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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fond of Fiona

One of the great things about being in India for an expat assignment is that many people have business related trips to Bangalore.    We have been fortunate to have many visitors coming from the US or Europe either via my employer or clients.  Our guests add to the excitement of daily life, allow us to try out new restaurants and give us an excuse to play tourist all over again.     Since most of the visitors work for the same company as me, I generally have some work overlap with their visit.   This has been an exciting way to connect my team to our global network.    Recently my former supervisor, Fiona, came to help get my team up to speed on some specific processes.   

Fiona is one of a kind.  She is petite, powerful and packed with wit.    I had the luck of working for Fiona for the last 3 years before my move.    She helped me grow into the person that was ready for stint in India.   Fiona is well traveled, having grown up in Manchester, England and Tunsia; taken her own family to Paris for a year, now lives in the US and is generally adventurous.    What a perfect person to come to India and help my team sharpen their skills.    While I won't bore you with the list of things we accomplished, I will share with you the mishaps.

Manchester United Bar in
Bangalore - Prithvi & Fiona
After a quick night off to recover from jet-lag, I enlisted my driver to take Fiona and me to work.    Bangalore traffic is something I have learned to ignore but Fiona was rather jumpy in her seat as the number of near misses with buses was more than you count.   The symphony of horns kept her distracted from my ever important download of work dramas.    Upon arrival to the office, Fiona was in need of real tea (remember she is English).   I have gotten used to India filter coffee or chai tea, so finding Darjeerling proved to be a challenge.   Once found Fiona quickly figured out how to get herself through the maize of cubicles and up to the Cafe Coffee Day for a refill.     

Our nights consisted of finger foods and drinks.    Our first stop was at the Manchester United Bar, equipped with autographed jerseys.   Prithvi and Priya joined us for a platter of snacks and drinks.    While all these late nights were keeping my driver busy, we opted to be adventurous and take the 45 min ride back to the hotel via a rick-shaw.    Even our Indian colleagues thought we were brave for going so far in the rickshaw.   Well you only live once and we survived for less than $10.    Of course our driver tried to change the price once we got to our destination, good thing we are tough.      

We made the rounds, dinner and drinks around town.   Shopping for jewelry, handbags and fabric - it was great fun.  Somehow I was the only one who got wrapped in a Sari, no matter how I tried Fiona would not induldge me.      Fiona joined Doug and I for lunch after my scuba diving and ordered a Tomato Basil salad.  In her zest to share her treat, she passed doug a tomato which promptly landed in his kingfisher beer.   I am not sure Kobe Bryant could have sunk a basket more efficiently.  Fortunately Doug is a mix master and enjoyed a beer marinated tomato.  We rounded out our day with a trip to the Shiva Temple, just a few days after Shiva's birthday / festival, the temple was still in full celebrations... We checked our shoes, walked through a maze of small shrines where we could ask Ganesh for help, offer some milk to Shiva and round the diety for blessings.   It is really quite peaceful to see so many people constantly visitng a temple.    
Loose tomatoes
 For those of you that know Fiona, you are probably expecting more "shocking" behavior... Aside from announcing to our HR team that she is a real live "lesbian" and sharing her issues with her digestive track before air travel - her impact can be seen in the team's excitement to work on new things.   We look forward to her retun and have remembered not to take ourselves so seriously all the time.   

Visiting the 50 ft Shiva
Statue/ Temple

Shopping for souvenirs,
somehow i ended up with another Sari

Auto Rick-Shaw - dirty/ bumpy

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