Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Woman Alone

I propose that women, dining alone in a hotel bar, are ignored by service staff. I propose that when Renee joins me we'll be hovered over like crazy, but until then I'll be virtually ignored. I can't propose whether it's American women or just women in general, but there is another woman here in the bar who is periodically alone, too. She has had her traveling companions joining her periodically, and it appears she is experiencing the same thing. So I don't think I'm exactly imagining this. Yesterday I noticed that unless I actually am able to make eye contact with the waiter or barman, then they will avoid looking at me.

It's pretty irritating but it's the culture, I think. Either that or I didn't tip the waiter enough yesterday. Is a woman with a laptop such an oddity? Perhaps that is a part of it. I ordered a chicken quesadilla a half-hour ago. I have to leave in ten minutes. It's not here yet. Last night, at the all-night hotel cafe, I practically had to walk up to the waiter and shake him to get services. When Renee joined me he practically prostrated himself to help us, and she thinks it's because she's in business clothes (suit). Actually, she sticks out like a sore thumb, 5'10" and blonde and thin. So duh, hard to miss. (Update: as soon as I started tipping extra I've been waited on like a queen, alone. HAHA!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What day is it? What time is it?

We're so confused. Day is night and night is day. We awake at 2pm local time and go to bed at 6am local time. We operate on East Coast hours, so as far as I, and the rest of the bank are concerned, I'm having a breakfast of cheese and crackers and a cappucino in the hotel bar. Otherwise I'm stuck with something heavy from one of the other hotel restaurants. On the one hand my body senses it is morning, but on the other hand me eyes see that it's late afternoon and getting overcast. The sense of time, or lack of, is disconcerting. It should be ok, logically, but it's still weird.

The hotel is buzzing with "after work" activity. A caucasian man across the room, speaking French into his Blackberry, is having a chilled glass of white wine with what look like a basket of fritos (though I'm sure that can't be right). Seasons, the bar and lounge, is open until midnight, and spans two rooms across from one another. I am in the main bar area. Across the hall there is a case of sweets and other small groups of people computing or having tea or enjoying their first beer or wine of cocktail of the day.

When we were driven home last night there were mosquitos in the car. The driver had been standing around chatting it up with the security guards, and had left the door open. Renee and I fought bugs all the way back to the hotel. Last night I dreamed of batting mosquitos and hanging on for dear life as Renee drove us through the lawless Hyderabad traffic. I'm told it's worse in Bangalore and Chennai. My first India dream!

We've spent very little time outdoors. Probably a good thing since the temperature is hovering around 100 F.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's Hot in India

Hey, it's hot in India.

Ya think?

And really really foreign. I know that sounds odd, and kind of obvious, but it's foreign in every sense of the word. Scotland was different, but I wouldn't call it particularly foreign. I don't think I can really describe it.

The flights were good. Business Class rocks, and I'm officially spoiled. Watch movies, knit, sleep, then we're in Frankfurt. Watch more movies, knit, and sleep a little, then we're in Hyderabad. A few weeks ago a woman at Barnes & Noble saw me buying a book about India and told me that what struck her most when she got off the plane was the smell. It's different, for sure, but not as offensive as I'd imagined. Not so far, anyway.

Did I mention that India is hot?

Helipad behind the Taj Krishna hotel, from my window, 3pm IST

We arrived last night at 1:00 AM India Time. It took forever to get our bags, and I think we accidently grabbed a bag that belonged to someone else! Woops. I didn't do it. We'll be working standard East Coast hours, so we're trying to stay with some kind of East Coast schedule. So, while it's almost 6pm in Norfolk, it's 3:15 AM here and I will be going to bed by 4AM. I think my brain is just going to have a difficult time with this. We'll get up around noon, see a bit of the city, then head to the site at 5pm. Monday is Memorial Day in the US, but there is no holiday here.

I've started uploading pictures to Flickr. Some of the newest are first, but click on the group called India.