Sunday, June 8 & Monday, June 9 1997 Trip Report #2
I arrived in Bangalore around 10:30 PM, Sunday June 8.
We were kept on the plane an extra 20 minutes because one of the
engines wouldn't stop (Air India, Airbus 300).
Eventually, we got off (via stairs, down to the tarmac), and walked to
the terminal building. It was very reminiscent of Guatemala City,
but in worse condition. We went through immigration (a desk with
a couple of people), and into the baggage area.
We were the only flight there, but it still
took awhile to get our bags. I was standing where I could see them
unloading them from the trolley, and loading them onto a small
conveyor. The small conveyor went past a man with a piece of chalk,
who seemed to be marking about 10% of the bags with "S" ... including
mine. Oh oh. Search time?
I got my bag, and started to walk through the "green line" (nothing
to declare). A woman stopped me, and said something like "why should
I search this bag? Does it have electronics?" Since the suitcase was
large and full, I didn't relish opening/unpacking/packing it. I played
dumb, pointed to my knapsack, and said "computer". She let me through.
Then, pandemonium. A hundred or so men standing around, wanting to
do anything to help you for money (similar to Guatemala, I recall).
I walked through, to the guy holding the "Stan Sieler" sign. He said
he was from Windsor Manor (the hotel), so I went with him.
The trip from the airport to the hotel was uneventful, and there was
little to see because it was night. It felt a lot like driving from
the Guatemala City airport over to the El Camino Real hotel,
but took a little longer (15 minutes?).
The hotel was unimpressive from the street, but once past the driveway
looked very nice ... regal. I started to check in, was given a room,
and something caused me to say "... is this a tower room"? Sure enough,
they'd tried to give me a non-upgraded room. (Possibly since I'm associated
with HP, and definitely since I'm a Sheraton Travel Club International member,
and definitely agreed upon ahead of time, I should have had the free
upgrade to the towers ... but I'd been warned that they need checking on
at times.) So, they said "oops", and gave me a Towers room.
The Towers is sort of a separate hotel inside the
main hotel, with a shared butler (two per floor, or so), and free
breakfast, and a nicer room.
The hotel is very pretty inside. Lots of wood & marble.
I'm on the fourth floor (room 2323, if you want to call me) ...
or just ask to talk to "David Ken from Singapore" (more later)).
The room has a single king bed, couch, desk, minibar, tub/shower, closet,
TV, and a phone (or two) & fax.
With the humidity and temperature, it felt like being in Casa de Don
Rodrigo in Antigua ... made me homesick for Guatemala!
Like my hotel in Singapore, you must stick your room key into a special
slot near the door to turn on electric power to the room (except for
the air conditioner, which always has power). I guess that makes it
harder to leave the room while the power is on.
OTOH, Bangalore electric company has another solution: rotating power
outages, coupled with unplanned power outages. I had just fetched my
flashlight from my knapsack (to put on the nightstand), when the power
went out for a couple of minutes.
I got up early Monday, had the free breakfast (cereals, fruits,
eggs cooked to order (although the scrambled eggs looked unusual
somehow, and the "hashed" (aka "hash browns") weren't recognizable
as potatoes)), and was went back to the room.
Raman called me, saying "wait until 11 to 11:30 to come, we're all
in a meeting with Harry Sterling". That turned out to be a costly
phone call, because I took a taxi for some shopping :)
The traffic is amazing. No, horrible. Although traffic laws exist,
they appear to be theoretical in nature ... no one bothers obeying them.
I'd say people drive on the left ... except that implies they stay on
the correct side of the road most of the time. It's not uncommon for
a car to swerve into the oncoming traffic and drive towards them for
awhile, just to pass a slower vehicle. The traffic is about
30% 3-wheel "autos" (or, perhaps, "auto-rickshaws"), which have a driver
in front, and an area for 2 passengers (more, if you're friendly),
30% scooters, about 10% ordinary taxis (that look like they were built
in the 50s, stylistically), and the rest ordinary cars (but many of
them quite small)..
During the day, the air at some intersections becomes incredibly
polluted from the traffic.
If you take the worst traffic of Guatemala City, add Boston, mix well,
you're still not at Indian traffic levels. One programmer here said that
he lived in the U.S. for 5 years. When he came back, he was afraid to
drive for 6 months. I was told that one HP Cupertino guy never did
cross the street by himself.
The sidewalks are in bad shape. Many have gaping holes where you
look down, and realize that the remaining parts could give way and
drop you 3 feet down. As a result, it seems like most people walk in
the street, to avoid the sidewalk ... but that puts you directly in the
way of traffic. Actually, many people seemed to simply stand in the
middle of the street, doing nothing, or just talking to other people,
while traffic swerves around them ... honking all the time. Of course,
everyone is *always* honking all the time: honk to warn a pedestrian,
honk to preserve your territory, honk to get someone to speed up,
honk because you can.
I eventually got to HP (on Cunningham Road) at about 11:15.
Nice, modern building (completed 4 or 5 months ago). Inside, it felt
like the Telectro building in Guatemala City ...
some parts/fixtures/building-choices just didn't feel like the
same things you'd see in the U.S. There are
two elevators, right next to each other ... but they don't talk to
each other. Each has an separate call button. Pressing the left one
talks to the left elevator. Pressing the right one talks to the right
elevator. Why? No one knows. Will it be fixed? Probably not.
Inside, the HP offices look like they were transplanted from Cupertino,
(even the pillars are numbered, ala Cupertino) although
in a room about 1/4 the size of, say, building 47. The building
has 6 floors (0 (ground), 1, ..., 5). At least 0 through 4 seem to be
all HP. (And, HP has a couple of other buildings nearby.)
Everyone has a workstation in their cubicle, although some are old
... but they still work fine. There are a lot of 3000s around.
My cubicle has a 715/70, a very dirty keyboard (note: pack keyboard
cleaning pads next time), 5 bottles of mineral water for my use,
and a phone.
[As I write this, someone, somewhere, has a tinny "Jingle Bells" playing
... wait ... Raman says: oh, that's a car with a backup warning sound ...
I guess they had some ability to tailor what sound the car makes when
backing up. Yes, Virginia, technology *can* be misused!]
I was introduced to everyone on the fourth floor ...
and remembered two names, tops. I accused Deva, who
was taking me around, of repeating some cubicles. I'd guess that the
group is about 1/3 female, 2/3 male.
Two engineers took me to lunch, at a restaurant named "The Chimney".
There was absolutely no clue from the outside that the restaurant
was ostensibly a Chinese restaurant. However, the menu was 1/2
Indian food, 1/2 Chinese (which I'm told is usual, for "Chinese"
restaurants). So, I had Chicken Tikka Masala, which was good
(and basically the same as versions in California).
At 2PM, I found that I was scheduled to deliver a lecture on "Design
of OS", which was supposed to be a "how would you design an OS".
About thirty people were waiting, expectantly.
Wow! I winged it convincingly, apparently. I even pulled in
Burroughs B6700 MCP, Amiga, Mac OS, and other operating systems as examples.
After a session discussing KSAM/iX internals, I spent some brief
time with Vasu (Table Management), who said (within the first minute)
something like "thanks, I really needed to know that" (although I forgot
what it was about, now). Then, within a couple of minutes I'd shown
a couple of engineers how to see DB-relative things when in split-stack
in CM mode (apparently, Debug has a bug in this area) ... so I had two
quick "it's valuable to have you here" hits, which was gratifying.
I had dinner with Ganapati, one of the programmers.
He showed me a popular shopping street, and discussed which shops were
good for what products.
After dinner, he insisted on getting an auto taxi (3 wheeler) for me
at a "good" rate. Officially, the auto taxis operate with a meter,
which charges a (to us) tiny amount per kilometer. However,
the auto drivers seem to sense when it's a sellers market, and will
refuse to take rides "on the meter", and insist on bargaining a set
fare that's double or triple (or more) the ordinary cost.
Ganapati wasn't about to let me pay 50 rupees for what should be a
15 rupee trip, so we talked to and rejected about 20 taxis before
we found one that would do "meter + 5 rupees", which came out to 20
rupees. And so, I got back to the hotel without further adventure.
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