Friday, February 29, 2008

Open Roads!

Am back in the US after a gap of nearly four months. I was driving on one of the highways in South East Florida from the Treasure Coast to Fort Lauderdale and I realized how much I miss driving in the US. I had almost forgotten what it was like to be on wide open highways driving at 70-80mph. With Ms. Hertz Neverlost as my companion, I did not have to worry about getting lost and waste my time paying attention to road signs etc. While driving here, you can be in your world - calm and relaxed.

In contrast, driving in Bangalore is a completely different experience. The concept of space does not really exist here but when you are driving here, you feel connected to everyone around you (and if you don't pay attention, you will indeed connect with the nearest vehicle or pedestrian).
Driving here will keep you alert and put your senses in overdrive!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Love is in the air

I had never imagined Indians as hopeless romantics. Wooing never used to be a skill found in a many Indian men. Women were too shy and reserved when it came to matters of the heart.

With the advent of Valentines day in India, all of this has changed. This year, I was struck by the fact that Valentines Day, which was virtually unknown 20 years ago has now become one of the major Indian “festivals”. There is absolute media frenzy around the day of the cupid. Almost every major restaurant in town offered a special Valentines Day package for couples and was booked solid weeks in advance. For the retailer, this has created another opportunity to create shopping hysteria in a country where there is a high percentage of under-25 men and women with high disposable income. This festival has also brought a boom for florists!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Catch me if you can ...

If your idea of a thrill ride is Viper or X2 at the Magic Mountain, you need to experience a ride to the Chennai airport during rush hour when you have a plane to catch. I found myself in this enviable position several days ago. I left the office at around 7:15pm for a 9:30pm flight. I was feeling pretty good because I had given myself an extra 15 minutes. Unfortunately, this was the day when a group of college students decided to protest something (bad government policy, unfair examinations, too many classes, ban on ipods, traffic congestion in Chennai etc.). They blocked the main Mount Road in Chennai causing a severe traffic jam.

But luckily, my colleague Muthu knew his way around the city. He managed to get me out of the jam but in the process we ended up in the back roads of Chennai. With luck and instinct he navigated us through the obscure unnamed streets of the city. With occasional help from a pedestrian or a bicyclist, he managed to keep us moving in the general direction of the airport. Huge speedbreakers, excessively long traffic lights, road construction, lane closures etc. made this ride feel like an obstacle course.

After what seemed like hours, we were back on the main road and Muthu finally pulled in to the airport at 9:25pm.

Did I make it? You bet I did. After all, this is India. My flight was delayed by about 20 minutes and I made it with enough time to spare!