Thursday, July 8, 2010

Turn around...

We've only just completed three of project sim at our B2 office, and I already feel like I've been there forever (in a good way!) Here's a typical day, for all you folks at home who've been pesteringImeanasking me.

We kick off the day by getting on a bus that comes right outside the B1 office/our apartment complex at 8:15 in the morning. The bus ride takes about 15 or 20 minutes, during which time I always make sure to count the number of cows I see on the streets. Tuesday was 6, Wednesday 3, and today I only saw one!

Above: View from our TWU party bus, it's relatively exciting.

Side note: O K, I always knew cows were considered sacred in India, and I'd heard distant rumors and stories about how I'd see many of them here before I came here. But I did not expect cows to hang out in highways or roam around town as they please or sit in the middle of intersections and watch cars and motorcyclists maneuver around them for twenty minutes. I am starting to feel like I am in some sort of alternate crazy Katamari Damancy world, seeing cows just appear everywhere like it's no big deal.

When we arrive at the B2 office, we grab breakfast on the partially-finished, ridiculously-red rooftop of the building. I've settled into a breakfast routine of "masala" omelet (onions, tomatoes, s&p, SPICY chile, yum!) and a PB&J sandwich.

After breakfast, we usually do a group stand-up where we go over what we did yesterday, what our plans are for the day, and discuss any concerns or issues that are relevant to us as a team. The rest of the day is spent doing "BA" things - mainly supporting developers, continuing to gather requirements, and generally staying on top/ahead of schedule for iterations. Although I enjoy what I'm doing, I'm also having to adjust to the lack of structure here during project sim - whereas our first week (and even our second, to some extent) were conveniently blocked into neat 90-minute sessions of this or that, now the only concrete item on our "schedule" is the application we need to deliver for R1. It's quite unnerving, not having that sort of set-in-stone schedule I've been used to following for as long as I can remember.

Our days end around 6:30 (we're staying later than usual to make up for the missed day on Monday, which means full speed ahead for this weekend's camping trip, woohoo!), when we do a group wrap-up (similar to the morning's stand up) and then board the bus again, all invariably spent from all our successes and frustrations and conversations throughout the day. The days really are draining. Not just mentally, but physically as well. By the time I'm on the 45-minute bus ride home (same distance as the 15-minute ride in the morning...) some days I can barely muster up the energy to put on a mixtape, open a window, and stare outside...

Above: motorcyclists in traffic, picture taken from the bus on the way home

Traffic here is incredibly frustrating. It's not uncommon to be stuck at one intersection for 10 minutes. And if that wasn't crazy enough, the entire time other drivers are honking at you, cows are amblin' by causing trouble for everyone, and TWUers are belting out "Total Eclipse of the Heart" from the back of the bus like our lives depend on it. 

It's 11:37.. I'm bent on getting eight hours of shut-eye, so I'm going to end here and try to squeeze in an update before camping on Saturday. Much love.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Seven Star Hotel?!

Above: the view over breakfast.

This morning, I trekked out to Leela Palace with a couple of TWUers in search of food. Well, we got food, and then some!

I'd been to Leela once before, but it'd been dark and we'd only gone downstairs to the club. I remember not being too impressed by this so-called "seven star" hotel at the time. The service was great and the club was nice enough, probably on par with some of the ones you'd see in downtown Chicago, but it wasn't anything to call home about (and the tequila shots were too salty, bleh).

This time though, we went on a nice morning, and oh, my god. I'll let the photos speak for themselves:

It reminded me of a Vegas hotel, but whereas Vegas hotels are basically flashy, crowd-pleasing mock-ups of nice places that exist elsewhere, Leela seemed a lot older and quieter. At one point during lunch on the patio, my coworker Molly thought she'd seen a peacock in the garden, but it turned out to be a cleaning lady's sari, lol. (But honestly it wouldn't have been surprising if a peacock (or a unicorn...) had appeared, this hotel was that ridiculous.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pecha Kucha, plain white Ts, and pirated goodness.

Above: Patriotic Chi-town TWUers celebrating Fourth of July in front of our office. 1 is for America! 2 is for...fob.

Last week, one of our trainers spoke to us about a form of presentation called Pecha Kucha ("peh-cha koo-cha"), which means "the art of conversation" in Japanese. A Pecha Kucha presentation is focused on a relatively narrow subject and consists of 20 slides, displayed for 20 seconds each (for a total presentation time of slightly under seven minutes). We are encouraged to interact with our audience, use our body language, and choose whatever topic we feel most passionate in order to create the most insightful, informative, and concise presentations that we can.

All this sounded pretty cool, or at least I thought it did as I put the sticker with my name on it for week two - a safe enough buffer to have time to brainstorm & prepare, but not so late in the game that I'd run into the chance of someone else using my subject. But then fate (or a fan) screwed me over and my sticker got knocked on the the time someone found it, all the slots except for week 1 ones were taken...of course.


Today, I went out onto 100 Foot Road in search of a few plain t-shirts to replace the ones I'd ruined in the wash (a long, unnecessary story). I'd seen Levi's, Lee, and United Colors of Benetton stores along 100 Ft Rd many times before, so I figured I'd easily be able to find just a plain white T or two, but as it turned out, not a single one of them carried a plain shirt. Everything was sparkled or printed or said "If you think money doesn't matter, you obviously don't shop." The closest thing I could find was a medium-sized (that's another thing, sometimes the clothes will just have one size and customers have to deal) turquoise tank-kinda-thing at Benetton which cost roughly $35 I left empty-handed and dejected and ranting the whole way back to my Brazilian friend about how the U.S. practically makes an art out of crafting the perfect plain t-shirt (American Apparel, anyone?) and about how Levi's sets false expectations with its white-tee clad models on their billboards.


Just now, a bunch of us ordered pizza and watched "The A-Team" at the office. Terrible movie - I fell asleep despite all the explosions and "plot twists" and closeups of Jessica Biel's lips. We may or may not have also purchased what may or may not be a completely illegal and pirated copy of Twilight: Eclipse.

Above: teehee
We watched the first 5-ish minutes of it just to see if it would work/if it was actually Eclipse. The opening credits were for some grisly Michael Bay movie, but then I recognized that the first scene was Eclipse...weird. Anyway, can't wait to kick back and watch this, although I need to find someone who appreciates the stupid acting/bad script with me, it's no fun watching bad movies by yourself.


And just for good measure, here's yet another Old Airport Road crossing video, I think it's slightly more exciting than the first one.

Too tired to string this post together, so I'm going to leave it as is in its completely unconnected manner! To quote Reginald, I don't play by your rules, society!