Looking for new opportunity.

I recently completed a 6 month contract at Fibernetics.  I was brought on to begin the process of building and managing a new Lead Generation team.

Achievements:

Composed, submitted to upper management a 3 page report on recommendations to improve the Business intelligence gathering, user interface and efficiency of the Salesforce CRM to improve adoption by sales team members. 80% of recommendations to be implemented, 20% of the report are under serious consideration.

Collaborate with Salesforce administrator to begin process of improving business intelligence gathering and Salesforce performance.

Developed over 400 leads from discovery to qualified or unqualified  lead. Number 1 lead developer.

Lead “Project Graham” to explore the potential of launching an inside sales initiative to up-sell our clients on our new product launches.  Secondarily to advise and recommend product to our customers that may help improve telecommunications in their business.

Lead collaborative effort to build scripts, tools and protocol improvements for new lead generation effort.

Screen, arrange, interview, and recommend for advancement, incoming applicants to build and ultimately manage the new Lead Generation team.

Reflections on India.

Sunset

Sunset on the Beach

One week left to enjoy the beauty and culture here in India.  It’s been an amazing 3 months and the sights and people I’ve met have been the highlight.  I’ve met quite a few Brits and Europeans and we all seem to have the same impressions of India.  It’s a beautiful country and most of the people I’ve met would like to come back whether it’s the first time here or the 30th time here.  Something is special about this country.

The end of season brings deserted beaches and restaurants and most of the beach shacks have to be dismantled before the monsoon season. Only permanent structures made of brick and concrete will remain standing durning the rainy season.  The entire beach shack buildings will need to be re-built again this fall to welcome the new season of travelers.  That is part of the charm in Goa.

I too would like to come back again and see more of India.  On this trip I couldn’t make travel arrangements to get to see Agra, Delhi and the Taj Mahal.  I need to check that off my list for my next trip.  I have heard that the north in the Himalayas is an amazing area as well as Rajasthan.

I mentioned in an earlier post about the mini culture shocks.  Little things remind me that I am not in my home land.  The electricity is unstable at best and wiring practices here would never pass the building codes in Canada.  Switches are pressed down to turn on and up to turn off.  They drive on the left side (which is more of a guideline than rule) and they drive without many road signs to guide them.  The toilet flushers are on the right side (Facing the tank) while in Canada they are usually on the left side.  Cows walking the streets is very unusual at first but after a while one gets use to the sight.

They sell a beer called Tuborg that has a bottle cap with a plastic pull tab.  The pull tabs can be assembled to make an interesting bracelet.  I don’t think they would be permitted in North America since the plastic and solid ring would be a recycling nightmare.  Traveling by train and overnight bus is popular and inexpensive.  I don’t think we can travel 900 km for as little as $15.00 CAD in Canada or the U.S.

A major shock is the amount of trash.  It is just everywhere.

Shack being dismantled.

This is Shauna's almost finished being torn down.

One of the main culprits are the plastic bags that are use to carry goods sold at markets.  They seem to end up in the fields and roads.  One litre plastic water bottles are never ending.  If India is to prosper and enjoy the beautiful landscapes that it has then the trash management needs to be a top priority.  A fellow traveller pointed out that the military and nuclear program here are major costs to the government yet trash control and sanitation in general is on the bottom of the budget.  While it seems like a simple plan to mobilize 1.2 Billion people to “tidy up” the infrastructure is not yet in place.  They make efforts to keep things clean but it’s a war that will need a focused effort from above.

Let’s get Clean India.

The one rule for driving in India. DON’T!

The driving here is an amazing marvel to watch as a passenger.  There seems to be no rules and lane divisions are only a recommendation.  Driving into oncoming traffic is a regular occurrence.  Passing on a hill around a blind corner happens all the time.  Drunk driving is common for both locals and tourists.  When I first came here I thought I’d see so many accidents yet in two months I only heard about one very bad accident. I did see quite a few tourists with bandages on their arms and legs.  Almost always the source was a scooter accident.  Renting a scooter or motorcycle is cheap and tempting.  Some rentals (those with yellow commercial plates) are legal but some private owners rent their privately plated vehicles to make extra money.  They most likely will not have insurance for their vehicle so if you crash you are fully responsible for repairs.  That is the least of your worries though.

Yes there are 4 people on this scooter.

The Chaudi Mini-Van.

I’ve seen mothers (Tourists and locals) riding with their baby in their arms or strapped to their back or chest.  I call them airbags since even a minor accident would be devastating to the small child.  I’ve seem as many as five people on a single scooter which included young children.  In one case a tourist was driving a private scooter with his father on the back.  While heading into town 2 KM away he hit another scooter with 2 women on it head on.  Three of the people had minor injuries but the father suffered fractured ribs, 2 collapsed lungs, and a head injury.  None were wearing helmets and most riders don’t wear them.  He was in a hospital that had rats running around the halls and the conditions were filthy.  If the initial accident didn’t kill him an infection could have finished him off.  They quickly got him to a private hospital and slowly his condition improved.

Through help from his consulate he got a medical flight home.  He didn’t have insurance and the estimated final bill is in the tens of thousands of dollars.  $18,000 for the flight home alone.  The situation was made complicated by the other injured parties all of which wanted the tourist to pay for repairs, medical bills and loss of work wages.  They would even step into his hospital room to try and get him to sign an agreement.  They reached an agreement but it would have become null and void if the father had died.  He was touch-and-go for a few days.

In the legal system here you are not given the same rights as you may have back home.  Witnesses can be sequestered without their passport and told they can’t leave the country until after the court case.  The son could actually have been charged with manslaughter and either spent a lot of money on legal fees or baksheesh to get out of the predicament.  The personal toll alone would tax the most emotionally stable person. After an accident you are not likely in the best place to negotiate your way out of the jam.

While in Baga beach I saw the most horrific accident I have ever seem in my life.  We came upon stopped traffic and saw a car on fire about 100 meters up the road.  We walked closer to inspect the fire and offer any assistance we could.  What I saw was a small car fully engulfed in flames and a man trapped under the car with only his head and chest sticking out from underneath the car.  I asked others on the scene if he was dead and they said yes he’s gone.  I looked closely to see if there were any signs of movement or life but judging from the amount of damage to the car and the body it was most certain he died instantly.  I recalled seeing a YouTube video were passers-by helped lift a car off an injured motorcyclist to save him from the fire.  The car was fully engulfed and even standing 20 feet away the heat was too intense to get close.

The next thing I did was use my iPhone to video the scene.  I recorded about 3 seconds and thought I was intruding on a sacred event.  The birth and death of people are the common bond of all humanity.  This man has a family that will morn his loss.  He was 25 years old and visiting here from Mumbai were he worked.  He rented a motorcycle and lost control and slammed head on into a taxi with 3 occupants.  They were also visiting for the easter weekend but survived with little injuries.  I will justify my filming in this way.  If it can serve as a warning to other tourists to heed to warning and don’t drive yourself while on vacation.  It’s a small price to pay for a Tuk-Tuk or taxi or even public bus to get you around town.

Patnem Pat says you need 3 good things if you drive yourself around India.  A good horn, good brakes and good luck.  The latter is not always available in abundant supply and today is Friday the 13th which is a big motorcycle day back home.  He actually offered to loan me his scooter but I opted to ride a bus for the 2 km trip to Chaudi and it only cost 5 Rupees (About $0.10 Canadian).  This is my public service advice to all tourist no matter what country you travel to.  40% of tourists injuries occur while they are driving themselves in a foreign country.

I have one rule for driving yourself while away from home.  DON’T!

How to lose weight while on vacation.

If you spend anytime in India you know there are many festivals and some are spectacular. While in Kerala there was a festival where women traveled south on the train with bundles of cane stalks. Not sure why they brought them but they took up a lot of luggage space. Seating assignments were not a consideration as any empty seat was considered “open”. We stood most of the last hour or two all the way to Varkala.

While I was in Varkala (a seaside cliff tourist area) there was a festival that involved 3 Elephants, people dancing with shiny umbrellas, and a huge chariot that was carried by a throng of young and old men. It stood about 40 feet high and had no wheels. The participants carried it around a temple 3 times and I had an exit strategy should the crude constructed “float” topple to the ground. I am sure it has in the past as they had long ropes attached to the structure should the chariot topple over. Maybe just to guide it away from the temple or the people. I suspect they wish to protect the temple first then the people next.

This was one event that I didn’t bring my camera and wished I had. Unfortunately my iPhone was full and I had to delete images on the fly to make room for some snaps and video. As with many festivals utilizing shoddy construction, wild animals and flammable materials, fireworks were deployed to make the event memorable. Nothing caught fire and none of the wild animals went wild so that was a good thing.

Varkala is situated along a 150 foot cliff with a main sidewalk/roadway between the cliff edge and the souvenir shops. It was a great view but I like the beach and mountaineering less. Going up and down the 150 feet of stairs along with walking up and down hills meant I got exercise, whether I wanted to or not. I did lose my appetite as well as a few pounds while there. I recommend it for a weight loss town.

The restaurants were plentiful and a couple stood out as great places to eat. I recommend trying a dinner at Abba and Cafe Del Mar. The food and service was exemplary and fairly cheap. Another highlight was Coffee Temple. You can enjoy good food and excellent Cappuccino while watching the world go by. Alcohol is “banned” but getting a beer here was not difficult. They may serve it in a tea pot or clay mug and ask you to keep the bottle below table level. The police were often on patrol looking for baksheesh and establishments that didn’t pay would be closed. This accounts for higher than normal prices for alcoholic beverages. Still inexpensive by western standards.

I spent 2 weeks in Varkala and made plans to head back north to Goa to gather my belongings and process the past 3 weeks on the road in India.

Hampi is a fusion of natural and man-made beauty.

Hampi is a strange combination of natural and man-made marvels.  The boulders here seem to be placed in stacks and piles like a child gathering stones on the beach.  In between the mounds are lush rice paddies and coconut groves.  The man-made temples are exquisitely carved from stone and rocks and built around one idol or another.

Woman washing clothes in the river.

Wash and wait.

We started our day with a walk around the boulders on the north east side of Hampi Island.  The boulders were huge and precariously perched on small stones and rocks.  It reminded me of Arizona and Utah with a Coyote/Roadrunner show look.
Some of the other highlights were watching the elephant getting washed in the river and the many monkeys running around.  I spent 4 days exploring Hampi and taking over 700 pictures.  This posed a problem of running out of memory as I approached the end of the 4 days.  I had 32 GB on 2 cards and didn’t bring my portable hard drive.  That was a mistake.  I started deleting some out of focus or bad snaps in an order to conserve the remaining memory.

Ricky and I said goodbye to David, Riyah, Cerie and Clodagh where I took some great sunset pictures.  They would leave to head on to other parts of India and Ricky and I would try and book a trip out the next day.  We booked a bus to Bangalore then a train to Varkala.  That would be my first train trip and I was almost looking forward to it.
The bus ride to Bangalore was not too bad as the A/C was a relief and sleep was easy.  We arrived in Bangalore early morning but had to kill the day here till our train left in the evening.  I also needed to get my memory card shortage resolved.  The local shopping mall was not open till 10 or 11 so we spent some time walking around seeing the local shops opening up for the day.

Once the mall was in full swing I went into an electronics store to purchase an external hard drive.  I found an authorized Apple store and borrowed a MacBook to transfer my photos to the hard drive.  Phew that was a load off my mind.

Our train still didn’t depart until after 9 so we had to kill the time by walking, sitting, eating and generally “bumming” around.  I am sure we missed a chance to see a museum or two but that was alright by us as people watching is just as interesting.
The rail car we booked was “sleeper” class.  It had 360 Air, this meant it had 3 fans rotating at 60 RPM to keep you cool.  It was too hard to sleep after walking around bangalore for 10 hours and even the noise from the rails was comforting.  Once the sun rose the heat did too.  The theory is you purchase a ticket and you get a seat and bunk assigned which are yours to use as you see fit.  Once we got further into Kerala this theory was thrown out the barred, open windows.  Our seats and bunks would be occupied by anyone that got on the train.  With or without a ticket.  People were carrying laundry, corn and sugar cane stalks and every other manner of personal belongings and threw them on our bunks and sat in our seats regardless of our protestations.  I am sure the conductor would have sorted this out if we pressed the matter but when 25 people try and squeeze into a 6 person hole there is not much anyone can do to reverse that Tsunami.

Our train trundled to Varkala and the awaiting beach.  I was so looking forward to a swim in the Arabian Sea again.  At least I was until after I went in the water.  My impression of Varkala is mixed and I’ll get more into that next time.

Hampi and points south

The past week or so I’ve been traveling inland. Ricky and I travelled with some friends to Hampi last week. Hampi is a small town that has a unique topography. Past volcanic activity has left this area with huge boulders stacked in piles and you see huge boulders precariously stacked on tiny boulders. It’s referred to as Flintstone town. Houses and shelters made from massive stones. Their are quite a few temples and ruins. The area reminds me of Arizona or Utah but with rice paddies and coconut groves. The main tall temple has monkeys climbing all around and inside it has a temple elephant. You can go to the river around 8 am to watch them bathe the elephant in the river which is worth seeing.

We stayed in Hampi till Monday and the made our way south to Kerala. We took the bus to Bangalore and from their a train ride to Varkala. That was an experience! As we
Got further south during the day more people got on the train. Our reserved seat ticket meant nothing to those boarding and our seat reservation was meaningless. If you get up to use the rock and rolling train toilet you’d lose your seat. Traveling in the open window sleeper class car was hot and crowded. The car had 360 Air. 3 fans running 60 RPM was how they kept the car bearable.

I’m now in Varkala for day 1 and hope to recover from the past week.

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