July, 2007

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A whole week.. in a couple of words

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

So here is my “catch-up” post for almost a whole week. There haven’t been much adventures during the week this time. I think I got the “get all the fun upfront” package or something.
Anyways, I wanted to share some photos and stories from the last weekend here, it was almost the same as the weekend before.
do all the site-seeing on Saturday, meet up with friends Saturday night and spend Sunday relaxing, not doing much.

So Saturday morning, at noon Sangeeth met me at the hotel, he was going to be my tourguide for the day. The plan was to visit Golconda fort, then on to the Qutb Shahi Tombs, and finally to the Salarjung Museum..

Starting off at the fort probably set the tone for the day, walking in there you enter through a gate where when you clap in the entrance, it can be heard all the way at the top of the fort. You can see the entrance right by my right chest in this picture:

the little white building with the high arches. What would happen is: someone would enter the fort, either a guest, a friend, an enemy and they would signal from down there to the top (where the king lived) that someone was there by clapping. (all this information was shared with my by our guide that we had.. if he lied.. I’m lying)
This is pretty amazing for a building that’s about 7 / 800 years old! they figured out how sound would travel and exactly which spot you had to stand to listen to it. If you step more than 4 feet away from the spot, you don’t hear a thing.

The fort had both Muslim as well as Hindu people living in it, so it has both a temple as well as a mosk in the walls of the fort.

Attached are some more pics of the fort:

After the fort we went to the tombs, I have a ton of pictures of those as well, but here is one of my favorites of one of them.

At the museum we just admired the huge collection of things that are there, from different times as far back as 1st and 2nd century! No photography was allowed there, so unfortunately I can’t share any pictures with all of you.

As for my adventures on Sunday… I’ll tell you in person! It was a very mellow day, went out for lunch with my new friend Kate, watched Formula 1 in an english pub (10 Downing Street) and just had a blast doing pretty much nothing all day.

As for right now, I am writing this while I am chilling out in an airport lounge in Singapore, just took a two hour nap here and almost getting ready to get back on a plane.. On to the next 16 hours of flight!

Total travel time to get home… I started Thursday night India time at 8pm, I’ll be arriving in San Francisco Saturday morning 8:00 am (India time… 7:30 PM San Francisco time)

Live from Singapore, this is Iwan van der Schoor… for you guys.. see you soon!

modes of transportation

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

During my stay here I’ve been using a personal driver, like many people traveling here do.
As of this week, I figured I had to broaden my experience in getting around town.
After a week of navigating around in a car, my co workers told me on Tuesday that I had to experience the other way of getting around town, the auto

The view from inside this tiny vehicle:

We went for lunch to a restaurant called Ginger Garden in this little vehicle, the rules are if you are going less than 2 kilometers, it’s a “share”, otherwise it’s “for hire”

Share means that whoever needs a ride as well, can jump in, as long as there is room.

Then today.. the thing that I’ve been amazed about the most, all the motorcycles. It looks like EVERYONE has one here, and so do two of my co-workers in the office, so we figured we’d go for lunch at the Oracle HQ cafetaria and take the bike..
So here we go:

Even with traffic as crazy as it is here, there is no helmet law for passengers. If the driver is not wearing his helmet, it’s a Rs 500 fine (about $ 12). I guess that’s not too much money here, cause I see more people without one than with one.

As a final picture, I attached a photo of the office I am currently working in, Cyber Towers in Hi-Tec City Hyderabad.

3 days.. 3 accidents

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Alright.. so here I am, back from being in hiding in Hyderabad, and how exciting was my “being away” time.. well, let’s just say it was interesting.

So my last post talked about what happened Saturday during the day.. the well known “things to do in Hyderabad”. Saturday night turned a bit different than I expected…

After I finished sharing my adventures for the day with all of you, I went back downstairs to the hotel restaurant for some dinner, and a drink (or two) in the bar.

So as they say, no shit there I was.. while I was enjoying my dinner, there was some singing going on in the bar.. well.. I’d normally refer to it as strangling cats and truly destroying some good old american love ballads by two singers dressed as “ladies of the night”. Since I probably wasn’t the only one that was disturbed by their singing, they closed the bar doors and everyone in the restaurant could enjoy dinner again, without being worried their wine / water glasses would break from the terrible singing. Examples of songs they absolutely distroyed: Dancing Queen (Abba), No Angel (Dido), I want to know what love is (Foreigner), and the list goes on and on and on..

Anyways, I figured since the bar was filling up pretty good, I’d just get another drink and try to block out the singing and have a good time in the hotel bar.
The ladies were working the crowd pretty good, and that’s where I realized, they weren’t just dressed as ladies of the night…. the dj was “the boss” so to speak, I was wondering why they were so eager to get men dancing, and climbing all over them at the bar.

In the bar is where I met my new friends, Miss Kate and Miss Natasha, two English ladies that live in Hyderabad for work, and after talking for a while they invited me along to one of the nightclubs here in Hyderabad (.. nightclubs??)
So there I am, 10:30pm at night, in a booming nightclub in Hyderabad, this was the last I expected out here! Of course there was a catch to this whole thing… the club closes down at midnight sharp. I had just ordered some more drinks from the bar (at 11:59pm) and I am standing there talking to my brand new friend from the UK when she yells at me.. “put your beer down!!!”
WHAT??? My motto has always been, leave no soldier behind, and I am sure not to leave a half empty beer in a bar! Well.. good thing I listened, cause here comes the police.. and no kidding, they arrest whoever is still drinking, or even holding a drink! What a buzz kill that is, ending up in jail in India after a nice night out.

Anyways, I look at my watch and figure.. hmm.. this is going to be an early one I guess, but none of that. Some of my friends’ friends are having an after party and we end up at a location somewhere else in the city in a waterpark.. I guess they bribed the security guards, drove in a bunch of beer and other alcoholic beverages and a dj, and off we go. In between waterslides and pools here we are partying with about 60 / 70 people in the middle of the city until 4 AM..

On to the accidents..

On Sunday my friends pick me up to go for lunch at the Mariott, people here generally don’t drive themselves (at least foreigners like myself and my friends don’t) so here come my friends with their driver to pick me up.
On the way to the Mariott on one of the many busy intersections of Hyderabad I have my first accident experience. As Miss Kate asks me: is this your first accident? yup.. well.. she warns me I’ll experience a bunch more in the next couple of weeks (and is she right!!)
After a 3 hour lunch it’s on to the mall for some shopping and then we somehow end up in a bar in the mall that we don’t leave till about 8pm (the end of happy hour) and on back to the hotel for some dinner.. cause after a long day like that, you need more food!

As the title of my posts says 3 accidents, 3 days.. the first was on Sunday, the second monday morning on the way to work, and the third.. this morning (Tuesday morning) on the way to work as well.. if it goes on like this, I might have a record number of accidents on my list before heading back to the US later next week! So far I’ve had one in my whole life, now I’m up to 4 just because of the last three days.

In case you are worried.. the accidents weren’t much worse than fender-benders, but it is totally hilarious to see how they are taken care of when they happen:

1. Accident happens
2. both drivers get out and scream at each other
3. both drivers look at their cars.. damage? more screaming.. no damage? ok.. handshake and on they go..

Off to get some work done now.. more stories and pictures tomorrow or tonight!!

For family and friends, this is Iwan van der Schoor live from Hyderabad. Have a good night, day.. wherever you may be..