Montag, 17. Februar 2014


Writing about my journey through India starts two weeks after it started. This has two main reasons. First I had to breath in before breathing out and second I was traveling with two friends ( +Falko Richter  and +Andreas Krienke ) in the beginning and had not much alone-time to write that way.
the check-in
I was flying via Moscow, my friends took the route over London. The route just looked more direct to me ( when flying Berlin to London to Delhi you basically fly back over Berlin after the stop in London) Also I wanted to have a look at the airport that Edward Snowden was trapped for some time.
The journey already had a nice start for me when noticing that I have a bus very close to my home that directly drives to the airport. I used the night to make some last minute changes to +Project Voyager UAS  This also prevented me from oversleeping my early flight. I rent out my room over the time I am not there. My bed was already gone this night so I made the last solder joints in the kitchen.
from the plane over Russia - still a cold place like Germany
My bag was checked before check in by the federal police - project voyager always stands out when my bag is x-rayed. This time I was able to unpack and explain it - last time this process happened without me and I just found a paper in the housing of project voyager taking me that it was checked by the police and seem to be harmless :-)
USB charging and Ethernet on the Seat
The police-lady picked up my explanations faster than expected and that way I had some time left to meet a nice SPS coder who was going to work in remote and really cold place. He works on serious and dangerous machines like presses with a lot of power. Interesting to see that they do not use automated testing or even simulation. He was saying that he always operates in close proximity to the machines as he needs his senses like his ears there.
The plane had a USB and one Ethernet port on the seat - too bad I had no Ethernet cable with me to explore the options here.
public charging and iPad station
The Moscow airport is really big and has free WiFi in contrast to the Berlin one. Even charging stations and public iPads are available. I could really see why Edward Snowden picked this one :-)
But this airport has also the downside of modern technology - for example there was a naked-scanner which is highly discussed in Germany - I was not forced to go through it as I was just on transit, but I was able to see this thing in action for the first time. But I just made a photo of an inactive one as making photos of security-related stuff is often not allowed and I did not want to get in trouble here.
the naked scanner

In the plane from Moscow to Delhi I was sitting next to a very nice Indian guy who really scared me when he was mentioning that it still is winter in India when I was telling him that I am fleeing from the winter in Germany. But if this is winter what I experience here then I am totally fine with it :-)
He was working in Holland - repairing 2g equipment. He was on his way to his family.

When arriving in India it was very early in the morning. I was leaving the airport as quick as possible as I thought you do not get good deals on money exchange and transportation inside.
backside of the paperwork when entering India
But this was a mistake. Once you are out you can only enter again with a valid ticked which I did not have. Outside the was nothing but taxis and some armed forces. I was a bit lost and not really happy with the situation. Then I found a driver which I could pay with my Euros and was driving to the place where my friends where staying. I asked at the reception for my friends - they only spoke a little english and passed me a phone - I thought there is somebody with more english skills at the other end, but it was my friend they just called. I arrived like one hour after them and they where kind of sleeping. But getting bumped out of sleep seems to be common in India ;-) This place was organized by the family of the bride from the wedding we where invited to. Starting the trip with this wedding was really nice as it directly brought us out of the tourist track into the real India.
As a last fun-thing for this post here are some malfunctioning windows terminals in the Moscow airport:

the first day

Andy and I used the first day to do an first exploration of the city. Falko stayed in the residency as he had to finish some work. We took the train and not a rickshaw as we wanted to travel like the locals and save some money this way. There is a counter where you can buy tokens - they look like small plastic coins and seem to be NFC-based.
The fare is really cheap - for a ~20min ride we paid like 16INR - there where also day-passes available for like 100INR. You can also get a card instead of the token - it is like the oyster-card - but we where told that is only useful if you stay more than 2 weeks in Delhi - but we did not want to stay that long in the big city - we wanted to explore India.
When entering the inner train-station you get a security check with x-ray of our bags. This happens really often here in India - but other than in western states I never had to open my bag here ( after > 10 checks so far ). They are way more interested in other stuff. Too bad I could not make a photo of the sign that shows what is not allowed in the train. When I wanted to make a photo one of the security men told me that this is not allowed. ( looks a bit like army - but I was told they are not - but they have very heavy weapons and I do not want to argue with them :) There where some obvious things like weapons, but also some really obscure things like manure and skeletons ...
The ride in the train was nice - it was not too full and we could explore some stuff in the train. And they have interesting stuff there like power outlets for laptops and phones ( this is one thing western transportation companies could learn a lot from India )
Also they have special seats for elderly and otherwise disabled people and seats and whole areas of the train for woman. About the later I had a little discussion with Andreas if this is good or bad.
Also you find some signs you would not find in a western train - like something we later found out means "spitting not allowed" - this is really one of the negative sides for me here in India - my western
brain really cannot digest this. People spit a lot on the streets and everywhere. In the beginning we even thought some of these remains look like remains of s**** because it has a brownish color - but we found out that this comes from spitting after consuming some kind of nut which is very popular here.
We arrived at the place we where told is good to organize some things we need - unfortunately it was sunday and most of the shops where closed. But we where able to get some stuff from the list and do some first improvements of our bargaining skills.

While walking around some locals talked us into going into a "Government Tourist Information" - but we realized quickly that they just want to sell us some transportation and tours and we got out quickly. Walking around further we have seen more of these - you seem to be able to easily use the term "Government" - perhaps that just means they have a legal business that is registered at the Government and not an illegal one;-)
There was already much to digest and we took a train back to the residency - the train back was way more crowded - first we thought we will not fit in the train - but the compression algorithm worked - it was a bit bumpy, but we fitted in at the end ;-) Unfortunately when exiting the train Andy noticed that his purse with Passport/Money and a lot of cards where gone - very likely it was stolen. I tried to calm Andy down by saying things like "the most important thing is that you are still alive", "it is good that it happens to you in Delhi - here it is easy to do the paperwork" - but understandably he was very upset by the situation. We where going back the way into the train-station to try our minimal chance to find the purse or perhaps the remains ( the passport and stuff which is not really of use for a thief but very important to Andy ) As to be expected we found nothing and asked the security guys - they took care of Andreas and I got back to the hotel to inform Falko and do some research on how to block his cards. I also did not want to go back into the security zone as I had a deeper study of the regulation signs and noticed that no Knife except a butter-knife is allowed in this Zone. At this time I was carrying a Leatherman-like tool-set which had a knife that exceeded this spec - so I already violated the rule some time and did not want to take my chances again. Andreas had to wait a lot - first at the security and then at the police - if you get a chance to meet him - ask for this story ;-)
After all this stress we where invited to dinner and where meeting some parts of the family - we got our first real indian food - and I was surprised that it was not as hot as I expected - but yummy never the less. We where told it get's hotter ( food and clima-wise ) in the south. I am really looking forward to it. The family is really nice - had my first conversations about Indian politics and religion which I really enjoyed - but more from this later - this post already is way to long ..