India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. I was lucky enough to explore this country on a business trip in 2008. Sharing with you now my adventures and misadventures in this exotic – but interesting country.

DAY 1, January 21

Left Makati a little after lunch to catch our 2pm flight to Singapore. Sir Pepe and I sat for a while at the Singapore Airlines lounge, and boarded the plane at around 3pm.

By 7pm, we were at the SIA Lounge once again, waiting for the 8pm flight to Mumbai, India. It’s a 5-hour flight this time, and it helped that Singapore Airlines has the best planes I have ever been to. Best of all, their Singapore Sling (a traditional kind of cocktail drink, originating from Raffles Hotel in Singapore) is the best.

We arrived Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai at around 12 midnight. The airport is still under renovation at that time. The interiors reminded me of the Dammam Airport in Saudi Arabia some years back. Since our Signium office is in Pune, we had to endure another three hours land travel via a private car that they rented for us. We arrived at the Grand Hotel at around 4am (6:30am Manila time).

My room at the Grand Hotel is nice, complete with hot water, cable TV, mini ref, queen size bed, and a mini sala.

Connaught Place in Pune

The flight itself, waiting for connecting flights, and the land travel was too much for me. I was asleep before I knew it.

DAY 2, January 22

Woke up at 9am, had breakfast with Sir Pepe then went to the Signium Office and spent the whole morning exchanging views and planning for 2008 company directions. They normally start office at 10am and end at 7pm. For lunch, we ate at Mainland China, one of the best Chinese restaurants in India.

That night, the whole office except Sir Pepe (who’s having allergy attacks again) toured me at Choki Dhani, an ethnic village park where they showcase their rich culture. Deepra, our Country Manager for India, said that Chokhi Dhani means ” a small beautiful hamlet” , and has maintained its rich art & culture image with its host of Folk Dance s- Ghoomer, Kalbelia, Bhopa Bhopi, Chaupal, etc….Village Artisans too show case their skills with the depiction of Kumbhar and Lohar. It is a concept created to give 3 generations an experience of their roots .

Had the chance to taste authentic Indian food, and see their traditional dances. An astrologer gave me a free palm reading and told me I’m getting married at age 27. Also had a mendhi, similar to our henna tatto, but this one is like mud when applied, then leaves marks when dried off.

Chokhi Dhani entrance gate


ice lollipop station


pottery making

dance number


signium boys

dinner


colorful, spicy, indian food


Namaste!

DAY 3, January 23

Spent the whole morning meeting with our business partners regarding our existing searches in Africa. Finally had the chance to meet Ashok, owner of 360 degrees India, who I keep on communicating with as regards our cross boarder assignments.

It was my free time the whole afternoon. Went on a shopping expedition at Hongkong Lane to buy earrings and pasalubongs. Patel was kind enough to go with me and we rode the rickshaw.


That night, we rode the train to Mumbai. It was another 3-hour trip. We booked the business class seats, but business class is more like the regular PNR seats that we have here. I can just imagine how the regular seats look like. The Mumbai station, when we arrived, was jampacked with people! We immediately hailed a cab off to our hotel.

mumbai at night
Stayed at West End Hotel right across Bombay Hospital. It’s an old hotel (built in 1970), with bigger rooms! Imagine, I have an ante room, a sala, a 6-seater dinner table, 2 single beds – all by myself! The room is eerie, maybe it’s because of the hospital across the street? For the first time I got scared. I slept with the TV and all the lights on. Haha!

Had one round of drinks with Deepra and Sir Pepe at Ruby Tuesday at Nariman Point before calling it a day.

Day 4, January 24

The next day we conducted Search and Selection Training with India Select and Signium employees.


After that, we had a quick stop at High Street Phoenix Mall. Then had a round of drinks with Anil, Priya, Amisha, and Ankita.

Off to the airport to catch our Singapore Flight at 6pm.

SOME NOTES

· I enjoyed the hospitality of Indians. They are also like us Filipinos, who extend extra effort to make visitors feel at home. I was able to bond quite easily with Priya, Anil, Deepra, Amisha, and Ankita even if I spent just a few days with them.
· Food is really too spicy for my taste. So if you’re eating in a restaurant and you don’t dig spicy food, you may ask them to make your food less spicy. If you have sensitive stomach and appetite, I suggest you bring lots of crackers.
· Be extra careful. I lost my 100 dollars in the hotel. I left my bag inside the hotel room when I went down for breakfast, and only realized that I lost it when we were already in Mumbai. I’m not sure though for I might have dropped it somewhere, but it pays to be extra careful next time.
· It’s colder in Mumbai than in Pune. Mumbai is the financial capital of India, more like our Makati, but it’s also more crowded. Pune is said to be their educational capital, since there are a lot of universities there. They also have a lot of motorcycles there.

– Meters of their cabs are outside the vehicle. Some drivers have the tendency to over charge though. So make sure you are familiar with the rates.

All in all, my India experience is very memorable. I would love to go back, hopefully on my own time, so I can visit their other tourist spots like Taj Mahal.


2 comments on “Exotic India”

  1. how was the train ride? is it (including the restrooms) clean enough for long haul trips? you’re so lucky for being able to travel to india for free. =)

  2. the train ride was like riding our very own PNR train… considering first class na yung ticket namin. 🙂 Ang dami daming tao, and we took the train at night, so unfortunately wala akong nakita sa labas. Think of our PNR trains (the ones that go to bicol?)… you get the picture. 🙂

    Yup, i think I’m lucky to have been given the chance to explore this country for free. sayang lang, malayo yung office namin sa taj mahal, so I weren’t able to see it 🙂

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