Hello, stranger. It’s been a while.
It took me a while to find the courage to start posting again. Perhaps “courage,” is not the right word, but more so, the will power and motivation to do so. I hid for a while to figure out what life had in store, and was worthy of sharing. One can only share so many food pics, daily rants, random bullshit and nonsense of who we think we are, while being unable to acknowledge what we are.
A lot has happened since my previous post. For starters, I sold off the Tudor Black Bay, and in turn, picked up two new specimens to add to the stable.
I also got my luggage zipper fixed. I didn’t think anything of it, or when I would use it. I was wrong, but more on that later.
Behold – The Nomos Glashutte Metro Datum (manual wind) and Nomos Glashutte Ahoi Datum. The Metro was purchased through Rob @ Toppers Jewelers in San Francisco, CA, and the Ahoi was through Robin @ Exquisite Timepieces. Both were great to deal with and the only drawback was shipping, but we had all mutually understood this being a burden on both ends.
Bauhaus design, German made, and simplistic. A true tool watch that doesn’t scream for attention. Absolutely love both watches and are on the rotational roster.
I even won an Orbita watch winder from Exquisite Timepieces through an Instagram draw. Talk about a real bonus!
On the flip side, I had thought about getting rid of the TAG Heuer Carera Twin Time, but fought with myself internally for months to decide what I wanted to do. It was running slow, and I wouldn’t be able to make anything on it, so I decided to keep it and have it serviced. It took a while, and TAG Heuer’s customer service was just awful. Lesson learned – you get what you pay for. (I do not recommend TAG Heuer unless you are a huge fan of its heritage and current involvement in sport.)
Oh, yes. Finally. SRAM Force 22 compact crankset. There was something defective with the 10-speed Force crankset, and I didn’t want to ride on standard chainrings anymore, so I got it updated at The 11 Inc. Constant Illness and terrible weather has prevented me from putting in any mileage this season.
So after a long and hard fought battle (again, an internal struggle with myself) I decided to give up on Windows Phone and Android. Truth be told, the software on the Windows Phone was buggy and lost its 5Ghz WiFi capability, so that sucked. It couldn’t perform even the most basic of functions any normal person would require from a phone. The Android, well, Outlook was driving me nuts, and most Android phones are physically massive, so the only altenative was going with an iPhone. Let me tell you, it is one refreshing experience. I need a phone, to do normal phone things, and be a normal size. Like have a decent battery life and make phone calls and sending/receiving SMS messages. Is it that hard, Android!!?!?! RIP Windows Phone.
A few random events – I went to the David Tao concert at the Sony Centre, and it was a pretty good show and playlist.
Came across a coffee shop in The Annex/Koreatown that serves coffee roasted by Habit, but the beans are sole sourced from Vietnam. The owners were very nice and accommodating, allowing me to come inside, despite them being closed. There was no sign indicating they were closed. Regardless, I haven’t been back because it’s just out of the way.
I seriously have no idea where this was taken anymore.
Public Espresso in Buffalo, NY
Went to see some shitty Vespas, and the experience was only shitter than your typical Italian motorcycle, car, or scooter.
Random picture I took at home. Not really sure how to butter this one up.
I had to head down to Los Angeles/San Diego as I had learned that my great grandmother had just come back home from the hospital. Rather than make the same mistakes from when my grandmother passed away a number of years back, I decided to catch the next plane as soon as I could to see her. I got the chance to see her one last time. Unfortunately, she passed away earlier this week. 105 years old? Not bad. She was one tough cookie. I often wonder how and why she managed to live so long. But hey, she lived in San Diego. Who wouldn’t want to live longer?!
I don’t remember if this was Premium Economy or Business. My guess is Premium Economy. I got a nice option to upgrade for a reasonable price.
Lunch time in Orange County
Stopped by to visit my grandparents at the cemetery. Despite a grim location, true beauty can be found. You just need to look for it.
No trip to LA is complete without a stopover at Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney in Venice.
Of course, Deus Ex Machina
And Coffee Commissary on Motor Ave
I stood out in the sun, put my bag down, and reminded myself that this bag has been to so many places, and can only continue to go further. I don’t recall exactly when i got this bag, but it certainly has been almost eight or nine years. Six for sure. Who knew it would take me further so soon?
Upon return to the office, I had, literally, less than 24 hours, to come up with a lean budget and business case for my VP and SVP to approve a necessary trip to India for business. It was such a fucking nightmare, but I managed to pull through and bought my tickets booked my hotels, and packed with less than 12 hours before my first flight. After coming back from Los Angeles/San Diego, it had been stressful enough, coming back to the office, dealing with a tonne of bullshit, and having to pack for a three week trip, including scheduling of all meetings with suppliers, is a real fucking pain in the ass. Well, off to Amsterdam for a short layover, and then to Pune, Bangalore, and Chennai, India. Thank you, fixed luggage zipper!
Jet Airways business class. It…was okay.
This is, if I recall correctly, a Goan chicken curry. There was something black in the dish that looked like an olive, so I thought to myself, “Okay, sure!” Taking a bite out of this proved to be a terrible idea; It was some kind of fucking chili pepper, and my mouth was on fire. The saving grace was the yoghurt. Had it not been for that, I would have been screwed so hard.
Schipol Amsterdam Airport
Growing up, we would read about Miffy and her adventures in class together. Never did I think in my life that I would see a life-sized Miffy.
India has always been on my radar to visit, however, was never up at the top of my to do list. Never did I think in a day of my life that I would travel there for business. Sadly, that was the case, and I felt awful because there will be a handful of judgmental pricks out there who would rag on me for not traveling “authentically,” to enjoy “the true Indian experience.” Let’s get a few things straight.
First of all, what the fuck does that even mean? Show up in a raggy shirt that hasn’t been washed, wear sandal flip flops, practice poor hygiene, drink local water, pet random street animals, ride the public bus and auto rickshaw? Eat street food? Have you lost our mind? No normal person should do this, and I seriously mean it. You could get food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea, AIDS, cancer, Yellow Fever, malaria, and all sorts of bullshit. (Kidding about AIDS and cancer.) That in itself would get you a one-way ticket to an unknown Indian hospital with a hefty bill because chances are, your insurance won’t cover what you got. Because medical treatment there is a business, and doctors/hospitals have quotas to meet. You would get so fucked if you wanted to screw around.
Secondly, while most people speak English there, not everyone is honest. Agreed fare for the cab? Pay the westerner’s price for anything and everything? You would get totally ripped off, it’d be like getting raped and not knowing it. I would caution anyone going to India to bring someone along who is Indian, or meet with a trusted local. You need to remember – this is a third world country. Women are still treated very differently, and their old cultural habits are still very strong. I don’t suggest taking the public bus; you’d probably get molested or pick pocketed, robbed, and even gang raped. And I’m actually serious.
This is supposedly a university city, a few hours out from Mumbai (Bombay.) Sadly, it’s primarily an IT hub with a heavy military presence.
Pune Airport – let me tell you. It’s a fucking dump with some third-world bullshit procedures. Fuck this place. My advice is you watch and learn, and be prepared to deal with some serious third-world bullshit. You need to literally watch and learn. Any deviation from the local process and procedures could earn you a night in jail and a hefty fine. They don’t fuck around here. And washrooms, lounges, and restaurants? Good luck!
I quite liked this city. The weather, while “hot” was relatively mild, and there was a fair amount of green space that made it feel very serene. In a way, it was almost like Vancouver. Especially the traffic. My goodness, it would take at least 45 minutes to an hour to get anywhere, despite the distance. Otherwise, the people here, in general, are pretty nice and the food was pretty good.
The ITC Windsor Hotel – I loved this place. The definition of true Indian hospitality. Despite it being an old building and facility, highly recommended. They make you feel like Gods.
Off to Chennai. I liked the sticker on the plane.
The southern Indian city, formerly known as Madras. The city’s infrastructure was quite modern and most roads are nicely paved. Traffic moves steadily, so you’re okay for the most part. A monorail exists and is operational, however, apparently it costs too much to take it, so people either drive or ride scooters. It was hot and humid as fuck here, and this was only “the beginning of summer” there. Fuck no. Never again. Go in the winter, but never April/May. At the tail end of my trip, I got the flu and was bed-ridden because of me going in between hot and cold environments non-stop. It was fucking terrible. I would not wish getting sick to anyone while in India. You’ve been warned.
Our hosts took us to Pondicherry for an off-site meeting. We stopped along the country side to see and try a few new things.
Totally not racist, right? I’m considered, “Others.” And don’t even start to think of starting a #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter protest. You’d be beaten up so fast.
I grew fond of Madras filtered coffee, which is more or less similar to the Vietnamese coffee, except they boil and “pull” the milk to create a smooth, airy texture. Think of it as an Indian latte.
If you ever decide to go to India, do your homework first. Getting a visa to enter the country is, by and far, one hell of a convoluted process, if you are going on business. You can now apply for your travel and business visa online, however, it is confusing as fuck. Imagine having to do this in person at their consulate, embassy, or third-party/outsources visa centres? Be prepared to be in a world of hurt and frustration. Bring some Advil just in case!
The culture is still very strong in India, so nothing will change overnight. My biggest cultural shock is the clear divide between the wealthy, and dare I say it, the poor? Even if you were middle class, you were still going to be treated like a pile of trash. Because that’s just how it is. Nobody in India is “special.” Especially not foreigners. You’re likely at the bottom of the food chain. People work 12+ hours a day, seven days a week, waiting on others, or performing some kind of low/menial work and still get paid and treated like crap.
Now, my travel was not easy. Despite the fancy hotels, I was only there to sleep, nothing more, and it was not a lot of sleep, if any. I was in and out of business meetings from sunrise to sunset, which usually meant getting back to the hotel at 11 pm or midnight, whereas my day would start between 6:30am-7am. To summarize my trip, it was airport, flight, car, hotel, car, office, car, hotel, and repeat. To top things off, I still had my day job to handle and take care of. There were no days off or weekends; it was just all work-work-work. So you see, corporate travel is not all that it seems to be. The novelty wears off fast.
Now, some people go to India to “find themselves.” I think I can understand why, or the logic behind it, but I can assure you, there are better places to do that, like getting a job at McDonald’s, or volunteering at a homeless shelter or food bank. You won’t need to fly 18+ hours to a third world country to find yourself. There is nothing glamorous living in squander, or eating spoiled street food, or contaminated water, and getting malaria. If you don’t know what you’re doing, and don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, don’t go directly to India. You don’t just show up acting like a savant and tell everyone that you’re here to “change the world.” Eat Pray Love? Wake up! People here are poor! They can only pray, and constantly worry about eating. This place is not for the faint of heart.
From a financial point of view, India can get expensive very easily. The moment you want to be comfortable, like being in a western-style hotel, you’ll be paying through the roof. I learned that the $100/night Holiday Inn in India is nowhere near the same as the Holiday Inn in North America/Europe. These hotels are in seedy areas, with questionable security, and people buzzing around. Want a real Western oriented hotel? Be prepared to pay for it. And then some. And the airports? You better go at least two hours early. Anything after 2, you’ll be lucky to even pass through security.
The bottom line is, India has so many cultures, religions, races, and processes/procedures, that there is no one unified solution or answer to their everyday problems. You will need to learn on the fly what the different nuances are from region to region. And if you can’t adapt fast, boy, you are going to be royally screwed. Anyone who tells you India is awesome and that it was an amazing experience is a fucking liar. Unfriend them immediately. Do not go back. Do not pass go. I’m sure you can already think of who these people are. Despite all of this, India truly is a sensory experience. The lights, the sights, the smells, and the sounds. Except don’t touch anything because it probably contains some kind of bacterial and viral infection. I do miss waking up and smelling the jasmine flowers waft through the air during a light breeze.
Would I go back to India? Definitely. I wish I had more time to explore the city and experience the culture, however, with more of the locals. This time, it was purely a business trip. I only got to see the western stuff, experience western experiences, and have a feel for the “western” life in India. I didn’t get to explore the local sights, sounds, and experiences. Maybe do some of that Eat Play Love nonsense. (Yeah, right.)
After coming back, my colleagues decided to go to Firangi to celebrate a few birthdays. I was secretly glad we went to Firangi because I had actually missed and craved Indian food. This here is called, “tiffin,” which is essentially a metal lunch box that stacks on top of one another and can be individually collapsed. The food here is amazing. I would say they set the bar for quality of food, and even India doesn’t come close!
Picked these tulips for a dollar for Mothers Day.
Been exploring the idea of picking up a manual car for the summer, particularly a Porsche Boxster, considering their reliability and cost of entry. Went to see this, and it got me all hooked again. Absolutely amazing cars.
All in all, life has been busy since the new year. A lot of changes, a lot of experiences, and a lot of ups and downs. But that’s life, right? I hope to do a bit more traveling this year, particularly to Singapore, HK/Macau, and hopefully the Maritimes and East Coast. Europe is still on the horizon, but this all depends on work. But hey, after this India trip, maybe I did find myself, as ironic as it may be. I had zero expectations, but I learned so much from it, both personally, and professionally. I’m glad I went. There’s so much more to life, and we’re always missing out on it. Go chase after it.