Tuesday 31st May – Bangalore to Pune
Now Uni was done I was back on tour with work! I had to be up at 5am to catch an 8.10am flight. We left at 5.30am and was at the airport for 6.45am, still a ridiculous amount of time given the time of the morning and the actual distance from my apartment to the airport. For once… my flight was on time! I was so tired I slept on the plane… we had to stop at Hyderabad on the way, bit of a detour but not many direct flights from Bangalore to Pune. And then I heard that the next stop after Pune was Goa! I was tempted to stay on the plane J The flight was remarkably uneventful, NOBODY talked to me (I guess I was asleep!) and I didn’t fall out with anyone.
Pune airport was interesting… obviously military (even if you hadn’t seen all the jets) and quite basic. I got my bags, found my driver and was taken to the office. Which was incredible, on a big campus with everything you could need. I want to stay there next time. I had a great day as always, the teams I visit are so kind and welcoming and look after me so well.
After work I went to the JW Marriott in Pune which is a really nice hotel. The check in was swift, I got offered drinks on arrival, I got help to get to my room, I was told where everything was. I chilled for a bit then went to get a foot treatment as my feet were suffering from wearing open shoes the whole time and me not having time to look after them properly so they were quite sore. I think the Spa there was the most amazing spa I’d ever been to (I’ve been to a few). It was like a haven, I wish I’d taken a picture. The foot treatment was so nice, I took my book but the therapist made me put it down and relax. It was so good I had a facial too! Next job was the gym. I have missed exercise so so much… I haven’t been properly since I got sick in the UK before leaving and it was too hard to do here around work and Uni. The gym guy was very helpful and quite interested in what I was doing (a new regime Brian has got me into). Then it was room service dinner… and bed. I was so tired.
Wednesday 1st June – Pune to Mumbai
I was back out to the office early and worked until 2 before I had to leave for the airport. It was another great day and I’m so humbled by everyone I meet in the offices, they’re so professional and kind. I had to leave at 2 to get to the airport for my flight to Mumbai. I wanted to stay a bit longer in Pune… it had a nice feel to it. It had been the British Raj’s weekend retreat from Mumbai, like Shimla was from Delhi, because of the cool temperatures. The people I was meeting with told me that temperatures had gone up in Pune by 15 degrees in 10 years, crazy. I’ve written about this for Uni… how the wests industrialization and development has created problems for the world… that the west is now trying to address. But, for developing countries it means they miss out on the economic growth the west benefitted from. Anyways…. have to remember I have finished Uni! J No need to write an essay!
I was so tired I slept on the way to the airport :/ I checked in and got settled at the gate. I nearly ended up on the wrong plane… a plane started boarding from our gate AFTER the time we were supposed to. It was a good job they checked else I’d have been off to Chennai! I wasn’t the only person turned away for making the same mistake…
The flight was supposed to be 20 minutes, no time for a snack, but it took 40 because of Mumbai’s air traffic control. I liked Mumbai on arrival… felt nice and vibrant. My driver looked (and acted) about 12 years old (he was very excitable and enthusiastic but very nice). It took 1 ½ hours to get to the hotel, we had a crash which involved some swearing but all was well.
I had booked into a hotel that will remain nameless as a trial… the people were so nice but it started going wrong when I realised after going to the gym I was in a smoking room and had to apply some pressure to get moved. Then my dinner was horrible, but I ate it anyway and it made me sick the next day. The room felt damp and honestly the whole place just felt random. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I didn’t like it, I felt uneasy. Still I slept well… and in a break from tradition in Indian hotels they handily have all the light switches with labels on the bedside table. I’d had to play hunt the light switch in the posh hotel the night before.
Thursday 2nd June – Mumbai
I woke up… had breakfast and hit the gym. I fell asleep on the journey to work again… I don’t think I’m eating enough on this new exercise regime but it’s hard being away in hotels. I had a really nice day with lovely people. I really enjoyed sitting in the office as Mumbai’s famous commuter trains could be heard rumbling past… (and I could see them if I looked out the window at the right time). They’re famous for being a bit busy and crazy… I could see people hanging out the doors. I’ve been told that if you stand 5 metres away from the door you won’t have to walk onto the train… you just get kind of carried in by the crowd. One of my colleagues told me he took his child on one and it was terrifying.
I stayed until 7 and on the way home the highlight was Skyping Gemma and the children from the car. My driver loved that… being involved in a call with the UK! And then I re-entered the twilight zone (the hotel!). I decided to eat before the gym… had a nice time but it was all just so random again… I got asked 3 times to clarify my dinner order was ok as did I know it had x and x in when it’s a pretty standard dish (like saying did you know spaghetti bolognaise has spaghetti in it). I got approached once, the waitress looked at me petrified then walked off. I got given a new room key just in case mine was broken. And when I got in the lift the porter showed me the way… didn’t touch the lift but still it was already selected for the right floor. By the time I was done for the night I was so tired I slept from 10.30 through to 9am!
Friday 3rd June – Mumbai
The team I’m visiting in Mumbai work UK hours, so don’t start until 12.30. I therefore had time for breakfast - another mishap, asking for a plain omelette and ending up with one with ONIONS in… it could have had ANYTHING else in it but onions… really! (I’m allergic to them if you didn’t know…!). The gym was good, the gym guy was helpful again but trying to get me to change to a new programme and I was like no… I am happy with this one and as I’m only here for another day I’m not sure your one will really be helpful to me… I arrived back in the room to get ready for work to find the attendant about to clean it… I asked him to wait 30 minutes until I left. 10 minutes later… I was in the shower and I heard the doorbell go… I shouted out “NO, NOT NOW” and jumped out to lock the bathroom door. Then I swear I heard the door open and with horror realised that for some reason in Indian hotels the wall between the bathroom and bedroom is open (either completely open or like this one see through glass) so I dived out of the shower again and closed the flimsy curtain. Anyway out of the shower, 5 minutes later the attendant was back again so I gave up and let him in, getting a nice compliment on my outfit.
My driver was late today… because he’d had another crash (I’m sensing a theme here!). I had another really good day at work. The Indian people are amazing, they work so hard, longer days than we do in the UK and successfully manage work and home life despite the long hours and longer travel time. The extended family is important and the hours people get up to provide for their family is amazing, I admire them and really feel I could learn from them.
I left work at about 8.30 and was back at the hotel for 9.15. On the way home I sat watching the goings on and thought this is so random but so nice, I’m in Mumbai! On my own, doing work, feeling quite comfortable.
On the list for tonight was gym and food. Then sleep. There were no further mishaps…
Saturday 4th June – Mumbai to Nashik
I had time for one final gym session at the hotel… then checked out and left for the airport to meet Jane, Sharon, Lisa and some others for a visit to the Sula vineyards in Nashik… (it was arranged as my end of Uni celebration!)
I had a nice driver take me to the airport… I had to stop at an ATM and he insisted on escorting me. And then I asked him if I could sit up from so I could take photos which he seemed to enjoy… I got a bit of a tour… including him pointing out the HUGE water pipes that provide Mumbai’s drinking water. They were massive but I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture (I got some later on the journey to Nashik because we followed them for miles).
I met Jane, Sharon, Lisa, Dennis and Mary at the airport and we got in two cars for the 2 ½ hour drive to Nashik. It was really good to catch up with Jane and Sharon and the journey was interesting, the landscape was a mixture of green and barrenness, almost burned ground. There was one part where we went up really high and the drive was a bit nerve-wracking because we saw several accidents and the drops of the side were pretty steep! There were nice views though and we saw some really old classic trains.
We arrived at the Sula Vineyards which looked pretty hectic and were diverted 3KM down the road to Beyond By Sula, where we were staying. The road was a bit rough and bumpy but when we arrived it was definitely not rough. The place was smart, with an infinity pool and nice views over the vineyards and into the valley below. Sharon and I were sharing and after a quiet lunch with a bottle of Sula Brut (the fizz) we settled by the pool. It didn’t take long for Jane and I to be tempted to get in for a swim, the water was lovely.
Later on we head back to the vineyards for our tour with some of Lisa’s friends who had joined us, which was interesting, although we were more interested in the wine tasting… (I’d been persuaded off the health plan for a day… don’t tell Brian J he’ll never read this).After wine tasting we had dinner and a really good restaurant and couldn’t believe how cheap it was. It was then back to the hotel for a drink… at which point Jane went to bed and Sharon and I hit the local bar… which took a while to find and was a bit random but worth the trip. We left there at about 1am and slept well!
Sunday 5th June – Nashik to Mumbai to Bangalore
We were up quite early considering! Brian had asked if was hungover (I had to fess up about the day off the health kick J I cannot lie to him) and I actually wasn’t. We had a nice breakfast and sat by the pool for a while then left at 11am to drive back to Mumbai. I missed most of the journey because I was asleep, as Jane said… I must have needed it!
In Mumbai we went to the Taj Mahal Palace on the seafront near the historic Mumbai Gate for afternoon team. It was a really big old style hotel, very smart. I think it was the scene of a terror attack years before so I don’t think it’s been back open that long. We were overlooking the sea and had a lovely selection of sandwiches, snacks and cakes. Then we went for a walk along the seafront which wasn’t as lovely as it could have been because it was so crowded. I wanted a good picture of the Mumbai Gate but it involved a big queue and we didn’t have the patience.
The drive from the hotel back to the airport was really nice… it was coming into evening (my favourite time to be travelling) and we seemed to keep going in circles because we kept ending up at the seafront… but I think that’s just because of how Mumbai is located on a kind of peninsula. The sea front was so so busy and it was just nice watching the goings on. The water was a bit choppy!
I had to say bye to the others at the airport which I was a bit sad about. They were all going to Delhi, me back to Bangalore.
Love and miss you all a lot.
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