Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Departing Ludhiana for Gurgaon

This morning the Bharti Team had a meeting at the hotel with Mr. Antony Nellissery, General Manager of the Primary School Program.  Since he would not be at our final presentation he wanted a chance to meet with us to discuss our findings.  We spent over an hour discussing the project and getting very valuable feedback as well.  During lunch it was time to pack.  I met Mr. Ram again and got to say goodbye.  We got ready, paid our bills with the hotel (for laundry, room service, etc.) and continued working until our car arrived.  Shruti and Kazu saw us off as they were at the hotel, and Jaspreet accompanied us to the train station.  We ended up being on the same train as the CEO of Bharti Foundation and the VP as they were travelling back from Ludhiana as well.  The train ride was long and quite bumpy.  We worked on the presentation and the project almost all the way through.
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In Delhi we were picked up by the hotel driver and driven to Gurgaon.  Tomorrow we get to see the head office.

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Last Day with the Whole India 22 CSC Team

We got to the office in the morning.  We had 4 big gift bags of gifts for the four schools we visited and also many small ones for our friends at the office.  I picked up pictures we had left for printing the day before as well.  The whole day was spent hard at work, we barely had time for lunch.  At the end of the day we invited everyone to the cafeteria and thanked everyone and presented them with bags which had mostly souvenirs from the countries we came from (Brazil, Canada, Italy).  We once again thanked everyone and were in turn thanked, and we departed the office for the last time.
In the evening we were invited by the hotel manager, Mr. Ram Kaushik for drinks at the Neptune lounge on the 6th floor, and after that for dinner at the hotel restaurant.  We got to meet the heads of the hotel departments and thank them very much for such great service during our stay.
After the restaurant we had a debrief session with Shruti (Pyxera) and got to share some very valuable and honest feedback about the logistics, the assignments, Ludhiana, and generally everything related to our CSC adventure.  It was a late night and we went to sleep after 1am.  Tomorrow we depart for Gurgoan.

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Second last day in Ludhiana Bharti Office and Dinner with Swabhimaan

Early rise and to the office (only two of the three as Bernardo was not feeling well).  We were hoping to do our “almost final” presentation to the local office on Wednesday, but it turned out that the schedule was accelerated a bit and we had to do it today.  It obviously was not done, but we showed what we had so far and the presentation went well.  We worked till the end of the day at which time we had a surprise.  Since Mr. Pankaj (one of the key people who was working with us) was going away that evening for a few days they threw us a mini good-bye party in the cafeteria.
There were very touching speeches from the office friends we have made over the weeks, which made us feel really thankful for the opportunity we had to share this experience.  We had delicious cake, and we also received very nice framed pictures of the golden temple.  Unfortunately Bernardo wasn’t here to see it but I recorded it for him.
After work we picked up some flowers, juice, and chocolate covered fruit and headed for dinner to the residence of Mr. Kumar (Swabhimaan).  The trip there was an adventure, the auto-rickshaw driver (as usual) missed the neighborhood completely, and when we finally steered him to it he raced around not even trying to find the number.  By the way the numbers here are crazy.  There is a neighborhood, no street names though, and there are numbers which don’t seem to follow a steady pattern.  They can be going up on one side of the street, then down on the other, and sometimes the numbers will just “randomly” turn into a street…sometimes left, sometimes right.

The dinner was delicious and the host very gracious.  After dinner some people sang, and then we took pictures and went back to the hotel.

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Catch up Sunday

Today we all slept in for the first time in many weeks.  In the morning team members were catching up on blogs and on some work.  Part of the group went to do some more shopping.  In the afternoon Jaspreet came over to copy some pictures and also watch a bit of the India / Pakistan cricket game.  In the late afternoon some of the team members went for another Banghra lesson.
This evening I planned out a part of my post CSC trip in India.  I will be going to Agra (Taj Mahal), Jaipur and Varenasi with Kazu and Aneliesse.  We will meet up with Cathy and her husband in Varanasi also.  After that flying to Mumbai with Aneliesse and meeting up with Shruti, Dimitri and his friend.  That’s as far as the plans go now.  After Mumbai it will most likely be Nepal.
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Great Big Celebration

This morning the girls and guys split up to go shopping.  Seems like the guys did more!!  We went to the scarf place (Jay Jay's Shawls) and then to Ghumar Mandi for some shopping.  After that it was Fabindia to purchase some Kurtis and Indian clothes.  We got caught in a rain storm but luckily found an auto rickshaw to take us back to the hotel.  After coming back a few of the guys went to get spices and turbans for tonight's celebrations.  The turbans took longer than we thought, but it was worth the time.  Coming back to the hotel all the staff were giving us thumbs up and high fives, and all the locals give us lots of smiles.

We have 2 bachelors who are getting married in a few months (Bernardo and Cristian) and also two birthday boys who have their birthday in February (Kazu and Pierre).  We combined the parties into one big one, and what a celebration it was.  We went to Baba's Chicken, then back to the hotel to Neptune - the Hotel Lounge.
There we had a cake with our team photo on it thanks to Cathy, and Jaspreet showed us some really cool Michael Jackson moves in dancing.  After all that fun we went back up to 711.

I must admit that out team is just amazing.  Not sure if all the CSC teams get perfectly matched like this, but we certainly did.  Every single person is included in the activities and we have an amazing time together.  GO INDIA CSC 22 TEAM!
Our last goal for the evening was to get invited to an Indian wedding, which is exactly what  we did (as there is a wedding almost every day at the hotel).   We went down and entered the room asking if we could join in on the dancing, and it turned out they loved having us there!  We danced and sang to the English songs that the DJ played.   We showed off our Banghra moves and partied it up like the locals!!   A great time was had by all.
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Community Service Day

Today was our community service day.  The entire IBM CSC India 22 team headed over to Swabhimaan school to run a half day activity for the school children which included activities in English, memory games, physical education games, problem solving, and general education.  We arrived at the school and divided all the children into teams.  Then team by team the students went to different stations to complete an activity where they would get a stamp for completing it.  At the end they were all rewarded with certificates and lollipops for their great efforts.  They were very excited to have us there, and had a great time with my camera which I allowed them to use to take some pictures until the battery died.
P1040100P1040098P1040082P1040071P1040059P1040051P1040043P1040035P1040031P1040025P1040024P1040012P1040005P1040001P1030997P1030995P1030991P1030983P1030980P1030979After the community service we were taken for a late lunch, and then continued working at the hotel until quite late.   After 8:30pm the team split up with some going to the local food spot across the street and some going to Brewmaster.
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The Great Storm

This morning we worked from the hotel.  Since it was a holiday there were two other teams working from the hotel as well.
Maha Shivratri, the night of the worship of Lord Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. It falls on a moonless February night, when Hindus offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivratri (Sanskrit 'ratri' = night) is the night when he is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. The festival is observed for one day and one night only.
Due to this holiday we went to the Hindu temple to observe the ceremonies.  The decorations were simply amazing and there were tons of people.

As the holiday is tied in with the “lord of destruction” we found it very fitting to be caught in one of the worst hail storms that Ludhiana has ever experienced.  On the way back we drove in an auto-rickshaw through a river of water and ice all the way back to the hotel.  We were very happy that we did not get stuck in a total flood, and that the vehicle we were in did not die.
Another great day full of experiences in Ludhiana.  

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