Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lost Opportunities

I've always carried a torch for The Beatles even though a few of my friends are horrified by this. Their usual reasoning for why they don't like The Beatles however is usually because of the poor quality of their work after they split up. This, I always say, is a little unfair but, if you were to judge The Beatles back catalogue by the quality of what they have done as solo artists then I'd have to say my friends are right. The Beatles, as individuals, have not served themselves well by continuing to perform. They really should have split up and shut up and their reputations would have remained secure.

Inexplicably, Paul McCartney continues to be revered as a god; every utterance he makes or note he performs is analysed for its genius but has consistently found to be sadly lacking in any substance at all. Let's face it, he hasn't really made a decent record since about 1970. So, with the possible exception of George Harrison and his album All Things Must Pass it's hard to find anything of merit. John Lennon went down the peace and politics route and made some inexcusable rubbish. Ringo? When John Lennon was asked by a reporter if he thought that Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world, he replied: 'He's not even the best drummer in The Beatles' . Within the band, that was usually agreed to be McCartney.

But, in their solo work there is still one track I can go back to. Unfortunately, I don't even like the whole track. And the bit I really like about this track is bizarrely faded out, just as it sounds like it's setting off to be something remarkably good - another parlous lack of judgement on the part of Paul. So here it is - Take It Away by Paul McCartney and Wings. Drag yourself through the nonsensical lyrics of the first three minutes and twenty seconds and then just enjoy the wonderful voices harmonising in the background, be lifted as the stunning horn section kicks in....and then curse violently as the damn thing is faded out just as it seems to be getting started.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Would You Like Anything Else Sir?

Because of a recent burst of business travel I thought I'd sign up for a few hotel and airline reward programs. I've always been too lazy to do this in the past but this time I thought "Why not?"

I've just received my introductory pack from Hilton Hotels and I know they like to pander to one's every whim but I never expected this to be available when I pick up the phone in my room and dial zero.

OK, I guess this is what they mean.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Reason to Love India

I've said it before (obviously not here, or I would be repeating myself), and I'll say it again, one of the best reasons for coming to India is frankly, just to stare longingly at the women. They are, without question, the best looking in the the world, and that is by a considerable distance.

You think all the best looking women are saved for the movies? Nooooo sirreee, there's an Olympic standard, Bollywood honey on every street corner, in every shop, riding side-saddle on the back of a motorbike, or at every other desk in the office - they are everywhere. They're even on construction sites! Not only are they beautiful, (it's those deep dark eyes and that long black hair that does it for me) but they are engaging, smart and utterly charming.

And there's something about the way they move. I don't know if they're taught by their mothers to walk in a certain way, or whether wearing a sari requires them to walk in a certain way, but they just seem to have an innate grace and poise and a deeply sexy way of just walking across a room.

OK, I'm off for a cold shower - this is all a bit much for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why I Love India

By all reasoning I should hate India. It's noisy, chaotic, overwhelming, sometimes rather smelly, and at other times delightfully fragant, mildly distressing in parts, and mostly beyond any sort of rational analysis. It's all the things I seek to keep out of my life when I'm in the UK. But I can stand and watch Indians going about their life and never fail to be gripped by the drama that appears to be constantly unfolding before me of which I can make almost no sense at all.

I cannot work out when people stop working. Business and chaos appear to continue operating side-by-side for all hours of the day and night. Time is an abstract concept. Nothing appears easy if you ask for it, but somehow it always gets done. All tasks when initially broached are met with bewilderment and requires much discussion with a variety of passers-by until a level of understanding is reached at which point the job in hand is dealt with exactly as you might expect it - it just seems to be a requirement that everybody has a lengthy discussion about it first.

I know Hyderabad is not exactly a tourist hotspot and so I tend to stick out among the crowd. I tend to attract attention simply by being a European - this is Schrodinger's Cat incarnate isn't it? - the concept that you cannot observe an event simply because by your own presence you are actually influencing that event.

I'm going to elaborate on this further when I am at more awake and a little less time-confused. But I still love it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


So, I guess this is pretty small beer in the bizarre world of coincidences that we inhabit but here goes.

I and a colleague have been staying in a hotel in Hyderabad for the last week. This weekend is our first free time so we booked ourselves on the budget city tour - a nine hour day on a perfectly serviceable but quaintly battered bus, trundling around the sights of Hyderabad. Our fellow passengers were almost all Indians, apart from a couple of other European looking characters and inevitably we got to chatting after a while.

It turns out, one of our fellow European types was actually called Roxana, an Argentinian, currently working in Chile, but over in India for a few weeks working with some colleagues. Who do you work for we asked? Her employers, were, she said, Company B. Now coincidentally, Company B were the subject of a hostile takeover by my employers, Company A some time ago. I mentioned that I worked for Company A, as despite the hostility of the takeover, I've never encountered any real resentment between employees of the erstwhile, separate companies.

Roxana mentioned she'd spent the week working in Hitec City which is the new area of Hyderabad that has sprung up in recent years to service the IT requirements of large organisations such as Company A and Company B. It transpired that we had also been working in the same floor of the same building for the whole of last week. It also transpired that she knew the only three people I know in the Chile office. I only know them because I met them last month when I was in the US and they were attending the training course that I and my aforementioned colleague were running in Florida and Colorado.

So there you go - that's my little coincidence of the day.

And another thing, she's staying in a hotel only 100m from the one we're staying in.....but ours is much nicer.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm Off (again)

OK, I'm off to Hyderabad for two weeks, staying in what looks like a thoroughly swanky hotel.

Do you think they'll give me an upgrade because it's my birthday? I'm feeling a bit hard done by - as I'm travelling against the clock, so to speak, I will lose five and a half hours of the day meaning my birthday will only be eighteen and a half hours long. Is there somewhere you can apply to have these lost hours reimbursed if they happen on significant dates?


Patient: Doctor doctor, I've got a book stuck up my arse.
Doctor: Hardback?
Patient: Yes.
Doctor: Well, just wait six months and it'll come out as a paperback.

I thank you.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Picture the scene; you're sitting at work, it's early evening, the rain is lashing down outside, the wind whistling past, but you're warm, you've just got to finish reading this report and then you're off home for the evening. The ceiling strip lights have been been turned down low but you have your desk lamp on so you create one of those warm glowing pools of light, a small homely oasis amongst the ranks of darkened cubicles around you. Only a few more pages to go - it's not a bad office, all things considered.

You reach to your side, without looking up from the report, to pick up that refreshing mug of tea you made earlier; lifting it to your lips, you draw a healthy draught into your mouth. You recoil in shock, and spit the tea instantly straight back into the mug and do that thing that dogs do when they've got something nasty in their mouth, shaking your head from side to side, your tongue pushed out and spitting simultaneously. Yes, you've guessed it - the tea was COLD. There are few tastes more shocking or repellent to the British palate than cold tea. You wouldn't so much as bat an eyelid if the vicar, or perhaps your maiden aunt, reacted in exactly the same way if they accidentally ingested this wretched abomination of a fluid. It's just what we, the British, do, when presented with this particular flavour.

So, I was intrigued to find during my trip to the US last month that the drink of choice in US business circles, when alcohol is not really an option, is iced tea. This is often brought to the restaurant table in giant pitchers, served in pint glasses and enticingly infused with slices of lemon and sprigs of mint. In the first week I eschewed the iced tea, and instead would ask for mineral water, not really being a soda / pop drinker. Mineral or bottled water however, is often not supplied in American restaurants, they don't seem to get much call for it. After a week of asking for water and often then having to explain exactly what I wanted and then invariably having to settle for American tap water - which is like drinking swimming pool dregs - I decided to try the iced tea.

I'm sure I've had iced tea the past, and although I didn't have any particular memories of it, I didn't remember it as being especially unpleasant. Not like root beer for example. I was happy to give it another go. It would probably be pretty tasteless, just a hint of tea, a light citrus / minty top note flavour, chilled and refreshing. My glass was expertly poured from the pitcher by the waitress, the ice cubes and amber fluid glopping and plocking into the glass with a pleasing sound. It looked pretty good on the table before me. I lifted it to my lips, and, it being a hot Florida day and we'd just walked across the car park, I took a big gulp into my mouth. The shock hit me instantly, I had just taken into my mouth about a quarter of a pint of the fluid no native-born Englishman can abide - it tasted exactly like COLD TEA. Not just weak cold tea though. This was proper, full-on, strong, well stewed cold tea. It was a bitter, unsubtle, spine-shudderingly, tongue-curlingly nasty taste. The option to spit it out, which I so nearly did, would I fear, have been inexcusable in my immediate company. I forced myself to swallow it, without breathing through my nose which fortunately dulls the tastebuds but it was still hard to swallow. I quickly placed the glass down in front of me.

After the initial shock had subsided, I looked around at my fellow diners who were happily necking this hideous infusion with apparent glee. The taste was slow to disappear. It lingered unpleasantly on the palate and the back of the throat; in fact, it acted in exactly the same way as you would expect if you had just drunk a mouthful of cold tea. Some things, I will never understand. I asked the waitress for a nice glass of iced swimming pool dregs instead - to take the taste away.