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This bomb-blast lightening waltz
22 January 2010 @ 04:51 pm
Student: What do we write in our final journals for the days when we didn't really visit any companies?
Professor D.: Oh, short entries for those days are perfectly acceptable. You can just write 'today I flew from Bangalore to Delhi. There was a lot of fog.'

Hah! XD

Class ended today. It feels strange to type! The past two weeks have been insanely busy; I've been updating with much less frequency than my time in Mumbai. But now it's over. In two days I'll be back in class in Arizona, and life will go on.

It's not quite over yet, though. Tonight about half of the group is heading over to Agra, spending the night there, and then seeing the Taj Mahal first thing in the morning. I'm so low on energy, but I have to go. I will regret it forever if I don't go. Agra is right there.

Anyway, um.... *does the Masakali dance* Later!
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
21 January 2010 @ 09:50 pm
Hah, whiny post from last time sure was whiny. But clearly I made it through. Typing quickly today because I'm running low on internet time and also livejournal is slow tonight so I want to get this post done, man.

-So the night before I posted I had a serious mission. CLOTHES SHOPPING. :P We found a street in Bangalore that was straight up clothing stores for blocks and blocks. I got this dress. I was uncertain when I'd get to wear it, but I don't get to buy clothes in India every day so I took advantage of it. Turns out the opportunity to wear it was going to be sooner than I thought. MORE ON THIS IN A SECOND.

-That evening at midnight we threw a surprise birthday party for my roommate. Sooo fun!

-The next day I was, well, pretty badly sick. XD This was also our busiest day by far so I spent most of it trying my damndest to look healthier than I felt. But I started having a sneezing fit in the Tata headquarters. Oh god, I felt so awkward. I don't think anyone cared though. I tried to make up for it with insightful questions. :P

-Heh the day after was a mad rush to the airport. This turned out to be pointless because New Delhi is undergoing a ridiculous fog epidemic. Really. Look it up if you don't believe me. And since visibility is almost 0% in some areas, flights to and from have been delayed and canceled like crazy.

-I showed up three hours later than intended and learned I'd been invited to a Sikh wedding and had thirty minutes to get ready? The groom was a brother of a Thunderbird in the area, and apparently our entire Winterim was invited. Sooo I threw on my new dress and went to the wedding! Damn, was that fun!

-After that we went out for dinner at a lowkey bar. The food there was excellent. But the ride back... my god. Okay, we decided it would be a GREAT IDEA to pile eleven (!!!) people into a car that normally seats five. And the guy driving was... going really really REALLY fast for someone who couldn't see more than two feet in front of him. And this adventure thing went on for two and a half hours. And we nearly crashed into two elephants. Really. ELEPHANTS, guys, ELEPHANTS. I think I might have used up my store of good luck for this year in one night alone though it makes for one hell of a story now. XD

-And today I've been running around, to business meetings in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. My life is insane.

I don't really have any concrete thoughts on Delhi yet; I've been running around too much for that. The sheer amount of fog is hilarious, though, in the sense that it looks like my imagination; a lot of gray wtf nothingness and then suddenly really clear images.

Only two more days left in India. The trip to the Taj Mahal might be canceled because of the aforementioned fog. Nahiiiin! But we'll see, yeah?
 
 
Current Music: Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
19 January 2010 @ 11:45 pm
>:|  
I'm flying to New Delhi tomorrow, and I have a lot to say about Bangalore when I post the pictures. It's my favorite Indian city so far!

But, by god, I have a cold, I couldn't sleep last night because of it, and I had a twelve hour work day today. And, as I said above, I'm flying again tomorrow. Fun fun fun!

[/End whining]
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
Greetings from Bangalore!

There was something a bit bollywood about the day I had yesterday. Although I was cranky in the afternoon, others on the program convinced me to go to a tapas bar a few blocks away for dinner. Good, good decision. It was all you could eat and drink for a really good price and I was soon renewing my eternal prem kahani with Kingfisher beer, and helping others open their drinks with my lizard shaped beer opener. (I really should write a thank you note to Bryn Mawr for gifting us that one in Hell Week. It's so useful!) Overall very fun evening and, feeling justified in thinking my night over, I went back to the hotel. I changed into my PJs, took out my contacts, and passed out for a few minutes. But that's all I got, because next thing I knew people on the program were telling me I had to go to the bar downstairs for a dance party. As I am A. adapt somewhat easily to changing situations, or; B. prone to peer pressure... I went.

Yes, that's right, I went to a dance party dressed in PJs, hotel slippers, and sans contacts. I was too tired and ummm inebriated to give a damn at this point. And the DJ was playing excellent Hindi music, thus renewing all my energy. It was one of those moments where... I don't even know. I just kept thinking "am I really dancing to some of my favorite music, in my PJs, half blind, 8000 miles away from home? My life is so perfect right now." It was incredibly liberating to just not care, not think, not worry.

Today our professor led us on a tour of Bangalore. We went on a safari and saw tigers, got to ride around a bit on elephants, saw an allegedly million year old banyan tree (huh?!?!), and some gorgeous government buildings. Also I had pani puri again yayyy. So um, yeah, speaking of really appreciating my life at the moment! I'll elaborate more on these later when I upload the relevant pictures. For now let's just leave it at this: I'm tired as hell, and that won't let up any time soon, but I'm loving Bangalore!
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
Yeah, today is my last day in Hyderabad, and it feels strange. I enjoyed Hyderabad, but I don't feel at all qualified in saying I know the area at all. It's been an eye opening stay, however. For a lot of the company visits I felt over my head. I'm an MA and my background is in sociology and history. In a lot of ways, the world of pharma and IT are completely new to me. But it was fascinating all the same to see the labs, and here how (some) of these CEOs are using their companies for microfinance.

But today. Oh, today was right up my alley. It was pretty much straight up sociology, and this was my face; :DCollapse )

Next was a panel on a variety of subjects and, predictably, my favorite was on the media in India, even though I've heard most of it before. Media is my life! <3!

After all this I came back to the hotel and promptly passed out. :P And after having finished my power nap, it was SHOPPING TIME [/Sokka moment.] I tried to find clothes (skirts specifically) but no luck, and I wasn't willing to try on a twelve shirts to find the one that would fit. But I did buy MOVIES! :D YAY.

Cut for picture of one of themCollapse )

Next entry will be in Bangalore!
 
 
Current Music: Snow (Hey Oh!) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
 
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
14 January 2010 @ 10:19 pm
Happy Makar Sankranti! Hyderabad was beyond fun today. I think it's time for a picture update!

Warning for dancing cows and many many pictures.Collapse )
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
So there I am, nomming on fries in a McDonald's in Hyderabad (this was part of class, no joke), when we look out the window and see a bunch of camels go running down the street.

The past two days have been some of the busiest of 2010. Hah. But in all seriousness, I have been running around- in high heels, aaagh my feet!- visiting a fairly diverse array of Hyderabad based companies. A couple takeaway points:

1. India's market is undergoing massive transformation on many levels, shaped by both internal and external factors. It's hard for me to tell if the businesses are creating it, or if the business are just falling in line with society. Since I prefer making things as complex as possible I'll say it's likely both. :P

2. Related to the above: when I was here studying bollywood, I attended a lecture on the growth of the market for all kinds of media in India. I thought it was interesting at the time, but now I can place it in a wider context. Business in general is growing at an incredibly rapid pace here. Still! Even in the economic downturn!

3. The Indian based business schools and companies that we visited have been incredibly innovative and impressive. There's a section of Hyderabad that seems like something out of silicon valley, and the Microsoft "campus" is ... well, you'd have to see it to believe it. Suffice to say it seems like world's most hi-tech university ever. XD

4. The Western based businesses that are doing well here have, without exception, done extensive research beforehand, tailoring their product to the culture of India's consumers. We actually heard a lecture from someone who worked for a company that was (in all likelihood) in the process of failing because they failed to do just that. It seems like it should be a no-brainer, but either way: there may be a considerably amount of opportunity in India, but you can't just show up and expect it to happen with, you know, putting effort into it.

So. That's been my week. Pretty fascinating to me, and I probably could ramble about each point for a post each. But I'll spare you that. XD I will say that I love the mix of sociology, economics, politics, history, finance and so on. I was serious about making things as complex as possible.

I had some other things to say; kinda rambly thinkythoughts about stuff like... oh, 1. identity (or lack thereof) and being a a "citizen of the world" or 2. mental health problems and how those can effect travel (hint = Social Anxiety Disorder + new group of people + crowded city can and did = DISASTER) or 3. WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE (or: A job! I'll take on! Any one!)? But I'm tired as all hell and this entry is on the long side. For another day, maybe.
 
 
Current Mood: weirdweird
Current Music: Chor Bazari - Love Aaj Kal
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
11 January 2010 @ 07:58 am
I went to sleep last night at 9:30 pm. 9:30! I don't think I've gone to sleep that early in a decade. It's not even like it was my first night here (when I went to bed at a more typical 11:30 pm), but actually my second. Let's hear it for stealth jet lag, yeah?

This weekend has been a whirlwind of window shopping, drinking, feeling gleeful over the abundance of South Indian food, and a napping a bit less than I'd expected. I was mistaken about the city tour- that's not for a few more days- so all Hyderabad sightseeing thus far has been done on our own. Pictures to come later, once I've taken some more!

I've been trying to compare differences between Mumbai and Hyderabad, but the latter is so different to me that I'm still processing it. I get the impression that Mumbai is at once more sprawled out and heavily concentrated. Hyderabad is equally crowded- more on that in a second!- but the overall impression I get in Hyderabad is that of height. The buildings seem to have more stories, and my eye is always drawn upward. I even arrived into the city via a cab that took the new highway from above, down into the heart of the city.

Some things have carried over from Mumbai: Specifically, my internal time limit on being able to deal with crowds and inadvertently drawing attention to myself. I've noticed that I'm perfectly fine with both things, and then all of a sudden I'm just... not. It's kind of like when one wakes up in the early morning, thinks "I have a couple more hours to sleep!" and then... the alarm clock goes off. Yesterday when we went in search of a place selling Kingfisher Beer, it can happen in the middle of an excursion and it's annoying. Buuuut I have to pay attention to advice given to me last time: Can't beat myself up over it, and I should respect my limits. Travel is completely worthwhile, but it's not always easy.

Anyway, an antidote to jetlag/crowd/walking around all day exhaustion is clearly to hang out with one's fellow MBAs (well, I'm an MA but who's paying attention... wait), while drinking Kingfisher and listening to Madlib's Beat Konducta Vol 3-4: In India. And then going to sleep almost immediately after dinner.

Today: Twelve hours of class at ISB. Yay! Actually, I'm kinda excited.

While in Hyderabad I want to: See movies! My trip to India is not complete without a trip to a movie theater!

That's all for now.
 
 
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: Iktara - Wake Up Sid
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
08 January 2010 @ 10:25 pm
*Brushes dust off journal*

Hey everyone. I guess this is the official reboot of ye olde travel journal here.

In the eighteen months, give or take, since my last Mumbai related post I've studied Hindi for two semester, graduated from my undergraduate college, searched for jobs, tried to be an aspiring novelist living in my parents' basement (heh), and ultimately wound up... in an international business school? I hadn't intended on this career path when I started out at my college, but it's ultimately proved to be worthwhile.

Anyway! The point of all the above is that: Said graduate school has led me to return to India MUCH sooner than anticipated, and I couldn't be happier about that. This will definitely be different from the Stephanie Stalks Bollywood Tour of '08. For one thing, well, I'm studying the rapidly growing business sector in India. (Shocking that my school would want us to do that, right? Hah.) Furthermore, I'm going to five (!!!) different cities: Hyderabad, Bangalore, New Delhi, Mysore and Agra.

I will probably still discuss bollywood, though. XD

There were some exciting moments on the journey here. The Newark to Mumbai flight was purgatory-like, as always. Add the glamorous fact of getting sick this time around, and it was fun fun fun for all. While in Mumbai, there were some shenanigans with my connecting flight to Hyderabad, so instead of arriving at 2 am I actually arrived at 9 am. Eeep. I stopped counting how many hours I've been awake since setting out from Phoenix, but I stopped counting around 35. And I still haven't slept, by the way!

Now I think if I had sat down to write this post while in the airport it would have been a jetlagged, sleep deprived roar of; "AAAAAAAAGH FML EVERYTHING FAILS FOREVER." Especially after I tripped at one point and possibly broke my toe. (I think I DID yell FML then. Heh.) But then a funny thing happened; all the Hyderabad travelers who had been forced to take a later connecting flight kinda bound together and hilarity ensued. There was a group of Very Friendly Ohioans and a couple people from Hyderabad who told me about great places to shop while I'm here. I think it's funny how travel can occasionally bring people together from mutual desperation if only for a few hours.

Here's another thing that made me go "hmmmm." Tthere were obviously some aggravating moments, but overall I'm pretty thrilled to be back. I didn't realize how much I'd missed India until this morning when I saw familiar stores from last times, billboards of movie actors, and the constant sound sound of my favorite songs blasting from cars and autos. Mumbai (and, from what I can see) Hyderabad are total sensory overloads. But unlike last time when I was completely shell-shocked my first day, I know a bit more of what to expect. It's a joy to return!

I thought about posting some Hyderabad thoughts now, but I think I'll wait until tomorrow after our tour. Instead I'm going to eat my dosas, drink my tea, and take a well earned nap. :D
 
 
Current Music: Sounds of the hotel and Aamir Khan on tv
 
 
This bomb-blast lightening waltz
11 August 2008 @ 10:45 pm
I've been putting off the Important And Meaningful Final Post because I haven't been sure how to approach it. And now it's over a week since I arrived in the United States. Gah! Um um. My bad.

.

Complacency has been one of my biggest problems. I have a tendency settle into a routine that I may not like, but I maintain it because it's safe. I let things happen to me, rather than being responsible for my happiness. This had become particularly pronounced in my most recent year at college, and I was very discontent.

Essentially, my journey to India was exactly what I needed. Right place, right time.

I had the strange, and welcome, experience of being almost entirely on my own (our program coordinators allowed us complete independence when we weren't attending 'classes) in a foreign country that I have been wanting to visit for ten years. I had the advantage of living in a fairly average, non-touristy part of Bombay. I stayed in a typical building complex, wherein every other apartment complex was occupied by families.

It wasn't easy or comfortable a lot of the time. And that's the point. The nature of my life there forced me out of my tendency to unhealthy solitude, as well as divesting me of my constant paranoia of taking any risks. It was either that or being bored to death, really. :P By going out and exploring, I slowly fell in love with Bombay.

.

"This should be interesting," my mother once said to me, months ago. "You'll either like bollywood a lot more, or this thing could completely kill it for you."

"Hm," I said, unresponsive at first. And then I laughed; "I hope not! What would I do with all the DVDs I bought?!"

I wasn't sure what I would get out of this program, when it came to Hindi film, but I think I'm starting to understand. We interviewed a number of people in the industry, but things truly got interesting when the formality faded, and candid opinions emerged. I got the sense of a film industry that is now at an interesting time in its "life." I heard a lot of debate over the relative merits of Bollywood, and no two opinions were the same. In the end, however, I have a lasting impression of creativity and energy. It should be interesting to see what movies come out of the industry in the next few decades.

.

This should be my last entry in dhadak_dhadak for some time. I might post again if Tas emails pictures to me, but otherwise this blog will remain closed until the time I go on my next trip abroad.

Thank you so much for all your comments, IMs and emails while I was in Bombay. They made me happy, without fail.

I want to go back to India. Bomaby, yes. Other parts of the country, too. And I won't be so helpless on the language front, because I will start studying Hindi soon!

Earlier in this entry I mentioned that the city shook me out of complacency. I don't think that was limited to India. I feel energized and awake for the first time in months and months. My final year of college starts in a few weeks, and I'm determined to take charge of my life.

And, you know, watch a lot more movies while I'm at it.

-Stephanie
 
 
Current Mood: energeticenergetic
Current Music: Daras Bina Nahin Chain-Saawariya