April 2006

Whenever the full-on India crazy starts, it hasn’t quite hit yet. I came to Bangalore Thursday evening, and yesterday was a mad run-around with a charming and delightful Icelandic woman from the British Trade Office here. ‘This might be a little hectic,’ she warned early on, ‘I usually schedule two or three meetings for a day, and we have four. Sorry.’ Yikes.

…and I think we saw the full spectrum of responses, from a university institute who were enthusiastic… to a point, to a large IT company who appeared to have forgotten we were coming, to a huge IT company who were unbelievably supportive and excited. We met with the CFO, who’s opening gambit was ‘What can I do to make this happen?’ He then proceeded to reel off multiple reasons why he was so keen, finishing with ‘It’s the right thing to do, to help inspire the next generation of professionals.’ That’s a degree of corporate responsibility and long-term interest I’m simply not used to seeing. From discussions, it’s clear why – India’s so large, and growing so quickly, that relying on central government to address issues like inspiring school children is clearly an inadequate strategy.

…all of which is very refreshing. There are still huge hurdles for our project, though – which I shall, rightly, report to my employer and not you, dear reader.

A day of schlepping through insane Bangalore traffic – even in a slick Land-Rover and with a hugely professional British Trade Office driver – and staggering around baking-hot and unseasonably humid lecture halls has, however, taken its toll on me, and today I’m a bit of a wreck. It’s something of a relief that we couldn’t make the timings work for a trip to another tech campus in Mysore today, since that would have involved another ten hours’ travelling.

So it’s an easy day, then back to Delhi. Tomorrow I’m touring the old town (and wondering if I should have gone to Agra to see the Taj Mahal instead), then back to London.

So, I wrote this lovely little post back in Glasgow… then turned my PowerBook off before remembering to click ‘publish,’ and then the taxi arrived, and…

I’m in Delhi. Arrived at silly o’clock this morning (flight was fine, thanks – everyone asks, not sure what I’m supposed to say). Just had lunch with extremely pleasant High Commission people, now back at the terribly posh hotel. It’s obviously too hot to explore right now – obviously I’m an Englishman, but I think one has to be a mad dog as well for that.

Thus far, it’s all a bit… well… insulated. I’ve seen ox-drawn carts from a distance and the whole system is a bit alien, but I’ve not yet had the full-on Delhi crazy. Doubtless I’ll be completely baffled when I do.

All of which is, I suppose, testament to the miracle that is efficient five-star travel. Being met at the airport by a uniformed chauffeur with a shiny Mercedes will tend to cosset one from even which country one’s in. There are times – and perhaps this is one of them – when that’s an entirely sensible thing to do. It’s just that this world is also alien to me, and while it makes sense and works, I’m not sure I particularly like it.

But I think I’ll have a little sleep, now, and worry about all this later.

Right, here’s how it pans out: later this morning I fly to Heathrow, sit around a bit, then on to Delhi, arriving horridly early local time on Wednesday morning. Wednesday is, then, an ‘acclimatisation’ day (read: ‘gibber in a corner’ day).

Thursday I’ve meetings with TV companies, then on Friday I’ve a meeting with a venue in Bangalore. I’m not quite sure how I get there – flights, presumably, but they could be Thursday evening, could be Friday morning. Not to worry, I’m sure the High Commission has everything in hand.

Saturday: back to Delhi. The rest of that day is currently free, but – guessing, here – could well fill up. Sunday I’ll be mooching around Delhi, and I fly out at 2am on Monday. Which, in the weirdly-warped manner of air travel, means that my nine-hour flight arrives five hours after it leaves. Or something like that.

Then it’s back up to Glasgow for afternoon tea. Simple.

I’ve no idea what net access will be like, and it’s highly unlikely there’ll be pictures until I get back, but I’ll try to lob some words up at some point.

Right now, I’m blearily working out what’s going in my new bag based primarily on what dried overnight. Oops. Bad planning there. However, I have managed to adopt my usual approach to managing jetlag – be so utterly frazzled prior to departure that I’d have no idea what time it was supposed to be had I stayed put, let alone when it is where I am then. Note that this doesn’t actually help the symptoms one jot, but the alternative explanation for feeling rough as boots makes me feel a bit better.

Wish me luck!

Marching around Glasgow today, sorting myself out for the trip, I was melting in the heat. A whole 14C, apparently.

This, then, is slightly scary: the forecast for Delhi suggests it’ll be about 39C all week. Ulp. At least the humidity is quite low. Yeah, that’s a good thing. Gaaaaah. Then there’s this forecast, which suggests it’ll be more like 43C. Oh crumbs.

DSC00111Inexplicably, one or two readers of this blog are at least vaguely involved in the whole digital rights / copyright / blah world. Comrades, our lives just became considerably simpler. No longer will we have to explain the minutiae of copyright law; no more shall we face confusion over ownership; never again shall the initial holder of title be confused or obscure.

No indeed, for now, I have a supplier for these admirably clear labels. Liberal usage will, I’m sure you’ll agree, clear up all possible ownership confusions. Get your orders in quick.

Which of these things annoys me more?

  1. Channel 4’s Lost Series 2 catch-up doesn’t work for me in Safari (Mac), Firefox (Mac), or Firefox (Win)… and, in fact, it’s not working for me in Internet Explorer (Win) either, on account of borked cookie stuff at their end and some lame stupid nasty advert trailer thing that fails to chain-load the (Flash) video of the clip I actually want to see, and itself plays only at 3 frames/second. Ugh ugh ugh, broken broken broken. — or —
  2. The whole concept that there could be a ten-minute catch-up to a 24-part series. — or —
  3. That, when you do finally manage to play the catch-up video, it’s only 7:30 long anyway. And, for that matter:
  4. You know, I’m now better-informed about what happened in the whole first series than I was by watching the show in the first place.

Lost? I give up.

Good news: you can now buy your car road tax disc over the internet. Bad news: mine will arrive a day late, and I’ll be somewhere over Russia at that point.

Good news: the tax on my car has gone down by £5. Bad news: it’s less than 1% over the CO2 emissions boundary from the lowest-band-in-which-you-actually-pay-anything category. Drat.

This is genius. Martin Brundle has just accosted Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Tamara and is attempting to use her to doorstep Michael Schumacher, who he claims won’t talk to him because they fell out three or four years ago, only neither of them can remember why. All this live on ITV.

You know, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the whole pre-race buildup bit. F1 races themselves I’m still ‘meh’ about, but the soap opera aspect is gripping. If only I understood why there are two Red Bull teams…

[phoned Gareth and now I understand: it was an accident.]

You know, this is really going to do my head in if it continues: Blair’s had an email exchange with Henry Porter of the Observer, and like the leader writer I have to admire him for sticking his head above the parapet and actually discussing policy. It’s a frank and refreshing exchange, and while one might suspect Blair of being selective with his attention, there are similar lapses from Porter. However, when the PM writes passages like:

‘I would widen the police powers to seize the cash of suspected drug dealers, the cars they drive round in… I would impose restrictions on those suspected of being involved in organised crime. In fact I would generally harry, hassle and hound them until they give up or leave the country.’

…I’ll confess to being less enthusiastic. The key word there, you see, is ‘suspected.’ How, exactly, would this sort of thing work procedurally? What constitutes sufficient grounds for suspicion, how does the suspect defend themselves, and who makes the decision that yes, the police can have your car?

I’ll skip the usual discussion about the rôle of the courts, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and all that. Partly because Porter does that better than I could, but also because what’s really tweaking me is that, if civil liberties do become the political battleground for the next decade, and if the Tories get their act together, er… well, it’s hard to see how I’m going to end up on Blair’s side. Which would be – well, weird, basically.

Then there’s the problem of all my Conservative-leaning friends, who’ve taken the piss out of me for years for being a lilly-livered liberal. How are they supposed to adjust if they’re suddenly asked to bang the ‘due process’, and ‘personal civil rights’ drums?