This morning we met in 711 (team room) along with other teams (except for Cathy, Kazu and Eduardo who had to go do a client presentation). We discussed our projects and finalized our SOW objectives and planned the work for the upcoming weeks. After work the team split up, 8 of us were departing for Shimla by van, 3 going to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and 1 staying back in Ludhiana. I was part of the Shimla trip. The van was comfortable and the drive up to the mountains relatively uneventful (except for a stop at McDonalds, which none of us were crazy about)…. but then the fun began.
We arrived at foot of the mountains when it was dark. The road was turn after turn, all cars were on high beams, there were people, monkeys, scooters and oncoming traffic of course. This did not seem to faze anyone as they were all still passing, even on the turns not knowing what is around the corner. We stopped once for chai, and then continued to the Royal Oaks Hotel in Shimla. We got there around 10 and by that time it was very cold. To our surprise the rooms were also cold. Apparently most hotels there do not have central heating and we were offered heaters instead (they were not hot enough though). Since it was too late to go out and eat we just took out all our snacks and made a “snack buffet” out of one of the tables. We warmed up with some drinks and went to sleep under very thick blankets.
This morning it was back to the project work at hand, and off to the office after a quick breakfast. We arrived at the office and prepared for our meeting with the District Head, Mr. Bharatdeep. We were presenting out current status and asking for some more answers and documentation. We finished the presentation and went for a late lunch down the street for some local street food. I had the paneer pizza which was quite good. The meeting in the afternoon went well and we got further direction on our SOW (Scope of Work). There was some recognition at the office today as an employee from finance was recognized with a special achievement award. We got to take pictures together and also everyone in the office had pizza!!! (wish I would have known this before lunch 🙂 .
After work there was a bit of a mix-up with the car and we didn’t get back to the hotel until after 7pm. Two other teams were already gone to an outing at the Brewmaster. We met with those who remained in 711 and discussed the day, updated the blogs, and caught up on emails. We also discussed the community service day which is this Friday. We are all getting together and organizing an activities half-day for a local school. There will be group events, competition, possibly some sports, and prizes for the children!
No pictures from today as the camera battery was dead and I did not take the camera to work. But more coming soon! Check out the other team blogs for some updates as well!
It seems like late spring here in Ludhiana for the past few days. The day temperature is reaching 26 degrees Celsius with today being no exception. We departed for the office early morning and got right into work. We split the project into 3 parts and each one of us started working on their part. By late lunchtime we realized that we have worked throughout the whole morning and one of our Bharti colleagues made sure to mention that we should have taken a chai brake. We went for lunch to the usual spot which is the same as previous day.
After lunch we continued our work and left the office at the end of the day. There was some traffic disruptions today (CM visit?) and we were waiting a bit for our driver. We asked to be dropped off at a super market on the way back. There we bought educational aids, erasers, markers, crayons and candy for children at the schools we visited and also some things for the children taking part in the community service engagement this Friday. We got back to the hotel and went out to eat at a local outdoor Dhaba.
After the Dhaba I went to pick up my jacket and shirt, and then came back to the hotel. Another late night, time to go to sleep as we have activities planned the rest of the week and weekend.
This morning we went into the Bharti Foundation office for some further work on the project. On the way to lunch we saw a very funny Ambulance as it was smaller than a mid-sized car.
We got a lot done at the office but were running into issues with the firewalls (a lot of things are blocked at the office) so we discussed working from the hotel on Thursday and Friday since part of our proposed solution needed to be researched on-line on sites we could not get to.
After work we got to try some of Pierre’s birthday cake that the hotel left for him in the morning, and I organized my “from Canada” pile of souvenirs I brought for the kids and for our clients.
After that it was Bhangra night!!! Today we had a “Bollywood” dancing lesson scheduled at Footloose. It was quite a bit more complicated then we assumed, but as a team we somehow managed. I must say that our CSC team is so incredibly well matched that I cannot imagine another team being the same. Maybe it’s just what every CSC team feels, but definitely we are all on the same page 99% of the time (which does not often happen with a team of 12!!).
After Bhangra we went for dinner to a south Indian restaurant at the Hyatt Regency. The food was good, but different from the Punjabi food we have been experiencing up until now.
After a long day we were glad to be back at the hotel and get some much needed sleep.
This morning we worked from the hotel. Since it was a holiday there were two other teams working from the hotel as well.
Maha Shivratri, the night of the worship of Lord Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. It falls on a moonless February night, when Hindus offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivratri (Sanskrit ‘ratri’ = night) is the night when he is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. The festival is observed for one day and one night only.
Due to this holiday we went to the Hindu temple to observe the ceremonies. The decorations were simply amazing and there were tons of people.
As the holiday is tied in with the “lord of destruction” we found it very fitting to be caught in one of the worst hail storms that Ludhiana has ever experienced. On the way back we drove in an auto-rickshaw through a river of water and ice all the way back to the hotel. We were very happy that we did not get stuck in a total flood, and that the vehicle we were in did not die.
Another great day full of experiences in Ludhiana.
Today was our community service day. The entire IBM CSC India 22 team headed over to Swabhimaan school to run a half day activity for the school children which included activities in English, memory games, physical education games, problem solving, and general education. We arrived at the school and divided all the children into teams. Then team by team the students went to different stations to complete an activity where they would get a stamp for completing it. At the end they were all rewarded with certificates and lollipops for their great efforts. They were very excited to have us there, and had a great time with my camera which I allowed them to use to take some pictures until the battery died.
After the community service we were taken for a late lunch, and then continued working at the hotel until quite late. After 8:30pm the team split up with some going to the local food spot across the street and some going to Brewmaster.
This morning the girls and guys split up to go shopping. Seems like the guys did more!! We went to the scarf place (Jay Jay’s Shawls) and then to Ghumar Mandi for some shopping. After that it was Fabindia to purchase some Kurtis and Indian clothes. We got caught in a rain storm but luckily found an auto rickshaw to take us back to the hotel. After coming back a few of the guys went to get spices and turbans for tonight’s celebrations. The turbans took longer than we thought, but it was worth the time. Coming back to the hotel all the staff were giving us thumbs up and high fives, and all the locals give us lots of smiles.
We have 2 bachelors who are getting married in a few months (Bernardo and Cristian) and also two birthday boys who have their birthday in February (Kazu and Pierre). We combined the parties into one big one, and what a party it was. We went to Baba’s Chicken, then back to the hotel, had a few drinks, and went to Neptune – the Hotel Lounge.
There we had a cake with our team photo on it thanks to Cathy, a few drinks, and Jaspreet showed us some really cool Michael Jackson moves in dancing. After all that fun we went back up to 711.
We managed to sneak a game of truth or dare into the mix, which was quite entertaining. I must confess that out team is just amazing. Not sure if all the CSC teams get perfectly matched like this, but we certainly did. Every single person is included in the activities and we have an amazing time together. GO INDIA CSC 22 TEAM!
The dare for Anneliese was to go and crash an Indian wedding!! Which is exactly what we did (as there is a wedding almost every day at the hotel). We went down and entered the room, it turned out they loved having us there! We danced and sang to the English songs that the DJ played. We showed off our Banghra moves and partied it up like the locals!! A great time was had by all.
Tomorrow … work catch up day for most of us… and shopping for the girls as they did not get enough today 🙂
Today we all slept in for the first time in many weeks. In the morning team members were catching up on blogs and on some work. Part of the group went to do some more shopping. In the afternoon Jaspreet came over to copy some pictures and also watch a bit of the India / Pakistan cricket game. In the late afternoon some of the team members went for another Banghra lesson.
This evening I planned out a part of my post CSC trip in India. I will be going to Agra (Taj Mahal), Jaipur and Varenasi with Kazu and Aneliesse. We will meet up with Cathy and her husband in Varanasi also. After that flying to Mumbai with Aneliesse and meeting up with Shruti, Dimitri and his friend. That’s as far as the plans go now. After Mumbai it will most likely be Nepal.
Early rise and to the office (only two of the three as Bernardo was not feeling well). We were hoping to do our “almost final” presentation to the local office on Wednesday, but it turned out that the schedule was accelerated a bit and we had to do it today. It obviously was not done, but we showed what we had so far and the presentation went well. We worked till the end of the day at which time we had a surprise. Since Mr. Pankaj (one of the key people who was working with us) was going away that evening for a few days they threw us a mini good-bye party in the cafeteria.
There were very touching speeches from the office friends we have made over the weeks, which made us feel really thankful for the opportunity we had to share this experience. We had delicious cake, and we also received very nice framed pictures of the golden temple. Unfortunately Bernardo wasn’t here to see it but I recorded it for him.
After work we picked up some flowers, juice, and chocolate covered fruit and headed for dinner to the residence of Mr. Kumar (Swabhimaan). The trip there was an adventure, the auto-rickshaw driver (as usual) missed the neighborhood completely, and when we finally steered him to it he raced around not even trying to find the number. By the way the numbers here are crazy. There is a neighborhood, no street names though, and there are numbers which don’t seem to follow a steady pattern. They can be going up on one side of the street, then down on the other, and sometimes the numbers will just “randomly” turn into a street…sometimes left, sometimes right.
The dinner was delicious and the host very gracious. After dinner some people sang, and then we took pictures and went back to the hotel.
We got to the office in the morning. We had 4 big gift bags of gifts for the four schools we visited and also many small ones for our friends at the office. I picked up pictures we had left for printing the day before as well. The whole day was spent hard at work, we barely had time for lunch. At the end of the day we invited everyone to the cafeteria and thanked everyone and presented them with bags which had mostly souvenirs from the countries we came from (Brazil, Canada, Italy). We once again thanked everyone and were in turn thanked, and we departed the office for the last time.
In the evening we were invited by the hotel manager, Mr. Ram Kaushik for drinks at the Neptune lounge on the 6th floor, and after that for dinner at the hotel restaurant. We got to meet the heads of the hotel departments and thank them very much for such great service during our stay.
After the restaurant we had a debrief session with Shruti (Pyxera) and got to share some very valuable and honest feedback about the logistics, the assignments, Ludhiana, and generally everything related to our CSC adventure. It was a late night and we went to sleep after 1am. Tomorrow we depart for Gurgoan.