After 4 months of 60-70 hour work weeks I did not waste any time scheduling vacations far, far away from Bangalore.
I’d say vacation officially started at the April 15th/deadline party. The party was at Arbor Brewing Company near the expat guest house, selected by – you guessed it – the expats. Before we begin, allow me to set the scene. At a U.S. deadline party, people slowly trickle in as they finish e-filing their returns, grab some social drinks, reminisce about a particularly awful project, kiss an ass or two, and maybe do some bowling or karaoke. Typically people keep it business-ey while at the firm-sponsored venue. Now toward the end of the party someone may puke on a partner’s shoes (2009), start crying (2010), or slap a fellow associate across the face (2011), but witnessing one of these events is like seeing a shooting star. It requires right place, right time (don’t blink!), a bit of luck, and is MAGNIFICENT. However, all good things must come to an end and the open-bar is no exception. Once people get sloppy and the HR violations are [more] prevalent, the partners hightail their asses home and the peons move to another bar. In summary: While the firm is paying for open-bar, the mood at a U.S. deadline party is business-drunk and celebratory-yet-reserved (with a few outliers).
The deadline party here was…different. When we got there, everyone was rushing the food table and half the people were drinking juice. If there had been an open-bar party at a micro-brewery in Chicago, I can’t even imagine the damage a bunch of public accountants would have done after April 15th. Close to 200 people, and I swear they ran out of juice before we even finished a keg. The mood was slightly awkward; people were sitting around stiffly sipping O.J. between runs on the buffet. I looked around and wondered if I was going to have to fake a Skype date with Mom so I could go home.
That is, until the Bollywood karaoke started. By the end of the first song everyone from work was singing along. By the end of the second song dudes were going nuts in the middle of the dance floor, undoing top buttons, pelvic thrusting the air and riding on each other’s shoulders. By the end of the fifth song, the ladies formed female circles and started shifting from leg to leg – ya know, the way dudes dance in the U.S. Complete role reversal. From there on out it was just…wild. The Bollywood karaoke didn’t end until the bar cut us off, and at least 100 people were singing along to each song. People weren’t even necessarily drunk, not even out-of-control, just…weirdly wild. Somewhat similar to the end of prom where people pretend to be hammered from the vial of vodka they snuck in as lip gloss, but with less grinding.
The next day I began my travels. So as not to bore you, I’ll attempt to highlight the important things.
High point: Not sitting in a cubicle in a Bangalore tech park
Low point: My decision to not wear sunscreen the second day, so I could get a “base” for my trip to the Maldives. I got extremely burned, and am still peeling from it. In sheets. It’s sick.
Anecdote: Check out the pic of the sweet ad for flight attendants on my return flight to Bangalore.
High: My friend Gina came to visit! This was my first time seeing someone from home in a little over four months.
Low: I guess the India Gate was closed for a rally. Also, our guide at the Gandhi Memorial was mumbling in another language, yet refused to let us leave.
Anecdote: I saw a lot of monkeys, and some were roasting and eating garbage at a brushfire.
High: Although I had already seen Taj Mahal last fall, there weren’t many people there and Gina and I were able to get amazing pictures cause it was…
Anecdote: Our jumping picture was so amazing I don’t even mind how cliche it is.
High: Riding an elephant, and taking pictures with a baby elephant!
Low: We were sick of our guide Akram’s history by the end of the day. Also, I pretended to have bull horns while taking a picture next to the Taurus sign and he made a joke that I was horny. It was gross.
Anecdote: Gina got a sweet rug, and I bought a $3 soap holder. How’s that for budgeting, eh? Eh?
High: Definitely the prettiest place I’ve ever been. The water was warm, the sand was nice, great weather, great travel companion, FUN! No regrets here.
Low: It’s expensive, but you knew that.
Anecdote: We drank a lot of Heineken.