. Which: yeah, the houses on this street are quite nice, but there are some seemingly sketchier parts on the way to restaurants. (although I’m probably not the best judge of what’s sketchy around here)
Evening Fri Mar 20 –
Woof, what a day. I actually slept until my alarm this morning, which was a nice change. (I had been taking melatonin at night, but stopped a few nights ago…maybe not taking it helps?) Watched a bit of cricket while getting ready (as I have been doing), and I ordered french toast at breakfast for the first time. It was not exactly what I expected (it was kind of in a pyramid shape), but it was good!
Concurrently with the Cricket World Cup, there’s been a test match (i.e. a 5 day match) going on between Karnataka and the Rest of India. This afternoon a few people from the office jumped up and said they were going to try to catch the end of the match, as Karnataka was about to win, needing only 3 more wickets. The stadium was only 15 minutes away from the office, but unfortunately the game ended while we were still in the car on the way there. Still, we decided to just go and maybe see the stadium, so we parked and eventually (after a lot of walking and people pointing us in different directions) made it to a stadium gate that was open. There were around 20 people trying to convince one security guard to let us in – the argument got pretty heated but eventually the guard stood aside as we streamed in.
The stadium was pretty nice although mostly empty by now – we did get to see the Karnataka team shake hands with the Rest of India and then pose for a bunch of pictures with their trophy. We screamed and hollered for them to come over to us with the trophy after we were done, but to no avail. Afterwards we got some coffee at Koshy’s, which is a somewhat famous local place. (we actually got “Koshy’s Special Coffee”, although there was some debate over how special it really was…)
I had asked for the car to pick me up at 6:00 from the office – earlier than usual, since it’s Friday, I figured. The car didn’t show up until 6:30 on the dot, which was a little irritating because I end up telling three separate people when I’d like to be picked up – the concierge at the hotel in the morning, the driver when he drops me off, and the guard at work. On the way back, though, it dawned on me that it maybe wasn’t the driver’s fault – traffic was abysmal. (although the driver took a different route than my other drivers, and stuck to main roads more, which probably wasn’t a great idea) It took us 54 minutes to travel the 2.3 miles from the office to the hotel, and it was a pretty hot day here so I wasn’t feeling my best when I got home. I had planned on getting back early and then walking to dinner, but instead I just went downstairs again.