From Bangalore to Pune to Mumbai to London

Pune is about 70 minutes away from Bangalore, southeast of Mumbai. It used to be called “Poona” and is a regional IT centre. The plane trip from Bangalore was in a puddle jumper but they _still_ served a full meal _and_ cleared it away in 70 minutes.

I was met by an extraordinarily handsome man from the company that commissioned me to do the courses–if I had been free to do so and I’d thought he’d accept I’d certainly have propositioned him–he was about 6′ 1 or 2″ tall, olive-coloured skin, slim. Yum, yum. But, it was all business.

I ended up in the Hotel President in Pune. The room was better than Bangalore’s Hotel Ramanashree’s room, but there was no wi-fi (they suggested I use my MODEM, fergawdssake!) and no fridge. The food was better, though. South Indian food is predominantly vegetarian, with a bit of chicken on the side (sounds like Michael Jackson’s life, doesn’t it…) Dal is ubiquitous, as are various vegetable stews, lemon pickle (I had it with every meal except breakfast…I’m certain my blood pressure hasn’t recovered yet), and paratha bread. Use the bread to dip into the stew or dal, but not with your left hand–custom dictates that this is unsanitary.

The course consisted of 18 people, and was a rerun of the Bangalore one. But logistics was again a problem. There were never enough copies of the course material to go around, the projector and my laptop refused to cooperate to show the slides correctly, two days the course was on the first floor and the last day it was in the banquet room. The Indians are very much a hot-climate people in that the ones I encountered didn’t seem fazed by changes, difficulties, or absences of things they needed. They just waited around for the difficulty to be dealt with. Of course, Anglo-Saxon me was reduced to a gibbering wreck when things didn’t turn out as I was told they were to be.

I did no sightseeing, as there didn’t seem to be much to see in Pune. The South India guidebook didn’t even have it listed. So I stayed in my room watching BBC World (what a waste of electrons–the same news and features endlessly repeated all week. But, I was desperate for some news as the Indian papers are like American ones; they are little concerned about foreign news except sports news), drinking 660 mL of Kingfisher or Fosters each night with my dinner, and doing Sudoku puzzles. There were power cuts every day, of two to five minutes’ duration. I nearly got stuck in an elevator during one.

The staff were very eager to please. The first day there, I needed some laundry done, so I followed instructions and put it in the laundry bag with an inventory sheet. It arrived at the end of the day, laundered and pressed. The next day I returned to my room after lunch and discovered that the jeans and polo shirt I’d folded to await my trip home had just disappeared along with my undies and socks from the previous day. I hadn’t asked for them to be washed, but washed they were. Not only that, the laudryman ran down the hall with another bag and wanted to remove all my clean shirts from the closet to wash them as well. With difficulty, I persuaded him that they weren’t in need of cleaning and he left.

It’s monsoon season, so every day waves of rain battered at the hotel windows. I didn’t even go out. I wonder how the denizens of Pune keep from becoming mounts of mould each summer.

So the last day came, and the students were sitting their exam, under an invigilator who was an absolute mess. He couldn’t have grabbed his ass with both hands. I was supposed to have a social hour/meeting with the head of the company that brought me to India, but this was cut short. Instead of leaving at 6:30, I had to leave at 4:30, because a religious procession would bring most traffic in Pune to a standstill. So I checked out, went to the company’s office (in a somewhat run-down office building with rutted earth streets in front) and had a cup of tea with them. There may be more work coming my way there.

The handsome man, the driver, and I then set off for Mumbai by car. After getting out of Pune, we finally got on the Mumbai expressway. It’s as good as or better than many highways we have here in the UK. The scenery was beautiful: the expressway is surrounded by mountains, and in the monsoon season (June through August) they are cloud-shrouded, and little waterfalls course down their sides to end up in the drainage ditch next to the highway. Sometimes we dipped under a mountain into a tunnel, picture and videos of which are strictly prohibited by the government. We stopped at the rest-stop and had sweet lime juice and pastry, while sheltered from the monsoon. It took us about 2 hours to get to the outskirts of Mumbai and another 2 to get to the airport. My handsome guide got out and wished me good luck, I tipped the driver 100 rupees (about GBP 1.20) and I was left at the airport.

I met a businessman in my line of work in the queue for the x-ray machine (it’s do-it-yourself x-ray for checked baggage) and we propped up the bar with some good Ould English G&Ts while we talked about outsourcing, integration testing, and the perils of bidding for government contract, until the plane started to load at 2:10 am.

So I’m back in London now, with a touch of delhi belly that just might be joy at returning. I’m pretty certain that I’ll be asked back.

4 Responses to “From Bangalore to Pune to Mumbai to London”

  1. spwebdesign says:

    I’d never heard it called delhi bellu before! Hope it passes quickly (no pun intended).

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    Unfortunately, it’s not passing quickly…I awoke at 3:30 am and had just enough time to dash for the loo. Taken another immodium and we’ll see what happens. I’ve figured out what it was. On the expressway from Pune to Mumbai we stopped at a rest stop, and I had a pastry and a lime juice. I assumed the lime juice was from a can, but I expect that it was mixed with the local water. Oh, crumbs! Let your guard down for a moment and you’ll get clobbered.

    Anyway, I shall have to rest and stay near the loo today and we’ll reevaluate. I have a scheduled appointment with my GP on Monday and perhaps she can give me some stuff to fix it (if, God forbid, it’s still a problem!)

  3. anonymous says:

    Yeah, when I read that you stopped at a rest stop for lime juice, my first thought was, “Wow, he’s being brave!” I hope you start to feel better soon!

  4. spwebdesign says:

    Yeah, when I read that you stopped at a rest stop for lime juice, my first thought was, “Wow, he’s being brave!” I hope you start to feel better soon!