Thursday, 19 September 2013

Post Assignment Travel - Agra

Agra is the site of the Taj Mahal, so is a popular destination for most India visitors. We got here by train again. Jaipur to Agra is so popular that there's a high speed tourist service. The train could easily have been a country train at home. It even included something to eat and cup of tea.

We only had one day here. First we visited the Agra fort

And then the Taj Mahal. It's the tourist off season now, but there were still plenty of visitors at the Taj. It must be crazy during the peak season.

It was an impressive site and worth the visit.

Next and last stop is Delhi. 

Post Assignment Travel - Jaipur

Jaipur's stop 4 on my tour of North India. We only had one day here. We traveled to Jaipur by night train, class AC/2, which means the carriage is air conditioned and has two bunks on a wall. The bottom one also turns into a seat.

Jaisalmer is less that 100 km from the Pakistan border so there's a number of very large Indian army bases and therefore there were lots of army staff on the train and lots of army sites beside the train. This peacock is sitting on a carriage intended to move tanks. There we're tanks there on the way in but gone on the way back, so no photo.  

We struggled to get tickets so made use of Tatkal tickets. Under this scheme there's a small percentage of tickets that are released the day before the train leaves. They cost a bit more, but a least we had tickets.

Even though it was a night train it was quite busy. I found it that the train movement made it easier to sleep but were next to the door which squeaked very loudly. Then someone got on about half way and turned on the light whilst the mucked around for what seemed ages setting up their bed.

The train got to Jaipur at 5am. Even then there was heaps of people at the station.

In Jaipur we visited the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Breeze.

The Amber Fort. It was quite a long walk up to the fort from the road. We we're told it was possible to ride an elephant up. It would have been expensive and wasn't something I wanted to do but I would have been interested to see them. But no elephants today.

And Jantar Mantar. This is a World Heritage Site. It's an observatory that was built around 1730 by Maharaja Jai Singh. There was a number of instruments, including a sundial accurate to 2 seconds.

At the observatory it was interesting to see how accurate the various instruments were.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Post Assignment Travel - Jaisalmer

Third stop on the post assignment trip is Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer used to be an important stop on the trade route from East to West. But with the advent of trade via shipping, the importance faded.

We got here on the early morning express train. Happily the rickshaw was ready for us at 4:30am this time. We manged to pick our way though all the sleeping bodies on the station and find our allocated seats. Once seated the train ride was quite fun. Much better than the bus or car.
One of the main attractions at Jaisalmer is camel riding in the desert. So it was off the train and into a jeep. They showed us a few sight on the way. including an Oasis. There was a variety of wildlife, including frogs and birds like the Owls below.
Then it was on to a camel. We we're supposed to ride them for an hour and half but apparently it was only an hour. That was more than enough camel riding for me.

The guides cooked us a traditional meal while we explored the sand dunes.

We watched the sun set and then spent the might under the stars.

In the morning there was another opportunity to ride the camels, but we still didn't have train ticket to get to the next stop, so we choose to come back.

On the second day we visited the fort and some of the many temples. 

At one point we we're picked up by Rickshaw driver "Cool Rahul". He was very keen to show us around Jaisalmer, was quite entertaining, and I think charged a fair price too.

 We came across the morning milk delivery man. Rahul told us the milk delivery man was very well paid, but he had also had to milk and tend to the cows, so Rahul was happier with Rickshaws.

Later this afternoon we catch a night train to Jaipur. A distance of about 650 km and a journey time of 12 hours.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Post Assignment Travel - Jodhpur

Second stop on the post assignment trip is Jodpur. We traveled here by  "AC Volvo" bus. A bit more up market than what most of the locals would use, and air conditioned.

After a little bit of nervousness when the rickshaw that was booked to take us to the bus station at 5:30 didn't arrive, we made it okay. The roads are mostly terrible, so the driving is very slow.

We had a break about half way, these little guys were running around where we pulled up.

There's a large market around the old clock tower, which is the centre of the old town. Lots of sellers who are keen to show us their wares.

The streets in the old section of Jodpur, which is where we're staying, are very small and busy. We can't even get the rickshaw up to the front of the accommodation they are so small.

The city is dominated by a large fort, called the Mehrangarh Fort. This is taken from the roof top restaurant of the place we're staying.

We walked from here up to the entrance which quite surprising only took about 15 minutes. Though it was quite steep.


We visited some of the other local sites, like the Jaswant Thada

and the Umaid Bhavan Palace.

There's a large festrival 100km from Jodpur. Lots of people are making there way there. This car load is reasonably typical group of excited people proudly displaying their flags. Seeing all the people traveling is interesting, but it is making getting train tickets a challenge,

On the last day we went on a jeep safari. We saw a traditional village.
Saw some Antelope

Watched a traditional tea ceremony. Though they don't actually use tea.

And finished up with a traditional home cooked meal.

Jodpur has been bigger, with more than 1 million people, and busier than anywhere else we've been. The contrast between cities is very noticeable.

We've an early train tomorrow.  I hope the rickshaw turns up this time.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Post Assignment Travel - Udaipor

Following the assignment some of us are doing some travel. From Jamnagar we flew back to Mumbai then up to Udaipur for a couple of days. Udaipur is famous for it's three palaces. The summer palace is in Lake Pichola and was used in the filming of the James Bond film Octopussy, which the residents were very proud about.

Here's the Main palace at night from where we had dinner.

One of the ornate rooms inside the palace.
Summer Palace.

One evening we went up to the Moonsoon Palace which is high above the city and I captured this view looking our over Udaipur.

I was woken early one morning by a loud tractor unloading building material, so I headed up to the roof of the hotel to watch the sun rise over the lake.

During the hot afternoon we visited a local garden that is famous for it's fountains. The gardens were pleasant enough to walk around, but I thought the fountains could use some maintenance.

Next stop is Jodhpur.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

And then we were done.

It feels like we arrived in Jamnagar only yesterday, and suddenly it's over. We said goodbye to our client who presented each of us with an item of clothing that was in the pattern of his caste.

It was a very generous gesture appreciated by each of us..

Then it was time for a debrief. What did we think of the experience? Everyone said it had a been a memorable experience that was very worthwhile. At the same time I don't think anyone said it had been what they expected. 

There was time for one last meal before getting all the bags packed. There's a 15Kg limit, so a few of us were loading up the hand luggage to keep the additional fees down. Then it was off to the airport.

Once in Mumbai final goodbye's were said and then the team split up. Some we're heading home that day and might even be there by the time I get to publish this post. Most are staying on for some post assignment travel with partners from home., but all we're going different ways. I'm doing some travel with Peter. We're the only two of the team traveling together, though we expect to meet a few of the others on our journey.

The CSC experience has been fantastic. The IBM team was great. The partners we worked with we're all very supportive. I know that I've learned a lot and think that we've left a work product behind that drives some value for all of the clients that we worked with.

I hope that those of you who've been reading this blog have got some sense of both what India and our project as like. It's been an experience I doubt I'll forget.

Final Glimpse of Jamnagar.
#ibmcsc india 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Final Presentation

The culmination of our work here was the final presentation to our client and their key stakeholders. Anton, our finance guru showed highlights from his finance modeling. Demonstrating how they could use a limited amount of seed capital to bring enough revenue to run and grow the business, if carefully managed. All the audience wanted to understand if the business would be sustainable. I think they were impressed with the level of detail Anton had put into the model. I know I was.

Claudi, our Supply Chain expert talked about ABC analysis of the supply chain and how that should be used in the proposed organisation. Claudi was sure that nobody would be that interested. As it happened they were very interested. There were more comments and questions afterwards about that topic than anything else.

I talk about the organisations governance model including some recommendations about how the board should be assembled. We'd made changes to this based on the feedback from the earlier session. I thought it would generate discussion and I was right. I'm sure there will be more discussion about this point.

I really would have liked some more time to look at the finance model and provide more detail in the report about some of the key things we'd learnt over the last few days. But we always knew we we're on a fixed time frame.

The presentation seemed to be well received. I'll be watching closely too see what happens over the next few months.