A Quick Day in Delhi

We started the north India leg of our trip today flying in to the Delhi airport by 2pm. We’ve booked this party all as a package tour, so we were whisked away from the airport in a small bus and checked in to the Taj Mahal Hotel on Man Singh Road. This, by a fair margin, may be the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

The attention to detail and the service are impeccable. For example, when you check at reception, your reception agent then gets up from behind their desk and takes you to your room, shows you around, and you sign your paperwork in your room. After which they then offered to send up some tea and coffee and asked if they can come later to clean it all up. The wakeup call was also the best thing ever. So you call to set the call, and the lady then took the time for the call, asked if I wanted a reminder call and when I wanted it. Then (and get this) asked if I was expecting any calls during the night — which I did not — so she told me they’d hold all the calls and take messages and give them to me in the morning. The last line before hanging up? “Sleep well sir, we’ll wake you up in the morning.” Loves it.

On the tourist side, we saw the Presidential Palace and India Gate in the afternoon, then went to Bukhara for dinner. All in all a good set of things to see and today we’re off to Agra to see the actual Taj Mahal. The photos on my web site are up to date since I sync’ed last night, too.

Last Day in Bombay

Today’s our last full day in Bombay. We spent yesterday going to Haji Ali and Siddhivinayak Temple. I’d never been to Haji Ali, so it was interesting to see. Siddhivinayak was good as usual. The security there was the tightest we’ve seen so far. After visiting those two we went to my sister’s office and had a late lunch at Fragipanni at the Trident Hotel (where bullet holes can still be seen in some Oberoi tower windows). Afterward, my sister and I caught a local train at about 7pm up towards Santa Cruz from Churchgate to have dinner with my grandma and cousins.

The train wasn’t as bad as expected since we bought “first class” tickets (which isn’t saying much) for the ride up. People are insane at the train station. As the train starts to move or stop people just run everywhere, jumping on to the tracks to catch their trains. People are getting on to the trains before they come to a stop, and getting off as they’re rolling up. It’s madness. It’s no surprise that 4000 people die a year on the trains by getting hit.

In any case, we made it up fine and took a second class train back around 11 which was nearly empty and we were able to sit down. Today I’m spending the day with my other grandma and having dinner with the family. Then tomorrow we head out Delhi on a noon flight.

Arrived and First Days in Bombay

After 16 or so months, I’m back in Bombay and 20 hours in the air. It’s been a good first day and a half. We went to Vikram’s wedding which lasted all day on Saturday. It was a great time and the food was awesome as well. Today we had a late start (post jet lag and all), had lunch at Indigo Deli then went to Elephanta Island. Unfortunately, we were rushed in the process since we got there quite late, but we got to see everything on the island while avoiding being attacked by the monkeys that live there. For dinner we went for pow bajhi across the street from Chowpatty after which we walked from there all the way across Marine Drive to Nariman Point to work off the butter. I’m off to bed, going to probably go to Siddhi Vinayak and maybe Haj Ali (the latter of which I’ve never been to). I’m not writing much since the internet is painfully slow and I need to get to bed. I’m getting 9 kbps right out off the interface in total.

Switching to Entourage 2008

Last week I started an experiment to work almost primarly in Mac OS X and put my VMware Fusion Windows XP machine on suspend. Most of the programs that I would have used in Windows like Word, Excel and Powerpoint work fine in the OS X version. The biggest (and worst) stumbling block I’ve hit is Entourage. It doesn’t work like Outlook, and it doesn’t work like a OS X application. It’s not a hybrid either. It’s just awkward to use. Here’s my hit list of issues.

  • While drafting an email, hitting Alt-Delete does not delete a whole word. It just acts as backspace.
  • Pushing Apple-Delete kills the message without warning and doesn’t place it in the drafts or Trash.
  • The shortcut keys between Outlook and OS X are totally different. Apple-1,2,3 to switch between Mail, Calendar, Contacts, etc.
  • Apple-F loads the find menu, it doesn’t forward a message.
  • Calendar allows you to snap items to the 15 minute boundary. It’s really annoying when moving appointments between days. Nobody in their right mind schedules things on a corporate calendar at fifteen minute intervals.
  • On My Computer is hokey. When you send a message it ends up in the On My Computer outbox. That just feels wrong since it’s going to go through my corporate outbox.
  • Reply and Forward flags are not sync’ed to Exchange. Annoying.
  • If you have a contact in your address book, but they’re a corporate contact (e.g. came from your directory service) it always looks up the local contact first even if it’s an Exchange to Exchange message.
  • Using Calendar to schedule meetings is broken. It’s nearly impossible to schedule resources like meeting rooms using it.
  • Hitting reply to an email that came from Outlook, Entourage breaks the horizontal lines that Outlook uses as separators sometimes. Also, the horizontal lines that it uses are 75% width versus Outlook’s 100% width ones. Just odd.

This is a view of coming from a life time Outlook user. Native users of Entourage may not notice any of these things. But native Mac users will given a bunch of the OS X behaviors that it also breaks.

New Music Monday

I’ve picked up a bunch of new music in the last few months and thought I’d share some thoughts on a few albums.

  • Metallica – Death Magnetic: I love this album. Feels angry, feels energetic and raw. Highly suggested.
  • John Legend – Evolver: outside of the radio hit Green Light, the rest of the album is pretty standard John Legend. That’s not to say it’s not good, it’s just expected. Worth getting if you’re a fan.
  • Flobots – Fight With Tools: very good, classic sounding hip-hop. Interesting lyrics, good beats. The standout track for me is Never Had It.
  • The Game – LAX: awful album. Don’t buy this. Doctor’s Advocate was a legitimate retake on West Coast rap that takes you back to the last revival (aka Dre’s 2001 and when Eminem showed up), but this is just awful.
  • Ratatat – LP3: the latest Ratatat is less dance-y, but same downbeat eletronica with catch tunes and interesting sound.
  • RJD2 – Magnificent City Instrumentals: bought this on inspiration from the intro sequence to Mad Men (A Beautiful Mine). Fantastic album, all instrumental tracks. One of my favorite pick ups in this batch.
  • 高杉さと美 – RELATION ~あの風を辿って~: bought this album in Tokyo simply based on the attractive nature of the singer, Satomi Takasugi. While I don’t understand a word that she’s singing, the underlying instrumentation is enjoyable and it’s a good listen. Plus the CD came with an instrumental version of every track. Cool, huh?

Consumer Spending Habits

The Economix blog over at the New York Times has an interesting piece today looking at the consumer spending habits in the last year. Specifically, Kruger looks at the Gallup Daily Tracking poll about a question that was introduced to the poll earlier in the year that asks a consumer about his or her spending habits.

I found a few of conclusions that he drew to be fascinating and revealing:

  1. People spend about 32 percent more on Fridays and Saturdays than on other days of the week, probably because they receive their paychecks on Fridays and have time to shop on Saturdays.
  2. Daily data on consumption can be related to stock market movements. Today’s spending is unrelated to today’s movement in the S.&P. 500, but is related to movements in the stock market over the last seven trading days. A 10 percent drop in the S.&P. 500 in the preceding week is associated with about a 10 percent drop in consumer spending today.
  3. The Gallup data show a declining trend in spending since May 2008, and this decline accelerated in early November.