Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Now Working Somewhere Else

So, I've been assigned to an office in Thane, to work on a large telecom project. There is a corporate bus that facilitates transportation, and it is a lot less full than the city's. The site is very nice, with ACed newer buildings, plants, etc.

Still, transportation is a pain. The morning ride is OK, the return one is another story. There is TRAFFIC in Powai like you wouldn't believe it. It feels like it'd be faster walking, but it is still faster than walking. I'm trying to learn which stop to take and which city bus to take from there, so that I don't waste too much money on rickshaws.
I had midweek and Sunday services in a house church. We stayed and sung songs with a guitar after. Then I was invited to lunch by the hosting couple. Later, I spoke with a brother and asked him to be my discipling partner.
Things are still not 'in place' spiritually, but are improving. I invited someone to church this Sunday, and I had a Bible study today, thanks to circumstances beyond my control. God is really helping me put things in place.
Saturday, I spent a lot of time in Hiranandani. I bought 2 shirts and I failed to get my laundry done: the place refused to take more laundry orders... come back next week they say! I went to Mocha, a coffee shop with low-speed wireless internet. Better than nothing, I got to upload pictures. I also found a place that allows me to call to Canada for pretty cheap. I got to take a few apointments for Saturday in the early evening!

Oritel and Surroundings

Monday, August 20, 2007

Will Help HOPE a Little Bit, and Other News

Hello all!

So, I went to one of the HOPE locations in Andheri East today. It was a bit of a mess to get there (I wasn't organized) but I should be fine in the future.

They have 5 computers and they teach Microsoft Office, as well as some conversational English.
I had a discussion with the HOPE leader for India, and he told me that one of their big needs was on digitization and reporting. They need to report regularly to their sponsors, and they need to be able to show their success stories.
I'll build them a simple solution using Access. Nothing too complicated, but something that will save them from having thousands of Word documents with unmanageable data.

On the way back, I saw a couple cows and dogs munching on a pile of garbage. Other street sights of before: a dog in a puddle of muddy water in the middle of the street, bathing and drinking. A procession of cows and ox in the middle of the street, some goats tied together to a pole, on the roadside. Lots of stray dogs. Stray dogs sleeping in the middle of the way at the train station. The sewage is carried not in pipes, but in canals by the road side, etc.

My mom asked me if there were a lot of polution... the answer is: yes, you'll see it, you'll smell it, and its likely that you'll touch it too.

I finally started taking photos. I'll put them online soon. Getting the files to the hotel's computer is a bit of an hassle.

Other than that, I went to church yesterday, and to their Men of God and Women of God meeting. We played some team game, and then there was an exortation to do something that brings us out of our comfort zone this week. I know that being here was already something, but I'm thinking of something more discomforting... I'll let you know about it.

Its weird being at church... everyone comes to introduce themselves to you. You're kind of a star. Many don't even speak English, or barely do. It was a bit hard to have a conversation with anyone. One thing that was true from what a brother told me is the men/women divide. Girls on their side, guys on theirs... very little mixing. There is one sister (for sure) and maybe a second one with whom I did more than introducing myself. That's good in a sense, since I was challenged to focus on building strong bonds with brothers.

Before that, I met a brother at Mumbai Central station and we went shopping... except for the fact that the mall was closed. So, we went to the Hadji Ali instead... Many people, hindus too, come to this Muslim holy site. It is built on the Arabian Sea, and it has a little bridge going there.

On Friday, I had news from my allocation: I'll be going to either Mumbai or Chennai. So, there is some progress. The sad news is that I won't be in their eSecurity team, which I would have been perfect for. It turns out that they have some kind of policy in place that says that I should be put to customer billable functions. So the security job is gone. Anyway, they know that I like design, and they're working on putting me on a new project, so that I can have a chance of contributing at that level, which is welcomed... I don't feel like starting my career as a maintainer.

Other news, I have a cold. My troat is sore, and my noze is leaking fluid like crazy. Nothing too bad, I bought some medicine from one of the many "druggist" close to the hotel.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Things Unclogging

Registration at FRRO: done
Employee number: finally got it
Bank account: done
Cellphone: got it!
Corporate ID Card: will nag for it
Corporate email: idem

Seriously, things are slow. I spend my day reading some policies, etc. I'm waiting for my allocation, and I have a huge checklist of things to do, and the HR people have too much things to do anyway, so its a time of self-directed study.

I did not go hiking in the end, it got canceled. A brother got me to a shopping mall (Hiranandani Mall) and I bought my cellphone at the D-Mart. That's the big thing. I can communicate now!!!

I met some brothers today who advised me on evangelism. There is a big risk I run in trouble if I preach or do cold contact. So be it. Nevertheless, I'm still a disciple. That means "team effort"... I'm going to have to let the others do Bible studies and so on... my role is to bring people in. So shall it be.

Keep me in your prayers. I try to pray as much as I can in the bus, and I do get Bible reading done, to a certain extent, but no real quiet time. I'm going to set my alarm clock earlier. God willing, it'll work out this time.

The big things for me is that I bought some food at a local grocery store, and that I took the bus to Sakinaha, then the rickshaw, which a) saves some money, but more importantly b) give me some feeling of independence. And that is a very good feeling to have, knowing that you are not at the mercy of some illiterate driver or the hotel staff for your basic needs. The honeymoon phase of culture shock didn't really happen to me, and I'm in a hurry to feel comfortable around here!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Indian Update

Letting you know what happened to me

Sunday: went to church, attended the leader's meeting, hung out with a brother. All was good.
Monday: first day of work, spent mostly registering at the Foreigners Regional Resitration Office. Got a cellphone SIM card, but not the cellphone (the store guy didn't know his phones)
Tuesday: second day of work, reading stuff in the HR training system (I'm so applying for six sigma certification! CISSP maybe, if I can) and getting the bank account done, then eating out with colleagues, forgot to buy the cellphone.
Wednesday: that is today, Independance Day. At 60, India has been independent longer than Canada (we're 25), and much longer than Quebec (we're at -X). I'm going out on a hike in New Bombay (Navi Mumbai) with brothers and sisters. Maybe a shopping mall will be done and I'll be able to do my shopping.

How do I feel? I'm not sure. The transportation have frustrated me. Rickshaw is expensive, since the apartment is far from everything, and that the buses pack up very quick. The train ride is the same in second class, and less bad in first class. I live far from work, so that's 4 hours of transportation a day. A very temporary arangement.

Besides the frustation, I try to remain humble... my forefathers could not have imagined their descendant seeing what I see.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Start of the Indian Adventure

Oh boy. There was no other way to make this real that what happened.

Don't worry, nothing was stolen, and I'm safe.

I left on Tuesday at 8:45 PM or so, and I arrived in Mumbai at 23:00. Getting everything done before leaving was a marathon in itself! By the time I was out of the airport, it was 23:30.
There are a fair share of armed soldiers at the airport, and a LOT of people.

My welcoming party wasn't there. So I had to take the prepaid taxi to where I was hoping I'd stay. Why was I hoping it? Because there was a miscommunication in the past, which I cleared before leaving. The driver didn't know where the place was, and he had to ask for directions a few times over.

The way there was something. Dogs on the streets, a taxi blocking the way, the smell of garbage, non-asphalted sections, etc. I was thinking that the guy was bringing me to the wrong place and that I'd get everything stolen... not so. This is a neighborhood in expansion. A lot of construction. Its apparently hard to keep track of the new hotels and stuff. What doesn't help is that addresses as you know them don't exist here. Even the building where I work, in the nicest part of town, doesn't have an address. The address of where I live is ... close to the TATA Symphony.

We finally find it, I tell my driver to go to the place, and he wasn't even sure that it was the right place. The fact that he barely spoke English didn't help make things better. The taxi was old, small, and looked like it was self-destruct, just like the rest of the taxis in the parking lot at the airport. Still, that taxi looked a lot better than many rikshas

We arrived and two security guards asked me who I was and which company I was from, and I showed them an email I had printed. Thank God for my annoying habit of having plan A and plan B in place.
I share a room there with a Mexican dude. The breakfast is provided, we have a loud TV in the main hall, with a swimming pool at the back. The place has high walls and security guards.

Behind the building, there is a construction side. In between, there are some bidonvilles (shantytown), shelters built out of whatever people can find. Not a lot of them, just a line between the two buildings.
This morning, it is raining, and some people are washing outside, and we can see them.
I have the loud TV annoying me, a copy of the Hindustan Times at my door, a breakfast waiting for me, and I'm using some kind of old computer in the hall that doesn't have more than 256 color on its display.
But seriously, this is nearly luxury.

I didn't think that it'd be so real, so quick, but it is. What most people home would describe a dump (remember, my shower is bucket), is actually a pretty nice place here.

Please come back often as I will document my adventures here. God willing, they will be many, but will be nice ones.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Preparations, Wedding

After the seafood galore in Moncton, I was back in the real world in Montreal.
My travel plans are falling in place, and I'm getting things readier and readier for my departure.

I watched a lot more of Jericho. I love that show!!!

On Sunday, I was gone all day. Two good friends were getting married in Chambly, by the waterside. The bride was gorgeous, the groom pretty sharp. The setting was wonderful, the reception without reproach. I enjoyed this very much. Even the traditional form of the wedding didn't bother me all that much.

I'm super glad for both of them!

The Miniature Earth

This video makes the world's statistics on poverty very tangible. It is touching.