Wow. I’m in India. After 2 long days of travel and 20-something hours of air time I made it. As it turns out India is really far away. My flight took me through Tokyo, Singapore, and finally to Chennai. Unfortunately I arrived at both Tokyo and Singapore while it was still dark so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. When we left from Singapore though, I got to see the city and the insanely crowded shipping lanes during take off. I have never seen so many huge boats so close together all over the place. It took us probably 5 minutes to fly over all of it.
The most interesting part of the whole trip actually was this last leg. I’m pretty sure I was the only non-Indian on the flight, and it was funny to see these huge families getting really excited at the gate as we were about to board. Clearly this kind of travel is rare in India. Under different circumstances I probably would have found this refreshing, but by this point I had been traveling for more than 24 hours and was running on close to 4 hours of sleep so it was borderline annoying.
The flight was pretty uneventful. It is very funny what kinds of cultural differences that we usually take for granted. One thing that I noticed was during the flight people would stand up in the aisle and chat with their friends. I think on a US flight the attendants would ask people to sit down. I definitely felt more crowded on that flight than I would normally. Another funny thing that happened, actually on all of the flights, was that people would, upon arriving at the gate, very quickly grab all of their stuff and try to run up to the front of the plane so they wouldn’t have to wait. This was hilarious at the time for me because it seemed like such a rude thing to do, but it didn’t phase the rest of the passengers since they were just as eager to do the same thing.
I’m guessing that most of the people who were traveling from Singapore to Chennai were using the trip to buy cheap electronics. I’ve never seen someone check a 42 inch flat screen TV, but seeing more than one get backed up on a baggage claim belt was great. That and the sheer amount of duty free alcohol!
I was met at the airport by Doug and KK, two of my co-workers. Doug is an LA native and has been living out here for 2 months now, so he’s got a pretty good idea of what I need to know in order to survive. From the airport, after the most terrifying traffic I had previously (but not subsequently) experienced, I was dropped off at my hotel. The room is pretty nice and most importantly the AC works. By this point it was midday and I was struggling to stay awake until dark so I asked Doug to grab me when he was heading back in to the office in a couple of hours. I slept for 45 minutes, unpacked, showered, and changed. And then I got to meet the whole office. By this point it is Tuesday afternoon (my flight left LAX at 2:30pm on Sunday). By the time I got back to my hotel it was all that I could do to stay awake until 8pm. Before that though I had some delicious Indian food take-out.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some obliging hosts while I’m out here. Sriram, the project manager for my main project has taken me under his wing and been making sure I get to see the sights and experience the city. I didn’t have any tourist-y plans when I came out here, so having him tell me what is good to see is nice. He has been giving me a ride to and from work since I got here and I’ve had lunch with him and most of the WebWrite team (my primary project) for the last few days. Despite the lack of familiarity in this place I have felt nothing but warm welcome from everyone.
Well, I’m going to try and get some video of my drive to work just so you can see how insane driving here is. I already miss my chance at a picture of a cart pulled by an Ox walking down the main road as we tried to pass it. But I’m sure something equally novel will come up again. I’m going to keep my Flickr account updated with images and video as they come in. This weekend I’ll be going out shopping, and I’m going to visit a Hindu temple thanks to Sriram. I expect to have some fun stories come out of that.