Monday, February 17, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 8

Monday February 17 Gurgaon - Delhi
Amardeep went to work and I stayed back to pack.  In order to take home  the large framed plate that I was given as a gift from the conference, I had to pack everything into my red bag and put my back pack with my computer into my smaller roller bag.  I carried the picture in the conference bag.  Sant Lal picked me up and we went to the Mall in Saket because I wanted to try an India McDonald’s.  I had the spicy paneer sandwich (without lettuce or tomato which comes with), fries and a coke.  The paneer was good but the bun and cheese were pretty bad. Back at Amardeep’s office I recorded a video for CEOHP and took some pictures.  Then we headed to IIITD for Amardeep to give a lecture on the First Day of teaching a class to Pankaj's class.  While we were in his office we found out that we were featured panelists at a women in engineering panel after the class. We also went to a reception for PK’s program Precog (privacy and security of social networking).  Busy day!  Then we headed to the fancy shopping center by the Grand for dinner at SetZ with Mangala Gowri and Laura Haas.  It was an interesting place with some 7 different cuisines each with its own set of chefs.  I had pasta, Laura and Mangala had Thai and Amardeep had risotto.  The bathrooms had fancy Japanese style toilets with heated seats.  Amardeep left me off at the hotel with Laura and I went to her room.  There was a very fancy wedding going on so we went down to watch the groom arrive and see all the gorgeous dresses on the women guests.  There was a lot of confusion about the ride to the airport, so we went down to the lobby and waited with Radia Perlman. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 7

Sunday February 16 Gurgaon – Agra-Gurgaon
We left Amardeep’s at 7:30 and got to the hotel shortly after 8 to pick up Dave Patterson and were on our way to Agra.  The fog was really dense and travel on the superhighway was down to a crawl because of it.  We eventually stopped at the rest area for tea.  It was really crowded and the rest room was gross but there was a nice attendant.  And the tea was good!  On the road we stopped several times to look at birds – we saw Sarus cranes and even a family of three.  We also saw a blue cow (Nilgai antelope) family.  We also saw lots of kilns in fields for making bricks.  Once at Agra Fort Amardeep engaged a guide.  Inside the fort we met up with Shafi Goldwasser and Radia Perlman and their guide.  The builder of the Taj Mahal was imprisoned by his son at the Fort and spent his time in a room facing the Taj Mahal.  We took the extra tour to the glass palace or Shish Mahal where the ceiling and walls were covered with tiny mirrors.

Then we headed to the Taj Mahal through crowded streets, stopping at a small hotel for a bathroom break.  When we got to parking it was quite some distance from the Taj Mahal and we took a camel cart ride to the entrance.  Amardeep had her throat lozenges confiscated! The entrance to the Taj was impressive but the first view of the Taj Mahal was more than I expected.  The building and grounds were unbelievably beautiful.  We tried to stay for sunset but got too cold.  We headed back to a fancy hotel (ITC Mughal) for dinner but we were too early for the tandoori ovens and had a rocky start to what turned out to be a nice meal in the coffee shop with local wine (Sula Vineyards Cabernet-Shiraz).

We headed back and took Dave to the Grand and we got back to Gurgaon at shortly after midnight.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 6

Saturday February 15, New Delhi-Gurgaon

The Grand New Delhi
We had breakfast at the hotel with Laura Haas, Shafi Goldwasser and Amardeep before the ACM meeting.  We were a bit late getting to the meeting which had already started. This audience was mainly men as opposed to the day before when it was mostly women.  Lunch again was near the stadium.  I sat with the head of IBM research India and his predecessor who is now at Xerox India.  After the meeting we went back to the hotel and had coffee with Laura at the fancy shopping mall next to the hotel.  Then Sant Lal took us to the dinner at the faculty club at IIT.  They had no bottled water and flat Pepsi, but good India food and great conversation. Amardeep was elated that Vint Cerf took down a quote from her! 

We took folks back to the hotel and then headed back to Amardeep’s in Gurgaon where it was after 11pm.
Laura Haas and Vint Cerf; below Vint Cerg, Amardeep and Shafi Goldwasser

Friday, February 14, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 5

Friday February 14, 2014 New Delhi, India
Amardeep and I found breakfast which was very good.  We sat with Mathai Joseph and talked with John White, Pat Ryan and others.  Lots of vans took us to the meeting at IIT Delhi.  I put the ACM-W skirt on the stage.  Because of rain, the meeting had a late start but it was excellent.  Lunch was outside in a covered area next to the stadium.  I got to cut the long line as a VIP!  I think my talk went over well.  Lots of questions, good ones.  I enjoyed the talk by PK about his students’ app for safe journeys.  Radia Perlman talked about internet protocols and Laura Haas from IBM about cloud big data.  After the meeting we had a SIGCSE India meeting with John White and Mathai and other interested folks.  It looks like the SIG would be organized under ACM India.  Many of the speakers and committee went to the conference leadership dinner at the Ashok Hotel southern India restaurant.  I had a pancake called an uttapam. We went back to the hotel and immediately went to bed.
ACM-W India Meeting

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 4

Thursday February 13 Gurgaon, India and Delhi Tours

Amardeep and Sant Lal dropped me off at Connaught Place for the city tour (at the grand price of $5).  The tour was in on an old bus with a local guide.  We had to give him money for three of the  places we went to (250 INR each or about $4).  The first stop was a Hindu Temple where we had to leave out cameras and cell phone behind.  They took my external battery away from me because they thought it was a cell phone!  No shoes, either.  The temple, Laxminarayan, was gorgeous and very interesting.  Hindus use a variant of the star of David and also a swastika!   The bus then drove down to the Qutub Minar, a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a 12th century muslim tower and ruins.  We then headed to a scruffy parking lot across the street from Lado Sarai, the first park Sant Lal took me to.  There was a Delhi tourism store, selling rugs and other goods high pressure Turkey style.  The group had tea from a guy with a cart outside.  I passed on it.
Lotus Temple, Gandhi's Last Residence, Laxminarayn Temple, Qutub Minar

Fig Tree, Red Fort, a cremation Ghat, Humayan's Tomb

We then went to the Bahia Lotus Temple where we had to shed out shoes and hand them into this underground window where we got a wooden coin for their retrieval.  The temple itself looked like the Sydney Opera house and we went inside during the daily service.

Our final morning visit was to the Gandhi Memorial museum where Gandhi spent his last days on earth and was assassinated.

We returned to the Connaught Place tourist office where there was a café.  I ate the lunch I had brought along in the courtyard where monkeys scampered along the courtyard roof.

The afternoon tour included a ride through the embassy row and then out to the Red Fort, a huge complex with tons of walking.  It was also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Red Fort was the residence of the Mughal emperors of India for nearly 200 years, until 1857.  Nearby were a lot of Ghats, or cremation sites for famous people like Indira Gandhi and her son Rajeev.  We stopped at the site for Mahatma Gandhi, Raj Ghat.  I was surprised at the memorials and the huge plot of land surrounding each cremation slab site.

The final stop was at Humayan’s Tomb, commission by his wife for him.  It was very impressive.

The tour bus let us off two blocks from the starting place with little information on how to walk back.  I was very nervous but finally got there and was relieved to see Amardeep and Sant Lal.  Amardeep directed Sant Lal to a grocery store so she could get gluten free food including cereal for herself.  We went from there to the Grand Hotel where Amardeep and I spent two nights.  We had dinner in the hotel restaurant.  We ordered too much food but the fried paneer was very good.  A large party of very noisy people (Amardeep said they were rich and uneducated) drove us nuts.  We were happy to go back to our room!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 3

Wednesday February 12, Gurgaon and New Delhi
We took Amardeep into work and then Sant Lal took me shopping at Dilli Haat, where Sant Lal bargained for he things I was interested in.  Dilli Haat is a market where the vendors rotate and has fairly low prices.  After we finished shopping, we headed to Amardeep’s office at BML Munjal University in Saket where I made a presentation to the founder, Ashkay Munjal , Babi Mitra from MIT, Davinder Singh who used to be with Coca Cola, Vinayak Kalluri.  I used my slides and handouts that Amardeep had prepared on ABET and her department’s curriculum to compare and contrast with Curriculum 2013 and previous IEE/ACM versions.  Afterwards we went to Hauz Khas for dinner at a south Indian restaurant NAIVEDYAM.  I had a tea called rasam and dosa, large rice paper roll with sauces.  I also had coconut water in the coconut!  There was a family eating near us and Amardeep pointed out that the maid didn’t have food – she just was there to supervise the kids.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 2

Tuesday February 11 Gurgaon -
Amardeep went to work and the driver came back to take me to the Sultanpur  National Park to look for birds but first we looked for two geocaches.  We finally found one near the Crowne Plaza Hotel!  Whew!  The one near a coffee shop must have been behind a bunch of boxes and cartons.

The drive out to Sultanpur was wild.  The roads were rough, Gurgaon even had a guy herding sheep across traffic and then the villages we passed through were very poor. I saw some people carrying wet cement on their heads to a construction site.

When we got to the Park, it was closed on Tuesdays.  Sant Lal asked me if I wanted to go to a different park and took off on a dirt side road to a Hindu Temple that was in the middle of nowhere.  We walked into the courtyard of the temple that had a big white horse statue and I was surprised when Sant Lal didn’t lead me to the temple but to a gate in the back where he talked to some men and then led me out into a field.  I was stunned to see tons of birds – mostly water birds like herons and stilts and ibises.  I had Sant Lal go back to the car and get my .binocs and water.  We traipsed through mud along dikes and saw cranes, painted stork, lots of geese including bar headed, cows with cattle egrets.  It was fantastic! I think the place was called Dhankot.

Sant Lal returned me to Amardeep’s where I cleaned up a bit and then we headed into town to pick up Amardeep and we went to her favorite restaurant, Café Diva in a small, upscale shopping center.  She had risotto and I had Roadside food of Goa.  We got back to Amardeep’s at 10:30.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Day 1

Monday February 10 Delhi (Gurgaon) India
The plane was on time but it took a long time to get through immigration (although it was shortened by an official that moved a few of us to the Indian passport line.)  Then I had to wait a long time for my suitcase.  Amardeep and her driver, Sankt Lall were there to meet me—Amardeep at the exit and Sankt Lall brought up the car.  We drove to her apartment in Gurgaon, arriving at about 3:30 am.  Amardeep went to work and I rode along with her driver, who took me sightseeing and geocaching,  Our first stop was a small park, Lado Sarai.  Our next stop was Hauz Khas Village where we looked for a geocache.  It was a beautiful park and we actually walked over a mile to go .1 mile before we found the entrance to an archeological park with Sultan tomb ruins.  We looked for a cache in one of the rooms of the ruins  but couldn’t find it.  After we explored the ruins, we headed to Deer Park which did have a ton  of deer.  We walked around the lake below the ruins and looked for another cache unsuccessfully but saw monkeys and birds.

The next stop was the lovely Lodhi gardens where I ate my lunch near some ruins (Bada Gumbad Mosque and Tomb). The we walked around the whole Park  Lodhi Gardens where I tried to solve a puzzle cache.  I found all the caches but I think I made a math error and was too tired to finish.   The driver left me off at the Sheraton where the guard opened the car trunk and I had to go through a metal detector.  I walked into the hotel like I knew what I was doing (actually I wanted he bathroom) and went to the bar for coffee which I nursed until Amardeep joined me from her work across the street.  We were back in Gurgaon by 9 and ate the lovely meal that Amardeep’s cook had made, but not to bed to midnight.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Barb's Trip to India Part 1 Getting There

Saturday February 8 G’town - London
I continued to pack.  It was a beautiful day, so Phil and I walked the neighborhood. We mailed the Valentine’s cards to the girls and Suze. Phil drove me to the airport. I bought a Schlotsky’s sandwich and had a coke at the Admiral’s Club  and hung out until time for the plane.  Then I discovered I hadn’t transferred my iPhone cord to my backpack.  Right across from ny gate was a BestBuy vending machine that had exactly what I needed and only $14.99.   On to DFW and its Admiral’s club. My plane was a bit late but OK.  I had a seatmate when we loaded but the plane wasn’t full, so he moved and I had a two-seater to myself.  I slept well.   

Sunday February 9 London – Delhi (Gurgaon) India
Arrived in Heathrow and went through one security so I could hang out at the Admiral’s Club before changing terminals for the British Airways flight.  The second security was awful. They didn’t like my set of charger and I had to unpack my whole backpack. I decided to brave security twice
Curled up and slept after lasagna and free wine (a South African pinotage.