Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vatican, Sistine Chapel

I am in Rome at the Four point Sheraton Rome West. My Home for the 11 day trip. Reached late in to Rome last week after chaos in Heathrow. Missed connecting flights and delayed flight was almost canceled. (Reached 2am Thursday).People are confused by the Four Sheraton four points Hotels in Rome and Taxis as expensive they are can cost up to 150 Euros for a trip from Airport (Against 50 Euros from Airport) if you dont know the exact name and location as happened to my colleague this week. The good news is the Hotel allows you the option charging the taxi charges to your room payment.

Yesterday, As indicated in my previous room posts, I had the privilege of visiting the Vatican. The visit was made more significance by the physical presence of Pope, Benedict XVI conducting the service for the Feast of St. Peter the Chair. It was a great visit to the Vatican, Sistine Chael. The paintings of Michael Angelo in the chapel are amazing to say the least. It was a great day and as usual, we made contact with Jason our guide.
I will uplink Photos next week of the visit as I didnt bring the file transfer from my camera to the laptop to up link.

I was amazed to read in economist that George Bush presented the Budget from A tablet PC.Wish Our PC can do it. (P Chidambaram the finance minister can do this weeks budget!!!) I guess our politician would cry foul as it may be released / leaked before.!!!!. I would expect a dull/ dumb budget. Middle class cant expect much can We?????.

Just wanted to put in a quick update on Matrix mobile and WIFI data access card for internet. It works good and looks economical for international travel. I have used their cell phones card for ages. This trip I am trying their global WIFI card for internet access.(This blog is from that.) Looks reasonable in Europe where it is 20 Euros a day for internet access in hotels. For US it may not be needed as most hotels offer free and many public places too have Free wifi access.

OK, I will put my thoughts in details next week.
Till then take it easy and take care; Live consciously.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Choclate, Bee Story, Road Rage

I am spending the time for this BLOG on some key Issues.

I was touched so much by the Fortune Magazine cover Story on the USE OF CHILD LABOR in the cocoa Beans making ( A key ingredient in Chocolate making) in Ivory Coast that I have decided that NO More Brand chocolates buying from my side indiscriminately. As a frequent international traveler, I spend a good sum at shopping at airport duty free. I will rethink and look for some kind of aspect to make the chocolate child labor free before I buy them.I may not buy any more, so be it. This is a small gesture from my side. It could be a drop in a ocean, I am doing my bit. Told my kids to study the article. Looks like Blood Diamond, Blood chocolate.

Another sweet aspect is Honey and thus reminds Bee. I saw the Bee movie on the flight back from USA last week. It made me think a lot. Sometimes, we take things for granted, I guess. What If we really step back and look at things and make live and let live. A must watch movie for all.

Recently,I was away to Delhi for a day for a personal event. I was amazed at the growth in Delhi of sky scrappers in Gurgaon Area. This is my first visit to that area as I usually used to go to Delhi for Visa interviews. At the same time I was appalled by the Road Rage out there. I was aware of it in TV news etc, but when you experience first hand, it sends a shrill down your spine. I haven't felt so threatened before. Wonder why people are in such a hurry and impatient!!!. This could even lead to them loosing their lives.

I read the rave review on the movie Katyn, a polish movie. Expected to win an Oscar this time for the best foreign film. Let us see what happens??. This is about the true story of massacre of 20,000 polish officers during the immediate aftermath of WWII.

I read a fantastic article, by Marcus Buckingham in the Harvard Business Review that great managers are not Checker players, but chess players. They anticipate various aspects of people involvement and take their team to great heights. I got access to hard copy. I am glad I could get the link to the soft copy free version. Delighted to share this.

Ok then, till next week, Take it easy and take care, live consciously.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

-15 DegC, Grit, Coutryard, DISAPPOINTMENT

I am back from my Mexico/ USA, Sunday, this time the Jet Lag was so terrible it took me more than 4 days to be back to Normal. So missed the last week blog. Some days, I cant even recollect having Lunch, ( I believe Lalithas word for it). This dispite a Shower at Gate 1a Lounge at Heathrow and plenty of water in the 22 Hr flight. I guess the body has its limits.
So then, I faced the coldest day of my life in Salt Lake city at -15 deg C. Pl see the photos. The snow was also insult to Injury. Yes, for my friend Bob Buccafusco, used to -40 Deg this was a warm day. Bob Brushed the snow of the car(Picture) with Bare Hands!!!!.

I saw some Mexican tradition, every place has this farming equipments I am told as a symbol of good luck and hope. I think people think the same. The Snap shot of Hotel Araiza which I mentioned in the last column.

I must say I found the Courtyard, Marriott, very comfortable. I stayed with them in LA, Athens, Ga and the service was very good and room tariff value for money. So was the breakfast as well as lot of coffee. The good thing in the most American hotels are the coffee makers in room and unlimited access to coffee in the lounge 24 by 7. By the way one reason I look forward to my American visits are the Waffles. I can have that for breakfast every day, I did that this time.( All the 11 days in the USA I had the waffles and corn flakes, missed that in Mexico, But Mexican food was good enough!!). My next visit I plan to bring back a waffle maker with me.

I was delighted to find all Veg resturant, Grit at Athens, Georgia, (100 Miles from Atlanta, I stayed there to visit the facility at Elberton, Ga). No worry about Meat contamination. I enjoyed the food and I must thank Bob for finding that. They don't accept AMEX card.

I have a bit of disappointment too, I had subscribed to the HBR and the first copy arrived last week. The first advertisement on Page 1 is Jhonny Walker Blue label Whisky. Do the managment magazine need such ads, more so when the adverse effects are well known. Especially for Indians, who we know what happens when a couple of pecks go inside.!!!!. I wonder???, where are norms and yard stick for journal/ Advertisement ethics, I wonder!!!.

Ok, I will for sure pen tomorrow, with more thoughts.
Till next time, take it easy and take care, Live consciously.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mexicali, Salt lake City and Edi Amin. (Super bowl)

I am now in Layton, Utah, (Near Salt Lake city). Just arrived this morning from LA. Flew United Airlines for the first time and not bad service. They served complementary beverages. When you have low expectations, this goes to show that things can be much better. Salt lake city, close to 0 Deg cel. The hotel is situated right opposite string of rocky mountains and there is plenty of snow and more snow (up to a foot on the road) kind of new experience for me. I will be here for 3 days and then fly to Atlanta Tuesday. It expects to hit -11 Deg cel tomorrow, Lets see!!!.
Salt Lake City, Utah is also famous for the Mormon, sect of Christians, Mitt Romney is now running for republican party presidential nomination is a Mormon. I now see that they have their version of the bible in the hotel shelf.

I was in Mexicali, Mexico last week as a part of the business trip. We drove down 6 Hours with My Great colleague,George Kohn coordinated the trip and took us there. George made the drive lively with various discussions both ways. You should spend time with George, the whole outlook can become seriously positive even for the depressed. Happy go lucky George.

My first impressions about Mexico was great country, people are warm and polite and helpful. Yes, it reminds you a lot about India, with the cleanliness, unpredictables. Food was no issue for a vegetarian. Yes, the message needs to go out that you don't eat anything that lived and moved. I stayed in the hotel, Araiza. Which was decent enough and value for money. Mexicali (Mexico+ California) is about 20 miles from the US border. Although I had a valid Mexican Business visa Issued from India, I was asked to pay for a additional business visa for US 23$. Which I did and that took a bit of time.( To walk to the bank to pay the cash). Yes, we had a tight schedule and there was no time to go around the city. We did a bit on the road though.

The return crossing back to USA, took a little more time. Being Friday evening, there was lot of queue. The border officer at the US Side while crossing while checking my passport wanted to know how many languages, I speak(having an Indian passport and not a green card holder from India) and he wanted to know the names of the languages I know as well as my mother tongue(Tamil).

Edi Amin, You may wonder. Yes, I watched the movie, the Last King of Scotland, which is about the tantrums of Edi Amin from the experiences of his sottish personal physician. Worth watching. Just saw that It has won an Oscar. The actor who played Edi Amin had done a great job.(Forest Whitakear)

Ok, Being in United states, I am going to go through the ritual of Super bowl this afternoon, (4pm here in Utah) there is much hype here !!!. I have no clue about Superbowl or the football they play. Let me see and post some thoughts as to how genuine the hype is or is it just another American marketing gimmick. I am told to support some New England, patriots. Let me see. I look forward to a good time to relax and see new game.

Till next week, take it easy and take care, Live consciously.

John McCain.

#329 Very sad to wake up to the news of passing away of Senator John McCain aged 81 (4 days short of his 82nd Birthday).  He was a true ...