30 March 2012

SFFS: A Snippet from "Deadly Decisions"

Welcome to another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday here on the blog (and make sure to go visit all of the other SFFS writers through that link). To celebrate the break-through on my recent round of writer's block (or whatever you want to call it) by way of a new Kasey Reynolds story, I'm going to be offering up snippets from her other stories over the next few weeks.

Who's Kasey Reynolds? Those who've read my story "Entrapment" know already...but let's just say she and Aston don't really get along all that well.

And in this story "Deadly Decisions", she's trying to find her way in a new career foreign to her...and meeting up with someone has her with one hand on a holstered scattergun, if that tells you anything about the people she's dealing with...

“Come now, Kasey. We both know why you might not have shown.”

She went along with the charade. “Oh?”

“You’ve made a career out of bringing in criminals, dead or alive. If this room found out who you are, let’s just say you wouldn’t have a lot of fans.”

Kasey laced her fingers around the grip and trigger. “Hopefully I don’t have anything to worry about.”

His eyes sparkled, then he gave a brief chuckle. “No, I need you alive.”

If you enjoyed this, check out "Deadly Decisions" and all of my short stories! And be on the lookout next week for yet another appearance from Kasey...

Bangalore or Bust: A Travel Log (Day 8)

Author's note: For the next several weeks, I'll be posting tidbits of a travel log, which I kept during a two-week business trip (the reason I was in sporadic contact with the world recently). Enjoy!

For those who haven't yet seen the other posts in this travel log, check them out:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

(And again, if you're interested in seeing more photos than I'm providing, check out one of my co-workers' blogs from the same trip)

Day 8, Thursday (3/1):

Another day in Bangalore traffic is about the same as the rest, and off to work we went. Part of my duties while I’m over here is to provide a set of training modules for our team. Well, it started out as just my team. Then, on my first day back (Monday), I find out from my boss that his boss has asked that another group (in another area under the big boss’ purview) sit in on the training modules. The more, the merrier, I suppose.

Well, when I finally get in there (yesterday) to have the first class, it starts out okay, but then people start showing up. Turns out a third group decided they wanted to join as well. Without going into the nitty, gritty details, I really didn’t understand how the training I was giving even applied to this third group, but proceeded to carry on with the session. Lots of vacant stares in that group, but all in all, I thought it went pretty well. I noticed today, while giving the second training session, that the third group didn’t bother stopping by. Apparently, they must have realized what I had figured out the previous day.

I also discovered that the fabric I bought over the weekend CAN in fact be tailored into a Saree (Sari?) in Wichita, so one last crisis averted [Note from the author: It turned out the fabric was not actually long enough to fabricate the wrap and the blouse out of for my wife, so additional material has to be purchased here in the States for the latter]. And I realized that my stockpile of clothing was getting a bit low, so had to put some laundry through the system here. With the prices listed on the form, I have a feeling they know the captive audience they have here at the hotel, and are doing their best to be good little capitalists.

During the long drive back through traffic, I began wondering whether our driver had ever considered a career in Nascar or Formula One racing…

Today, I also discovered an extra vase full of many different flowers (I’m sure my allergies are going to love them), one step up from just the flower petals in the bathroom. Apparently, this is what happens when you tip the housekeeper. One of our other team members on the trip wrote thank you notes to the housekeeper and ended up with flower petals on his made-up bed. I warned him he might want to watch out, or he might end up with an extra guest accompanying him back the States…

Thankfully, only had flowers strewn about the room...no extra guests, wives or housekeepers came back with me.
The highlight of the day, however, was after work, when the group (and some of our Indian team members) took a trip to the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Bangalore, which happened to be just down the street a half-mile or so (although it seemed like a lot longer walk than that). I can’t even remember the last time I visited one of these places, but think it may have been in Orlando, during the summer of 1992. For those who don’t want to do the math in their head, that’s twenty years between visits. Was I really missing much?

Recall that Bangalore has been trying to change its name back to the original Indian "Bengaluru"

The building which housed the place was apparently an old library, built of huge stones. Overall it looked great. Unfortunately, we’d inadvertently come to the place on a special night, where they featured three live groups conducting a “battle of the bands” on a stage inside. It made it very difficult to converse with everyone at the table except for when the bands were changing out. Two of the bands seemed okay, although I couldn’t really understand whether they were covering songs or singing new material. The third band however, seemed to fancy itself a dark heavy metal band. Although I’m a fan of metal, this wasn’t really up my alley. The wait staff also seemed rather useless in bringing you refills and the food you ordered. I ended up having a “Legendary” burger, which was a great burger, but way too much food (definitely could have shared with someone). And of course, I ended up buying a few t-shirts (one for myself, the others for gifts).

One of the tamer bands...taken as I was headed over to buy t-shirts.
 Overall, I could have done without the live bands, or the lazy wait staff, but it was a good time…and since I likely wouldn’t get another chance to visit the place, it was a worthwhile trip (although we took a different route on the return to the hotel, which had us walking right over an open sewer line. Definitely not an exciting time…).

And that's all for today...be sure to come back for the next installment...

28 March 2012

Bangalore or Bust: A Travel Log (Day 7)

Author's note: For the next several weeks, I'll be posting tidbits of a travel log, which I kept during a two-week business trip (the reason I was in sporadic contact with the world recently). Enjoy!

For those who haven't yet seen the other posts in this travel log, check them out:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

(And again, if you're interested in seeing more photos than I'm providing, check out one of my co-workers' blogs from the same trip)

Day 7, Wednesday (2/29):

Another day at the office, complete with a trip through the city traffic. It still amazes me how many people are moving around the city at all hours of the day and night, though I imagine that’s what happens when you fit ten million people into one city. I’m also surprised that my allergies haven’t been far worse than they have been, with all the pollution from so many vehicles and all the dust and dirt tossed into the air all over from the massive construction projects.

The only trucks on the road were the big ones, so here's your compact truck shot

Driving along on one of the few elevated roadways, you can look down into a shopping district on our way home from work...

A truck or a bus? You decide...

Thousands of these little shops were stationed by the roads all over town. I can't imagine how most of them stay in business with that number of stores available.

A common site, construction along the roadway. Don't drink the water, indeed!

I also have to wonder about the bridges we travel over, which somehow have constantly fast-flowing water even though there hasn’t been any rain. Actually, maybe I don’t want to wonder about that too much…

A bridge on the way to work...fast-moving full river. It never rained a single day we were there...
The lack of infrastructure planning really makes one ponder how a country with this many people could survive for this long. An elevated train system (The Metro) is being constructed, but rather than the typical state of affairs back home, where detours are formulated and alternate routes are constructed, they simply start digging up the roads to put in what they need (in this case, the support pillars) and let the vehicles sort of wander wherever they can to get around the construction. It’s quite entertaining.

Build, build, build...

Right overhead...scary!

They've definitely been American-ized...these two are supervising a hole being dug, by a third guy actually in the hole.

This evening, an ambulance came rushing along with us. With no room for any of the cars to pull over (even though no one was even trying when they could), it does make one think that emergency services would be a nightmare if any sort of mass disaster happened, where citizens would need large amounts of fire and rescue. You wouldn’t want to trust your life to this sort of response time, I don’t think.

With the traffic around Bangalore, ambulances were forever trying to get through. I would hate to have needed these guys' services...someone should do some air ambulance marketing here, stat!

Watching local news, and somewhat related to that topic, apparently there was a terror attack averted in Dehli today. This reminds me of the week or so leading up to this trip, where a bombing or two actually did happen there. Although one might be a bit frightened about the future here, I’d been told shortly after that earlier report that the distance from Bangalore to Dehli is about twice the distance from Wichita to Minneapolis. Though I didn’t confirm that information myself, my personal comfort level hasn’t been impacted all that much. I still feel extremely safe at the hotel and at the office (whose security is just as much), and the drives in between have a far greater risk of me ending up as a pancake from wayward vehicles. That said, if something were to happen, I figure I know where I’m going in the end, so why worry?
The rest of the team appears to have reached its fill of the Indian cuisine, ending up ordering pizza again for lunch. I have a feeling if they try to do so tomorrow, I may in fact have to venture back to the Indian cuisine. Love the pizza (and it’s definitely a very close copy of the ones back home), but having pizza day after day is going to have the same effect as having Indian food day after day.

Other exciting news, it was just announced that the CEO of our company’s conglomerate parent was going to be making a day visit to the local facility on Monday. What timing! It would be the first time I’ve ever seen him in person, I believe, and to think, I only had to travel halfway around the world to do it…haha.

The hotel has a dinner buffet on Wednesday nights (and Friday and Saturday, apparently), and tonight’s selection was an Oriental buffet. A welcome respite from both the Indian and the American cuisine both? Perhaps so. It was also equally entertaining with our group’s interaction with a waitress we’ve come to know here at the hotel named Meena (which means "eyes" in her native language...not "ice" as I confusingly thought she was saying the first few times...). She probably wonders if all Americans are as crazy as we are, we being her first experience with them (according to her...I have a feeling that may have just been a ruse to boost tips, haha). Tonight’s excursion was topped off by some in our group teaching her American slang, and then attempting to get her to teach them the same words in her native language. Fun times…

One of my co-workers, with our regular breakfast waiter on the left, and Meena on the right

Oh, and I also introduced her to the wonder of a Nook e-reader…even got her reading from it, with the first few lines of The Cure. Guess I should have brought a paper copy along…ha. I almost had her reading from Chronicles in the NIV Bible (what came up first), but figured that might cross some cultural boundaries that didn't need crossing that soon...probably should have, anyway...oh well.

And that's all for today...be sure to come back for the next installment...

27 March 2012

Weekly Goals - March 27, 2012

Sadly, I still have not gotten anything accomplished via the writing goals, so going back to the basics and reducing my goals to something I can hopefully accomplish in this coming week..

Results for the week:

1. No further along
2. None written

And now the goals for this week:

2. Complete 1000 words on Resurrection

25 March 2012

Bangalore or Bust: A Travel Log (Day 6)

Author's note: For the next several weeks, I'll be posting tidbits of a travel log, which I kept during a two-week business trip (the reason I was in sporadic contact with the world recently). Enjoy!

For those who haven't yet seen the other posts in this travel log, check them out:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

(And again, if you're interested in seeing more photos than I'm providing, check out one of my co-workers' blogs from the same trip)

Day 6, Tuesday (2/28):

One of the big news items out of India today was the auto-rickshaw drivers union declaring a one-day strike (desiring to raise the standard fare rates and such to combat inflation, improvement in working conditions, etc.). I’m not sure their effort had its intended effect of “crippling” the country, though. In fact, it was a glorious day as far as we were concerned, at least traffic-wise, on our way to work and back. We constantly joked that they should have "stuck it to the man" and carried out that strike for at least the next two weeks...

This was taken in pre-strike conditions...and in light traffic. You can imagine how much better it was when almost none of these things were on the road.

Combined with leaving a little bit earlier on both ends, we were able to cut both drive times in half (about 30 minutes either way). The workday is getting a little easier, although IT issues again plagued me most of the day. I think the plan to make me feel like I’m home may be going a little overboard at this point.

For those who enjoyed the bomb-searching entry guards at the hotel, this was the barbed wire they had guarding the walls of the facility.

It wasn't all security measures, though...some great foliage around the hotel as well.
One of the statues on our daily drive into work
With our traveling group having our fill of the local cuisine (topped off by issues from the previous day’s lunch, as mentioned in the previous post), we discovered that Pizza Hut has a fairly large presence in this country, and so we made a special effort today for lunch to order a few. Some of our Indian team members joined us, ordering a vegetarian pizza for themselves, and the Americans ended up getting a pepperoni. It actually tasted less spicy than the ones back home, which seemed ironic in a way. All that said, it was a welcome return to something a bit more normal for us. Our stomachs were definitely thankful, but not nearly as much as when we decided to go balls-to-the-wall for dinner, and visit an actual steakhouse near our hotel (maybe a mile or so as the crow flies, but about two or three miles using the various twists and turns of the city)!

Millers 46, great little place in Bangalore…not sure how stereotypical this could be, but the western theme of the place went quite well with all of the Asian waiters dressed in cowboy attire. Also a tremendous value, where a massive T-bone with sides (although they claimed the vegetables were “boiled”, they seemed a little hard/raw, so with the cucumbers from Monday's lunch on my mind, I passed on those) and two small glasses of Pepsi cost the equivalent of around $12 (taxes included). Great place, even if the driver had to ask around to find it.

Two of my cohorts in crime, all smiles in anticipation...

Sadly, I didn't think to get pictures of the waitstaff

The next time we came here, the T-bone was a bit more appetizing, but still made our mouths water with every bite.

 Also discovered that our hotel is apparently the “in” place to hold receptions and stuff around here, as the last few nights have included massive receptions of one type or another. There’s not really a “parking lot” per se, so it makes for entertainment watching the drivers navigate around. All in all, things are going well. And now that the stomach is happily digesting something familiar, it’s time to call it another night.

And that's all for today...be sure to come back for the next installment...

23 March 2012

SFFS: A Snippet From "Hidden From View"

Welcome to another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday here on the blog (and make sure to go visit all of the other SFFS writers through that link). Being as how I'm not yet ready to spring anything from my WIP novel Resurrection on the public yet, but I still feel like WIP-ping a few folks out there in the cyber-lands, I'm going to present this small snippet from my in-process story "Hidden From View" featuring one of my favorite bit characters from the Aston West Universe, Rachel Caine (with all of the usual disclaimers about this being first draft material):

In all the time I’d been working with Rachel Caine, I couldn’t remember her in anything less than a pleasant mood. So, when I sat in the cushioned bench seat across from her and saw her chocolate-colored brow all furrowed, and the frown upon her lips, it set me back.

“Something wrong?” I asked.

Her normally glimmering brown eyes penetrated deep into me, and her voice was curt, furthering the confusion on my part. “You could say that.”

It didn’t take much on my part to make a connection. “You called me here to fix it, I’m guessing.”

If you enjoyed this, since "Hidden From View" is not yet available to read in full, be sure to check out Rachel Caine's first appearance in "Conventional Wisdom", one of the stories from my Dead or Alive collection!

Bangalore or Bust: A Travel Log (Day 5)

Author's note: For the next several weeks, I'll be posting tidbits of a travel log, which I kept during a two-week business trip (the reason I was in sporadic contact with the world recently). Enjoy!

For those who haven't yet seen the other posts in this travel log, check them out:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

(And again, if you're interested in seeing more photos than I'm providing, check out one of my co-workers' blogs from the same trip)

Day 5, Monday (2/27):

I had thought during the flights to Bangalore that the scanner system had reset the watch I’d bought for the trip (since I use my cell phone for the time back home), but apparently the watch (Wal-Mart $7 special) is defective. After thinking I’d only gotten three hours of sleep (ugh), and sitting around doing odds and ends stuff for an hour on the computer, I noticed that my netbook clock (still set on Wichita time) was hours off from my watch. Turning on the television, I saw that I’d actually gotten about six hours of sleep. Great news on the amount of rest front, but not so much on the fact that I needed to rush to get ready for my first day back to work since last Tuesday (having taken last Wednesday as a vacation day). So, rushing around to get ready, it was finally time to head off to the office.

A typical traffic day in Bangalore

While sitting in traffic, you get to study the elevated "Metro" being constructed

Notice the lack of any lights at most intersections...makes for excitement
Our building (at least two floors of it)...again, no photos allowed inside. Is it a temple or a palace?

Another building nearby, still under construction

For those who don't know, these are makeshift cricket fields on the facility grounds

Apparently what happens when you tip the housekeeping staff...they organize your stuff and spread flowers around

In an attempt to make me feel more at home (apparently), I suffered with IT issues most of the morning. Fortunately, I had brought along paper copies of a few items I needed to work on. Once those were resolved, the rest of the day was spent catching up on e-mails and working out items with our Indian team members. Lunch was taken on the rooftop with the rest of the companies in the building (split into divisions. Sadly, I have this feeling there was something included in that meal which caused a little stomach trouble for several of us. Pulled out the Pepto for a pre-emptive strike…(note that the picture above was taken pre-Pepto)

As expected, traffic was even more of a nightmare than before. I longed for the streets of Wichita, where a trip across town doesn’t take much more than a half-hour. I’m not sure how close (straight-line) our office is to the hotel, but it took twice as long for far less distance traveled. Unfortunately, even though we left the office around 5:30, by the time we got back and went down for dinner, it was already 9 o’ clock by the time we were back in our rooms. Even the flowers which the housekeeping staff laid around the bathroom did nothing to energize me (though I can’t say the same for my allergies). Exhaustion was creeping in, and it was time to call it a day, until the next one.

And that's all for today...be sure to come back for the next installment...

20 March 2012

Weekly Goals - March 20, 2012

Howdy, everyone! Well, the lack of writing had momentum on me this week, so nothing much was accomplished. As an attempt to get things jump-started again, I began writing out scenes on note cards, as I did with my newly released Death Brings Victory. Let's hope that does the trick...

Results for the week:

1. No further along than before
2. None written

And now the goals for this week:

1. Complete first draft of a short story
2. Complete 2500 words on Resurrection

Bangalore or Bust: A Travel Log (Day 4)

Author's note: For the next several weeks, I'll be posting tidbits of a travel log, which I kept during a two-week business trip (the reason I was in sporadic contact with the world recently). Enjoy!

For those who haven't yet seen the other posts in this travel log, check them out:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

(And again, if you're interested in seeing more photos than I'm providing, check out one of my co-workers' blogs from the same trip)

Day 4, Sunday (2/26):

Today started out with only about four hours of additional slumber, and unable to return to sleep, I turned on the television and watched a few cricket matches. I think I have most of the basic rules down, but the difference in levels of coverage made me first think it was truly a long and boring sport (3 hours into a match, and they didn’t even finish the “first innings”, and then the next match was finished within an hour (which I later discovered was the more common “highlight show” version, and vastly more entertaining).

The plan for the day first included breakfast (a complimentary buffet) at the hotel, where one of our American co-workers (with Indian ties) showed us around and we tried out more local cuisine. Then, we gathered with many of our Indian team members for a lengthy journey (with more of the customary traffic issues) to Mysore (still trying to figure out the proper pronunciation, but I believe it’s close to Mee-sue).

Along the way, the team decided to stop for breakfast (since the Indian team met us after the first breakfast) at a small local buffet, where even more food was consumed (and we even recognized a few items from our first breakfast). Not counting this stop, the journey from Bangalore to Mysore (an equivalent distance of roughly 90 miles) took 3 hours due to the traffic.

Sitting down for our second breakfast of the morning
As Mysore used to be (as I understand it) the location for the ruling family of India (until 1974), there were many palaces, temples and museums which we toured. The former both required you to go shoeless and sockless, which was a bit of an experience (and I’m not a big fan of going without socks anyway). Consider that we were going barefoot on stone in the mid-day sun, and you can imagine the results. They also did not allow cameras inside any of these buildings, which was a shame (but necessary for preservation of the exhibits, I imagine) since there were several great items to view. They also seemed to be massively popular with the local population (and tourists).

The front gate of the first temple we visited

Barefoot on stone sidewalks...owie!

One of the buildings outside of the temple
(no pictures inside the temple itself)

Finally, a sidewalk in the shade!

The oldest, and tallest, cathedral found in India.

Even the bees want to take part in the services...

A small building outside the cathedral. Still no clue why...
A late lunch was had (courtesy of our Indian team leader…did I mention the hospitality?) at a local establishment off the beaten path. More local cuisine (and lots of bottled water to account for relatively medium spice) was had, along with great conversation. One of our team members, all day, had been astounded by the homemade brooms that were being used all over, and even took advantage to do a little sweeping of his own (once he found one that had been fashioned with a broomstick).

We actually had airline tickets for the ride home...really.
After the meal, we visited the Mysore Palace...again, no pictures allowed inside, and no shoes (at least they allowed socks to be worn...even if everything was inside and in the shade...

More intricate carvings on one of the buildings just inside the palace grounds entrance

"Don't Pluck the Flower" - Good advice anytime...

Mysore Palace...the place is huge.

Obligatory tourist photo

Also had the experience of purchasing a silk Sari (I’ve also seen it as Saree?) for my wife, which was far more expensive than a tightwad such as myself normally would have been willing to pay. Unfortunately, when she asked specifically for me to purchase one, she hadn’t mentioned that there were measurements required, nor that there were additional garments one usually wore with it. This didn’t come up until I’d already agreed to purchase the fabric, and some of my team members began mentioning the measurements and the additional garments. What can I say? She’s an expensive woman.

It was a long day, and after another 3 hours of travel time (our Indian team members indicated that this truly was lighter traffic because of it being Sunday) back to Bangalore and our hotel. We were all exhausted by the time we returned, so it was off to bed once more. And tomorrow, we'd have to get up and go to the office.

And that's all for today...be sure to come back for the next installment...

18 March 2012

Bangalore or Bust: A Travel Log (Day 3)

Author's note: For the next several weeks, I'll be posting tidbits of a travel log, which I kept during a two-week business trip (the reason I was in sporadic contact with the world recently). Enjoy!

For those who haven't yet seen the other posts in this travel log, check them out:

Day 1
Day 2

(And again, if you're interested in seeing more photos than I'm providing, check out one of my co-workers' blogs from the same trip)

Day 3, Saturday (2/25):

The arrival into Bangalore was my first international experience ever, so the number of times you had to go through lines and show your papers was mind-boggling. There were machine-gun toting guards, but only at the front doors (that I could see). Otherwise, there were lots of people in suits carrying walkie-talkies telling you to move this way or that. Trying to stick together as a group was a challenge when we ended up taking two different lines. Then, as we were exiting the airport, we gained the upfront experience of walking past a pay-to-use toilet building, although it didn’t smell like many had been paying for the experience.

Our Indian teammates (and the company) had pre-arranged transport with a pair of hired drivers. They indicated that traffic was rather light at this time of the morning (around 1:30 AM), and even then, it was like something you’d see in a sit-down video game. I’d been forewarned that traffic rules were non-existent, but little could I have imagined to what extent. Drivers would randomly change lanes whenever the mood suited them and perhaps honk or give a high-beam flash to the people behind them (figure that one out) for warning. The road we took was under construction about every mile or so, so they’d have a “diversion” that went around a small section of roadway being worked on. Trucks all ran very slow, and cars would whip around them. Motorcycles were perhaps an afterthought for the bigger vehicles as they switched lanes around the diversion. And then, red lights only meant you had to stop if there was someone coming along from the cross-direction. With this being “light traffic” I was not looking forward to the ride in on Monday. All said and done, there was approximately 20 hours sitting on airplanes and another 10 or so sitting in airport terminals, and this didn’t even account for the time changes. A long day, indeed!

After a brief three or four hours of sleep, it was back up again (still Saturday, though). Trying to navigate around the hotel was a trip, with the lobby, pool and restaurant all on different levels. Also did not realize that a breakfast buffet came with the room, so I’d have to rectify that tomorrow. I did catch up on some international (and India) happenings via a local news network. It was a bit disheartening, as they have been running stories about child sex abuse and trafficking, which apparently is a rampant problem over here. Between that and government corruption (which is not merely limited to Republicans and Democrats), it truly is a mystery how society continues to function.

A gratuitous hotel room shot...with the desk I did a lot of work (and phone calls home) at
(and through the curtains, a view of the pool and its flock of birds)

Gratuitous hotel room shot #2

The niece sent this pair along to remind me of her and "Auntie" back home.
(No doubt resting comfortably after a long journey in several cargo holds...)

Onto happier tales, a pair of team members came by today and give us a small walking tour through the city around the hotel. Yet another eye-opening experience. Traffic was what one would expect out of a city with ten million people, and running across streets in fear of our lives was a bit hard to get used to. This area around our hotel was filled with plenty of high-end, name-brand shops, many of which we recognized. We’d been told about the extreme poverty, but having a mother with child in hand accost members of your group for a full half-mile (whatever that may end up as in kilometers) for a handout is rather heart-breaking. Street vendors were equally persistent, and would wait for you to come back out of each store to resume their peddling (likely only because the vendors had security guards that would chase them off. This too, seemed to last even longer than the impoverished mother.

Some shots of Brigade Road, near our hotel...

Most of the main roads had sidewalks, but with no building codes to speak of, you had to dodge areas where blocks had fallen into the drainage area below. Sometimes the hole was filled in with sand, but often times it was just there for you to dodge. Wiring was also a trick, and was not run through poles, but instead existing trees were enlisted to serve as a tie-down and distribution point before being jumbled into a massive snarl at the buildings. Poles did exist, though, just not where they already had trees...

Watch your step! (A common sight around Bangalore)

Poles? We don't need no stinkin' poles!
Wire routing 101: An example of how *not* to make it work in an airplane.

Hospitality was one of the Indian cultural traits that we were told about ahead of time, for the Indian people, and this was definitely the case here. Without prompting (maybe they could see how ragged we all were?), our guides took us to a small vendor where they then purchased drinks for all of us (canned, for those who were wondering). And lo and behold (and praise His name), they had Pepsi. Whew! (I later discovered they also have these in the room…this may be my downfall)

They claimed it had a different taste than the States...I couldn't tell much difference.

We shopped in a few spots, one of which was a hand-crafted goods store in which I apparently violated the rules by taking photos of an intricately painted table (apparently, the staff do not subscribe to the same theories as I do with my writing, of providing samples of their work to entice people to visit).

My illegal photo, just before they threatened to arrest me (not really)...shhhh! Don't tell anyone!

The second major shop we went into was a “Central” store, which as best I figure is a cross between a mall and a Wal-Mart. This had all sorts of designer merchandise (like a mall), but from what we were told by our guides for the day, they have set prices regardless of which Indian state the store is in (whereas the small shops discriminate in pricing for those not from the local state). Doing some quick price comparison, apparently the trend toward commercialization has made many of the prices rival those in the states on most goods. There were a few bargains here and there, but nothing that I couldn’t live without.

Finally, it was time for a late lunch. This would be my first official meal here in Bangalore. I didn’t catch the official Indian name for the food, but in essence, it was cooked lamb in a green chili curry sauce. I did ask if there was something less spicy, and they proceeded to fix a special plate without so much of the spice in the sauce. Delectable! Our server (Meena) was extremely helpful, though I think she may have seen this green (no pun intended) American coming, as she kept suggesting additional food items and I happily went along with the plan. 1200 Rupees (or about $26 based on this day’s exchange rate at the hotel…something that doesn’t show on the bill) later, I was stuffed and happy.

And then it was time to visit the home of one of our company’s employees currently stationed full-time in India. This entailed another trip through the (far-busier than the early morning hours) streets of Bangalore. I’m not sure how anyone could keep track of how to get where they’re going around here, to be honest (especially in the dark). All the roads appear to twist and turn every which way, and with the aforementioned lack of lane control and turning priority, there’s a high likelihood one would get lost. Add on top of that the fact that no one ever seems to take the same route back that they took to get anywhere, and it makes for confused Americans. That said, our drivers all seem to do an expert job in both directional acuity as well as accident prevention.

The complex where one of our co-workers from Wichita lives...roughing it!

Didn't try out this pool...which didn't have a flock of birds drinking from it
(as our hotel pool did, daily)

Sadly, because of my late lunch, I was unable to finish some of my dinner, but it was extremely delicious, albeit parts were a bit spicier than I cared for (this, after our host acknowledged that the ladies preparing the meal had probably “toned it down” some for us). And then, after some regaling of stories and conversations on work and personal life, both back home and India, it was time for another round of risking our lives in (even heavier) Bangalore traffic.

I still find myself baffled by the half-hour increment on the time change. India is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of Kansas, and all the time, I find myself swapping that and inadvertently thinking home is at a time that’s actually twelve-and-a-half behind us here. Thankfully, my netbook’s clock is still showing the time back home, so it helps keep me honest.

And that's all for today...be sure to come back for the next installment...