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Impressions: India trip

We (I, Veena, Akriti and Unnati) spent most of August in India, enjoying vacation from work and other professional activities. We shopped, spent time together, roamed-around and visited family members, relatives and friends at Patna and Bangalore. Some impressions, in no particular order:

  1. [PATNA] ATM and Banking: There were hardly any ATMs and personalized bank branches in Patna at the time of my last visit. This time, it was different. There were SBI ATMs everywhere and these were in heavy demand. Though, SBI ATMs didn't accept my WellsFargo ATM card. However, simple query at a personal banking branch of SBI directed me to ICICI bank ATM next door, where my card worked without any problems, dispensing crisp 500 Rs. notes. On top, the exchange rate was better than what I would have got from Thomas Cook by selling dollar notes. I was impressed. My credit cards also worked, but these purchases in most stores (whereever available) incurred an extra 3%.
  2. [PATNA] Electrical appliances and Japanese brands: Need a Refrigerator? -- buy Samsung. Need a TV? -- buy Sony. Need an Airconditioner? -- buy Hitachi. Indian brands, such as VOLTAS and GODREJ, were nowhere to be seen.
  3. [PATNA, BANGALORE] Internet Access: I had real tough time getting onto the Internet and do something useful. Cyber cafes at Patna consisted of tiny (and hot!) cabins with very small monitors running an obsolete version of IE (which was not able to access my Inboxes at aoindustries.com -- I believe the problem was that it required 128 bit SSL connections!). I was later told that these cabins are used more as real chat rooms by willing friends of opposite sexes than virtual chat rooms.

    I upgraded the browser of the computer at my in-laws place but the connection was very slow most of the time.

    Bangalore was much better. Still I spent most of my time staring at browser status line counting how many more items were yet to be downloaded.

  4. [PATNA] Great family reunion: It was a great to actually have all surviving members of 4 generations together at one place, starting with my maternal grand-ma, the only surviving member of that generation, my parents, all my siblings and their spouses and their children. In fact, I met some of the members for the first time during this trip.
  5. [PATNA, BANGALORE] Weather: Initial few days at Patna were very hot. Unnati got boils all over her body. We spent a night at my sister's place (which had an AC room) and a couple of nights at my in-laws place (which also had an AC room). In the meanwhile, I got a Hitachi AC installed at our room. Though by that time the weather had changed and we didn't really need the AC. Bangalore was a welcome change with much more acceptable temperature.
  6. [PATNA] The booming kidnapping industry: Law and order situation was never great in Bihar but recent years seem to see the worst. Many news reports of kidnapped people returning home during my brief stay without the kidnappers actually being caught. Sure sign that kidnappers got the ransom they asked for. Well-off people (doctors, business men, ...) seem to live in constant fear.
  7. [BANGALORE] The FM Radio: This has really caught on with Bangloreans. You listen to it not only in cars but also at public places. The voice was clear and tone very friendly. I also liked their choice of songs.
  8. [BANGALORE] Traffic lights with a timer: I really liked this. You are at a red light waiting to move but with no idea how long you may have to wait. But worry not. There is a light post with a timer just next to the red light, showing how many more minutes to go before the red light turns into amber and then into green. Though it is another matter that if the junction is being redone to give way for a fly-over then you may have to wait for two-three cycles of traffic light.
  9. [BANGALORE] Deserted Parks: One thing that really confounded me was that there were hardly any people in the public parks. We (I and Srinivasu) went to Cubbon park with Akriti, Unnati, Soumaya and Pawan on a Saturday evening and it was almost empty. Another day, we went to the FUN WORLD (Palace grounds) and we first though it must be closed as there were hardly any people and most of the rides were not running.
  10. Books: I find vacation time best for reading non-professional literature. Low cost Indian editions also help. So I purchased and read some of the titles from my wish list: Who moved my cheese?, Rich Dad Poor Dad and Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The last one had some good insights. In fact, I was beginning to think that everything that Veena didn't like, she blamed on me. So, I should actually credit this book for better understanding among us.
  11. [PATNA, BANGALORE] Meeting Friends: This was the high point of our stay at Bangalore. At Patna, I could meet only one friend: Dr. Diwakar Teajaswi, a school time friend. At Bangalore, I met Srinivasu (& Laxmi, Pawan, Soumaya), Sanjay Tambwekar (& Subhangi and their son), Vibha and MD Ramaswamy, Balki, Rajnish (and family), Gautam (and family), Ravi Trivedi, Pankaj Kothari, Murali and spoke to Subrata, Nimish, Mahadevan, John Serrao, Ash T., Vinaya, RK Mishra (who actually thought that I have been laid off and returned to Bangalore for good) and many others. Most of them are doing very well professionally.

All in all, we all had a great time in India.

Comments (1)

Atul Kharabe:

Hello Pankaj,

I am not sure if we know each other. But I do happen to know Sanjay Tambwekar, who was my classmate at IIT-Bombay. Hence would like to request you to give me Sanjay's email address and contact number. Please do oblige.

Thanks in anticipation,

- Atul Kharabe


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