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August 17, 2008

India Trip, Day One: London to Delhi

My two-week India trip, visiting the cities of Delhi, Leh, and Varanasi, was about three weeks ago but it's taken some time to organize all of my photos and thoughts. I'm now ready to publish my diary & notes from the trip, along with a few photos sprinkled in, and will post a single day of the trip over the next two weeks.

Please keep in mind that I wrote my diary off an on during the trip via my smartphone and I'm posting the entries without much editing, so take the grammatical mistakes with a grain of salt and remember that I wrote this almost three weeks ago.

Check back everyday for the next day of the trip and make sure to post your comments as well.

  Originally uploaded by cherbert.

Monday, July 7th

Started off the trip w/ little sleep, which seems to be my MO for air travel these days-- I tend to sleep more for work trips b/c I have less to pack and thus procrastinate less-- but I digress. Bed at 2:30, alarm at 4, and then crammed some mango into my mouth before rushing to Liverpool St. No, I hadn't called a cab b/c I 'm thrifty and figured I could make the bus/train combo work.

[I had actually spent time plotting out the trip to Heathrow since the flight was at 7:30 and the tube won’t open early enough. According to TFL, I could catch the 205 at 4:47 to reach Paddington by 5:20 for the 5:25 Heathrow Express and arriving at Heathrow by 5:45. Nothing like a great plan but as in business, it all comes down to execution. So with my new rollee bag and my trusty duffel bag on top, I rushed down Brick Lane and picked my way to Liverpool St. And I actually wasn't too late.]

My watch said 4:51 and it's a little fast but I no way of knowing if the 205 had already cruised by or not-- time for Plan B. That meant hoping there was a taxi outside Liverpool St.

Not only were there several cabs but the cabbie convinced me that the fare to Paddington and the 40pound Heathrow Express would be only about 5pounds cheaper than just taking the taxi all the way to Heathrow directly. Less stress for 5pounds more, sign me up.

And if this good luck wasn't enough, it got even better as I chatted with the cab driver. He gave me some tips on good Indian food around Brick Lane (he said it wasn't all played out there as I suggested it might be per some of my reading) and told me there was a really good place in Picadelly Circus, complete with an Indian band and fire torches on the wall. More than that, he explained the difference to me between European Indian food and regular Indian food (the latter being the more authentic, traditionally vegetarian and latter being, o course, packed with meat as British like). To make the point, he told me that the British export Chicken Tikka to Western hotels in India because the Europeans want it but that kind of Indian food doesn't exist natively on the subcontinent.

  Originally uploaded by cherbert.

But cooler than that, the cabbie was a techie and more specifically, a Nokia phone tester-- how does it get better than this, I get to have a techie nerd discussion on the way to Heathrow, debating the merits of the iPhone versus the Nokia N95. And though he was obviously biased, he convinced me (again, as he had with taking the cab all the way to Heathrow instead of just to Paddington) that I ought to pause on purchasing the iPhone when I get back.

He told me all of the cool things that he can do wit the N95 that I'm seriously thinking about going that way:

  • TV out
  • Open app development for the phone (Apple is still certifying which apps it will allow onto the iPhone)
  • Unlimited data plans with Three (which other people told me had bad network coverage but he told me that it had 98% coverage and that the phone could piggyback onto Orange network)
  • Streaming music app that allows you to listen to your PCs music from anywhere the phone has coverage-- that's an amazing, killer app that I've heard anyone mention before about the N95. No need for a massive hard drive on telephone when you can jut stream your entire music library onto the phone in 3G real-time

And the guy was a Slingbox user too, how random and how cool. I've never met as many interesting cab drivers as I have in London, probably because the job of a cab driver in London is well paid.

The guy convinced me of the N95 so I gave him my card and told him that I'd like to keep up with him so he said he'd send me some links. He knew TechCrunchUK and Engadget but suggested since I was in Europe now and in Symbian Know Nokia country.


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