Saturday, April 26, 2008, 8:00 AM // 0 comments

India: Day 4

An American's View of India

One's first impression of India is literally a shock to your senses. All five are jolted almost the second you land in the country. As a way to convey what my colleague Frank and I experienced we put together a list of a few of our observations in order of the five senses:

  • Stray animals are everywhere. We saw cats, dogs, chickens, goats, cows, and animals I forget the names of. I even saw a camel walking along the road.
  • Here in the states when you agree with something you shake your head up and down. In India people will shake their heads from left to right. Think Katharine Hepburn in her final years and that's what the left to right shake looks like.
  • At almost every turn one will see a piles of garbage, trash, and construction debris on the sides of roads, in streams, up against buildings and homes, and in fields. This trash is either burned or left where is was dumped indefinitely.
  • On a few occasions I saw mothers and their children picking through the garbage for food.
  • Poverty is rampage. People are forced to live in communities of aluminum structures and tent cities. Someone told me he once looked inside one of the tents and saw roughly ten people living in one. Interesting to note, we saw a few homes that looked like they were plucked right out of Beverly Hills. Less than three hundred yards away we saw a tent city
  • India is in a constant state of construction. Everywhere you turn you can see buildings being built, torn down, or gutted. You could tell what building have been renovated because piled in the front is construction debris.
  • Combine smog, traffic exhaust, garbage, body order, animal and human waste, and you have a recipe for what Bangalore smells like. It was horrific. I saw people walking around with masks and others actually holding their noses. Let me put it this way - there is a certain odor associated with New York City on a hot August day. Take that smell and times it by ten and that equals the stench of Bangalore.
  • Many of the streets we traveled on were lined with long ditches on either side. The overturned dirt would get picked up by the wind and coat everything with a layer of dust. Combine that with the film of pollution and you have a sticky dirty mess that covers cars, buildings, windows, and your skin.
  • We found that every public restroom we went in (including, airport, restaurants, offices, hotels) would have electric hand dryers (blowers) instead of paper towels. I have no problem with this at all except for the fact that many times the dryers did not work or they’d only dry you hands for a few seconds at a time. Inevitably, you’d walk out of the restroom with wet hands. Interesting to note – the “Men’s Room” is referred to as the “Gents Room.”
  • Indians add curry to many of their dishes. Now, I can’t fault them for that. Its what they do and what they like. Italians do the same thing with garlic. But for the first time American in India and amount and intensity of the curry is overwhelming. My very first meal in India was some combination of chicken, curry, and Krishna knows what on white bread with no crust. My first bite sent a shock to my system that made my stomach scream. I immediately wanted to spit out my bite into my napkin but I did not want to offend my host. I did, however, only eat one half of my sandwich. Frank, on the other hand, ate the whole sandwich and paid the price for the next twenty four hours.
  • We were told over and over again NOT TO DRINK THE WATER AND NO ICE IN YOUR DRINKS. As such, we drank a lot of bottled water and warm soda.
  • In my last post I wrote how many drivers continuously honk their horns. Combine that the sound of cars, auto rickshaws, motor cycles and you have a noise so loud I could hear it from the 27th floor of my hotel in Hyderabad.
Now, combine the above with the 24 hour long trip and 10.5 hour time difference and you’re setting your body up for quite a jolt. Its times like this when its okay to say YES to drugs. Take along sleeping pills, aspirin, Claritin, Pepto Bismol, eye drops, and anything else your body can withstand because India is unlike anything you’ve ever known in your entire life...except for, perhaps, New York City.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 10:56 AM // 0 comments

India: Day 3

Crosstown Traffic

You'll never complain about the traffic in your town again! Driving in Bangalore is not for the faint hearted. A typical one minute of driving is similar to 50m/hr wild weaving, stop, crawl at 5m/h, stop, crawl, crawl, wild weaving, stop, crawl at 5m/h, stop, etc. The WHOLE time you drive you hear horns from every car, motorcycle, and auto rickshaw that surrounds you. Wikipedia defines an auto rickshaw as "...a tin/iron body resting on three small wheels (one in front, two on the rear), a small cabin for the driver in the front and seating for three in the rear. Raghu, a native of Bangalore, defines the auto rickshaw as a "deathtrap." Most Indian auto rickshaws have no doors or seat belts. If you get hit you most certainly will topple over and as the natives might say, "accha namaste."

Other observations about Bangalore traffic:

  • People change lanes at will. They seem to care who is behind or alongside them.

  • In two lane roads people drive with their vehicles occupying half of either lane.

  • People can turn to any direction at will. I saw a lot of vehicles especially buses turn left from the right most lanes or vice versa.

  • Turn indicators are just an unnecessary accessory.

  • As it is in the UK, traffic keeps left in India. But this does not apply to Bangalore. People travel on the right too especially if there is a median on the road and they join the road in the opposite direction.

  • Nobody knows what “Give way” or “Stop and Go” means. Nobody cares who has the right of way in an intersection. Survival of the fittest never rang so true.

  • The horn, is a vital part of Bangalore driving pleasure has a number of uses. The first, and most common is the "toot." This just indicates that I am near you, and you probably shouldn't try and run into me. The next is the "toot-toot." What this means is that it appears that you didn't hear my "toot," and have started to drift towards my car. The next is the "bloooooot" where it means that you've ignored my "toot-toot" and there is about to be impact, be warned. The final use of the horn has been the "twoooooooooooot" when driving really fast. Driver hit the horn so much I would not be surprised if they have a calus on their thumb.
Here's some video I took that might help you put a visual to my observations. First you'll get my point of view (POV). Then you'll see a family of four (4) on a motorcycle. Check out who is the only one wearing a helmet. Lastly, you'll see the traffic from my hotel room. Even six floors up and 300 yards away you can still hear the traffic through the glass.

You might want to buckle up before watching.

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Monday, April 14, 2008, 7:55 PM // 1 comments

India: Day 2

Pindar Magnum Studio

It's really hard for me to put into words my first impressions of Bangalore. My first impressions were a combination of good and bad so I want to make sure I convey my initial observations carefully as to not to offend. So, for this post, I'm going to concentrate on the Pindar Magnum Studio - the office, the employees, and the dancing.

The Pindar Magnum Studio is seven floors up and overlooks Bangalore. From almost every window one has a view of "The Garden City of India." Bangalore is called the 'Garden City', because it is supposed to be greener than most other Indian cities. As you can see from the picture on the right it ain't that green anymore. I think Bangalore should change its moniker to "the City Under a Constant State of Construction." But I digress.

The office is 40,000 square feet in size and can accommodate upwards to 700 employees. They certainly don't have the space issues we have at KoP. Pindar moved into to this two year old building a little less than a year ago. The single floor office features an open space that provides a clear view of the operations. There's two training rooms, two cafeterias, and a soon to be unveiled recreation room. Working out of the KoP office I have to admit I'm jealous.

I found my fellow Pindar colleagues to be professional, gracious, and attentive to our needs. Everyone I met greeted us with smiles and an eagerness to share ideas and gage in conversation. I'm proud to say I work with these people.

At the end of the day Frank and I we were treated to dancing. Now, I'd love to say this show was presented on our behalf but in actuality it was a "try out" for the June rally. For the last few years the Bangalore and Hyderabad studios have presented variety shows or as they are called "rallies." It's a big deal and Pindar and YB managers fly in to see the entertainment. Frank and I were lucky enough to be there on the first day of competition.

At one point yesterday I came to the realization
that there is not one blond that works for Pindar Magnum.

This is the of the training rooms.

The dance competition judges.
Is that Paula on the left?

This would have been a bad time to find out
that Pindar Magnum does not like Americans.

Sunday, April 13, 2008, 9:40 PM // 1 comments

India: Day 1

The 28-Hour Journey to Bangalore

Over the next six days I plan on writing about my experiences here in Bangalore, India. I don't plan on writing a lot. Given the days events I'll probably just include photos, video, and maybe a special guest author or video appearance or two. I'm doing this primarily to let my colleagues back at Pindar get a feel for what it's like to visit this country.

Today's post is about my 28-hour long journey from Philadelphia to Bangalore. I traveled with with Frank Monzo, Director, IT Services at Pindar. Its his first time here too.

We departed Philadelphia at approximately 8pm (Saturday). Despite a two hour start-up delay our flight was pleasant. Sadly, the food wasn't. I tried to sleep but I was too excited. When all is said and done I probably got two hours of shut eye.

We landed in London at 7:42pm (Sunday). I sent the following text message to my family: "It's 7:42am and the Daddy has landed in London." Given that Frank and I had 6 hours between flights we decided to get adventurous and we took the tube to Piccadilly Circus for a bite to eat. It took about 50 minutes from the airport to Piccadilly so it gave us about an hour and half to eat and look around. Unfortunately, our trip was dampened by a rain and we rain back to the underground.

It has always been a dream to go to London. The memory of the hour and half I spent there will be something I'll never forget.

We made it back to Heathrow Airport in plenty of time to make our next flight out to Bangalore. This flight is a 9 plus hour long journey. Like with the first flight I did not sleep well. All in all I slept about 4 hours. This flight seemed shorter than the first flight.

We landed in Bangalore at 4:42am (Monday morning). Unlike Heathrow -- the customs process was extremely quick. Frank and I were in and out in no time. Now, many people at Pindar spoke to us about what it was going to be like when we physically leave the airport. Someone told me, "think of the busiest street you ever saw in New York City and times that by ten. That's what its like when you leave the airport." Well, our reception was not that large -- but it was impressive. (See video below photos.)

Its now the end of one of the longest days of my life. I gotta get some sleep now because I have to be in the office.

Click on the image to enlarge.

I staggered back to the underground
And the breeze blew back my hair
I remember throwin punches around
And preachin from my chair

View from The Tube
"Mind The Gap"

Piccadilly Circus

Here's my proof that I was there and didn't steal these images from Google.

Frank's 2008 Christmas Card.

What the hell is Washington doing in London?

Bangalore Airport. Baggage hands take five.

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Friday, April 11, 2008, 4:33 PM // 0 comments

Hey Daddy?

Joey Leaves His First Phone Message

My two year old son left me a phone message today.


Hey Daddy?
Hey Dad.

Listen / Download: Joey - Altobeli - Hey Daddy


Wednesday, April 09, 2008, 8:59 PM // 1 comments

Wanted: Pips

My good friend, Mary Ellen Martelli, posted the following on Craig's List.

Mary Ellen Martelli and The PipsI am looking for 3 Guys to follow me around and sing back up lines for my daily life. You know, Pips.

Nothing exciting like being on stage or anything, just sing back up to my daily conversations, like at the grocery store, dry cleaners, visiting clients,..etc.

I need, three guys, who can really sing. You needn't be afro-american, but must have an afro or at least an afro wig. And also not opposed to wearing matching suits ( which you must co-ordinate).

And I need three guys, not four, and five is right out.

This is not a long term gig, maybe 3-4 days to a week. Depending on how it goes. I can not afford to pay my Pips, but hey, who knows what will come out of it. At the very least, we will have a blast.

Send a pic and any other info that will put you at the top of my Pip List.

This can work, I once got a guy to follow me around with an industrial bucket and mop - mopping up behind me wherever I went for 3 days in St. Augustine Fla. It was a blast!

Click here to become a Pip.

Listen / Download:
Mary Ellen Martelli and The Pips - Midnight Train To Georgia

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008, 9:27 PM // 0 comments

Opening Night 2008 - Philadelphia Phillies

Dollar Dog Night

Tonight my daughter and I watched the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies take on the Washington Nationals. In celebration of "Opening Night" the Phillies offered fans "Dollar Dog Night." The Phils had only one hit in the one to zip lost to the Nat's.
Philadelphia Phillies - dollar dog nightEating dog #4 at "Dollar Dog Night"


About Paul Altobelli

Paul Altobelli is a veteran Internet, marketing and technology professional with considerable expertise in search engine marketing, web site development, design, implementation and project management. [more]

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