Yesterday was fairly uneventful other than heading over to the Yahoo! Bangalore office at Embassy Links Business Park, which is home to a ton of multinational tech companies and there's roughly 20-30K people that come to work everyday in the park for companies like Yahoo!, IBM, AXS and more. The day was packed full of sessions with Yahoo/Right Media engineering staff and was super productive, but not the most interesting thing for you to read about, so I saved you the pain.
Today however, was a completely different story!
Our hosts picked us up around 9am from the hotel and our plan was to head out to Mysore- which is approximately 145km (about 80 miles) from Bangalore. Now this might sound like a quick drive up the motorway to get over there, but my friends, there is NOTHING like rush hour traffic in Bangalore. It's like the 405 in LA on a bad day, every day, with hundreds of thousands of autos, 2-wheelers and cars all pumping thru local streets since highway infrastructure is a brand new concept here. You literally will not see anything that even resembles a highway until you are well outside the city limits, and this can take up to 2 hours!
Once outside of the city limits, the landscape changed pretty dramatically and the jungles of South India began to take over where humans left off. This isn't to say you don't see settlements and villages, but they hug the sides of the Mysore road and a few hundred meters beyond that, it goes back to dense palm trees and teak forest pretty quickly. Visually- it was stunning, although at times I did catch myself again feeling like this wasn't too far off from southern American states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida that I had traveled back and forth throughout as a kid, going from Denver to visit relatives.
The roadside villages are filled with dhabas (roadside snacks) and hotels (no, not ones you sleep in, but rather somehow here in India, hotel has come to mean "restaurant", though admittedly no one had a clue as to why), little shacks hawking wares such as sachets of tobacco mixed with Betel nut and cool drinks; medical shops; tea stalls; motorbike repair shops and everything in between- all crammed into little huts made out of concrete that had definitely seen better days.
We stopped for lunch once we arrived in Mysore at a place called the Metropole. Food was fantastic and the hotel (yes, real hotel) that the Metropole is attached to, was equally as nice. Would definitely come back to Mysore just to stay there, just maybe not in the peak of festival season!
After lunch, we headed to Mysore Palace- let me tell you something, you have never seen wealth until you see how the Rajas used to live it up.
This place was MASSIVE, probably hundreds of rooms, though we were only allowed to stroll thru a handful of the main chambers due to us visiting in the middle of a festival that leads up to a day called Dussera, which is one of the four most important holidays for Hindus each year. This festival remembers the 10 days that Lord Rama battled evil forces successfully and then returned home. In Mysore on Dussera, the Raja will come riding down the streets on the back of an elephant and there are drummers, musicians and contests celebrating Lord Rama.
The most amazing piece of the tour of the palace outside of the amazing architecture and sculptures that adorned the Palace walls, was the 300kilo+ solid gold throne that the King of Mysore used to sit on when he held court- all I can say is DAMN!
Post tour, we headed out of the city and over to our hosts campus to meet with their teams and handle business (the whole reason why I'm here in India, though I wish I WAS here for tourism). The campus is small but nice and they're expanding like crazy, getting ready to add an additional 2 buildings before the end of next year to handle something like 2000 employees to service their accounts.
On our way there, we also got to see Infosys' campus. Infosys is one of, if not THE largest IT solutions firms in India, employing over 100k employees around the world. Infosys also has the largest training center for a private sector organization in Asia. In 2009 a new training center was opened in Mysore to accommodate up to 10k trainees and they crank out about 4500 new software professionals a year.
Yes, I know, not your typical tourist destination, but hey- what can I say, when you work in technology, these kinds of things are pretty cool even if lame to the outsider.
After the Mysore campus tour, we headed back to Bangalore for some much needed rest. The ride back was quiet as we were all exhausted from the day (and jet lag still nagging our brains), and when we got back to our hotel (yes, real one), decided to call it a night and I personally crashed hard as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Tomorrow: Training up our offshore team...I know JUST what you want to read about...but there's some highlights post-training I'm sure.