Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Europe and US November 2010

Day 5 (November 30)

After a rather bumpy early morning flight from the Liberty International Airport (New Jersey), we landed at a very cold and windy Chicago, enveloped under a thick cloud cover. The drive to downtown Chicago was slow, with huge traffic jams all along the way. The traffic looked so familiar because the Inter State highway was packed with cars and trucks. And yet it looked different. Thousands of cars trying to come in, into the downtown area. Each maintaining a certain sense and discipline and dignity to the situation. No honking, no cutting lanes, and a decent distance maintained between each vehicle..

Meeting over, I am back at the airport at around lunch time. I now have a long wait in the Business Lounge, for my flight which leaves at 6 pm.

Next stop - Brussels.

Europe and US November 2010

Day 4 (November 29)

I have realised in course of my interaction with a lot of Americans, that most of them start their day early. My colleague in the Company's US office is on his desk at 7 am each day. Better still - one customer contact is in his Office in Chicago at 6.45 am, regardless of the time of the year and climatic conditions (and we all know what Chicago can be -during winter). And since his Office has 'flexi time' he leaves at 2.30 pm. Great idea I think.

Can this work in India? Probably not. You can get into Office at 7.30 am, but will never be able to leave at 2.30 pm. Because how your day progresses depends mostly - not on you but others - peers, boss etc.

Our meeting for today at one customer's Factory in Rockford (IL), started at 8 am sharp, and was over at 9 am. A longish drive followed, to Chicago's O"Hare Intl airport from where we took a flight to New Jersey. And then a dinner meeting with yet another customer. Everything is early, early - getting up in the morning, the starting of the work day, dinner and then retiring early for the night. Reminds me of the old saying - "Early to bed and early to rise...." there is some merit to it - I realise...

Tomorrow is the last meeting in the US on this trip, for which I will fly back to Chicago. And get up at 3 am to catch the 6 am flight. (Clearing security at US airports is a challenge).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Europe and US - November 2010

Day 3 (November 28)

Today was a Sunday. But unlike other Sundays this was different. I was alone in an foreign country, with nothing really to do on a holiday. Exploring Chicago could have been an option for a more adventurous soul but not me. The cold weather was simply too discouraging....

So I did what best could be done -being confined in my Hotel room, or within the Hotel. Surfing the net, watching American Television, and best of all, catching up on the sleep and the jet lag.

In the evening, a colleague picked me up and we drove about 70 miles to a town called Rockford, where a meeting has been planned the next morning. Driving on the expressways is smooth and fast, and this journey took all of 55 minutes.

Next stop on Monday is New Jersey.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Europe and US - November 2010

Day 2 (November 27)

Frankfurt airport seemed worse off today. Because not only was there snow, there was also a very thick cloud cover, and fog. So there was a bit of anxiety in my mind about flight delays, which would have resulted in me missing my connecting flight to Chicago.

But thanks to technology, especially in these parts of the World, a pilot can fly virtually blind, in almost any kind of weather.

The flight to Chicago was of nine hours duration. To me, a good opportunity to catch up on the much wanted sleep. The Lufthansa crew was efficient as usual (typically German). A little too efficient - I learnt. A silly mistake by the travel agent ensured that I was served something termed as a 'Hindu Vegetarian Meal' Now I am not really fond of non veg food. But the Indian food preparation, both in terms of the menu, and the quality of cooking, left the food totally uninteresting and unappetising.(Imagine for instance, having 'paneer' cooked in only tomato sauce, and dry 'chana' dal, to be had with boiled rice !)

A request to change the meal was turned down. The stewardess explained that I had ordered a veg meal, and so a veg meal is what I will get. Efficiency - German style.

As I sit in my Hotel room (after a brief rest) writing this post, I wait for more time to pass, till it is Sunday morning in Delhi, and I can call up the travel agent, and give him Hell...

Europe and US - November 2010

Day 1 (November 26)

I did expect Europe to be getting colder at this time of the year. But never expected rain and snow in many parts of the Continent.
Frankfurt airport was almost completely covered in a blanket of snow - maybe not a very thick blanket, but enough to make such a large airport appear to be an endless expanse of 'white'....

Milan - my final destination for the day, seemed to be worse. There were threats of the flight getting cancelled because of the rain and snow. When the flight finally landed the temperature was below freezing point. 

Milan has a very nice 'Indian' cuisine restaurant with a very nice name - 'Tara'. I was introduced to it by a colleague many years ago, and for this I will be always grateful to him. Obviously this was a preferred choice as far as dinner was concerned. Even if it meant taking a walk in the very uncomfortable weather. However when I reached I found the restaurant closed for some inexplicable reason. This was a big disappointment.

However when on is motivated enough, even the most difficult objectives can be achieved easily. In this case, it meant finding another Indian restaurant - called - 'Indrani' (the name seemed very 'Bengali' I thought, and this was confirmed when I met the owner). Can't say it was as good as 'Tara' but the Chana Masala and 'Arhar Dal' weren't bad at all.

Next stop - Chicago - after a twelve and a half hour journey from Milan via Frankfurt, and including a two and a half hour stoppage.