February 06, 2007

... and we're off!

We're sitting in the Singapore Airlines business class lounge (the "Silver Kris" lounge) because Google has recently changed our travel policy to allow business class travel for long flights. Our flight leaves at midnight and I can still hardly believe we're actually doing this!

This week has been kind of hectic. We finished off our immunizations, rabies and japanese encephalitis, and I talked to my doctor about taking copies of my records with me. (He seems to think my medical history is mundane enough that this won't be necessary.) Got my Indian work permit - Google hires a very efficient law firm in San Francisco who does all the hard work. I just send them my passport, a blank visa application, and my resume and they take care of all the rest. Very nice.

I joined a mailing list recommended to me by a friend ("Silklist") that looks like it will be very helpful with acculturation in general and Bangalore in particular, and immediately discovered that I already know at least one person on the list, and that Debbie had been introduced to the moderator by yet another mutual friend. I know it's a small world, but this is ridiculous. In another "small world" moment, I reconnected with an old DEC friend (Vasudev) and discovered that he's also friends with our friends-of-friends Suku and Latha AND he's a friend of a PM I work with at Google. So we had dinner with them last week and it was great fun.

We've been madly cramming cultural, food, and social events into our last weeks in town. Dinner with friends, plays at Shotgun ("The Forest War" - superb!), Berkeley Rep ("Pillowman" - also excellent, and Bear Bergman's "Monday Night in Westerbork" (which was fabulous too!) Dinner with our friends Carol and Robert and donating decades worth of books and artifacts about radical sex to the Center for Sex and Culture. One last dim sum at Yank Sing with dear friends, dinner at Jardiniere, brunch at Tartine, dinner at Quince. Saying "au revoir" in person to as many friends as we can.

It still seems somewhat unreal, even though the movers came this morning. (Their comment "Oh, this will be quick!" because we're only taking advantage of the 500lb allowance by air.) Draining the waterbed, sending a few last things off to Janice my wife up in Truckee (mostly my CD collection, some childhood photos, keepsakes.) Cancelled the phone, cancelled DSL, forwarded our mail, stopped the paper for one last time.

Dealing with cellphones has been particularly interesting. I had a brand new Treo 700p from Verizon. Problem is that it's CDMA and while I can in theory use a CDMA phone in India, Google's deal is with a GSM provider (and I'd rather get GSM anyway.) So I sold my 700p to Nathan, and bought a 680 and a pay-as-you go SIM card from T-Mobile. Turns out that number portability works to pre-paid plans! Furthermore, T-Mobile is more than happy to grab my number away from Verizon and stick it on a pre-paid SIM of theirs. So I get to keep my phone number. But nothing is ever quite that simple when it comes to US cellphone plans. Because I had a new phone from Verizon, I have a 2 year commitment. If I cancel it costs me almost $200. On the other hand Debbie and my family are all also on my plan and are all month-to-month. So, what I did was I put a new handset on the main phone line (the one with the contract obligation) and changed the phone number and billing address on that line - to Janice's existing handset [but a new number - she wanted one]. Then I canceled Debbie's line, and canceled Janice's old line. Same result as canceling my line but $200 cheaper! Ok enough geeking about hacking cellphone provider billing.

I'm looking foward to flying Singapore airlines. They're supposed to be very nice, and their business class is supposed to be especially nice. We're spending a few days in Singapore, at the Shangri-la hotel. The plan is to go to lots of hawker centers, maybe shop a little, and do the night safari at the zoo. It should be fun.