Saturday 22 January 2011

Indian Conference 2011 - Day 1 -The start of things

Zoli ( the student accompanying me on this travel) and I slept well for the first night with the ariconditioning making the room fine. We awoke at 6 for breakfast at 6:30. The food was 1/2 english 1/2 indian with scrambled eggs, sausages, cereal, toast(from sweetened bread) and curry. This was very nice however the coffee was like brown water, weak as gnat's pee.

We and the rest of the westen delegates promptly filed onto the bu at 7:15 and then waited in the heat for about 15mins for another indian couple to arrive. The bus looked like the muppet hippy trail buss with lots of worn leather and the drive obliged the muppet theme by driving like crazy harry! Everything which moved was overtaken and the whole trip was like a rollercoaster (I've never had "air" whilst sat in a bus before!) into the mountains.

The conference started late(of course) with a prayer and the lighting of an oil lamp! My talk was in the first morning session and went well with good audience feedback and later the chairman congratulated me for doing a good talk. It always surprises me the number of people who have 30+ slides for a 15 -20 mins talk. 30 slides would need a slide change every 20s!
The conference is being hosted at the local university which si nicely air-conditioned but in the middle of nowhere. The climate control means that most of the day is spent in comfort and I try to sit close to the wall mounted unit so that I feel the full effects of the cool breeze emanating from the device

It is a bit strange to see virtually every female in a sari especially in this heat. I guess I only see the dress as formal/smart rather then a day to day cloths. Lunch was served outside in the midday heat with only a couple of fans cooling the delegates. I succumbed to the temptation of fish curry served with pancakes, rice, dumplings.

The first day has been ok so far, there has been too many cancelled speakers and typically the cancelled appearances are the ones which I wanted!

Thursday 13 January 2011

Indian Conference 2011 - Day 0 -Getting there

The following posts are extracts from my journal which I started to write whilst away - I hope that I (Andy) will be able to this maintain following my return to Hungary

Day 1 1:30 am local time

I've been awake since 5am CET and am currently waiting for the third flight from Dubai to Cochin. The travel so far has been good; The Malev flight was bascis yet functional and the Emerates flight from frankfurt to Dubai was nice and smooth. The 5 hours flew by whilst watching "The Expendables" and 3/4 of "Interception" with the highlight of the film coinciding with the landing of the plane. The food and service was very good with good quality and quantities of things to munch and slurp. However, the overzealous stewardess prevented the theft of a blanket - It would have been for samm (honest!)
Zoli(chemistry Ph.d Student and co-worker) has been an excellent travel companion; well humoured; generous and fun despite us spending 7+hours in airport longues together. The final flight sees us seated separated by 40 rows with me buried in the last row of the plane.
I'm interested to see how this week in india pans out as I'm looking forward to a life with less technology. This reduction has come voluntary as I'm travelling without a computer and will have a wifi-less phone which will be used sparingly for SMSes. It is hard to believe that mankind has survived for the last 2000+ years without the need to facebook or to look for that all important email. I remember receiving my first email address from University back in 1997. I never would have thought that it would explode into my life in the way it has. The strange thing is that only apple and amazon email me with offers and the overal quality of the general email communication I receive is rather poor. A few lines of poor english haphazardly thrown down. I know, I am the most guilty one of this.
I am hoping that the extra time which I will have will also enable me to (re)discover prayer and mediation. I know that whilst on holiday, it is rather easy to relax, focus and make time for contemplative things but the times that I need it the most is when i feel my time is pressed the most. Retrospection reveals that I'm too busy with not much and too many unimportant things. Times to streamine. I'm also hoping the conference isn't terrible; that I'll be able to plan ICF and enjoy the hotel's pool.
I hope that Samm is sleeping well and that Milkda isn't mooing too loud. I also hope that Crunchy is rehoused ASAP. It is a little sad because she has become aggressive towards other animals and this lifestyle isn't compatible with farmlife. Only the other day, she saw the cat through the windows and jumped 1 meter into the window to get the animal!!! She hasn't been bad (Only killed 2 Cats, 1 sheep and countless hedgehogs) but she is very agressive. For example, she has tried to chew her way into the pig house!!!! On the other hand, she is gentle and very kind natured dog towards other humans. I think her problems start from when she was a small puppy till she was 1 year old. She was very poorly and couldn't play/see properly. Now she is better, the problems have appeared but we couldn't discipline her during her early days as she was soo tired/unmotivated.

4:35 am
We made it! A trip from the airport to the Hotel feels like a victory when you suvive! The final flight was on a massive 777 which was packed to the rafters with people. At the last moment, a large indian(with a GB passeport) sat next to or virtually on top of me and then promptly spent the remainder of the flight fidgeting. I managed to get off o sleep but did get to see the end of interception (Good film but tried too much at the end of the film) and the "The A-Team" ( Not too bad film - Could have been a great action film sans the poor portrail of the 80s legends).
Once landed, the fun had only just begun - the 3/4h wait at the border with MORE paperwork.(Thank you EU for making reconciling this part of travel to the 19th Century) was followed by a 20min search for our pre-booked taxi which magically appeared after phoning the conference.
The 1.5h taxi ride was intense - Breaking distances, passing space and other highway code niceties are optional and actively encouraged to be broken. Going head to head with a bus isn't nice but part for the course. The road which we travelled on are single carriage pothole laded roads which meander through the mountains and bisects the bright red soil. Travel is accompanied by the ensemble of car horns every 2 seconds.
Arriving at the hotel, we realised it looked better on the web! it would have been nice 20 years ago and needs dragging into 2011.
Conference registration went well(With hindsight, that was about all that did!). These few positives need to be highlighted. We finally got breakfast moved early so that we didn't have a 10min breakfast munch before leaving for the conference. Most of the delegates (including us) thought that the conference was happening at the hotel but was instead being hosted at the local uni in the middle of nowhere.
Went for a 1/2h sweaty walk into town over broken pavements, rubbish and other undescribable things. The smell was refreshing too. Dinned in a local tandorii restuarant and had cauliflower (rantott?) and veggies. I hope it stays down and in!

Time for a quick blog

Oops, We've not posted anything for a while!
This will change - I'm editing my journals from my recent india trip and will start posting them soon