Archive for August, 2012

Krugman, Matty Groves & The Culture

August 26, 2012 1 comment

I’m a regular reader of Paul Krugman’s articles and blog.  One of my takeaways from B-school was an interest in macroeconomics and Krugman’s objective and unapologetic style – as well as his argument – clicks with me.

But I’m not posting about economics.  I find I share Krugman’s taste in music and books.  His last Friday’s post featured Fairport Convention, an all-time favorite band for for the Salazar family.  Other bands he likes I find I like too: The Civil Wars, and Arcade Fire.

Krugman’s an SF fan too, there was an article about it in the Globe some months back.  Reading that I thought I’d try some of his picks.  That got me hooked on Iain M. Banks Culture series

Over 4th of July vacation I read Use of Weapons and Excession; both were good, though I liked Excession more.  Anyway, being here in India on my assignment, not yet joined by family, I have a lot of time for reading.  Since coming here I finished Consider Phlebas and am halfway through Look to Windward.  I haven’t found any SF I like for so long, The Culture is a great to come across now – vast, space-opera scope, which makes it fun, and at the same time just good characters, which makes it interesting.



If this stuff is news to you, check out some of Krugman’s music and books.  Of course if you also look into his politics, I really can’t help that, now, can I?

Categories: Books, Sundries

A Barber

August 25, 2012 1 comment


Went to Ishanya Mall for some home-goods shopping today.  Got there a bit early so I strolled around the streets near the entrance.  There I found this barber.  Barbershops like this are a common sight in Pune.  This one is a spacious two-seater – in driving about the town I’ve seen shops half the width, where you figure the barber must be a yogi to both fit behind you and cut your hair properly.

Keeping a neat coiffure is important for Indian men.  In a couple weeks I’ll be pretty shaggy myself.  Next time it may be me in the chair.

Categories: Expat life, Pictures, Travel

ABC Farms in Pune

August 24, 2012 Comments off

abc-farmsSince arriving in Pune I’ve had a lot of restaurant meals, but these were mostly hotels.  Get back from work, a bit tired, a bit disoriented, the easy thing to do is just head downstairs and eat right there.

But Pune has a thriving food and nightlife culture, and tonight I thought I’d go sample some of it.  First destination, ABC Farms, just a short walk from where I live in Koregaon Park.  This is kind of a lane or a compound with 5-6 different restaurants and clubs.  I arrived a bit after 8 – still early by Pune standards.  I strolled over to a place called Shisha.  There were sounds of jazz coming from inside and while a few couples here and there were having dinner there were plenty of free tables.

shisha-menuThe menu featured many Persian dishes, but I decided to order from the Indian menu: Fish Masala, Dal Makhani (a Punjabi dish)and plain Naan, plus a G & T, as Horace Rumpole would say, to fortify myself.

Pretty good.  The fish was fresh and the spice was rich but let the fish flavor come through.  The dal was made with not just lentils but also kidney beans; with a healthy dash of cumin it was surprisingly like chili, though sin carne, not con carne.  With a Kingfisher pint added on, the tally came to a 1100 Rs., a bargain compared to your typical business hotel hereabouts.

As I mentioned, Shisha features jazz, and it seemed all the places in ABC Farms had music.  As I arrived, Dire Straits Walk of Life was in the air.  Western music is definitely a premium here, coffee shops, gyms, stores all play it.  As I started my walk home a solo guitarist at another club was turning out a journeyman Like A Rolling Stone.  No real message there, unless its that nowadays your dal and masala come with a side of Western ear candy.

The verdict on ABC Farms: Easy-going, good food, music in the air.  Definitely will be back.

Categories: Travel

Here in Pune

August 12, 2012 2 comments

It’s about 1 week since I arrived in India.  Things are going well, though nothing happens terribly fast here.


A big milestone was registering the lease for my apartment.  I arrived at the proper office, with my landlord, my real estate agent and my relocation specialist – someone IBM retains to help coordinate everything – and things started off quickly.  There was a flurry of stamping of official documents – an example is to the left.  Just when we thought we’d finish in 15 minutes or so we hit a snag – the lone printer for the registrar’s office was not working.  A troop of 4 or 5 men scrutinized it closely, prodding the recalcitrant device with pencils and rulers, occasionally attempting a disciplinary tap.  Despite these efforts it was a few hours before the critical printer was printing again.  But print it did and I am now a duly registered licensee of an apartment.

In case you are wondering, the 3-headed lion (4-headed, actually – the 4th is behind the others) is the national symbol of India.  It comes from the Lion Pillar of Asoka, which was erected around 250 BC.

I don’t have too many photos yet … among the things left back in the US was my camera USB cable, which is now on its way to me here.  Here’s one photo, of the view from my new place:


The facility you see here is the Army Sports Institute, where many of India’s 2012 Olympics athletes did their training.  One of the things we liked about this apartment was this unobstructed view, something we did not find in many of the places we looked at.

On my agenda for today is taking delivery of a mattress, and maybe doing some shopping for household goods.

All for now.  In my next post: Getting a cell phone, bank account, “foreigner registration” and fully moving into my new place.

Categories: Expat life

This Is The Day

August 3, 2012 2 comments

The day I travel to Pune, Maharashtra, India to start my 2 year assignment.  Is everything ready?  I suspect not.  But time to go regardless; whatever remains to be settled will have to be done in India.

Here’s one thing I have learned in the months of preparation for this assignment: The government of India loves photographs.  Photographs of you, that is: passport-sized, in sets of 3 for most every interaction you will have.  Want to move into your apartment?  You need to file your “C Form”, one copy for you and everyone in your family, together with 3 pictures of everyone.  Want to open a bank account? 3 pictures.  Register as a foreigner?  3 pictures.  Get a cell phone?  Yes, 3 pictures.  And this is all in addition to endless photocopies of your passport, visa, driver’s license, marriage license and more.  I would someday love to visit the master photo vaults – which I assume *must* exist – where spectacled clerks use tweezers to place each submitted photo into its government-mandated album.

Anyway, a bit of advice #1 for anyone considering a foreign posting: Get a scanner. Mine is a ScanJet G4050.  I got this about a year and a half ago to scan a large box of photos and negatives from the 80s and 90s.  Here’s one of my favorites, a picture from 1991 scanned from a negative:

scan0001 (6)This is daughter Alex at around age 2 months.  This was the first effort of a never finished (just as well) photo series entitled “Babies and Fruit”.

Back to the scanner – I had to capture a great many documents: diplomas, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, utility bills and more.  If I had to go off to a copy shop every time one or another of these was requested, I’d never get to India.  But once everything is scanned you can easily fire off emails with PDFs in response to each next request.

My suitcases are half packed … need to go finish that.  Then its printing out last minute forms, copying files to an external USB drive, filling out the manifest for my air shipment of goods, and a few other odds and ends.

I’ll leave you all with some music from the 80s, by a band I enjoyed then and still do, The The:

Surely a change indeed.  Next post will be from my new  home.  Namaste.

Categories: Expat life, Sundries