Half Way Around the World

Working for a travel company (Expeidia) has some perks. Steve is technically a "travel agent" and therefore can get the family travel discounts. The flight discounts aren't that great but the hotel discounts are pretty good. Being a manager also means travel to India. Steve was asked to travel to Gurgoan, India. He went to see the other half of his team and see what goes on there. India happens to be 12 hours 30 minutes ahead of Washington. It made for weird communications between home and India and it really screwed up Steve's sleep cycle. But he had a blast! 

Here is Steve's report on his trip:

Early in June I was lucky enough to be sent to india for a couple of weeks for work. We have a number of developers who work in Gurgaon which is a city just outside of New Delhi. There’s a place there called Cyber City where a number of high tech companies have satellite offices and Expedia is one of them.

My traveling companion for most of this trip was a young guy who reports to me named Anil. He’s from southern India but he spent about a year working in our Gurgaon office before getting himself transferred to the Bellevue office. He’s a foodie so he was really eager to introduce me to just about every unpronounceable delicacy that India had to offer. Between the wonderful breakfasts at the hotel they put us up in and the never-ending stream of Indian restaurants that Anil delighted in taking me to, I was well fed indeed.

Most of my time in India was spent in the office holding interviews and one-on-ones with the local employees. Seems they’re convinced that my years in the industry translate into wisdom or some such nonsense so they were only too eager to pick my brain. That said, I did manage to try a lot of really good food and visit a couple of really neat places on the weekend.

My Saturday there, Anil and a couple of folks from the office took me to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. Agra is nothing like Delhi. Delhi is quite modern and typical of large cities anywhere in the developing world. Agra is much more Indian. It’s a very old city and it’s also a very poor one. Livestock (particularly the ubiquitous cows), camels and monkeys prowl the streets. The streets outside the Taj are particularly crowded with beggars and pickpockets. Everyone is trying to sell you some crappy trinket or rob you blind if they get half a chance. Things are a little better inside the Taj if only because you have to pay to get in.

The Taj Mahal is a truly beautiful place. It’s a breathtaking structure that deserves its reputation as one of the ancient wonders of the world. The grounds are lovely, if a bit unkempt. Unfortunately they don’t really have the money or infrastructure to keep it in the condition it deserves. Still, I’m so glad I was privileged to visit the place.

We also visited neighboring Fatehpur Sikri, a 16th century fortification that was the home to one of the mogul rulers. It’s a stunning complex of structures on a hill overlooking the plains. The surrounding area is very, very poor and it’s not exactly the type of place that’s very accessible to tourists so I was really fortunate to be traveling with locals who spoke the language and were at least somewhat aware of what was going on.

On Sunday, Anil took me into New Delhi where we visited the cultural museum and saw artifacts that were thousands of years old. We also visited the India Gate and the Indian parliament complex. 

Perhaps the strangest visit of the trip was to a theater where we watched a live musical. The show itself was entertaining but nothing too remarkable, except for the fact that it was in Hindi, which I do not speak. Despite the language barrier, it was surprisingly easy to follow what was going on and I rather enjoyed it. It was certainly an experience that I’ll never forget.

My experience in India was unforgettable. I loved immersing myself in the local culture as much as I was able. The food was delicious. The people were friendly and warm. Somehow I managed to even avoid getting sick, which was a rather pleasant surprise. I hope that I’m asked to return at some point. 

Family Hiking

Our family has been asked to participate in a reenactment of the Mormon Pioneer Trek later this summer so we decided to work on our hiking muscles. This month we hiked to Lake 22 and did a few other local hikes. We found out what kind of shape we are in on the Lake 22 hike. It was tough but worth the view at the end. 

Chris, Matt and Doreen (Steve was a little too slow for a spot in the photo).

Chris, Matt and Doreen (Steve was a little too slow for a spot in the photo).

Jessie Dances

While Steve was away in India Jessica dance in her yearly dance recital. Of course she was beautiful and danced just as beautifully.  


Rubik's Cube Anyone?

Matt loves puzzles and so he decided to go to a Rubik's Cube competition. He learned a lot and had a blast. He only has about 22 different rotating puzzles. We actually had to institute a rule: only one puzzle out of his room at a time. 

OH, and Matt graduated from Bellevue College with a AA! Way to go Matt!