Day one in Pune

At approx 9.20 Damion and I went down stairs to breakfast , the breakfast looked more european than I expected , I had some fruit salad, chicken sausages , egg , bacon and a chocolate doughnut. Damion went for a boiled egg , bacon and croissant (nothing like pastry in europe). At around 10:00am we went to the hotel lobby to wait for Upendra.

Upendra arrived a little late and apologized , he took us to see some of the software giants in Pune , one company employs over thirty thousand people. The companies are impressive in scale and are housed in elaborate buildings , coaches of people are brought to and from work all day long. We drove past Upendras office , he seemed a little ashamed about location and size but actually taking into account what he has achieved it is inspiring.

Upendra clearly knew I needed a decent coffee and came to the rescue he took Damion and I to a brand called cafe coffee day. There moto is a lot can happen over coffee which is really true.

It was the best coffee I have had in a long time that’s even compared to branded coffee houses in London , i even took a picture of the young man who made it and of course told him he makes the best coffee ever.

Upendra and I discussed what we wanted to achieve out of the week , we came to the conclusion that we would revisit the websites as they do not represent what intravici is and that even the butler consultants website is too food and beverage as really the scope of the business has not been defined properly.

I ordered another coffee and very much enjoyed that too and we then left to go to Upendras office. His office is wakad down a side street in a suburb of Pune , which is fairly close to the hotel.

When we entered the office the first thing that struck me was that the people working appeared very happy and were quietly working away. I was introduced to each of them their names nilesh, gourav, sachin, vishwas , swapnil, branali they all were lovely people. Shilipa Upendras wife was there too which was nice to see , although she has nothing to do

with the software as such mainly because Upendra doesn’t want home to be about work.

We went into Upendras office to discuss the future of intravici in terms of business and software. It became very clear that Upendra is committed to working with me to build intravici and is keen for us to try together to grow the business both in India and of in the UK. To this end we decided that would would offer full software development in the Uk and that it would be an additional service to the audit app solution although operational audit management is still key to the business. The software development also makes sense because not every client wants the same thing in terms of software such as bespoke changes to the app.

We discussed that one of our biggest goal had to be to provide and meet timely deadlines as it is the biggest challenge and down falls of development companies is there inability to deliver projects on budget and in time.

I then got out the Ipad and we went through the App , I think even Upendra is surprised how well the app works on the Ipad. We agreed that while the app is amazingly good on the Ipad and it almost feels it was built for it our best opportunity would to maximize the samsung galaxy s tablet due for release in October as both it’s price point and the built in camera with the ability to use flash meant that it would be a better fit hardware wise and operating system wise. In addition Upendra is confident that he can deliver an offline solution for the audit app fairly easily for the android system.

I asked Upendra if he could help me get a pay as you go sim card for my blackberry he asked his long time friend Swapnil Khaire to help sort this out for me , he even paid the money for top up and sim itself which when I received a text stating the value I tried to give back but Upendra was resistant.

During this time Damion spent some time with one of the of the developers learning about SQL queries , tables , data base structures. While this was going on Upendra and I went for another coffee at Cafe coffee day. As you can imagine I was very happy to see the same chain of coffee shop opposite his office. We had a couple more coffees and we then went back to the office , by this time Swapnil returned with the Vodafone sim card.

One of the developers was trying to solve an issue with the intravici mobile app as on the HTC kaiser phone the app works fine , but on my Acer Dx900 the app visually appears quashed together , we believe it is related to the resolution and are trying to solve, as it is important that the mobile app is capable of being downloaded and works on a multiple of phones. I am hoping that by the time I return back to the UK this is solved.

I was feeling very tired and returned back to the seasons hotel , I started to type up the blog and Damion went for his food.

I decided that I wanted a whiskey and went down to the concierge who told me that there was an off licence 15 minutes walk away. I felt that walking in India at night as a tourist in some back streets would not be sensible to do , I asked the concierge to call me a taxi and ask how much the journey would cost prior to getting in the taxi , it is known in India that taxi drivers over charge and if you have not agreed the fare before you set off you have to pay the charge. The taxi driver said it would be 15 rupees to the off licence and back , he took me to the off licence and saying odd words in English swerving his little Suzuki 2 stroke hair dyer taxi. I have to say I am very glad I never walked or went on my own having seen the journey and the rogues outside the off licence. I asked asked for a bottle of Jack Daniels it was 3300 rupees approx £45 pounds and although I like it , I do not like it that much . As I intended to have coke with the whiskey I opted for the best house scotch he had which was 600 rupees approx £8.50.

The taxi driver brought me back and I gave him twenty rupees thinking I’d left him a little more he then said it was 60 rupees , I said to him , that’s not what the concierge said , he said it is 60 rupees the amount is less than a pound but again I felt ripped off. I paid the money and went into the hotel.

I asked if I could get some Indian food and you would not believe how difficult it is to find Indian cruise.I can get food from every other country in the world such as Italian , French , British ,Mexican and American but Indian food no chance. I didn’t fancy anything but Indian food so settled for a bag of cashew nuts.

The Internet is really slow, so I asked the hotel reception if they could help solve it a few minutes later an young man turned up and set up a separate adsl router , although the connection is better the speed is still very slow.

It is around 4am now and I am feeling very tired and I am going to bed. I woke up about an hour later to some strange noise it was my air-conditioning , I have now turned it off and went back to bed. will update tomorrow


Landing in Delhi and then the trip to Pune

We landed in Delhi and manged to get through passport control without a hitch but I have to admit I took us the wrong way up a back stair case and we were challenged why we were using the back stair case rather than the correct route by armed soldiers.

 As you can imagine common sense prevailed and  we decided not to argue and to take the correct route to passport control! At passport control Damion managed to whizzed through no problem.

 For me it was little different the customs officer looked at my passport and then looked at me quite a few times.  I could hear his thoughts how come someone can look so different to their passport photo  (old and knackered) therefore this passport must be fake or he has had a very very hard life ……. the silence and stares said it all – I can promise you.

Damion and I asked some different soldiers how could we get to the domestic airport lucky for us their english was better than ours grammatically speaking and they gave us directions.

 They explained that we had to go to bus stop 10 at the front of  the airport terminal as a coach would take us to Indira Gandhi International Airport.  We approached bus stop 10 and boarded the coach. After the coach was full of passengers we were taken to  Indira Gandhi International Airport, the drive took approx 20 minutes. 

At the domestic airport we went through the airport security checks, they then put our suitcases into the x-ray machine and then wrapped it with a nylon band to show it had been checked ready for boarding.  One of the guys   then asked us where we were going to next ? I replied Pune and the security guy said oh Pune, that flight is not leaving until 4pm.

He took us to the check-in  counter. At  the check-in counter  the lady chatted to him for a few minutes  and then she suddenly stood up and said you can not check-in until 1.30pm please will you both go and sit down        (in nice way). The guy then took us across to some seats and showed us where to sit down and that he would fetch us when the flight was called later for us to check in. 

 I had a craving for a decent coffee especially after the not so very good one on the flight. As you can imagine I was delighted and amazed when I saw a Costa coffee. Truly I was over the moon! (I love coffee made well) I said to Damion wow decent coffee at last and I then asked him if he wanted a hot chocolate (ok it not coffee but he doesn’t like it)  I informed him I was going to order a Costa soya milk latte.  Remember I am thinking costa coffee uk – not costa coffee India.  

Worst Costa Coffee in the World

 I went to the Costa coffee absolutely looking forward to a decent coffee. I looked at the price board and ordered one hot chocolate and one latte. The price was 210 (£2.90) Rupees or should I say it was meant to be. The guy never rang in my order for coffees in to the till and charged me 280 rupees (£3.90).

 I questioned the price and he said it was because he had added local taxes – later I discovered taxes are flexible usually upwards for tourists. He said they did not have soya milk and made my coffee latte and damions hot chocolate. I brought the drinks back to where Damion was sitting feeling a little miffed about  the service and attitude although I was very happy for my Costa coffee.

 After I walked back across to Damion I gave him his hot chocolate and said enjoy , he replied hmmmmm after the food I am not so sure dad, I dared him to drink his first…… of which he did and he said dad this is awful it is so watery and tasteless. I thought to myself oh well it probably because they like their hot chocolate in india weak in taste and perhaps with more cocoa in the chocolate powder than the UK.

 I then sipped my coffee – Oh my god it was like drinking watery vegetable oil. We left both drinks and later put in the bin.

Our flight was then called for check-in the security guy re checked our luggage through the x-ray machine and then we went through in to airside.

 I was very hungry and then went to the Macdonald’s which is interestingly very different to the standards in the UK and only offers chicken, fish and vegetable burgers. I ordered a chicken burger and nuggets which tasted different to the UK (more spicy).

At 3.30pm the flight was called  Damion and I boarded the plane although Damion had gone back to his usual hobbie of sleeping so I had to wake him up first.

 As you can see doing his rubiks cube has completely worn him out. What can I say about this flight the plane had a funny smell and while I don’t want to give any clichés it truly smelt of stale curry.  I think it must be the food they served , it was chicken wraps with green chillies and angel cake.

The flight lasted approx two hours and the landing was very smooth into Pune airport. The most surprising thing was that Pune airport is much nicer than the Delhi domestic airport . I took some pictures as the plane landed in to Pune I was very surprised beautiful and green the land  is. We both got onto the bus to the airport terminal from the Plane and walked through the Passport control to where our taxi driver was waiting with the name Mr Butler.  He said wait here and he would get his car…. The journey was the most dangerous experience I have ever had as either a passenger or driver and you are talking to someone who has driven in France and Italy and Greece. The basic way to drive is hoot your horn and go where you like – if there is a gap go into it before anyone else does. The drive was simply incredible.  I can not get over the poor , not so much how they looked and lived , it was how happy they were and it made me realise how much in the west we are slaves to materialistic things.

After getting to the hotel we were screened, bags checked and escorted to reception. We then were given room 105 at the seasons hotel in Pune. The hotel is clean and has various restaurants and a bar and swimming pool on the roof.

Upendra was very eager to meet us with his wife and we met in the bar , I ordered 3 JD and coke and 1 coffee which was 2800 rupees (approx £39). It was great to finally catchup.

As I was very tired I agreed to meet Upendra at 10am and go to his office in the morning.  After he left Damion and I had dinner , Damion ordered spaghetti bolognese and I had chicken and asparagus with daphanoise potatoes with two bottles of kingfisher beer. I went straight to bed and slept until 9am .

As you can see Damion is still very tired from trying to complete the rubiks cube.