December 21, 2006

Bangalore Day 1 - Hotel, Google, Dinner

We arrived safely in Bangalore - at 5:40am local time. Customs and immigration formalities were just that, a formality, and in no time we were standing looking around for our driver surrounded by dozens of drivers holding up little white signs with names on them. We only got accosted by a few taxi drivers anxious for our business, and finally Debbie found our driver in the crowd.

We loaded our bags into the car (well actually a couple of volunteer porters did the loading for us) and I apologetically informed them I had no rupees. They cheerfully replied that they would take any currency, so I gave them my last GBP small change - 30p. That worked out to about Rs 26 which is about right. Whew.

The ride to the hotel was exotic and interesting and bewildering for us, though looking back on it knowing what we know now it was actually very quiet and uneventful. Well except that the driver took us to the wrong Chancery Hotel... We went in to check in and they could find no record of our reservation. They realized we might be at the "wrong" Chancery Hotel and called over to the other one (The Chancery Pavilion.) Sure enough that's where our reservation is. They quickly ran out and stopped our driver before he left and we managed to get things sorted out. The two hotels are actually quite close to each other and after agreeing with him that he'd drive us to Google in the morning, we got to our room. Except for the fact that it has two slightly too small beds instead of one large one it's a fine room, a nice "five star" room that I'd be happy with anywhere in the world. Plenty of bottled water, internet access, a lovely shower and tub, everything you would want. We slept for a few hours then off to Google.

It turns out the Google office is a short walk from the hotel, the driver pointed out the route to us and since then we've walked each day. The office is nice, felt very "Googly" with all the standard Google arrangements. Meals in the office, soft drinks and juices, and all sorts of snacks. One nice feature is along with a good selection of teas, is an assortment of tea biscuits in brightly colored containers. One of the tea bags available is a masala chai which made me happy.

We came back to the hotel for their buffet lunch which was fine if unremarkable. The lamb chops were tasty, but it suffers from the same disadvantage of any buffet. Nothing is terribly fresh, and being held on a steam table makes the flavors suffer. Still it was our first "indian" food and it made us happy.

I spent some time in the office, catching up with work things and arranging meetings and talks for later in the week. With work done for the day our next "outing" was to try to find dinner. I'd looked at some Googler recommendations on the internal Google Bangalore website, and had noticed that one of the places "Nandhini" was on our way to the hotel. Nandhini serves Andhra style food which is spicy! It was the first really spicy hot food we'd had and it was delcious! Definitely need to go back. Unfortunately the beer selection has so far been downright bad. Well, it's fine if you want a light lager, but a good flavored ale? Forget it.

After dinner we went for a little walk around the "neighborhood." Basically down to the end of the block the Google office is located on, and back. At the end of the block we saw the only traffic accident I've seen so far this trip, which was a bike that went down when he didn't see the road was diverted to the right and he
laid it down when he hit a patch of sand while trying to turn too fast. Everyone rushed to help him (including me) but he was ok, no serious damage done. On the way back from that I saw the only graffiti I've noticed so far. I have no idea what it means...
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