Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday - Bangalore

Today was another great day in Bangalore. It is hard to believe this was our last day. My next post will probably be from the USA. Our plane leaves Bangalore at 6:15 pm tomorrow and arrives in Asheville on @ noon on Sunday. However, we gain 9.5 hours so our travel time will be 28 hours +++. The journey is Bangalore – Mumbai (Bombay) – Newark – Asheville. So if you see me Monday excuse my tiredness.
Today we had meetings at IAA followed by their Fresher’s Day Celebration. This is held close to the beginning of the semester and greets new students as well as providing entertainment. Russ, Pete and I were included in the ceremonies including lighting the lantern at the opening of the ceremony and presenting gifts to students.
The program lasted about 3 hours and included skits, welcome talks, awarding of certificates, dances, and the selection of Mr. and Ms. Fresher 2008 (Fresher is the equivalent of our term for Freshman).
The day included a lot of dancing, humor and talks. I have included some pictures. I also received flowers – now I have about 4 dozen flowers in my office. I LOVE it.
After the ceremony we had lunch. Then Russ headed for the airport and Pete and I went back to the hotel. We went out and about a bit tonight. Tomorrow we are meeting with Dr. Raja in the morning and he will take us to the airport to begin our trip home.

More pictures - Friday

Traffic is still the most intriguing thing for me. It is SO heavy - but manages to flow

Pictures from Friday

Bharatanatyam dance
Bhatan dance
Flowers I was given at Fresher's ceremony.
Kathak dance
Russ Yelton (from AB Tech) presenting a certificate to student who participated in the Aua Solix Water study project wiht students from WCU. AB Tech and Mexico.

Thursday in Bangalore

Today was another great day in India. We were in Bangalore for our second day. In the morning we went to the Indo Asian Academy (IAA) for meetings. Pete Kennedy and I addressed two groups of students today. One was upper level (2nd and 3rd year college students) and one group was first year (11th and 12th year students). They were very attentive. It was a little strange when all the students stood when we walked in the room. I could get used of that!! After the presentations Pete showed students how the GPS device worked. It was a big hit. Students loved the hands on interaction.
After the presentations we had lunch with various IAA personnel. The lunch included India food. It was great – but I love Indian food. I have included a picture of the food. After lunch we had a meeting with the faculty of the IAA.
After the meeting we went back to the hotel at 4 pm. The hotel is close to the shopping area so we had a chance to do a little shopping (OK, maybe a lot) and ride a rickshaw. That was an experience. At one point we were talking to passengers on a motorcycle traveling next to us at about 25 mph. Pete took a video of the ride and plans on posting it on youtube. When I have the URL I will let you know.
We went out to dinner with the Chair of IAA, his wife, daughter, son-in-law, niece and the equivalent of our VP of Academic Services for dinner. I am not accustomed to eating at 8 pm but that is early in India. Our restaurant was amazing (but all of us neglected to bring a camera). Dinner was served “family style” and when they brought dishes we were eating and enjoying. I didn’t realize cottage cheese came in “chunks” that could be cooked in a variety of ways. Well, we ate and thought we were finished and were told it was the first course of a 4 course meal. The food is fabulous but needless to say I was stuffed by the time we finished all courses.
One of the instructors at IAA asked Pete is a car and driver was included in our contract. For many instructors that is one of the perks. Housing is sometimes also provided. I could get very spoiled if I stay here much longer.
We got back to the hotel about 11 pm. I don’t think I am getting as much sleep as needed but figure I can catch up when I get back. Between meetings and wanting to see some of Bangalore there aren’t enough hours in the day!

More Pictures - Thursday in Bangalore

Students during a lunch break at the IAA. Note that they have taken off their jackets during lunch hour. Usually students where jackets that a color matched to their program of study.
Students listening to our presentations. If students are found to have a cell phone on them during class time (@ 9-4) it is taken away for the rest of the semester and they have to pay a fine.
We were headed back to the hotel at teh end of a school say and saw many students from different schools heading home. The uniforms vary.
Students are also picked up by family members!

Pictures in Bangalore - Thursday

Me (Pam) presenting to 60+ students in the Indo Asian Academy
Pete showing students how the GPS works - the students loved GPS technology!!
Great food - again. I am sure I have gained alot of weight this trip. I don't remember the names of the food but I love it.
I rode a rickshaw! We had a few few hours Thursday afternoon and had a chance for a ride. It was awesome. Pete took some video - I will send you the youtube link when it is posted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pictures in Bangalore - Wednesday

A shot of the Bangalore skyline
Visiting the new buiding of the IndoAsian Academy

Wednesday in Bangalore

We arrived in Bangalore around 12 noon. So far all of our flights have been slightly late. We are staying at the Monarch Hotel which is right on the shopping strip of Bangalore. This means that after our meetings today we were able to do a little shopping. I like Bangalore for shopping the most so far - they have alot of woooden items (jewelry, figurines, etc.) which I really like. But first there was the work - in this case we were met at the airport by Dr. Raja of the IndoAsian Academy. This is the place I visited last year. After a stop at our hotel we went to the college to meet. There college is growing fast and we visited a new building that they are partially occupying while construction finishes. We will be meeting with them again until we leave on Saturday. Right now it is almost midnight here and time for bed so I will add more about Bangalore later.

Pictures from Kerala

View of Kerala from the highway
Part of the Technpark in Kerala
Pete, Russ and me with some of the hosts in Kerala
Sunset over the Arabian Sea

Tuesday - We must be in Kerala

Wow, Tuesday was very exciting. We flew to Trivandrum, Kerala, in the morning. We were met at the airport by our host and then went to the Technopark to visit with different personnel. It is a business park with @ 20,000 employees. The business park is beautiful because it is has "park" still in its vocabulary. By that I mean it has all kinds to trees. Kerala is in the extreme southern tip of India and after meetings we were taken to dinner at a hotel right on the Arabian Sea. It was almost too late for sunset but I got a picture. The dinner was a buffet with some great curry dishes. We got up early Wednesday morning to fly to Bangalore. Kerala is a vacation spot in India because of the ocean - I can understand that because I would definitely like to spend more time there.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pictures from Mumbai

Sign in Mumbai that I couldn't resist
Mumbai scene

Monday in Mumbai (Bombay)

Our plane was late leaving Agra and we didn't arrive in Mumbai until 11:30 and our hotel at 12:30. And we had to be up at 7:30 to meet with CORE ECS. As a result it was a short night. But I am still loving it. Mumbai is huge - 18 million people. By contrast, 11 million in Dehli and 5.5 in Bangalore. We didn't get to see much of the city except by car. We met with CORE ECS who develops 3D Educational modules. We saw 3 of their locations - one they just moved into last week and one they are currently working on. I have visited their 3D Cube in Biloxi, MS, and it is great. Food is still wonderful - we had a buffet lunch and I had tandoor chicken for dinner. I am including a couple of pictures I took today. We leave tomorrow morning for Trivandrum (in the extreme south of of India).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pictures from Agra

Picture from Fort Agra - this is the place the king sat to hear from his subjects
A picture at the Taj Mahal - it still seems surreal that I have been here (twice)
This is work at the Taj Mahal - the colored flowers are stone inlaid within stone.
The Taj Mahal without me in the way.
Our evening tea service - it was so elegant

Saturday in Agra

Saturday was a great day. I think I am adjusted to the time change although I did wake up at 5:30, but that gave me time to get caught up with e-mails and update the blog. Today we had breakfast in the hotel. It was a buffet with some unpronounceable foods. There were a few “standards” on the buffet including fruit and omelets.
After breakfast we went on a tour of the Taj Mahal and Fort Agra. It really was as wonderful as I remembered. Fort Agra was built in the 1500’s and the Taj Mahal in the 1600’s. It is hard to believe the craft that went into the building. I have included a few pictures from each. At both places there were lines to get in; I think because of a conference being held in Agra. We were asked several times if we were part of the group. I am not sure of the type of conference but it is big – many people today had on red baseball caps that were freebies from the conference.
After the tours we went out for lunch at an Indian restaurant (what else). Pete, Russ and I each ordered something different and shared – so I had a sampling of Curry Chicken, Tandoor Chicken and a Vegetarian dish. The food is outstanding – I don’t think I will tire of Indian food. So far no food pictures but I am sure that is coming. After that we took advantage of our free time to do a little shopping. Although it was mostly window shopping there were a few things I couldn’t resist. I love the carved wooden pieces and did a little Christmas shopping also.
After getting back to the hotel we met in the tea room for tea and pastries. From my experiences the desserts are as wonderful as the other food. The tea pots were beautiful. I have also included a picture. The menu had a choice of 17 teas.
Our hotel in Agra is pretty amazing. It is quite large and has 3 restaurants, a large courtyard, shops, and a fitness center. Unfortunately I didn’t bring along any clothing for working out. I really wish I would have thought of it.
Tomorrow we will be catching up on work during the day. Then we catch a plane for Mumbai (Bombay) at 5 pm. Monday will start six days of meetings in Mumbai, Trivandrum and Bangalore before heading back next Saturday.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Street Scenes from Dehli

I thought this was a great picture showing the range of traffic on the roads
I love the students in their uniforms. These look like very comfortable ones.

I am in India!!!

We left Asheville on Wednesday at 5:15. We then left Newark at 8:30 for a 15 hour flight to Dehli. I wasn't sure what to expect - but it worked out well. I had a window seat and the seat next to me was empty so I was able to sleep about 6 hours on the flight. We arrived in New Dehli at 8:30 Thursday night (there is a 9.5 hour time difference). By the time we got to the hotel and checked in we were ready to call it a night. Comparing notes Friday morning each of us got about 6 hours of sleep. So far I don't feel effects of the time change. It is now Saturday morning and I woke up at 5:30 but that is my usual time in the states.

On Friday we had some great meetings. We started the morning early (7:30 pick up time) by going to IBM to meet with their Country Manager of Government and Education. He shared some good information on creating a technology infrastructure for education. It is interesting how everyone seems to face the same challenges. After that we went to the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) where we met with 3 instructors in the Sciences and Engineering areas. This system has 1.8 million students and over 2,000 sites in India and other countries. It was very interesting to discuss the common issues that we have in the classroom. We also talked about 3-D visualization and how it can be incorporated in the classroom. Our meetings were set up by CORE ECS who we will be visiting in Mumbai on Monday. Just the meetings on Friday have made it a great visit.

After the meetings we stopped for a late lunch (1:30) before heading to the airport. Our guide stopped at a little shopping area (no time for shopping) - where there were many Western restaurants - Ruby Tuesdays, Subway, McDonalds, etc. However, we opted for an India restaurant and had a fantastic meal - the food was even better than I remembered.

We then went to the airport to catch a plane to Agra where I am now. We will be going to the Taj Mahal and Red Fort today. It is also a time to let outselves adjust to the time change. Sunday we leave for Mumbai for the beginning of a hectic week.

The traffic is as crowded (if not more so) than I remembered. Dehli has 11 million people. I am including 2 pictures from yesterday and more pictures will be coming.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leaving Today

It is hard to believe - but departure day has arrived. Our plane leaves Asheville at 5:15 - then to Newark and a direct flight to New Dehli. I am not sure how soon I will add a post from India. We get in at 8:15 Thursday night (around 11 am EDT). But I might be tired. Then Friday is very booked. So if you don't see an update until the weekend keep looking.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

India - 8 days

Next Wednesday, September 17, we leave for India. This trip is going to be different than the last one for two reasons. First, there will only be 3 of us going instead of a group of 15. Second, we are going more places - last time we spent 7 of 9 nights in Bangalore. This time we will be visiting and staying in Dehli, Agra, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Trivandrum and Bangalore. We will be meeting with educational institutions, tech companies and government officials. I will have my notebook computer and Internet access so plan on including regular posts (I almost put daily posts but some days are heavily scheduled).