Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where My History Begins: The Great Mumbai Adventure Day 1 9/21/11

Flight just landed in Mumbai. Its some ridiculous hour in the morning and I am in friggin' India. Someone shoot me now. Loved Etihad but don't want so many connections ever again. Wait a dang minute, I am at an international airport and I have to take a bus from the tarmac to the terminal? Lovely! Let me express my joy!

Going through immigration. Yes, I am here for business purposes. What a bunch of churlish folks. Of course, its typical of some government employees. Then again, I am not Miss Happy Pants either; having been on a plane since Monday afternoon. Nice! I am cleared. Welcome to India. Whoofreakinhooo!

Now to get my luggage, hoping it has arrived. Losing luggage is one of my biggest fears. I'm standing at the carousel next to a skinny Indian guy who is wearing his jeans too tight. Poor guy is really uncomfortable and um...itchy...for lack of a better term and really needs to...oh heck just made eye contact with Karen and nearly bust out laughing. She has seen him doing his scratchy dance. Oh! There is my suitcase.

Get me outta here!

Now all the bags have to go through xray. I am directed to put mine on a belt and guess what? No one is manning the unit. Seriously!? Can I just go home now? Don't want to be here in the first place.

We are all dragging our stuff down the longest corridor every constructed. The thing goes on for days. Think I just moved into another time zone. Oh wait there is the exit. Gaaaaacccckkkk! Humidity!!! Can I go back inside? Throngs of people...oh the humanity. A jacked up looking military style vehicle is parked near the exit. We have to stop for a picture. Someone tell me how we find our ride in this mad crush. Oh, there they are. Another long walk to the car park.

And we're off. Are you kidding me??? Driving like maniacs around here. But I'm observing everything. Galvanized shacks against buildings, storefronts. It reminds me of Trinidad. People hanging out in front of little stores. Dogs wandering the streets. We finally arrive at the hotel. But wait, we have to go through vehicle security. Since we are in the Renaissance van, it was quick. We get to the hotel and head through more security. And yes, I set off the metal detector. A quick step into the "private" room so the lovely lady can verify that I have nothing on my person whichcould be dangerous. A 2 second hand wand swipe that beeps at my bra...what do the magnatometers have against my chest?? Sheesh.

To the front desk and hello! The most beautiful Indian man I have ever laid my eyes upon is smiling at me and asking how he may assist. He is...I have never...he... deep sigh...and I lose all powers of speech. Tall, probably 6'3" and G O R G E O U S!!! Thick, jet black hair, deep brown eyes, a killer smile. Here I am, feeling and looking like a frazzled, worn out traveler. I got no game! Regardless, I can't help but stare and smile and nod when he asks a question. And the accent? Deliciously toe curling in the best possible way. Would it be wrong to stand here drooling over him for a bit? He gets me signed up for Marriott Rewards so I can have free internet while I'm here and he asks if there is anything else that I need? You know, when you aren't at your mental best, the witty retorts just don't come. Even so, I don't think he could have come to my room so I could stare at him for the rest of the night. This whole India thing might be starting to shape up.

The room is amazing. I have a king size bed, which makes up for the hillside view. The picture with all the shanties, yes, folks, thats my view. Granted there is a hillside too. I snap my pictures of the hotel room and start unpacking. The shower beckons me. Oh my gosh, a large stand up, marble shower with STEAMING HOT water. I stand under the shower, letting it wash 30+ hours of travel away. Unfortunately, I start to fall asleep standing up. Before I collapse into a heap on the floor, I get out, slather on my cucumber melon lotion, throw on a t-shirt and dive into the amazing bed. Sleep. It's 6:30 in the morning and for some ridiculous reason the driver is coming to get us at 2:00??? WHY? But it doesn't matter, my alarm is set and I'm very nearly asleep.

Are you kidding me, why is someone knocking on my door at 8:30? Yikes! It is housekeeping. Heart racing, I leap out of bed and race to the door, I tell them I'm sorry, that I had just checked in and to come back later. Privacy tag goes on door. I go back to bed and as soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm gone.

UGH, even in India, my alarm is annoying. I'm sooo tired. I grab another shower and get ready to go to the office. We meet downstairs to grab what would technically be breakfast, but I don't think a burger is really breakfast fare. We wait in front of the hotel for the driver pick us up. After some confusion, he shows up. What a nice looking man.

Ok, what's the deal? I've seen more good looking men in less than 24 hours in country that I have seen at home. What the what? Not that I am here to look at men, but I'm not blind and they are so damn cute! I need to find a nice Indian guy for my very own...The eye candy factor alone has this horrid trip looking up!

We head for the office taking a route that is narrow, winding, and the traffic is unbelieveable. There are small shops along the side of the road and holy cow, there is a man peeing...look away, look away...and now there is a dog taking a eyes, my eyes! A most interesting journey to the office. And we are there!

I am an absolute bundle of nerves. I am about to walk into an office full of people that I don't know..well except for one, sort of...and it's really stressing me out. I keep telling myself not to get shy and quiet. I just have to be me. I have a plan in my head and that's to really get to know everyone and look at the processes. We enter the building and it's show time!

I am face to face with the management team. Everyone knows everyone and I'm there like the odd duck. That's not to say that I don't get introduced, but you can tell there is a working relationship that I don't have and will have to start building. Smiles, handshakes, hello's, nice to meet you, all the standard stuff. I'm really struck by someone because strangely enough I feel as though I've already met him. It is way beyond odd as I haven't met anyone before. I can't shake the feeling but I have to put it aside. Weird. Here is the conference room, get settled in. Teams will be here at 5:30.

Knees knocking. Yes, in spite of the outward portrayal of confidence, I am nervous. We go out to the floor to get introduced. Every single head turns in our direction as we walk through. Deep breaths, it's only my teams. No one bites!

Collections: Great team. Prashant, my friend...charming, quick to smile, great booming laugh, gregarious. He would be fun to hang out with. Rajeev - determined, stoic, keeps you at arms length. Asif - charming, willing to talk, eager to listen and learn. Shilpa - sweet, quiet. Farida - strong, capable. Chirag - smiles all the time, can sense he wants to do well. Lester & Samantha - both new to the process and in learning mode. It was so great to meet them all finally! There is so much potential with this team. They have a difficult job, but I firmly believe in all of them.

PI: Kalicharan - amazingly hard worker, dedicated, thoughtful, smart, knows his process. Amita -smart, eager to learn, also knows her process. Aparna - sweet, quiet. Matuilla - young, stylish. Hanoz - teddy bear :), shy. Khozema - all smiles. Small group of dedicated folks. Working hard to meet the demands that have increased.

Recon: Vijayenda - wow, reminds me of my dad when he was younger, smart, willing to take on more difficult tasks. Sneha - fiesty, sharp, knows what she's doing, willing to speak. Amit - the newbie, sweet, learning. Kiran B - quiet, hard working. Kiran P - pays attention to everything, smart, willing to engage in conversation. Wahida - super sweet. And for the life of me, I struggle to remember their names. Maybe it's the two Kiran's. I feel really bad about that.

WCT: Only two folks on this team. Roopali - sharp. Tirth - did not get to meet him :(

I look at the sea of faces and I wonder how the heck am I going to be able to sit with each of them. I want to see everything they do, to understand the process. I want to know that they are handling it in the best way possible. How do I do that with less than a week in the office? I am daunted by the tasks which lay ahead of me. I have no idea how I am going to accomplish any of it. All of this on top of tearing apart some of the processes. Anyone have a brick wall handy so I can go smack my head against it?

Maybe being here won't be as bad as I have thought. All I can hope is that if I give them my best, I'll get the same in return. Day One, 4.5 left to go and it just won't be enough. It is evident that I need to be here longer than I am. Sure doesn't mean that I want stay though.

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