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BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & ExperiencesViews: 9603
Oct 14, 2006 5:54 pmBBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Tarun Hukku

Hi All,

 

We have members from about 60 countries on BBN - some of these are citizens of these countries and others are NRIs.

 

This thread is being started to enable BBNers from all over the globe to share their experiences and knowledge about the countries they live in . You could also share your experiences even if you were staying in that country earlier.

 

The content in this thread can be a mix of cultural & business experiences, knowledge. Any thoughts on the industries that are strong in those regions would be welcome as also specific business opportunities that Members can exploit.

 

NO POLITICS, SLANDER please.

 

I would like to invite you all to make an attempt to pen down your thoughts on this. I know it would take effort but do make an attempt. And do write all that you believe is relevant for this audience, the more the better. And even if you go wrong it doesnt matter - we will allow a lot of latitude as long as it is not slanderous chatter or politics.

 

Happy Sharing

Tarun

Private Reply to Tarun Hukku

Oct 14, 2006 6:42 pmBBNer in Finland#

Sabita
Tarun, great idea! :-)

I've been in Finland for more than a year now, and BBN keeps me connected to Bangalore in it's own way...

Finland's been a great learning experience for me, in so many ways...
Language: I used to assume English is mandatory everywhere, till I hit Europe. The initial shock of not being able to communicate with everyone around me took a while to wear off :-) People do speak English, some very well, but most do so very hesitantly. It is rude to prompt them if they seem stuck for words - they are, but they don't appreciate being told so :-)

Food: Be prepared :-) Vegetarian diet will comprise fruits and salads if you can't cook. Pork rates high on the popularity scale, alongwith beef, and followed by reindeer meat. Food labels - ingredients are all written in Finnish and Swedish - it's easier to learn a few ingredient-words, than to go hunting for food with English labels...

People: Among the sweetest, friendliest people, if they ever get talking to you! It takes a while for people to warm up, and on an average, they seem shy and reserved towards foreigners. It's a completely different story when they're drunk, and they like their alcohol :-)
They do share a fascination for all things exotic, like India :-) Finland's a small country - 5 million people, though geographically they're 3rd(?) largest in Europe. The idea of a country like India, with all its population, is a favourite topic of questions, for most Finnish. It gets a little awkward when you have to explain, sometimes,(in this age!), that we don't really have elephants walking the streets...

Work and business: IT seems to form a fair majority of the businesses. Manufacturing industries are bigger towards the south...I'm sure Google can help a lot more here!
Work ethics: People are very strict about their work hours. The high levels of honesty and integrity really struck me. No chatting or fooling around in the 8hrs spent at the desk. All gossip and chatter is reserved for the coffee and lunch-breaks. No overtime unless required, and punctual reporting.

It seems like they're all about seriousness and the stiff-upper-lip, but most Finnish have a great lifestyle - they are entitled by law to month-long summer breaks, week-long winter breaks, and they make full use of it :-) Four very distinct seasons here and they have a set of activities for every season - summer being the most 'celebrated'. Winters can be really harsh here - upto -30C in Jan-Feb.

I could go on I s'pose :-)

Private Reply to Sabita

Oct 14, 2006 8:23 pmre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Ramakrishnan "RV" Viswanathan
Hi

Good thought to re-introduce oneself to the group.

I am an ex-investment banker from India. Landed up in Canada after a stint in Bahrain. So I can say I am kind of international!

Settling down in Canada is a slow process but I am getting there - slow and steady.

Look forward to meeting the others on the group.

Warm regards - RV

Private Reply to Ramakrishnan "RV" Viswanathan

Oct 14, 2006 9:27 pmre: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Sanjay Das
Is Kerala international? Cos thats the only place I've been outside my home n office desk :-). But its a real pleasure to hear from people who share in their international business and cultural experiences. Must say you're never short of a good idea Tarun.

Cheers
Sanjay

Private Reply to Sanjay Das

Oct 15, 2006 3:19 pmre: re: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Anuradha Goyal
I have been in Houston, Texas for last 3 months and have penned down my experiences here on my blog.

http://anuradhagoyal.blogspot.com

It also lists my travelogues in Sri Lanka and a few place within India.

Regards
Anu

Private Reply to Anuradha Goyal

Oct 16, 2006 6:08 am BBNers - Malaysia & Tahiland#

Sanjeev Kumar Vyas
Dear All,
I was in Bangalore for a year untila a couple of months.

I am currently in Malaysia. I was staying in Malaysia since 2001 before I came to Bangalore. I am currently handeling Malaysian and Thai Market for my company and thus keep visiting Thailand once a month.

Food Malaysia: If you are a Vegetarian it would be a problem in some areas. However you can get south Indian foods at most of the locations. If you not into rice then it would be an issue. And the Chinese food here is not at all similar to the Indian Chinese food many of us love to have in India so keep that in mind.

Food in Tahiland: Again if u r a vegetarian you are in deep trouble here. Indian food here is expensive as it is a premium food. regular food available would be chicken or pork which is very popular. Rice is the main food here too.

If you have any specific queries you would like to ask feel free to send me a PM or a message on GB. I would love to be of any help.

Warm Regards,
Sanjeev Kumar Vyas

Private Reply to Sanjeev Kumar Vyas

Oct 16, 2006 7:33 amSingapore and Bangkok#

Manoj Sethu
Singapore:
Very clean city. Good transportation - MRT, buses and cabs.
You could even travel in bus or train to neighbouring Malaysia. If you are particular about Indian food try near Mustafa in Little India. Expensive though. For a change you could try Singaporean food like chicken soup and rice or Chicken / fish porridge at food courts/restaurants. Pork, duck, frog are also some delicacies (I didn't venture to try 'em though!!!). Hotels are in the range of Sing $ 50+ for decent one bedroom near Lavender / Little India. But if you like real good ones with spacious rooms they are around S$100. Try carrying a map and your exact stay location and address in person. If you are lost in outside the CBD, you wont find many people to help you, not even cab drivers sometimes. They hesitate, in fact are taken aback when you ask them. Not very friendly unless seen in the right situation, like a seminar or meeting.

One thing that caught my eye was I saw `two' uniformed policmen and that too fully armed inside the airport. Not a policeman on the street, no police vehicles around. Incidence of crime are very rare and so are accidents. I was told there could be one in 6 months mostly due to mechanical failures on speedy highways. Due respect to pedestrians and cyclists. You can speak English (commonly) and Tamil (to Indians).

Bangkok:
You get Visa on landing at TB 1000 and while returning TB500 as airport tax. Mostly Bangalore or Mumbai like atmosphere, and not great in cleanliness. Food mostly the same as in Singapore. Hotels are in abundance from cheap sleezy ones to real decent ones in the central areas like Sukhumvit. Try Park Inn or Ambassador excellent rooms and service, expensive at around Thai Bahts 3000. You do get lots of Chinese, Taiwanese and cheap imitation electronics. I've heard (not tried) all of them are good, atleast in longivity. If you are not the exploring type, try not to locate near Sukhumvit area, it's vice during late evenings (It's very shocking to see them on the streets, and very blunt in seeking customers. Except for this being a put off, it was a feeling of being in Bangalore or Mumbai). The zoo and palace are ok, but there are many similar places in India, except for the dolpin show. The Buddhist temple near the palace is good and supposedly powerful.

Mostly English. You could often meet someone who will laugh at everything or nod their head in acceptance for everything. That's the level understanding of English.

Ive been descriptive, but these are my findings.

MS

Private Reply to Manoj Sethu

Oct 16, 2006 7:48 amAhlan Dubai!#

Vijay Nayak
An Article written By Naresh Khurana (based in Sharjah) on another Network and reproduced with his permission. My two pennies worth.. Having travelled many times on work to Dubai, its so true and am echoing his sentiments!
..Vijay Nayak


Ahlan Dubai... By Naresh Khurana

This is exactly my sentiments abt Dubai....

Truly Something to read and think about current situation in DUBAI ! Ahlan Dubai....... Welcome Dubai.......

With so many Indians hopping the next flight to Dubai (or U.A.E in general)to make their dreams happen..life would turn out to be a shocker here. The common problem for youth in India is that they want to make too much money in too little a time.

They are willing to leave India on the first offer from any country of repute (or even without repute) without considering the pros and cons. As for the millions of U.A.E aspirants in India ....guys, hold on - do a self assessment based on the under mentioned facts:-

* Just don't multiply the AED salary by 13 and convert the same in to rupee earnings. That would be the first of the many mistakes are likely to make. The conversion if at all should be done for savings and not gross earnings.

* If you a married person, consider the cost of family accommodation in U.A.E and more importantly in Dubai. The minimum requirement of a one BHK (bedroom, hall, kitchen) flat would cost you a minimum of AED 4,000/- per month (not per annum, guys) any where in downtown Dubai. Add a minimum of 10-15% annual increments in rent. Don't expect the salaries to rise by even half that %.

* If you are smart enough to realize that you can look for apartments outside Dubai(Sharjah, Ajman, RAK) to save AED 1,000 - 1,500 per month in rent , please allow yourself three to fours hours for commutation every day( given the present traffic situation, which can only degrade with influx of millions of immigrants every year).Add that to a normal 10 hours day would mean you would end up spending around 14-15 hours a day on job......and you thought family life would be so much fun in Dubai.

* Be prepared to shell out AED 100/- for a routine check up at doctors in UAE. If you are lucky you will not fall ill, but god forbid if you do, then you will have a big hole in your pocket.

* If you aren't used to summers of north India and hail from places like Shimla, then you are in for a treat of your lifetime. Temperatures can run up to 50 degrees on a normal sunny afternoon and such days are pretty regular. And did I mention the humidity levels of 95% ...I am sure I did.

* If you don't have children, you are lucky......because if you hv 2-3 children going to school......add at least AED 12,000 (per annum per child) to the cost of living in U.A.E.

* You may think that petrol here is cheaper and so would be the taxies.......try taking a cab from airport to your hotel ........the meter would touch AED 75-100/- before you will be able to make yourself comfortable in the Camry.

* You might have the fanciest of all cars available here, but when it comes to parking the same, you might regret buying one. Imagine roaming around the streets of Dubai for 1 hour just to find a parking space.....alas.....even that's not free.........don't forget to display your parking ticket ...else a fine awaits you.

* Last but not the least of all woes is a triple call rate to your loved ones in India. INR 30 per minute from U.A.E to India.........whereas as INR 8 per minute from India to UAE ..it must give you an idea what awaits you in Dubai. Don't you dare think you can use skype in Dubai.....guys, it is banned and is illegal........even sites like Orkut are banned here.......so much so for the communication.

* So if you are fascinated by the growing number of glam malls in Dubai .........the ever-changing skyline .....all the hype and glory that surrounds this place..the bollywood stars flocking to Dubai every Thursday night...the cute cars ........the chic cafés ..BURJ DUBAI........BURJ AL ARAB ......Dubai Marina; think twice buddies !!!!!! (Remember what is yours is what you take home after a lifetime in Dubai).

No matter how long you stay here you will still be an expatriate ......no UAE passport .........no home.

Trust me, there's nothing like home!!!

Private Reply to Vijay Nayak

Oct 17, 2006 6:10 amre: Ahlan Dubai!#

Jiten Gajaria
Having travelled / worked at many places around the globe, there is one incidence which I would say has remained with me as that incident taught me lots about professional ethics.

I was in UK in 2002 and supposed to visit Dorchester on Thames for a meeting. Since, it was my first trip and I was fairly new in UK, I took an early train and reached the customer's office by 8.45 am. I was thinking the meeting is at 9.30 and so the guy will come at 9. I was surprised to see the man already in the office with most of the office staff. They all had their teas and coffees till 9 am and exactly at 9 am, everyone was on their seat doing their stuff. When I asked the guy about it, his reply was 'When it means office starts at 9, it means work starts at 9, so anything that is not work has to be done before that'. I just loved this work ethic and it has stayed with me since then.

Similar case in Japan. You can't be late for a meeting even by a minute and you can't be early by anything more than 8 minutes as that means you are bad in time management.

More travel experiences later

Private Reply to Jiten Gajaria

Oct 17, 2006 7:26 amwhat do you get if....#

parus sheopuri
what do you get if you cross an elephant and a kangaroo...huge craters all over australia !!!!
(thats the way the joke goes)
thankfully the guys who came up with dolly and the human genetic make up haven't been able to achieve the hybrid "elaroo" !!!

so yeah, i have been in the land down under for about 4 years now and the influence shows as "mate" and "no worries" punctuate a large part of my conversation with anyone

if any one was ever looking for a business opportunity, this is the place to be - put up a shack any where and start selling beer: the aussies will be driven towards it in swarms
they are a bunch of fun loving people who just luv their beer and sports, just don't get into an argument with them while india is playing australia in an ODI

however, when it comes to work they are quite professional. Though they might goof around even in formal meetings, they always get the job done and quite effeciently and effectively i might add

as for the country, has a lot of natural beauty and they sure know how to advertise even the smallest of natural attractions to pull in tourists
if only india did the same, the tourism industry would be light years ahead of IT

to summarise, a gr8 place to be

cheers
parus

Private Reply to parus sheopuri

Oct 27, 2006 4:57 amInternational Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Tarun Hukku
Hi Guys ... you may have noticed from Rrituraj's message that this thread was published in Mid Day in Bangalore ... thanks to all who have written in ... and hope they continue contributing

And for others ... please do share your expereinces with others ... it could be of great help to people

Tarun

Private Reply to Tarun Hukku

Oct 27, 2006 5:48 amre: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Khaiser Jabeen
Tarun,

This is a cool idea,we will deafinitely see more merits to this thread down the line.

Khaiser

Private Reply to Khaiser Jabeen

Oct 27, 2006 6:23 amre: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Shivaji Jammalmadugu
Hi Tarun,

It is really a good sharing experiences that helps people prepare in advance. I think this thread will become the largest treasure of experiences as the contributions grow.

Am in UAE since past 3+ years. During past 8 years, have been travelling. Having visited well organized countries of Europe and absolutely scary suburbs of Africa as well safe streets of Arab countries, there are experiences to share.

Time sense: 9.00 AM meeting what it means in different countries.

9.00 AM Germany - 9.00AM & no tolerance for any genuine delays because others time is also important
9.00 AM France & Belgium - 9.00-9.05 is OK
9.00 AM Arab world - When the big boss arrives the clock strikes 9 ;-D
9.00 AM Egypt - anywhere between 10 & 11 AM
9.00 AM Kenya - the actual time depends who called meeting
9.00 AM Ethiopia & Sudan - before 11 AM anytime

Tea & Coffee is normally served black in most of the countries with sugar delivered separately

Food / Indian food:
Belgium: Better to try the local Belgian or Italian stuff. They are made well and sometimes taste very good. One can order special omlettes (like me) if vegetarian. Restaurents with names such as Bombay, Taj Mahal, Indian etc but chef will be a Bangladeshi / Pakistani with no original Indian taste sometimes, tastes weird

Germany & France: Their food taste is totally different and may not be liked by most Indians. Choices exist with many Asian, American food outlets. In Indian restaurents, mostly a Punjabi chef, good NI dishes and serves you special dishes, speaks to you in Hindi as well takes care of you because the locals are very impressed to see a native Indian enjoying the food as it gives them feeling of authenticity of the restaurent.

Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan etc: The local food habbits are similar to Asia when it comes to spices. For non vegetarians, one can try lot of different animals ;-D. But the taste of the food is totally different. Expect decent quality butter, milk, cheese etc. Indian chef or the locals cooking extremely tasty Indian dishes that even an Indian chef can shy.

UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait: Local food is quite tasty such as Hummous, Tabouleh, Mutabbel, sandwich, salads, sweets, biriyani, pickles etc. They are highly nutritious and mostly without chillies. The meat dishes such as Shish Tawouk, Kebabs, Grilled platter etc are all time favourites of even Indian non-vegetarians. Good Indian restaurents such as Kamat, Delhi Durbar, Saravanas, Sangita, Chappan Bhog, Puranmall, Bikanerwala etc etc.

Lebanon & Jordan: Local food habbits are similar to Arab countries. But also exists lot of options for French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese etc. Difficult to get authentic Indian taste even in Indian restaurents with Indian chefs.

Egypt: Local food habbits are similar to Arab world. Decent Indian restaurents (rarely two or three in Cairo) but have no clue on their taste. For vegetarians there exist a local all time favourite highly nutritious dish called as Koshery. It is a complete meal by itself. One must also try the local drink - Hibiscus Tea or juice.

HOW THEY SEE AN INDIAN?

Europe: Looks at respectfully and consider them techy, trustworthy, freindly, jovial (this is recent but 8 years ago it was different). Indian movies are mostly considered as good comedy movies because the hero & heroin dances, do lot of drama, cries, fights, runs around trees etc etc.

Ethiopia: Are intelligent, freindly, not fully trust worthy, techy but are cautious while dealing. Indian movies are very popular.


Kenya: Considers intelligent, hardworking, freindly but not fully trustworthy. However also thinks Indians are rich and the money they have is theirs. Indian movies are very popular.

Sudan: Considers intelligent, hardworking, freindly, trust worthy and prefers to work with. Indian movies are very popular.

Egypt: Considers intelligent, hardworking, freindly, trust worthy, compares with Egyptians as similar culture, respects a lot and loves to watch Indian movies.

Arab Countries: Considers intelligent, hardworking, freindly, trust worthy and a cheap priced labour. However in the recent years, the attitude is changing because Indians are biggest buyers of property & gold in the region, difficult to get good quality professionals from India even at double the price. Indian movies are very popular.

Jordan & Lebanon: Indian movies are very popular. Considers intelligent, hardworking, freindly, less trustworthy and costly people to hire.



Private Reply to Shivaji Jammalmadugu

Oct 27, 2006 7:20 amre: Ahlan Dubai!#

Ashwath & Anu
Based on my 11 years experience in Abu Dhabi - UAE, these are some reasons why a lot of Indians go and stay there :

1. No Income Tax. Even the Europeans and Americans are attracted by it. I have worked with a lot of them there.

2. Agreed that the income should not be multiplied by 12/13 and the savings should be. But that itself is great especially if you do not belong to software industry. Take for instance one of my collegues, an Andhra chap who used to work in India in the oil and gas sector. His sister was not getting married because of dowry issue. He and his parents were troubled. I suggested that he look for job in UAE. He got a job in March ' 06. Now he is able to afford the dowry and his sister getting married in December.

3. Like Sanjeev said before, although far east has Indian influence, people from any part of India will get food of their choice equivalent to restraurants in India.

4. The % of Indian population is so great that even if you know only hindi (and malayalam of course) you can get by in the initial days in a new country.

5. Sections of Indian Society who will never be able to go to europe / USA etc. can get the flavour of their lifestyle. I know a chap who used to work as document controller in Bangalore. He was only 10th std. pass. He could have never gone abroad if UAE market was not open to people like him.

6. Initially when I landed in UAE, one old timer Indian asked me how long will I be there ? I told him 5 years max. Then he asked me are you planning to bring your family. When I replied in affirmative, he replied that I would be staying a long time there. When I asked him why, he said that the attraction for family ( compared to India )here is :

a. No Power Cuts
b. No Mosquitos
c. Better Lifestyle
d. More safe for Women

Even now my wife still agrees to it.

7. I couldn't resist this. The pubs are open till 3 AM. In bangalore it closes at 11 PM.

Private Reply to Ashwath & Anu

Oct 27, 2006 7:46 amre: re: Ahlan Dubai!#

Shivaji Jammalmadugu

There are many aspects towards living in UAE. Have a look at the recent debate on this subject.
http://www.ryze.com/posttopic.php?topicid=759878&confid=662

Nevertheless, living in UAE is good and most of Indians love to be part of it. There are many reasons and some of them are:

i. Over 1 million Indians in UAE (total population 4 million)

ii. Locals speak Hindi to an Indian most of the time (I dont think this exists anywhere else in the world)

iii. Indians are considered to be hardworking, spice loving, intelligent breed (there are exceptions where they consider Indians as cheap)

iv. Maximum schools are Indian or management is Indian

v. Climate is similar to many parts of India except the two hot months of summer (for Bangaloreans UAE summer is 6 months)

vi. Everything available in India is available here

vii. Pubs apart we can buy the best quality stuff from Duty Free at 1/5th or 1/10th price we pay in India ;-D

viii.Dubai Police, in my experience is the BEST when it comes to dealing with people

ix. Highly secured for all ages of people. One can leave laptop, cash, gold, mobiles etc in car and it stays there for days

x. Culture is cosmopolitan where attitude is to enjoy life without hurting others. People are mostly freindly.


Private Reply to Shivaji Jammalmadugu

Nov 02, 2006 12:45 pmInternational Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Ranjit Gorde
Where do I begin? ....................

Ever since Tarun started this most interesting tread, I have been confronted with this question. I think I am going to break my inputs into installments so that I don't become a drag:

Salaam wa alekum or in short Salaam, which means peace in Arabic. Shalom in Hebrew. Salaam could be used as a greeting in most Asian countries west of Bangladesh right up till Lebanon and in many north African countries.

Long before the black gold was struck in the Arabian Peninsula, the people in that region used to live as nomads and in small groups. They used to wander in the sandy deserts looking for water and food/dates. Once in a while, they would come across another group wandering around to look for water and food. "Salam wa alekhun" did the trick so that both the groups could hang out together or part in peace.

Much has been said about Dubai and the UAE. But the action actually began in Bahrain. The Oil was first struck in Bahrain (1930s) in that region. So the small island became the center of trade and commerce, education, etc. The first refinery, the first bank, the first seaport, the first industry, you name it, all that the Gulf has today actually began in Bahrain. And in some respects, the other AGCC are yet to catch up with it……………..

Bahrain was called Delmon in the ancient times. There was trade link between Indus Valley and Bahrain, Alexander built a fort in Bahrain, he even ordered couple of ships to be built in Bahrain.

Oil and trade apart, Bahrain is possibly the biggest natural pearl producer. When we were small, our landlord Mr. Al Arrayyad, who was the biggest pearl merchant, used to proudly tell us that one of his tear drop pearls adorns the crown of Queen Elizabeth II. The pearl was so precious and rare that he could not put a price to it, so he gave it free.

Speaking about the royalty: Bahrain is ruled by Al Khalifa family. Few years back, when security wasn't a big deal, royalty was so close to the people. There used to be weekly ‘darbar’ where anyone could go and talk to the Amir and share the meal with him. My family has attended many functions where the Amir/King would be present. I remember, my mother talks about one occasion when the present King of Bahrain, who was the Crown Prince at the time, sitting at the same table as my folks got up and brought her a drink. Once I met the brother of the king, who was the defense minister at the time, in the busy Gold Souq and shook hands with him. I blurted a greeting in Arabic, but His Highness answered me back in Hindi...............

TO BE CONTINUED.........

Private Reply to Ranjit Gorde

Nov 02, 2006 2:24 pmre: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Ki$hor C@riappa

Sultanate of Oman


I am almost on the verge of completing two years in Muscat, the capital city of Oman. Unlike, Dubai, Oman is for the quieter types, with very options for the partying types.
 
With a lot of time at your disposal after office hours, bachelors find it difficult to kill time. While the ones with family enjoy the time they get to spend with their loved ones which was luxury for a person like me coming from Bangalore.
 
Here are my list of Pros and Cons if you prefer to stay in Oman:
 
Pros
 
1.No traffic snarls and absolutely no pollution
2.Relatively-crime free, but have to be on guard always
3.The local Omanis are the best lot among the GCC Arabs
4.Uninterrupted power and water supply
5.Lot of grocery options and veg supplies
6.Moderate nation with temples, churches
7.Lots of Indian non-veg and veg restaurants
  
Cons
 
1.Inept doctors in private hospitals.
2.Average education in Indian schools
3.Poor public transport
4.Majority of the people get stagnant career-wise
5.Can’t change jobs easily
 
If you are looking for more information, email kishorcariappa@yahoo.com or check my blog: http://kishorcariappa.blogspot.com

Private Reply to Ki$hor C@riappa

Nov 05, 2006 10:05 amNewYork Trucker#

Bliss Blot
I had this interesting experience in New York, when I was there the last time. I was walking down somewhere near East Village when I was passing a construction site. A truck that was backing up into the site was making a huge noise and blowing out a lot of smoke. I happened to be close to it at that point and there was no one else around. I just looked up at the driver with a slight involuntary grimace with no real intent to show any irritation. The driver, a big black man with a menacing moustache looked down at me and turned the engine off. I walked faster trying to avoid his gaze. Not knowing how he would react, I tried to play it safe and just smiled. He leaned out towards me, his face breaking into a massive smile, he said "Sorry Man." I didn't know what to do because a gesture like that is something you will never get to see in India. Having spent most of my life in Bangalore and having grown up in a new locality where construction trucks are common place, an apology from a trucker was something too hard for me to digest. By then I had walked at least 10 yards away from the truck and I kept looking in utter disbelief at this guy who had by now put a hand out. I kept walking and I raised my arms and waved at him. He raised a heavy thumb and took back the hand. The engine began to growl again but this time I was about 100 metres away from the site.

Private Reply to Bliss Blot

Nov 05, 2006 10:47 amIs there anybody from Africa?#

gijo vijayan
Hi

I am a travel craze guy who has blown up lot of money in Travel, I have been to Srilanka and Singapore. Srilanka is fine , singapore is clean and costly.

I am keen to go to Tanzania and other African Countries, If anyone out there can give me details, I will be happy. I like to know tribal life and customs.

If anyone wanto to live among tribals in Kerala,Kindly contact me

Regards

GIJO

Private Reply to gijo vijayan

Nov 05, 2006 11:57 amre: Is there anybody from Africa?#

Shivaji Jammalmadugu
Hey,

I have been to the African continent many times. The opportunity to live with tribals is currently unimaginable considering the living conditions.

Kenya:

One must be very careful right from getting out of the aircraft till back on board. The customs officers are keen to make money and it depends on how much is your baggage. Whenever they see an Indian with huge bags, they ensure they get paid well otherwise it will be a nightmare for the Indian. If the local contact is good, then one can clear containers without paying a penny.

In the streets of Nairobi, it is advisable for everyone to keep the car doors locked and window glass up. Never dare to get alone out of your hotel / secured living place on to the streets. Someone may rob you off even for a silver ring. In fact your host will advise you so and you can find huge walls with barbed electric fences with armed security guards to man the thick metal gates.

Amidst this scary environment, there exists fantastic Hindu Temples of Balaji & Krishna built over an acre in the center of Nairobi. There is a huge Swaminarayan temple too. One can find a large Indian community all around and most of the people seems to be Gujaratis reached the African continent may be 300 years ago.

Local Indian restaurents serve best of dishes, meeting the expectations of typical Indian tastebuds. You need to believe it, most of the restaurents have locals as chefs.

The weather is quite cool even during hot summer. Outside city limits, the jungles are quite thick and notoriously known for the giant African elephants, who are much more freindlier than the uniformed locals.

When in Kenya, don't forget to go for jungle safari with a professional guide with you. It is a wonderful experience. It is important to have all necessary vaccinations to go out of the city and one should be cautious while dealing with the patients.

Visa for Indians is normally on arrival but prior submission of your passport copy by host to the Kenya emigration is recommended. Business in Kenya is highest next only to South Africa.

Ethiopia

In my opinion it is a better country compared to Kenya in terms of safety. There is a good business culture among the locals. The Indian community exists but is not so vast. There are Indian restaurents with Indian chefs.

Vaccination is necessary for travelling out of Addis Ababa. Visa normally need to be obtained from local Ethiopian embassy prior to departure. Most Ethiopians send their children to India for higher studies and have lot of respect for Indian teachers.

Hope the info helps.

Can be continued if required .........

Private Reply to Shivaji Jammalmadugu

Nov 06, 2006 10:19 pmCon Job in Spain#

Nirmal Shah
NEVER - repeat - NEVER carry your passport around when you hang out in the city - its always better to leave it in the hotel safe. You can carry a copy with your for ID purposes - you are not required by law to carry your passport on you everywhere - so dont! If a policeman asks you, suggest that you can take him to your hotel. There are several known incidents of con-men posing as cops and taking away your passport.

Real incident I went through in Barcelona (where crowds move around some places well pass midnight, and so you would automatically assume that its a safe city): I was walking on a nearly empty street (adjoining a very crowded street corner) when someone who looked like a tourist asked me if I speak Spanish. When I said I dont, he spoke in broken English and showed me a tattered, and well worn scratch pad with an address. Apprently, he was looking for some street address. In hindsight, I realized that he must have been using this same page on the scratch pad with everyone he tries to trick - it was very worn and could not have been something he was using for the first time.

I told him I didnt know where this was, when suddenly someone jumped in and showed what looked like a police badge (but no photo ID). He said he was a cop and asked what is going on. This happened very swiftly and is usually done in a way that gives you no time to get your bearings. Before I could say anything - he asked for our passports. The guy 'looking' for the address flashed out something that could have been a passport, but the cop insisted that I show him the passport. I was not carrying mine with me (fortunately for me) and I suggested that we go to my hotel two blocks away so that he can check it. Immediately the 'cop' changed his tack and asked me if the other guy was try to sell me drugs or something. While he did this, the other guy slipped away as swiflty as the cop had jumped in. The 'cop' said I can go and before I could figure what happened, he promptly vanished too. All this in less than 4-5 minutes.

I later learned that this is a common con-job and had I shown my passport, I would have been asked to wait while it was being 'verified' and the cop and the other person would have vanished with my passport.

Beware of tricks of this nature - never show your passport to anyone when you are alone. If someone claims to be a cop - ask for a photo ID. It is likely that you wont know what the ID says, but usually they will balk when you start asking questions and you will be 'allowed to go'. If pushed, say that he can go with you to your hotel and check your passport. Most of these guys are otherwise 'harmless' and will find a way to get away from you at that point.

Private Reply to Nirmal Shah

Nov 07, 2006 12:09 pmre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Deepak Shenoy
I love this thread! I think in this context I'd like to say a bit about Norway. I used to go there quite often and have loved the country, so here goes:

Norway's a very beautiful country, with some breathtaking fjords and mountains. With a population of around 5 million, it's a sparsely populated nation (less people in that country than Bangalore!) but is one of the most technologically advanced.

People speak Norwegian (Norsk) which has variations in the spoken form (each region has an accent and a dialect of sorts) and two written forms - Nynorsk and Bokmal. They are not the same, even currency notes come in both languages (front and back). But the language is kinda like singing - it's probably one of the few languages that has an inbuilt tune :) English will take you along, and in most cases so will German. But don't try German too often, since the Norwegians have not yet forgiven the Germans for occupying Norway during WWII but not Sweden (that's an ongoing rivalry)

Folks there are usually friendly, but they need to know you. There are tons of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankan Tamilians there so you will most likely be confused for one of them. Some of the Asian communities have created controversies with things like immigration through arranged marriages and loud blaring speakers at mosques, and such topics tend to come up often in the radio.

Weather: COLD. If you don't like it cold, this is not the place for you. Outside, the temperature can get to -50 degrees in some places; I have skiied at -25 degrees and I can tell you that's freezing. But the coast, where most Norwegians live, is temperature controlled by the gulf stream so in most big cities the temperatures are about -10 degrees in winter, and +22 in summer. Of course EVERYTHING is internally heated; malls, buses, cars, homes etc. Come armed with enough clothes, for the Norwegians have a saying: There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

Food: Norwegian food is...well, bland. But it's delicious once you get your taste buds adjusted, and some of the traditional food you get in cafes is fantastic. My preferences are reindeer, cod and the pork ribs. I do not recommend meatcakes(kjøttkaker) or lutefisk for the uninitiated- these take a LOT of time to get used to. I'm not sure how vegetarians would do, but they do have a lot of kheer style dishes, and vegetarian salads. There are large numbers of "vegan" people in Norway. You can also find the big fast food joints and DIY food packs are available in most stores.

Cities: Oslo, AAlesund, Bergen, Kristiansand are the places to visit. Trondheim in a college town, and there are other small towns littered across the coast. There are places to watch the Northern Lights (in October - December) and even cruises that take you there.

Work wise: People are punctual, efficient and usually very tech-savvy as well. They've always been big on security so you'll find the most amazing security devices here. They're also extremely fun loving, and after work will love to enjoy themselves. But generally, no one shirks work. Most offices work from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Holidaying is big; the country pays for people to have summer and winter holidays so people tend to travel a lot. The summers are great - some places have sun all year around but the biggger cities see about a 2 hour window between sunset to sunrise in summer. Winters are equally harsh, with about four hours of sunlight in Oslo in December.

If you're overweight, you may be out of place! Norwegians may be big but they're usually very healthy. Nature walks, treks etc. seem to be part of the family culture. My customer's 75 year old dad used to do a four hour mountain trek every Sunday!

Taxes are very high. Norway has a 23% sales tax (which for many items you can get back if you're leaving the country) and very high income and wealth taxes.

In all, Norway's a fabulous country to live in, and probably as beautiful as Switzerland if not more. It's not touristy so you will have trouble getting around, but if you like that kind of a ride, it's just the place to travel.

Private Reply to Deepak Shenoy

Nov 07, 2006 12:26 pmBBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Kenneth Pinto
Hi,
This thread is a great learning for me of real life experiences.
I run cross cultural workshops for various organisations and have travelled to a few other countries as well.
I am bangalore based.
But what one reads about a country is often a stereo type of the general population. Here you have given the real life dimension and personal experiences which makes it richer.
Thanks
Kenneth

Private Reply to Kenneth Pinto

Nov 07, 2006 2:00 pmre: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Sunil Mantri
Hi Tarun,

I should appreciate as well as say thanks for starting up this thread.
This thread would be useful to everyone ,especailly people in IT industry.
Now days, travelling to other countries has become so common in IT industry. In such scenario, this thread would really help every individuals a lot and also a good way of undestanding the culture of other part of globe.

Hope we ryzers come up with many more bright Ideas.

Regards
Sunil

Private Reply to Sunil Mantri

Nov 08, 2006 6:23 pmre: re: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

prabha rao
Hi,
Since this is the international thread i am sure there will be someone over here to enlighten me. I just returned from London after the birth of my grand daughter. I just need some information regarding the passport and visa requirement for the child. My daughter-in-law tried to contact the Indian Embassy, but no one answers the phone, and there has been no reply to the emails sent by her either. 1) How much time does it take for the passport for the new born baby to be processed. Is there a quicker method of getting the passport by paying some extra money. I think it is called Xpress passport. Do they have to go and stand in the queue to apply for the passport. I understand that there is usually a long queue and they attend only to the first 50 tokens. Is there some way to get an appointment so as to avoid standing in the queue. What about the British visa. How long do they take to process it. Kindly PM if someone has the information.
prabha

Private Reply to prabha rao

Nov 08, 2006 8:30 pmre: re: re: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Shobha(usha) gowri
Passport issued in India?Then you can send in a request-on a specified form-to the passport office that issued it.If I am right it is on their website
they will add the babies name to the mothers passport
I had to do this years ago and I remember they just gave me a official doc for the baby and then later added her name in my passport
If they are still in the UK-which I think they are-I think there is no go other than going to the Indian embassy(ouch)
But if you are here in India-call up the British council or visit them if you have one in your place-and ask for details-easier than the Indian embassy

Private Reply to Shobha(usha) gowri

Nov 09, 2006 2:50 pmre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Shobha(usha) gowri
It took me a long time to decide which country I wanted to write about:
I was torn between UK and Europe:
UK-esp London for me will always remain THE cosmopolitan country in the world
I went there directly from the US and well...was in American clothes-I couldnt have done anything worse.The only colors were blue,gray and black but what a country.
So when in London dress well
I cannot forget their love for history and the way it intertwined modern ways of living
The other country where you cant forget history is Paris-the ground floors lined with the latest fashion stores and the top floors-the same 18... buildings!!

It was in London I learnt the meaning of the word politeness:I stood across the road and waited to cross-when all the cars stopped-I looked around for a change in the traffic lights-nothing!
So I look at the driver who smiles and signals I cross!Never will I forget it
and then of course the greys and the blacks and the blues give way to colors-riot-on a Friday evening-and the pubs overflow

Private Reply to Shobha(usha) gowri

Nov 09, 2006 3:09 pmre: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Shobha(usha) gowri
Deepak said Norway and I say:Sweden and Denmark and Netherlands and did I forget Belgium?
They told me it was summer-sunny and not to worry about woolens
anyways I had thrown in a few thermals and so I was safe!I thought
On the day I landed at 5 in the morning their time all groggy I read that there is a cold wind from the Arctic(whoa!) and well the temperature dropped to 5.
When my friend found me I was a block of ice!
And then she had her day off and we decided to drive in to the country side and that was the market day
I oggled at the cheese and the food like I was from a country in famine-and ate and bought like there was no tomorrow
I realise most people who travel follow the guide book-insead follow your heart
(in Italy,in Neterhlands,in London,in France ,in South Europe-just follow your heart and drive out of the cities into the vilages
Austria-oh my God -I am digressing)
Water water everywhere-everywhere-and dykes and canals and ships and boats
Was I disoriented-where else will you stop your car to allow a small ship to go ?like we allow the train to go?
Look out of your car window and your neighbor might be a small ship or a boat
And then yo will see the road disapear and open up to allow the boat to pass and then you drive on as if nothing happened
Where ele can you sit in a boat for hours without a care in the world
where else will you wear wooden shoes?
which other country has to battle water and having battled won the war
we drove a 50 mile dyke across the North Sea over the sea -with water all round us
And then the flowers and the Rembrandts and the Van Gough s and the Anne Franks
From there to Belgium-wow
History-and the chocolates-oh the chocolates and the lace and the WAFFLES
I learnt to count my pennnies here-expensive but worth every dime

Private Reply to Shobha(usha) gowri

Nov 14, 2006 8:02 amre: re: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Siddhartha Deb
Athens would always be THE place I have loved most amongst all that I have visited abroad. Unlike other European parts, as one begins to descend down on the Athens airport, the landscape resembles pretty much like India….very much brown, barren hills and very unlike the lush green that hits the eye in other parts of Europe. And you almost feel at home! The similarity doesn’t end there…the weather, warmer than most of Europe, again keeps telling you that you may just be in India.

Things change dramatically, as you step outside the Airport and from then on its never the same. True to what one reads in the books, the Greeks are a stunningly beautiful people. From the guy outside guiding the cabs into the queue to the girl you see traveling in the tube, almost everyone is an eye catcher. The Greeks and especially the women know a thing or more about what fashion is and for all the hype about Paris being the fashion capital, the average Greek ladies on the streets and in public places beat their Parisian counterparts hollow. I was there to participate in an International Seminar on developing Roads and Highways and had the chance to interact and socialize with delegates from across the globe, including ofcourse Europe and US. And over drinks, the views on legendary Greek looks and the very obvious fashion were unanimous.

That apart, Greek people take special pride in talking about their ancient structures, their many Gods and Goddesses and actually find it a pleasure to talk to Indians who come from a God-for-all-seasons-and-all-reasons background. The venue where the famous musician Yanni played live in recent times at Acropolis is actually the The Auditorium of the Theatre of Dionosys. This auditorium is where the tragedies of Aeschyles Sophocles and Euripides and the comedies of Aristophanes were first performed in 5th century BC. While Acropolis remains the flagship tourist destination in Athens, the city itself is dotted with remnants of ancient history reminding one every now and then of the Greek history one reads so often in books.

However, it’s the charming modernity in Athens that impressed me most and since I was there to understand their road transportation systems as well, it was very obvious from what I saw that the Greeks have been continuing with their historical ability to do large projects. The Project I am referring to here is Attiki Odos. This is an urban motorway Project built in the city of Athens (in operations for some 5 years now) to tackle the ever increasing traffic growth as also to meet up with the demands of the Athens Olympics.

This is a project from which our city planners have much to learn. Athens is a busy city unlike some of its other European counterparts where traffic is thin and hence its easier to execute urban projects. There were several aspects about this project which are worthy of noting:
a) This road network criss crosses through the city for a total length of about 65 km.
b) Average trip length of commuters is 15 km which would not be very different from what people in Bangalore are used to.
c) The alignment of the road was meticulously planned and once decided, the administration just did not allow any new settlements to come up along the stretch.
d) The job was entrusted to Private players who were given the liberty to charge Toll from the road users. Remember the average guy in Athens was hitherto not used to paying tolls for road usage and hence making him to pay the toll and then later actually endorse the benefits of a tolled but a good road system took a lot of effort.
e) This Road network clocked an average of 2,60, 000 transactions per day in March, 2006., so that gives one an idea of the extent of traffic volume handled.
f) Athens is located on both hills and flat terrain and therefore it was an Engineering challenge to make this project happen.
g) It has both Manual and Electronic systems for Toll Collection
h) It also has an extensive Traffic monitoring and management system and thus while the Athens policeman may not exactly be seen making desperate attempts to control traffic, efficient monitoring is done all the same.
i) This system is so efficiently managed that about 96% of the road users have recorded ‘satisfied to very satisfied’ levels of response.
j) 38 Toll stations, 193 lanes, a series of big and small tunnels are indicative of the extent to which this system covers Athens’ roadways.

The developers of this Project and the city administration acknowledge the immense positive contributions this Project has had towards the entire country. Athens had pretty chaotic traffic conditions at one time and much of that has now been solved with this road network which coupled with an efficient underground rail network has offered the Athenians a close to perfect solution.

So rewarding this system has been that the developers of Attiki Odos have decided to now focus on other road ways in Greece. What once began as an ambitious project to tackle Athens’ traffic issues has turned out to be an engine for improvement of transportation systems across Greece. And indeed the object of praise of many of the globe’s traffic planners.

A small example of the benefit: Athens was never known to have snowfalls but as India gets hotter, Athens had an unexpected snowfall last winter. And it so turned out that the city administration didn’t have Snow clearing machines but Attiki Odos had! And it was with their equipments that much of the city’s roadways were cleared of snow.

I came away impressed…Athens is indeed the land of the beautiful and the determined. And also with a thought…if they can, why cant we?

sid

Private Reply to Siddhartha Deb

Nov 20, 2006 7:23 pmre: re: re: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experie#

Tarun Hukku
My first and only time in Italy was an eye opener. I had been informed that the denizens could be equally if not more conniving than some of our own local talent.

To save myself the bother, in Milan, I would take the opportunity to walk around rather than take a cab. It really is a small city compared to Indian cities and one can really walk all the way through.

however, one evening I had to take a taxi and proceeded to board one with all kinds of preconceived notions. As we neared our hotel ( I kinda knew the area by then) the cab driver, guided by an ultra modern GPS system, took a wrong turn, and then a circuitous route to get to my hotel.

I thought twice before mentioning to my cabbie that we could have taken a shorter route. But, before I could do it he himself cursed the GPS (it was wonderful to hear that :-) and offered a refund of 2 Euros on the bill.

I, out of relief or gratitude, was happy to leave it with im as a tip as it once again reinforced the idea of basic goodness of people all over the world.

I then proceeded to Rome, but that is another story ;-)

Private Reply to Tarun Hukku

Nov 21, 2006 4:26 pmNever call the Japanese - Japs#

Tushar Katira
Here is something journos in India need to understand. "Japs" is derogatory akin to calling the Chinese - "Chinks" and south Asians - "Pakis".

Yet most of our newspapers including the pink pages routinely use "Japs" for Japanese. In fact, the Economic Times' Corporate Dossier used the word "Japs" in an article on international etiquette !

I hope some sub editors are reading this and edit "Japs" out from their 20-something reporters, replacing it with "the Japanese".

Private Reply to Tushar Katira

Nov 22, 2006 8:03 amBrazil Tips#

Chetan Ramamurthy
Brazil- Business Traveler tips (Mainly for Sao Paulo)


At the Airport on Arrival


Airport - The main international airport of Sao Paulo, known as Guarulhos or Cumbica, is the largest of Sao Paulo’s two airports and is about 30km north of Sao Paulo. All international flight operate from this airport. After you pass out of immigration change about 200USD at the airport itself. The exchange rates though are quite bad everywhere

Upon arriving, the best way to get to a hotel or into the city is via taxi. When travelers choose taxis, they should try to use the blue-and-white Guarucoop radio taxis from the airport. These taxis provide a flat rate from the Airport (approximately BRL100). You could go the taxi counter and pay by Credit card as well. They are reliable and safe, unlike some other “common” taxis. The commun taxis are metered, with drives beginning at BRL4 and costing BRL 1.20 per Kilometer. Regardless of what cab one takes, the ride to the city should take about 30 to 40 minutes from the International Airport.
Internal flights to and from Sao Paulo to Curitiba/Rio should be from the domestic airports which are inside the city
Traffic in SP is quite bad during rush hours and one must schedule atleast an hour or more to get to the International airport
Inside Sao Paulo: Getting Around

Sao Paulo is a huge city of skyscrapers and is like a much cleaner Mumbai. Taxis are the best way for getting around and is good to have the address written down on a piece and paper and given to the driver on boarding. You could also pass this info on to the hotel receptionist and ask for the same
The standard taxis available at the airport, can also be found anywhere around town. However, the more reliable taxi, the Radio Taxis, are better and safer choices for tourists. (i.e. Radio Taxi Sao Paulo (+55 011 251 1733) or Radio Taxi Vermelho e Branco (+55 011 251 1733) ).

They are relatively inexpensive and would cost about $R 15 for journeys from Hotel to customer location
(3.20R + 1.2R per km)

Please learn some Potuguese words before you go.This is a must otherswise you would really have a bad time
Also Sao Paulo is not a very safe city and hence donot venture alone in the night.If you have to donot carry more than 100R with you.

At the Hotel

Many Hotels do not accept $ or American traveler’s cheques. Hence be ready with the Brazilian R$ currency and most banks in and around downtown will get you the same. Numerous banks exist and hence this is not a problem. However you will not get great rates at most banks. Credit cards are accepted and save a lot of hassle in hotels
Coffee makers/Iron box etc; are usually not available in ¾ start hotels. However on request apart from basic toiletries polish, toothpaste, razors are provided .Both European and American adapters work


About the meetings

I had 2 meetings cancelled at the last minute hence donot fix up the meeting in advance and expect that is still on. Keep tabs till the last day. The meetings also extend for an hour or more and they are a mixture of Formal and Informal talk. So you will have to be patient and engage the customer but still get the point across

Very often the prospect will struggle to find the right words in English and would help if you know a bit of Portuguese/Spanish. Best to have somebody with you who knows Portuguese though




Private Reply to Chetan Ramamurthy

Nov 22, 2006 9:25 amre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Jiten Gajaria
Just remembered one thing when i saw people in Garuda Mall struggling or standing on the escalators.

In UK, if you are using an escalator to go up or down, remember one thing. If you want to just stand and let the escalator take you up or down, Stand on the right side as the left side is for thsoe who are in a rush and want to walk up or down. If you stand on the left side, be ready to be either pushed gently or asked to move to right.

Private Reply to Jiten Gajaria

Nov 22, 2006 11:04 amTwo bedroom apartment availalable in Central paris.#

Asif iqbal
Two bedroom apartment(85 Metre squares)approx.900 square feet with two bedrooms and baths with small balcony garden, Concierge, Car park and a central heating system is available for rent for 5 months till April end. Rent is 1300 euros/month. Completely furnished located in the chic 16th arrondisement. Just 25 feet away from Metro LA MUETTE and bus stop No.22 and right next to the Swedish embassy. Only temporarily available. Holiday makers, short stay businessmen can get in touch with me on 9845584891

Thanks
Asif
7316301@voila.fr

Private Reply to Asif iqbal

Nov 22, 2006 11:25 amre: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Any info on Mexico#

Yasmeen Degenaar Iqbal
Hi,

I am likely to travel to Mexico City in the 2nd or 3rd week of January 2007.

Is there anybody here who has traveled to Mexico and has some good tips for me? I have no clue what I am headed for. If I go by my knowledge gathered from the movies and documentaries - it sounds exotic, but for now I must say I am half excited and half exhausted just thinking about the long flight.

Also some information on Denmark would be great as thats where I am likely to end up next.

Cheers
Yasmeen

Private Reply to Yasmeen Degenaar Iqbal

Nov 25, 2006 8:48 amMy Visit to Taiwan-First person recap. ##

Gurudev(gurudev.goud@gmail.com) Goud
My Visit to Taiwan-First person recap. #

Gurudev Goud Hi BBN'ers,

Presenting a write up on my Taiwan visit, Indian Semiconductor Association is kind enough to host it on their website. This is available in its original form at http://www.isaonline.org/pub-downloadables.html

Here it goes.....

MindTree was part of the five member delegation visiting Taipei the capital of Taiwanto attend the prestigious once a year Semi-Tech Exhibition and various other meetings up with prestigious product manufacturing firms and the worlds leading Semiconductor Fab’s like TSMC, UMC etc. This exhibition was coordinated by ISA (Indian Semiconductor Association). Apart from MindTree, the other members of the delegation included Wipro, Softjin, The Hindu Business Line and HelloSoft. Paddy and I represented MindTree. For a country Republic of China (Taiwan) which was given a bad deal both by United Nations and China its huge neighbor.UN had derecognized Taiwan and recognized China (Peoples Republic of China) and thus Taiwan lost all diplomatic relations with all other countries including India. Our Indian Ambassador is actually called General Secretary of the India-Taipei Association] Taiwan has come a long way in owning more than world’s 50 percent of the world’s Semiconductor business!! The Technology world practically shudders to think of any natural calamity to hit Taiwan, last known incident 15 years back was an earthquake which hit Taiwan and the prices of “memory chips” hit the ceiling.

“Shey Shey”
We landed on a pleasant Taipei morning, i.e. pleasant immigration staff, airport staff and above all pleasant Taiwanese co-passengers who gestured with a pleasant “Shey Shey” Thank-you in Mandarin for each interaction. The drive to the hotel took an hour through a beautiful and hilly terrain and much disciplined peak hour traffic. We saw lots of places with worshiped statues of our own great Indian Buddha. For a country so technological advanced the local Taiwanese knowledge of English is near Zero. We all had to carry the Hotel Business Cards always as the Taxi drivers and others can’t understand until we show them the back of the Hotel business cards which is in Mandarin.
VIP Get together dinner: i.e. VIP’s of Semi-Tech get together for a dinner hosted by Indian Ambassador-This is the first time we had a panoramic view of the tallest building in the world the “The Taiwan 101”, which is 509.2 metres from the ground level. . We saw a breath taking view of Taipei set afire by the beautiful Neons of leading Taiwanese corporations garnishing the well served Taipei district before us.


“Ghaas-bhoos”
Herbivorous Paddy and I munched nuts, leaves and salad dressing served in Titanic style cutlery and manners along with some funny smelling so called vegetarian soup. Our omnivorous hosts pitied our state and thought that Indians are so primitive (!) in the food chain and have so less to relish on !! We thought “do they even know that something called “double benney MTR dosa and hot idly sambhar exists?” Well in Taiwan, we could only think – they could eat !!


Semitech Exhibition Taipei
Grand opening ceremony with the Premier of Taiwan Mr. Su Tseng-chang and TSMC founder and CEO Morris Chang, Dr Chang is considered and respected like JRD Tata in Taiwan. We visited the Hsinchu City, which is like the Bangalore of Taiwan. We were flabbergasted with the Manufacturing capability of TSMC and UMC both heavy weight giants and housed opposite to each other. We were served a delicious packed Veggi lunch which looked like Chicken and Beef. Taiwan is the only country in the world where Vegetarian monks get to relish food made to look and taste like Beef and Chicken and is made of Soya Cheese (Tofu).
After a grueling 2 days of standing at the ISA Booth in the exhibition, all the four of us of knew each others sales pitch very well!! But the emotional bonding was such that each one of us considered each others sales pitch as a “Protected IP” ?

In the evening we were all served with a deeply welcomed piping hot Maharashtrian dinner by Mr. Vijay Gokhale and his Deputy Mr. Alok Dimri at the former’s palatial apartment.


Back to the Pavilion
We both landed in Bangalore with a heavy heart and a strong message “Taiwan, marginally smaller in land mass and half the population that of our own state Karnataka controls the entire semiconductor market of planet earth” and that we cannot live without doing business with the small island which never wanted to flaunt or advertise its tallest building The Taiwan 101 or it Semiconductor manufacturing prowess.

Paddy and I realized that we had in fact visited the most productive and functional country in the world.


Thanks and Regards

Guru
----------------------------------------------
Gurudev R Goud
Director-Global Technology Alliance & Partner Relations
MindTree Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
R&D Services, Phase I, Global Village, RVCE Post, Mysore Road
Bengaluru 59
Web : www.mindtree.com/pr/pr.html




Private Reply to Gurudev(gurudev.goud@gmail.com) Goud

Nov 27, 2006 8:02 amWorking In Nigeria?#

Guruprasad H.C
Hello Ryzers,

Can anybody throw some light about working in Nigeria. How safe it is for Indians to work in Nigeria?

Thanks in advance!!

Guruprasad

Private Reply to Guruprasad H.C

Nov 27, 2006 1:26 pmCanada (Vanacouver) inforamtion Needed#

Sunil Mantri
Dear Friends,

Whenever i need advise or any helpful information,i turn to ryze ,where i good all kind of advise.

This time its regarding canada.

I will be shortly travelling to Canada-Edmonton to Execute a Project.Its a 1 year project.
Being there for a year would surely be bit boring.Secondly i have heard it will be too cold there.
So, it would be nice of ryzers if they give me information about the place there if anyone of you have visited there before.

Secondly,it would be great if anyone has friends there.So, that i can take some advise whenever needed and have some good friends there.
If anyone is staying there please proivde their contact details.

Thanks & Regards
Sunil

Private Reply to Sunil Mantri

Nov 28, 2006 8:18 amre: Working In Nigeria?#

Mukund Lele
Hi Guruprasad,

To answer your question fully, one would need to know which part of Nigeria are you headed for, but here goes....

Nigeria is divided into three ethnic groups. The Yorubas (located in West and Sout West), the Ibos (who inhabit the East) and the Hausas (who inhabit the North).

Broadly speaking the North is relatively more bearable for Indians and the erstwhile nomadic Hausas, are - usually - quite straightforward. Kano - a plateau region - has excellent weather conditions.

Corruption is everywhere and hits you the moment you land. It is advisable to have security (normally company provided, if this is an assignment), and particularly so if you are in Lagos.

All in all, one usually has a mixed bag of experiences!

Hope this helps as a starter.

Mukund Lele

Private Reply to Mukund Lele

Dec 02, 2006 8:59 pmParis - the city of lights#

Shivaji Jammalmadugu
Paris is a wonderful city and for us the best time to visit is summer.

Paris is famous for the Eiffel Tower world over. This is one part. The most important is large size museums within the city. Each museum may need 4-5 days of at least 8 hours a day for the treasures it carries including the Da Vinci Code.

If one has short of time, then cruise through the city in the guided cruises which are for a full day and normally cost anywhere between Euro 50 to Euro 200 depending on various options.

Eiffel Tower must be visited while in Paris. The engineering marvel with two levels of elevators which would take tonnes of load from ground level to the top in less than couple of minutes. It is very difficult to imagine the construction period of the tower 1887-89 when the electric motors were not even invented.

During the day, viewing city of Paris through a powerful binocular and correlating the landmarks in a map is a wonderful experience. At night the whole tower with its illumination creates a vibrant energy that would leave a permanent mark in the heart of the visitor. The view is absolutely spectacular.

Moulin Rouge is a wonderful place to visit. Beware, never enter any of the bars (even if you find an Asian sales guy inviting to have a look & offering a free drink). Most of these bars are notorious and rob the visitors. If one carries credit cards and no cash, they will bill for the full credit limit. Even having a local companion might not help unless he knows the bar personnel. Normally the locals will take the visitors to a restaurent / bar which is familiar to them even if it doesnt offer full experience of visiting Moulin Rouge.

Remember to say - Bonjour (Hello) to everyone you meet.
Merci (Thank you)
Merci Bien (Thank you very much)

The French guys told me Bon Appetite is a pure French word for a Happy Lunch and I was thinking it is English.

The French Fries are invented in Belgium.

Try French Wine, Brandy, Cogniac and Champagne.


Private Reply to Shivaji Jammalmadugu

Dec 04, 2006 3:07 amre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

stl
Hi Tarun,

I live in Auckland, New Zealand.
My work however at this time is mostly in the Middle East, specifically Doha, Qatar, where we have been working providing SAP Consulting Services for the last 10 years on the trot.

I travel a fair bit to India, which is mostly in transit mode to Qatar, which allows me to catch up with friends and family. At one point we did maintain offices in Bangalore, New Delhi & Southern California (Orange County), these have since been closed.

If I can be of any help, please let me know.

Regards,
Sanjiv T Lall

Private Reply to stl

Dec 04, 2006 12:46 pmBBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Ranjit Gorde
Bahrain -

Bahrain is a tiny island with almost 700,000 population. It is as ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan as it can get. Two third of the population consists of Bahrainis. Large numbers of Europeans, Americans, Africans, and East Asians inhabit this island.

The size of the island and its population can deceive one but do not go by it. This tiny kingdom has shown the way to the rest of the Gulf Cooperative Council countries how to move away from being petrol-dependant economy to one that is more spread out economy. Bahrain's first major venture in this direction was ALBA or Aluminum Bahrain. It is one of the biggest aluminum smelters in the world. Bahrain also has ASRY which is one of the leading shipbuilding and repair yards in the region. There are several other industries on the island.

However, the most thriving industry is the Tourism. In fact, tourism has overtaken all other industries in revenue, including petroleum.

The liberal outlook and freedom invites many neighboring Arabs to spend their weekends in Bahrain. Bahrainis connected to Saudi Arabia by one of world's longest causeways in the world. The drive on this causeway is sheer thrill. In the middle there is a man-made island that has a restaurant on top of a tower overlooking the causeway and one can see both the lands of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain is a banking and financial hub. Several international banks and offshore banking institutes are located here. To reiterate its position in the sector, recently the Bahrain government has undertaken the Bahrain Financial Harbor at the cost of USD 1.3bn. It is a fully integrated home to the entire value chain in the financial services sector.

There are several business opportunities in Bahrain. The market is opening up and the government is encouraging the international investors to invest in Bahrain. It is no more necessary to have a Bahraini partner in establishing a business in Bahrain, as was mandatory before.

The job market is good, too. There is huge manpower available in Bahrain. The government encourages businesses to hire more Bahrainis.

There is ample social life in Bahrain. There are clubs and associations, cinema halls, parks, water sports, and such things. There are many religious places like mosques, churches, and even a Hindu mandir right in the middle of the souq.

Every kind of cuisine is available in Bahrain. There are all kinds of restaurants. The supermarkets are very well stacked and it is easy to find everything one requires to make an authentic ethnic dish.

Communication is easy. Arabic is not absolutely essential. Most business transactions are done in English. The telecommunication in Bahrain is one of the best in the world. The international airport is very efficient and staff very friendly. Most international airlines stop here. Visa is easily available by applying to Bahraini diplomatic mission anywhere in the world. Or, one could easily get a transit visa upon arrival.

The small kingdom is called as the Pearl of the Gulf. I call it home!

Private Reply to Ranjit Gorde

Dec 23, 2006 11:10 amre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Rajiv Bhatia
Hey, anyone at BBN experienced living in Sweden, I would be re-locating there next month , am already overwhelmed with stories of apartment hunting :-) , anyone with first hand living experience in Stockholm !
+ cheers for the Season to all !

Private Reply to Rajiv Bhatia

Jan 10, 2007 4:55 amre: re: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Bhupendra Singh Chaudhry
Hello to all,

I shall be shortly in Cairo for more than a month on a business assignement. (13th Jan)
Can anybody out here guide me on the do's and dont's of the place. Any good places to stay. Food, security,travel etc..etc.. any info on the city and how to go about my stay there would be highly appreciated..

Regards,
Bhupendra Singh Chaudhry

Private Reply to Bhupendra Singh Chaudhry

May 09, 2007 5:45 pmre: re: re: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Ernie Martin
On the way to Cambodia-

Just couple years ago in May, I was touring SE Asia. Made arrangements from Bangkok, Thailand by tour bus to visit Seam Reap, Cambodia. (Cost US$20). I bought the air-condition bus ticket at Bangkok's main train station, 2nd floor.

After reaching the Cambodia/Thai border and going through the motions of immigration, all the tourists from different buses were told to wait nearby a lobby of a small hotel for a small Cambodian bus and it's driver will assist us around noon. The border was very, very dusty and I did wear a mask for protection and breath "clean" air.

Majority of the travellers were young Europeans and sprinkle of Americans and Canadians, and no Cambodians or Thai's for that matter. We were about 25 people.

The small bus didn't show up until 4pm. It's about 4 hour drive from the border to Seam Reap on unpaved/dirt "highway" going through the agricultual heartland. The bus broke down half way because of engine/electrical problem around 6pm. Thank god we stopped for dinner somewhere.

While we were waiting for the driver and a mechanic to fix the bus, local boys and girls (in primary school) were hitting the tourists with local products to buy. They spoke excellent English and the kids knew world geography execeptionally well, and were very superior in their general knowledge of the world affairs compared to American kids. Finally, after the bus was fixed, we reached Seam Reap at midnight, thats right midnight and checked in.:-)).

To make matters worse, on my return trip to the Thai border, the bus axle broke because of the dirt highway and stones/pot holes and jerking. Here we go again and the afternoon temperature around close to 100 degrees F and maybe 95% humidity. I was bathing in sweat.:-)). Thank god for another restaurant on the way. Again all the tourists were foreigners, including sprinkle of Japanese. We had to tranfer into pick up trucks and I rode back of a pick up including 10 others with some rain pouring. I was very glad to reach the frontier of Thai border at 4pm.

Thailand has good highways and good buses and I was on my way to Pattaya by bus, a seaside town in Thailand.

I don't advise people travel by bus into Seam Reap. Fly if you can.

Happy travels!

Cheers,

Ernie

Private Reply to Ernie Martin

May 09, 2007 9:27 pmre: re: re: re: International Thread - Carry On Sharing#

Don't give up at halftime. Concentrate on winning the second half
One of the best threads. Thanks for this thread Tarun. Very useful tips for preparation ahead of your trip.

Thanks for sharing your experience Jiten. Certainly drives home the point.

Here we go...

I have traveled to a few Countries (France, Dubai, Morocco, USA and Germany) and lived in some for a considerable period to comment about them. (thanks to

all the companies I have worked and working so far!)
I will talk abt Morocco, Germany and USA as these were the places I laid my foot on and did not take it out for a while..(Currently in Delaware, USA)

Casablanca, Morocco (my first Foreign trip)

Was my first and worst as I lost all the baggages in transit. Was left with only a camera,few books few dollars and a jacket. what an experience! had to shop

on the very first day i landed. Courtesy- Emirates!
luckily got them in two days + good 150 dollars as compensation:)

Wonderful country located in North Africa, tip of Spain. They share the borders with Algeria- and also the India-Pakistan types relationship! Typically

another European country and does not resemble one bit African.
Casablanca and Rabat are two major cities, with Marrakesh being the most beautiful. Casablanca is very cosmopolitan and neatly maintained. The ladies there

are stunningly beautiful! If you cannot speak Arabic or French, you will have a hard time. I had to learn French before landing in Morocco. So get your

basics atleast.The weather is pretty chill and winters can get harsh. Go well armed if you are traveling between Nov to Feb. Summers are not very hot, rather

pleasant.
The Dunes and Ouzoud Falls are perfect places for a weekend get away. Backpack and adventure the nature's beauty.

Food is a major problem- if you are a veggie, the only thing you get is salad ..Non-veg is rather bland and raw. they relish their Kus-kus, but trust me,

it's as bad as it can get esp if you are used to eating Kentucky fried or Butter chicken. Don't be surprised if you see dog meat and deer meat sold in

Metros.
Morocco is an ethnically diverse country with a rich culture and civilization- lots of Sudanese, French, Spanish, Algerians and Moroccons of course.

You won't get the feeling of being in an Arab Kingdom except when you hear people talk. It's more like a Spanish territory.

The people there are very very friendly- they love music, Cigars and Football. French is a must! English is spoken by very few.
The Hassan II mosque (in night) and Casablanca twin towers are a must visit!


Frankfurt, Germany

About one half of Bangalore, a lovely place, financial hub with all those typical skycrpaers..not considered as a bavarain land by their own fellowmen as it

is not typical German. Lots of immigrants in here!People are courteous, respect time a lot..food is mostly turkish and italian..German food is bad..staple

food being pork, beef and Turkey. If you are a veggie, god bless you!

well connected..lots of indian and srilankan stores right near the Frankfurt main station. But be careful about entering the right street near the station.

Prostitution is legal and a street full of night clubs and sex workers- right in the center of the city. The city is very safe and hotels and restaurants a

plenty!

English is spoken with great difficulty but they manage obviously knowing German is tough to speak!

Remember a small incident..My friends (couples) from Mumbai had called for a cab to leave the hotel at 8.00 in the morning. They reached the lobby at

8.10-looked for the cab and thought it had not come..so they took their time to have a small conversation with the receptionist, read the papers and hung

around..it was 8.20 and only then they realised something was wrong. When they called the cab driver, he gave a crisp reply and hung the phone "I waited for

5 minutes and we don't wait any longer in Germany. Please keep up your time"

So..be punctual for meetings, do not get personal during work and remember what Jiten said. If office hours are between 9-5, work begins at 9.

Germans love their beers and you can find them and drink them at any place..stations, public places..name any and it's allowed..They work hard and party hard
It gets very cold in winters and is pleasant in summers. Frankfurt is very primarily located..An overnight train can take you to France, Netherlands Belgium,

Luxembourg....(oh! that get's me interested in talking abt France....Tarun, you have turned us on!)

Frankfut doesn't boast much history..No major historical sights or concentration camps in Frankfurt, if you want to visit one, the nearest is in Munich or

Berlin. Get tickets to watch local football matches..they are highly interesting!

Chicago, USA

nothing much to comment about this place..One of the best cities..though crime rates being plenty.. Sears towers, Shredd acquarium are must visit

places..take the Sears towers elevator (10 dollars) to experience the speed of the lift and to get the 360* view of the City. Widny city, so be well

equipped. It can get very very cold!

Delaware, USA

very untypical of American States..Car is a must..Forget buses or trains..This place is totally laid back and dead! I have lived in Chicago and Frankfurt and

am certainly not comparing it with those places…but trust me...it’s the basic stuff am referring to here and not night life or mega malls. The shopping is

non-existent- restaurants too. The biggest City in Delaware is Wilmington (which is abt ¼ of Bangalore) and it’s fully shut on weekends. Can you believe

that? No proper infrastructure and public transport. The nearest Citibank branch to make a deposit or encash TCs is in Philadelphia, PA which is about 1.5

hours from our place. We have other banks here like PNC, WSFS but their account opening process takes a lot of time. Citi is the only bank that opens an

account for you without SSN. There is no presence of this bank in the whole state. So every time we want to make a banking transaction, we go to

Pennsylvania...our neighboring state. The buses run every 40 minutes on the weekdays and every 1.5-hour on Saturdays. There is absolutely no public transport

on Sundays. The buses run empty all the time and hence low frequency. Adding to this, the malls or grocery stores are miles apart. This has given us good

exercise and strengthened our calf muscles. The waiting time for taxi is one-hour bare minimum. You cannot find a taxi on the road and I bet that!

To sum up, Car is a must in this place! Before you come here, Get an IDP and book a car on lease. Life becomes easy then. Everyone who moves here buys a

second hand vehicle within a couple of months or takes a new one on lease. Trust me, no one walks on the road here. NO ONE! Even when the sun is shining! My

own colleague said, ‘Guys standing in bus stand needs to feel ashamed!’ This is laughable to say the least!

Delaware was the first to become a state, and the first to cease to exist. Nothing derogatory abt it but it's a fact and I believe it will help visitors!

Private Reply to Don't give up at halftime. Concentrate on winning the second half

May 10, 2007 4:26 amInfo on Brisbane anyone?#

Gayle Newbigging
Hi,

I'd like to know about life in Brisbane, Australia from an Indian perspective. Would be a great help!

Thanks,
Gayle

Private Reply to Gayle Newbigging

Aug 29, 2007 4:57 amI am a Globe Trotter#

Maverick
Hi , reading the experiences of people here , I thought of penning down some of my own.

I have to Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, USA and Canada. Next trip due is to UK.

Common observation about Nordic countries is people are warm, sensitive and agile people. Its difficult to approach them initially for friendship inside work place but as they get used to your presence, things just flow smooth :-). My favorite in Europe is Germany and places in Germany I liked were Kiel, Heidelberg and Frankfurt. Munich is big and Cologne is picturesque. Its easy but quite monotonic life in Germany or for that matter erstwhile Europe cuz everything is laid down to last detail.If you are not on the wrong side of the law then you are fine.

In USA I loved Newyork. I would say for a guy like me its the place to be in.Night life is great and so are people.Striking a conversation over alcohol in a lounge, pub or bar is much easier than here in India.Needless to say the variety of eateries you get in NYC is beyond imagination and also the deals to shop :-). I picked up Levis 501 for just $40.In India its around 3 grands.

My recent visit was to Toronto, Canada. The reason was two fold : first to see how Canada was and second to explore the Job market as I have filed for my immigration there. I would say that Canada has best of Europe and US so far. The reason being that so far the immigration hasn't been much from the specific sets of communities who are pronounced to create nuisance value in US and other parts of the world.

In trems of specifics like cost to stay etc, just ping me on my page and I shall give you a detailed overview.

Cheers

Private Reply to Maverick

Sep 07, 2007 4:13 amPlanning for Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia - Need tips#

Maverick
can someone provide me tips on package deals etc??

Wanna go to Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Jakarta , Kualalampur and Jenting.Also suggestions for any otherplace in Indonesia as I am planning a 10 day trip.

Cheers

Private Reply to Maverick

Sep 07, 2007 7:02 amre: Planning for Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia - Need tips#

Acme Events India .
Hi Maverick,

You could try Uniglobe - The travel Company (Milli Manek - 9980358879), you can refer me - George.

I went on a slightly customized package to Bangkok & Pattaya (came back just yesterday). All arrangements were spot on. Make sure to go - Diving, Deep sea walking, Tiger zoo, Coral Island in Pattaya.

Regards
George

Private Reply to Acme Events India .

Sep 07, 2007 7:53 amre: Planning for Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia - Need tips#

Vivek Chowdhary
dear Mr. Maverick,

"Greetings from Global Travels"

we have just recently finished the Corporate group of 15 pax to bangkok for 4 days, it will be a great opportunity for us if we can work out the good rates and customised packages for u. we look forward for a positive reply. u can call us on 9945066236 (24/7).

Thanks and regards.


VIVEK CHOWDHARY
Executive Director,
M/s. Global Travels, Bangalore,
(Events, Conferences and Travel solutions)
globaltravels@airtelbroadband.in
globaltrvls@gmail.com
+91 9945066236
080-41471065(telefax)

Private Reply to Vivek Chowdhary

Sep 12, 2007 11:41 amre: re: Planning for Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia - Need tips#

Maverick
Ok guys !

Thanks a ton for the info. Now since i am kind of finalized on dates , so will start calling on the contacts provided to me by fellow ryzers here. Looks like its gonna be 3 of us and after initial research have made up our mind on backpacking sometimes in October- Nov i.e after i come back from US.

we are planning to go to Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket in Thailand and Lankavi & Jenting in Malaysia.

Next year around March on target is Cambodia and Indonesia.

Cheers

Private Reply to Maverick

Oct 29, 2007 1:49 pmre: re: re: Planning for Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia - Need tips#

Jo Verde
Hi All,
I cannot believe it has taken me this long to get to this thread and I love it.

I have travelled extensively to Portugal, Spain, England, Ireland throughout the US, Mexico,to some of the tropical islands(Bermuda,Bahamas,Jamaica) and of course my homeland Canada.

However, my most recent trip to India was one of the most memorable for me and once I got over the culture shock, I was in awe. I loved the people, hated the rain everyday, was overcome by the heat, froze in the air conditioning, didn't know where to look first trying to take it all in, was never once afraid of my personal being but was frightened just the same, as an independant woman I became totally dependent on others...biggest shock of all.

Had trouble with the spicy food and the prices charged to foreigners at hotels for excellent service and mediocre rooms, especially since I was there for business. I was amazed at the organized confusion of the roadways especially coming from Canada. I laughed, I cried, I was amazed and the truth be known, I saw very little of India for the work schedule was just to tight...my mistake...and I won't make that one again. I loved seeing the beautiful saris and the stalls on the streets and the children playing and laughing...I was unexplainably emotional when I left...drawn to India and the on line friends I had the opportunity of meeting in person over a coffee/tea and a chat...I was greeted in true friendship and those moments are forever etched in my memory banks.

Now business dealings....well that is another issue...one I will tackle some day.

I will return.
Jo

Private Reply to Jo Verde

Jan 17, 2008 5:05 amre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Ram Sridhar
Hi All,

I have visited a no. of countries in UK & Asia. Ok, just let me share a few pleasnt experiences in some of the countries:

-When I visited London-my first time, in 2001-I was waiting at a designated place in Heathrow Airport, waiting for a friend of mine. After an agonising two hours wait, I thought better of it and hailed a cab and informed the address to the cabbie. When I reached my friend's residence, I found the door locked. To add these woes, his phone was ringing and there was no reponse. I was feeling very bad, as I had no reservation in any of the hotels and the only contact I had-at that time-was my friend, who worked for a famous University. The cabbie understood my predicament, took me to the nearby unit of YMCA. After two hours, I got a nice little room, solely with the help of the cabbie. Despite my insistence, he refused to accept anything extra, just claimed his fare and took off.

-During one of my frequent visits to Singapore, in 2006, I just left my wallet in the cab, when I got off at my hotel. The driver called the hotel desk sometime later and explained to them that he found a wallet-with some US$1000, S$250, and INR3000, along with my two debit cards and three credit cards-and that he was on his way back to the hotel to return the same. He just took the taxi fare for the distance he travelled to return the wallet.

-Last month when I visited KL, from the airport, I reached the hotel and forgotten a bottle of Gold Label Scotch (about S$80) in the back seat. Almost the same thing happened as in Singapore.

Hmmmm....I know why it still rains in this world!

Regards,

Ram Sridhar
CEO,VirtuIndia
Chennai
http://www.virtuindia.com

Private Reply to Ram Sridhar

Jan 21, 2008 7:11 pmre: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Shivaji Jammalmadugu
Hi Friends,

The bad one:

This happened in 2006 at Amman, Jordan. My contact reserved a hotel which claimed to be 4 star. When we went to that place it was like the cheap ones near Majestic and went for different one.

The other hotel charged US$ 160 per night (normal rate US$ 100) and one of the days it sent me to another cheap hotel keeping the price same (the cheaper one charged this hotel US$ 40 per night).

I would recommend to check the hotels before arriving to ensure they offer what they put in writing and preferably go through a good local contact.

The good experience:

During one of my trips to Belgium in 2004 Jan, the local company reserved a room for weekend at a bed & breakfast hotel in Brussels as we were flying next day early morning. This hotel is around 5-6 KMs from airport and we reached late in the night. They left room key and a note about the room charges which will be billed to my credit card. We vacated the room early morning next day. To my surprise they never billed to my card. The company later got info from hotel that they didn't charge because we stayed less than 12 hours and didn't have the breakfast.

Also we waited for taxi for more than 20 minutes. One of the guest's family was going to airport and on request they sent taxi from airport. The taxi driver said normally they charge from starting point but considering our situation he only insisted the fare from hotel to airport. I too agree with Ram - that is why it rains :-)



Cheers,

Shivaji.

Private Reply to Shivaji Jammalmadugu

May 07, 2008 10:20 amre: re: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Suresh Seshadri

Having visited about 20 countries accross Europe, Middle east and Far east, I have many small peals of instances which are memorable.
Belgium- A small town about 2 hrs drive from Brussels is Gent. I happened to stay there on business for about a week and it is such a lovely town. You get to enjoy the true European country side. Just two streets accross, you are outside the town. There is a huge cathedral at the city center, with the famous Belgian glass etching done so intricately. I happened to stay in a serene Hotel just outside the town (Auber du pecheur). The view from the backyard of the Hotel is so picture perfect, with a serene stream flowing, greenery around in plenty, white storks gracfully walking along the stream, a small empty boat tossing on the waves and a spectacular sunrise. I think you cannot ask for anything better than this for a beautiful sunrise view. Even the street outside the hotel has some elegant bangalows with cool home gardens and huge trees surrounding it. It was a treat to watch, which I have luckily captured them in my camera.
I feel myself lucky having enjoyed this about 8 years back.....
More to come....

Private Reply to Suresh Seshadri

May 12, 2008 10:47 amre: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Reshmi Sarkar
Interesting thread Tarun. Well I used to study in Spain and Germany during 2005-2006. I lived in the North of Spain, to be more politically correct I lived in the Basque Country. My 1st semester was spent in Bilbao (of the ugly Guggenheim museum fame) and then lived in San Sebastian (of the picturesque beaches fame) during my internship. In Germany I studied at the Ruhr and lived in Bochum which is close to Dusseldorf.
Spain and Germany were both good experiences for me. Though the Basques/Spaniards were warmer in comparison to the Germans.The Germans were much more organised and methodical in their dealings.
As the Deusto University in Spain, classes used to be one big party with most of my classmates being from Spain and Italy. I still remember that the 1st 10 minutes of our classes everyday was devoted to exchanging abrazos y besos, meaning hugs and kisses!!!
I travelled across Europe when at Germany. Though the sight of 1 foot of snow outside the window every morning and having to trudge through that to reach class was not the most welcome. In a class of 33 students, I had the opportunity to study with people hailing from 18 different nationalities. The very crisp and sing-song danke schoens and bitte schoens still ring in my ears!
I have a lot of fantastic and not-so-fantastic memories I have of my stint in Europe...

Private Reply to Reshmi Sarkar

Jun 20, 2008 7:35 amre: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

R Ramkumar
Hi

We (My wife, son and I) lived in Vietnam for almost 3 years and just returned to India over 6 months ago.

Not many people in India (or anywhere else inthe world for that manner) are aware of the developments in Vietnam during the last 10 years or so. The larger cities especially Ho Chi Minh City is very modern and Cosmopolitan. There is adequate entertainment and shopping. The city has exclusive show rooms for most of the International brands in clothing, accessories, travel gear, personal care etc. A wide selection of restaurants provide you with food from across the globe. Service at these restaurants is fantastic.
Although it is one of the "new kids on the block", it is quite an expensive destination. There is a lot of disposable income and the people splurge on cell phones, clothing and accessories. Dinner at an upmarket restaurant can easily cost you a couple of hundred USDOllars without and liquor or wine thrown in.
The Vietnamese themselves are very friendly people - some of the most friendly that you will find across the globe. Getting by can be an issue as a lot of people outside the downtown area do not speak English.
Ho Chi Minh City hosts a huge number of expatriates from across the world. There are 8 International School - each with over a 1000 kids.
In addition to the high profile shopping arcades and exclusive stores, a parallel market exists where excess supplies, seconds and even fakes are sold - it is difficult to differentiate though. These products - mainly clothing, footwear, fashion accessories and travel gear are sold at a fraction of the prices at the exclusive stores. USDollars and Vietnamese Dong are accepted at all stores.
Travelling in Vietnam pretty much reminds you of the landscape in Kerala - there is a lot of greenery and water. However, what little they have is showcased and marketed extremely well. This is the only reason that visitors to Vietnam were almost 5million in 2007. In 1997, they had less than 100,000 visitors. The India Government should take a leaf out of their book if they wish to promote tourism.
There is a great variety of souveniers you can bring back - wooden, ceramic and stone pieces are available all over the city.
Carry enough money - it is not a cheap destination. It has rapidly become an expensive destination. To give you an example of how quickly it has become expensive - when I first went to Vietnam (Dec. 2004), I stayed at the Caravelle Hotel (a 5 star property downtown) at a tariff of US$ 82 per night inclusive of breakfast. In December 2007, corporate rates at the same property was US$ 200 exclusive of breakfast (which was an additional US$ 20).
My family and I loved our stay in Vietnam - both my wife and son were quite reluctant to return to India. We'd made friends (both Vietnamese and expats) who were very nice.
If there is any additional or specific information that anybody would like to have on Vietnam, please feel free to email me.

Private Reply to R Ramkumar

Jan 28, 2009 6:56 amre: re: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Suriya
Hey Tarun,

Nice to see such innovative and new topics and the responses to that ... where do you get such creative topics from ... need some gyan :-)

regards
Suriya
Scorpio Events

Private Reply to Suriya

Mar 06, 2010 5:26 amre: re: re: BBNers - International Experiences Thread - Sharing Global Information & Experiences#

Nicks
Hello Friends,

Would be traveling to Manila and Bali in the coming months. Although I have had the opportunity to travel to Manila on earlier occasion, i missed places outside metro manila.

Tips, must see suggestions and experiences on places like cebu,luzon,tagatay, bali, yogyakarta etc or any other in and around these regions would be pretty helpful.

Private Reply to Nicks

Mar 29, 2010 3:22 amLadies in Singapore#

N KRISHNAN
Many of you may be aware of this particular thing about Singapore. For those who do not know, pl be very careful in how you talk or move with a lady in Singapore. The Government has stringent laws to punish the male perpetrators very severely, if there is any complaint from the ladies. Whatever we men folk have to say as counter argument will not be heard by the police.

I heard from one of my friends, who is a citizen of Singapore, that recently a son of an ex-Central Minister from India had to undergo this ordeal as a female friend accompanied him to his hotel complained that he tried to molest the lady. That person was immediately arrested, never allowed to contact his relatives, friends or seek legal help. He had to undergo this predicament for about 3 months and later released after a top executive from external affairs ministry intervened and requested for the release of this person.

Be very careful with the ladies in Singapore, right from how you address them, how you move & speak to them. Remember, even a small argument can result in serious consequences.

Now let us heave a collective sigh about the way women are being treated in India. Hmmmm.....

Private Reply to N KRISHNAN

Mar 29, 2010 9:10 amre:An Indian American travelling on Indian trains #

Ernie Martin
Just two years ago (Feb/March '08)I traveled across India by trains. I'm a train buff! I lived in US all my adult life, and grew up in Bombay and Hyderabad in my younger years.

Now the trains journey in India: I slept in trains for 24 nights out of 5 week stay in India.:-). I traveled basically on AC-2 and one long journey on AC-3. Did visit several cities, among them Bangalore, and spent a one full day. I met two Ryzers, George treated for lunch and Anand treated me for dinner, all near and surrounding the train station. Did visit commercial area of Bangalore with shops on auto rickshaw.

Since my train yatra included 17 different express/mail trains for the 30 days Indrail Pass, I'll just share the longest couple of train journeys:

Kaniyakumari to Jammu Tawi by Himasagar Express on AC-3. It was the longest train journey in miles. This train took 3 nights and 4 days, for a total of 72 hours. Started with plenty of South Indians. Lot's of rice/dal, vege curry and dosas at stations. Also ordered food from the compartment; People were friendly and drank coffee and tea. Starting in Nagpur the trains passengers has almost become "Hindi Belt", North Indians with a sprinkle of Sikhs. Here the food changed mostly to chapati and dal, vege, and some rice. For me, no problem with Hindi.

On AC-3, many were professionals and business people and easy to converse in English and I was very comfortable. I just made sure I was drinking bottled water all the time, and it was easy to purchase on the train stations. I had several conversations with the professionals and drank plenty of chai in the process.:-). Did reach Jammu Tawi on time around 2pm after 3 nights. Did cross Ganges river bridge in Patna.

Okha(Dwarka) to Guwahati by Dwarka Guwahati Express on AC-2: 3 nights and 4 days; took close to 72 hours, with a 4 hours delay; I got sick on this train on the 2nd day because I ate fried wada from a local vendor (he was wandering around on the platform) for breakfast. It was something to do with the oil. fortunately, the Assamese passengers were very hospitable and comforted me. I had dizzy spells and sick to my stomach. I felt better after few hours.

I started the journey from Dwarka, the temple town. I could have left from Okha, but couldn't get a decent hotel room the previous night. They only have one "decent" hotel in Okha and had no vacancy. Not many hotels in Okha. I took one of those local shuttle vans to the main bus depot to Dwarka and checked into a hotel, and all eateries were vegetarian. Did visit the Krishna temple in Dwarka and it's environs. Great sunset and camel rides at the beach.

Back on the train. Almost all of the passengers from Ahmedabad to Guwahati were Assamese. They spoke Hindi and many in the AC-2 spoke English. This trains journey delay is due to single track from JPG (Jaipal Guri?)to Guwahati. The fellow passengers some of whom were the railway workers returning from Ahmadabad after attending a conference were women. The women were very friendly and even ordered dinners for two nights for me. It gave a great pleasure and and sense of adventure when this express train crossed the great Brahmaputra river bridge.

Cheers,

Ernie Martin

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Apr 04, 2010 8:26 amDead Sea Jordan#

Shivaji Jammalmadugu
Hi Guys,

During my tenure in Dubai (since 2003 until Jan 2010), have travelled to many countries on business and sometimes combined with pleasure.

One such trip was to Dead Sea during Sept 2009 with family. I had been there 3 times but this one was good with family. We stayed at the Movenpick Dead Sea and it is an amazing place for family stay. One should stay at least a couple of days here as there are lot of possible experiences right from floating in the dead sea to swimming in the various pools within the hotel. The children play area, pools etc are very well done with a lot of activities. The bars, various cuisines on offer are in range with Sheesha (Hukka) as well during evenings.

During my stay the Finance Head was a Bengali Indian and he was happy to see us because it is mostly visited by Americans, Europeans, British etc apart from Arabs. We got a special price due to my contact in Jordan and paid Euro 80 per night for a village hut type accommodation (resort) including breakfast with 2 kids sharing same bed. The welcome drink made up of local lemons and sugar is very tasty & to be honest that is the only place I had such a nice lemon juice.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Cheers,

Shivaji.

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