Friday, September 6, 2013

Vagabonding - Rule #1


I had no expectations of India.  But I did have an agenda, and most importantly in doing so, forgot the first rule of travel:  never set a firm agenda.  From the moment I landed I was counting the days until I would depart. That was my first error.

My arrival here was always centered around work; to draft an outline for a project I'd conceived, and present it to my friend's tech team in Bangalore. After a month of relaying my thoughts to them, answering questions, I had expected we could finalize a blueprint and I could depart on a three-month travel while they were coding; Thailand was on my short-list. 

Error two: don't have expectations when traveling. During that first month I devoured the newspaper each day, as if trying to inhale the mentality and heartbeat of the country before leaving for Thailand. 

It was daunting, really, as they're are many  states here; over a billion people; 88 native languages; 200 dialects, and over 3 million Gods. It was an overwhelming assault on the senses. Yet the mix of its ancient traditions in a  modernized city in expansion, well, made for an intoxicating elixir. 

The first day I arrived at my hotel I thought "I don't know that I will like this." It seemed down-trodden to me; dusty and dirty.  In a way like an old wild-west border town.

By the third month however, I had fallen into a daily routine: I'd wake up each day and start the day by going
through the marketplace in my neighborhood to get the paper, and found myself energized and inspired by the activity and strangeness of it all.  

I reminded myself after the initial culture shock that to know a place you have to live there and absorb it organically; interact with the merchants, do regular local things, like laundry and such.  

You can't simply view it and move on; I had momentarily become a tourist: looking without seeing, being without evolving. Then I returned to my Vagabond traveler sensibility: just be and become a part of where ever you are, without opinion or pretense.

My project development had stalled as the company here kept delaying me, when all of a sudden -- absent an agenda -- serendipity stepped in. I befriended some locals. We took some motorcycle trips; they took me out and showed me the nightlife.  We'd become friends.  

Moreover, as would turn out, they were software engineers. In that moment I decided to settle into an apartment and started a business operation with these young kids I hardly knew. 

It's been a year now and we've secured 3,000 square feet of office space with our team of 17, with plans to expand rapidly along with our expanding client base. Moreover, our in-house project list has a Google-esque model for a suite of interactive frameworks and components.

Thailand will be there when I get around to getting there, but right I'm in India, and will experience this for the foreseeable future. 

Hopefully I can leave a legacy here with the young team I'm building, and then ... well, that is yet to be seen. 

I've remembered and clearly understand Rule 1 -- don't plan, just make choices based on the options that present themselves. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Driving in India, well, sort of



In a country where they went from virtually no cars to more cars and bikes than the road infrastructure can handle, it happened so fast that they never really incorporated a general driving protocol.