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Hyderabad Again

Went to Hyderabad in India to give some training. Sunny +30°C weather and lots of big boulders made it fun. Rode a 2-wheeler and required an emergency whisky.

Hyderabad Week 1

This time there was an understandable excuse why there was no taxi waiting at the airport: the hotel staff literally had brain damage. The particular member of staff who handled your booking had fallen off her motorbike, hit her head and had internal haemorrhaging. She came to work anyway, messed up your booking and then passed out. After your taxi driver finally arrived at the airport – who, by the way, was sent by the hotel – he didn't know where the hotel was. Upon exiting the airport he proceeded to text on two mobile phones simultaneously while steering with his elbows and driving without a seatbelt. You did eventually arrive at the hotel, and they were kind enough to upgrade your room for free after the mix-up. You later learnt another taxi was waiting for you in Ahmedabad, in a different state. Ok, welcome back to India!

Driving without a seatbelt while texting on two mobile phones
Driving without a seatbelt while texting on two mobile phones

Later that evening you dined in the hotel restaurant. In Indian restaurants waiters typically serve you. They get quite nervous when you scoop your own rice, for example. It doesn't click that a nicely presented entré should be just put on the table – nope, that needs rearranging! The waiter began to clumsily transfer your once-pretty meal with his tongs onto another plate. Before you could take your first bite, another waitress snuck up behind you and asked "how is the test?" You wondered if they were making this particular dish for the first time, and you were a test subject. You ordered some sparkeling water which arrived promptly. The waiter opened the bottle, tipped it and two drops came out. The damn things was frozen! Unperturbed by the water's solid state he patiently held the bottle while the slow drip... drip... drip... continued. You politely suggested he get another one, which he brought promptly. He opened the second bottle, tipped it and... drip... drip... drip... Maybe it was best to be patient. You were the only one in the restaurant that night and yet they managed to give you the wrong bill at the end of the meal/ordeal. It wasn't clear how that was that even possible, even by Indian standards. Later that night you realised the waitress meant to say taste.

After a lot more training and a lot more talking your face was sore. It was tough to keep up that level of enthusiasm all day. If nothing else, the discussions were effective if not also amusing. For example, one bloke fresh out of university asked why we use metal. He assaulted you with a near-endless barrage of questions, none of which had any relevance to his job. After half an hour of utterly unrelated questioning you had to call it a day. Nice guy, but maybe someone should introduce him to a google search.

Flag of Dattatreya Gutta
Flag of Dattatreya Gutta

On the Saturday after a week of training you went with two blokes from work to a temple on a hill in the city: Dattatreya Gutta. It wasn't so clear what the temple honoured or celebrated, but it did have a few naga paintings and statues. The place was home to a large family of monkeys with tiny shrivelled-up faces. They were playing around and between the boulders which made up the temple's perimeter, bordering a high cliff. Your colleges were having fun climbing over the rocks, mentioning they'd not done that since they were kids; the monkeys were putting them to shame. One had grown up in this neighbourhood and told you stories about his cheeky antics. He once found some glass which he and some mates crushed up and stuck to a kite string, making a battle-kite to cut others' strings. The exact dell in the rock where he ground the glass was still there. You had a bit of a climb and headed home, on the way stopping for some Iranian tea. Not bad.

View from the hotel window
View from the hotel window

Sunday was spent waiting for your washing to be done. Their "express service" of 12 hours was approaching 24, but you had nothing better to do today anyway. You bounced over to another hotel – the Hyatt, where they have their shit together – and met Frank by the pool. Hyderabad in Winter is really pleasant. It never rains and is always sunny, with the temperature stays around 25°C. The hotel and the office are adjacent to each other, both of which sitting well outside the city and so the air quality is ok. In all directions you look out over the brown desert landscape dotted with big, stacked boulders. On the streets are a couple of rickety busses with no doors which billow black smoke when they start, and far too many tuk tuks. Away from the city center the traffic is manageable. The hotel is superb — the all staff are all well-trained, the rooms are comfortable and modern, and the restaurant puts on a good spread. Telling you work colleges you were going on a paid holiday wasn't too far from the truth. You called it a brown holiday, after Swiss military service colloquially referred to as a green holiday. That night you programmed your webpage to display the image loading percentage. You were very proud of yourself.

Hyderabad Week 2

The second week of training followed the official schedule. Counterintuitively, this meant you finished early. Having a fixed agenda meant finishing according to the clock, which doesn't necessarily correspond to workload. The offices in India have an electronic badge system. Peoples' comings and goings are recorded and working times are correlated. Meike once worked somewhere where such a system compared to a self-reporting system. Those on an electronic badge system logged consistently more hours in a month than those who reported their own times. Waiting an extra five minutes each day let it round upwards to the nearest fifteen minutes, whereas those who decided their working time was over didn't bother waiting and recorded consistently less hours. The moral of the story: ignore schedules and trust people, at least those working in Europe.

After-work dustbowl cricket match
After-work dustbowl cricket match

Obviously you had no issue with finishing early, so you went for a walk. You strolled by the Nvidia office just as a herd of cattle were walking past; the juxtaposition was notable. The road ended and a dusty dirt track continued off into the yonder. The ground was so dry and so dusty that your footsteps blew up dust-clouds, smothering your shoes in a grey powder. You passed a shanty town and a field of wild pigs, then joined another sealed road where some cops were napping in their jeep, casually shirking responsibility. The way back went through a local market street full of life. The narrow road was overcrowded to say the least: people, small-wares peddlers, cows, trucks and tuk tuks, tiny street-food vendors, tire repair corner shops, a basic doctor surgery, and constant honking filled the space all around you. You crossed an open space to find some guys playing cricket. You stopped to watch their game. It was nice to sit in the shade and watch the world turn. There was even a womens team.

The fresh-from-uni guy was at it again in week two with his unrelated questions. He asked why we don't add sulphur to the weld-melt near the plate edge to improve the local machinability. Theoretically, it could be done but would be so disadvantageous for ever other conceivable reason (quality, repeatability, applicability, standardisation, legality, metallurgicly, etc.) that you'd be spending a grand to save a dollar. Were you ever that narrow-focused and impractical? Probably...

Khajaguda Rock Climbing Area in the Lanco Hills
Khajaguda Rock Climbing Area in the Lanco Hills

You went with Aswartha and Raghu from work to the Khajaguda Rock Climbing Area in the Lanco Hills. None of you had ever been there before — it was just a rocky hill in the distance that looked enticing. The dirt roads through the local residential area were very narrow and you got a bit lost on the way, but you eventually found the rough track leading up the hill. The guys were excited to see if their little car could make it up the rough slope; you had your doubts but it somehow made it. The top was a plateau of dusty open space and stacked boulders in little groups. Many rocks were painted with Hindi letters and orange flags were waving in the wind as decoration for a small temple, from which music was echoing. As it was late afternoon everything was tinted a pale orange colour. It was really beautiful.

Traverse Aswartha and Rahug Big boulder At sunset
Various rocks, Aswartha and Rahug, and a big boulder at sunset

You bounced around the hill and climbed some rocks with the guys. The area was a know climbing location, which was obvious by the white chalk patches on the holds. You tried a few climbs, being careful not to break anything — yourself or the rocks, which were not completely stable. After exploring the area and scaling a boulder with Raghu you headed back to the car, where some kids were handing out. "Brother, what are you doing?" one asked, as he proceeded to climb beside you. They seemed friendly.

According to the schedule Wednesday and Thursday were tight in terms of work. It didn't make things any easier when the network failed and saving 1km of data took several minutes. You spent an hour talking about Swiss watches and work ethic, then gave up all hope that IT support could fix the issues, and went back to the hotel. There is a lack of initive in India to solve problems and improve working processes. Everyone is far too accepting of slow networks and subsequent delays, taking the opportunity to have tea breaks. On the other hand, they are all very accepting of almost everything else — race, religion, cultures, etc. While this openness may have its advantages, it is frustrating when working alongside Europeans with Swiss watches. Maybe you should try to inspire each other: hurry the fuck up, but don't stress about it.

Team event by motorbike
Team event by motorbike

On the last Friday there was a team event. Motorbikes were organised for everyone, and you rode to a resort for a cultural awareness and wrap-up session. The gist of it was "nodding means yes and no means no". You say the same thing every year and yet it still comes as a surprise to many. Everyone rattled off their thanks which sounded, while honest, a little hollow. One of the new ones — a very timid young lady, who'd not said two words throughout the two weeks — quietly got your attention and said thank you. That, somehow, made the whole training session worth while. After constructing some baskets made of drinking straws, sticky tape and staples you went for lunch.

Up until now you had been very cautious in India — excluding the motorbike riding perhaps. While the guys splashed about in the pool you had a tea and a cup of water. You were so thirsty you didn't notice it tasted funny. Oh damn... It was time for an emergency whisky! From a dazed and vacant dude at the bar you ordered a double. "Large or small, sir?", he asked. Before things could be clarified, rather than a double 30ml drink, you had a double 60ml beverage in your hand. Your colleges grinned as you sat by the pool in the shade, sipping your quadruple whisky. You let Adarsh give you a lift back.