Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shivanasamudra Falls


This past Sunday I went with my fellow trainers to see the Shivanasamudra Falls (now that's a mouthful) that are on the outskirts of Bangalore about three hours away from city center. Despite having been the main organizer and advocate of the trip, I was this close to staying behind when Sunday morning came around because I had spent the entire previous day er, disagreeing with some food in my system. Eventually I talked myself into going and figured I'd just take that gamble of throwing up on the bus in front of all my colleagues in a foreign country. Because yolo.

A hearty breakfast and a few rounds of mafia later, we found ourselves stepping out of the bus in what was pretty much the middle of nowhere. For being such a well-known attraction attraction, the falls were surprisingly devoid of the usual hawkers, vendors, and restaurants that set up shop near tourist sites. I breathed a sigh of relief as we descended down an extensive set of stairs to the base of the water, happy for the opportunity to just see what we'd come here for.

Though they didn't come even close to the grandeur of Niagara or Angel, the falls were nevertheless quite beautiful. We hopped into corocles (think woven floating baskets) for 50 rupees apiece and were paddled close to the base of the falls where the spray produced a much-appreciated mist as it was a hot day outside. Then the man rowing the corocle spun us around and around in it as we giggled and exclaimed "whee!" and felt all of five years old.



After the relaxing corocle ride, we were ready for playtime. We scrambled over some rocks and crossed a small stream to another area where we got even more up and personal with the water. Bow chicka wow wow.



At one point I was sitting alongside the friendly folks in the above picture for about thirty minutes, chatting aimlessly and enjoying the rush of water that had by now completely soaked us all. In retrospect I'm certain it was quite dangerous to be that close to the rapidly rushing water, but at the time nobody paid any mind. I'm finding that I love that about India - that as my roommate Scott says, everything sort of operates under a controlled chaos. If this waterfall was in the States, I'm certain that whoever owned it would have learned from one lawsuit too many not to let people run and scramble around these wet slippery rocks but here there was nobody who cared about lawsuits and regulations and caution tape. You were just responsible for yourself.

We were also joined by some monkey friends. I'm relatively certain that I will never get tired of observing monkeys - they are so damn fascinating, not to mention they make for excellent photography subjects.



Living in Bangalore doesn't afford many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors so I'm really glad that we went and were able to frolic about the falls for a few hours. Hope you enjoyed this post - more pictures here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hello again, world.

The grads are here! The grads are here! *runs around wildly waving hands in the air*

That is my number one reason for having been absent from blogging for the past week-and-a-half or so.  Number two was yet another Flickr snafu (all fixed now) and number three was the fact that most of my adventuring has been limited to classroom teachings and project inceptions - not exactly the most interesting of blog topics.

Having said that, ThoughtWorks University 29 is in full swing and I'm loving it. Altogether, we're a batch of 62 students and 14 trainers. Everybody is divided into two teams - the one I'm on is called the 'Autobots' and we basically do everything in parallel with our 'Decepticon' friends. Even though 31 grads is much more of a manageable size than 62 (though it is still quite a lot!), a drawback of splitting up is that we don't get to spend as much time with everyone together. 

What have I actually been doing, you ask? Exactly what's on my business card - being a cat herder. I wake up in the morning to Skype with parents + friends + the boy, catch the 8 AM bus to the office, and grab a quick breakfast (two hard boiled eggs, chutney, sanbar, idly, and a moosambi juice) on the roof of our building. Throughout the day my time is divided between organizing trips/events, preparing for sessions, pairing with my fellow trainers, having one-on-one feedback sessions with coachees, ignoring my inbox, facilitating retrospectives, and of course, actually hosting sessions. Then in the evening I have a catch-up with my trainers and if I'm lucky, have a few minutes to weed through the clusterfuck that is my inbox to address the important items. We Autobot trainers also often meet up with the Decepticon ones to share cross-team experiences and to compare how our parallel days and sessions went. By the time I get home, it's usually quite late and every ounce of my body just screams "get yer ass in bed, young lady!" but some nights I have to stay up and wrangle with my inbox or catch up with other projects/activities that I didn't have time for during the day. Every single day thus far has proven to be more challenging and more busy than the previous. And everything feels like organized chaos. The good news is that it's not going to be this way forever; once the project simulation begins in a week, the trainers will have much less of an active role as grads start to step up begin to self-organize...knock on wood.

In addition to balancing a hectic schedule, another challenge for me has been learning people's names. I know everyone's face quite well by now but I think I've only got about 80% of the names down in the Autobots (and maybe 30% of the Decepticons... sad but true). It is especially difficult for me to remember the Indian and Chinese grads' names because I'm simply not used to having "Aarthy"s and "Xiaojing"s in my vocabulary, whereas an "Alex" is pretty easy for me to remember. I also tend to get introduced to grads in groups instead of one-on-one, which makes things all the more confusing. Grandma Rose just can't keep up with the young'uns!

But enough about work - let's move on to playtime!

We visited a statue of Ganesh, the elephant god who is the son of Shiva and Pavarti.

Hanging out with my fellow Autobots trainers in front of Shiva Temple
We held an XD day and teams got to design SmartHome mobile apps using paper prototyping and iterative design
Grads unraveling themselves from the Human Knot energizer

Bowling Night!

TWU29 Gangnam Style
Learning how to salsa dance
Who says grandmas can't bowl?

More pics here. Enjoy!