Monday, 6 September 2010

In India, Getting Lost Is Half The Fun

Let them eat cake...!
Last Sunday we went for a drive out of Bangalore.  We were headed for the vineyards we had heard about North of the city.  Ley downloaded directions from Google Maps, and with the camera, books, map and  iPhone, we drove off.  But this was no ordinary Sunday drive....

After studying the map and Google directions we took what we thought was the correct road, but five minutes later we were lost and only a few kilometres from our hotel.  Neil back-tracked and took another road, but no, we were lost again.  So we continued on, Ley scanning the street scape for sign posts, business addresses - anything that would pin point our position on the map.  We took some interesting roads, crossed under the train tracks a few times, saw some fascinating sights but an hour later we were still hopelessly lost!

Boy Scout Technology

Not knowing the direction we were traveling, Neil opened his iPhone and turned on the compass/GPS app.  Where we wanted to go was NNW, where we were heading was due west. Compass to the rescue, we then headed north.

After spotting a road sign and matching it with the map we finally coordinated our position with the printed Google Map, and after 3.6 km the next turn was down a tiny lane and through a small village. It didn't feel right so this time we booted up the computer, plugged in the 3G cellular modem and logged on to Google earth.  Technology is amazing, we zoomed in on the map and all was revealed in larger scale.  So then we really knew where we were.....

Drinking chai while waiting to hear about the tow truck.
But road conditions changed and the bitumen morphed into a red earth track.  Then WHAM - we hit the only rock on the road.  The oil sump was pierced and oil dribbled out.  We were a long way from anywhere, so we quickly turned around and headed back towards civilization.  Once back on the bitumen road we came to a stop near an International school and a block of shop houses in a small village.

The oil continued to drain out as Ley walked up to the shops and asked if any one could help us.  One of the shop keepers called directory assistance and then arranged for a tow truck to come.  All we had to do was wait, and then wait some more.

Free Entertainment

Luckily for us one of the shops was a bakery.  As we hadn't had lunch we dined on curry puffs, sweet pastries and cups of chai.  We sat at the rickety plastic table on two wobbly chairs, ate our meal and read our books.  The bakery had many customers that afternoon - not sure if it was the sight of us sitting there for three hours, or the cakes and chai being the main attraction.

Vineyard in Bangalore
Across the road from the bakery was a vineyard - not the one we were looking for, but luckily for us the grapes were being picked.  The vines were trussed up above our heads and were supported by 4 x 4 granite posts.  We tasted the grapes and chatted to the sari clad workers, noting that the picking style was very different to when we picked grapes at Hankin Vineyard in Victoria.

Three hours later our tow van arrived, complete with 10 feet of chain.  A connection was made and off we went, back into town.  We arrived back after dark, it wasn't the Sunday drive we had planned on, but what an adventure!

To see more images of our Sunday afternoon drive and our travel and work time in India click here.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Finding The Balance

Neil with Tony Spence, David Seaman and Bas Huibers
Singapore Sailing Visitors

We've been delighted to have visitors from home during the last few months.  Neil's brother Peter and "a few mates" flew in for a shopping fix and get together.  All being members of the Royal Yacht Club Of Victoria, they were keen to see Singapore from the water.  Included in the group was Michael McLean, talented Para Olympics sailor.

We stowed Michael's wheel chair in the dock box, cast off the dock lines, and motored out for a barbeque and swim off St John's Island.  After lunch the wind picked up and the Royal's crew were getting a bit jittery - so up went the sails, and with Michael at the helm we had great afternoon with 10 to twelve knots of breeze- unusually good for Singapore !  Our good friend Cas Bukor also visited us for a week.  Whilst the weather was hot and wet, we all managed to have a good time.  Cas learned how to make Crystal Blues bread, and also did some quick graphic design work for Neil from the floating office.

Neil and Prasana in the Bangalore Office
 At The Coal Face
Neil has been working with the Space Matrix team for 5 months now.  He's hired four new staff to build the team in India and Singapore, and is constantly interviewing for more.

Multimedia projects and business growth in India are taking up most of his time, plus supporting and enhancing the Space Matrix regional IT networks.   Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad are his second homes now, and he's in India more than 2 weeks of every month.  He's gradually discovering the delights of India, including a vibrant live music scene - lots of rock and blues, but disappointingly little jazz.

His multimedia team are designing projects valued at more than 5 million US dollars, with clients including Wells Fargo, Axis Bank, Gartner Research, Shell and Symantec.  Space Matrix is growing rapidly, so on the IT side he's also planning for upgraded IT networks plus new offices in China and Dubai.

Sailing home from Johore.  Photo taken by Gordon Fraser

A Long Weekend!

Australians love a long weekend and Singapore National Day gave us a great opportunity to escape from the marina and go sailing, exploring up the Johor River in Malaysia.  We were invited to join a small group of seven local yachts on sail-away to Teluk Sengat. By sundown on Saturday afternoon all the yachts had cleared-in to Malaysia and were anchored in a beautiful bay at Teluk Sengat.  Dinghies ferried the crews into the Blue Dolphin restaurant (highly recommended) for a Chinese seafood banquet. The food and the company was great and the restaurant was re-booked for the following night.  Sunday offered a lazy start with roti canai for breakfast and a stroll around Teluk Sengat.  Sun-downers were held on Crystal Blues and this gave us a chance to get to know our fellow sailors.

A squall hit the fleet early on Monday morning and canceled our roti breakfast.  Sails went up, anchors were retrieved and we sailed down river to clear Malaysian Customs and Immigration.  After that we had a fantastic sail almost all the way back to the marina in Singapore. Can't wait for the next long weekend to sail away again.