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Jonatan Gonzalez :: Blog

September 28, 2010

Final week in India we decided to go big! We managed to arrange plans to go to the state of Kerala. We arrived to Kochi and took a House boat ride in Alleppey. The boat was incredibly relaxing with freshly cooked meals on the boat. The weekend happened to be the one that a special boat racing event was being held. Unfortunately we headed to our next destination in Kerala so we did not get to see the race. In our next destination we enjoyed an awesome elephant ride and plantation tour. We got to feed an elephant, it was awesome. We also got to see a performance of Kerala’s traditional martial arts. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name. After which we saw Kerala’s traditional dance kathakali. It was interesting to say the least.

 

 

On the plane ride back I found a rubber triceratops which I kept :D

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September 24, 2010

This week we decided to finish Delhi!

We explored a very nice area of Delhi and enjoyed the park.

We ate at a nice restaurant next to Lodhi Gardens.

We managed to get around Delhi all on our own. We visited Akshardham again to finish it properly. We saw Humayun's Tomb and the Lotus Temple.  

I even got to see monkeys! :)  

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After a hard week of working and again discussion on the weekend Melita, Javier, and I decided to take a quick train ride to Amritsar. Our friend from our lab Amik came to show us around since he lives there and he was heading home because his internship was over. We left late Saturday afternoon after spending some time exploring the India National Museum. The train was nice despite the condition the station. They fed us the entire way there.  

We arrive to Amritsar to meet Amik’s parents and take a cab to the Golden Temple. To explain the experience at the Golden Temple would take pages so to make it brief… It was a spiritual place full of peace and calm and absolutely incredible. Amik told us about Sikhism and explained the significance of everything around us. We enjoyed just sitting and listening to people around and absorb what was going on. Even in the middle of the night the temple area was full of people. We bought bandana souvenirs and made our way back to the train station to be back in Delhi.

 

We got back on Sunday to just pass out until Monday. 

 

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This week was broken up nicely but a paintballing intern event. Raj had organized for all the interns to go paintballing followed by dinner. After MUCH convincing we managed to get one of the guys from our lab to go paintballing. Unfortunately the paintballing location was indoors and it was without air-conditioning… After many bruises and stings we went to a mall to enjoy dinner.

 

The weekend though was spent in the beautiful city of Manali! We arrived and checked into our hotel and explored the city. We enjoyed a great breakfast next to the river that runs through the city. We walked through a village and made it out to the clearing so decided to go trekking. After a while some of us decided to turn around causing the group to split. The group I was with went back to the city and explored the market area. Sachin had heard of a hot springs in the area so we went dunking our legs in the water. We then had a great lunch with a beautiful view of the city, mountains and river bellow. We all eventually met up at the hotel and shared our experiences… Melita can fill you in on what she did ;)… We then decided to make tea so Vikram and I managed our way through the kitchen… I had never used a gas stove before… so exciting! We gave Melita her tea without milk and prepared everyone else’s. After an exhausting first day everyone just crashed.

 

The next day we went to Rohtang Pass which is about 13,000ft high… the ride up was the most frightening experience I have ever had! Unfortunately I’m terrified of heights and I was sitting next to the window as we drove up this windy narrow road. The view though was breath taking… despite it being summer in India… I saw snow! Granted it was old and slippery and kind of dirty it was my first experience with snow… We rode horses and saw a lake surrounded by pretty flowers that colored the grass purple and yellow. On the way down the adventures ones of the group decided that a car was just not cool enough… we did paragliding for the rest of the way down. The ride was about 20 minutes long and it was beautiful! Simon and I were the first to land so we enjoyed tea and garlic toast while waiting for Melita and Pangus to follow.  

 

We made it back to Delhi in time for work Monday though we were all still tired and thinking about the great weekend we had just had.

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3rd week in Delhi! After a hectic week of work and difficult discussion on the weekend plans we finally decided to make our way to Jaipur! It was a really early Saturday for us to catch the bus. The bus ride was supposedly 5 hours though it took us around 6. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Amber Fort. Our group accidently got split up while looking for an area of the fort called the maze. We managed to reunite to discover that we happened to get lost in the maze!

 

That evening we went to Chokhi Dhani which shows village life in Rajasthan. We enjoyed a delicious dinner while listening to traditional music. There were various shows and even an elephant and camel ride.

 

The next day we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast on the roof of our hotel and went to city palace. We got a free audio tour for being tourists and saw some beautiful architecture and handicrafts. We then went to Jantar Mantar, an observatory from the 1700s.

 

We managed to catch our bus and head back to Delhi! We played many car/bus games because there was a huge traffic jam and it took FOREVER to get back.  

 

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July 16, 2010

Along with being a productive week our second week in India also turned into a nice great sightseeing!

We were moved from our guest house 2 seconds away from IBM IRL to a guest house in the Green Park colony. We now enjoy a 15-30 minute daily commute too and from our guest house with a cab provided by IBM. I also now share my room with Javier. There are a few other foreign interns living in this same guest house. Simon from UK, Deborah from Nebraska, Pangus from Singapore, and Melita from Miami…

There was also an intern lunch on Wednesday. We went to the local mall called the DLF Promenade. We ate at a Chinese restaurant. We were basically fed appetizers for an hour. Though they appetizers were good people were getting hungry for real food. There were also mocktails available to drink since it isn’t appropriate to drink alcohol in the middle of the workday. Lunch was finally served buffet style and we ate. We met a few new people but basically just conversed with people from our lab.

    

 That weekend we made plans to make our way to Agra home of the Taj Mahal. We left early in the morning and found ourselves first in Agra fort. We were told that there is a section of the fort that is cut off because military still resides in it. The fort was huge and filled with beautiful marble palaces. The amount of detail that goes into the architecture and design is incredible. There was a tour guide explaining the significance of the buildings and their history. We sat on a solid black onyx stone throne. From the fort you could see the Taj Mahal too.

  

 After this we were taken souvenir shopping and lunch eating and then we were finally taken to the Taj Mahal. The bus wasn’t allowed to drive up to the Taj so we took a horse ride to it. Unfortunately due to the fact that the Taj was free that day there was an impossibly long line to get in. Eventually though after seeing some wild monkeys jump around roof tops we made it into the Taj Mahal. This was also incredibly beautiful but it was hard to absorb it all in due to the crowd and heat. There was also a huge line to walk up the stairs and get to the second level of the Taj Mahal then another line to get inside the building. We did our picture taking and made our way back to the bus.

 The next stop was Mathura, birth place of Lord Krishna. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed any form electronics at all inside the temple, not even batteries. There were a few temples and they were all beautiful. We learned about Krishna’s birth and some stories about feats he did in his life. As usual to temples we weren’t allowed to wear shoes inside the temple. There were also wild monkeys here running around and climbing stuff. We ate ice cream and got on the bus and made our way back to Delhi.

 The next day Melita went to go get coffee and ran into the other interns in Green Park and she was informed that they were going sightseeing in Old Delhi so she called me and Javier up and we came with them. After waiting for everyone to gather we headed out to the metro station. The metro was very nice, much better than the one found in San Francisco. It was decently crowded… then we stopped at the next station… then suddenly a wave of people shoved, pushed, and forced their way onto the metro. Needless to say I got very close to my fellow interns. There was no longer any need to hold onto railing because it was so crowded it was impossible to fall. Melita unfortunately got separated from us so one of the other interns went with her. They got off at a stop earlier to see if it would be less crowded. When we finally reached our stop getting off the metro was nearly impossible. We got off to find that only Melita got off at the previous station… but after trying to get in contact with her the next metro showed up and there she was safe. We went to eat at a Partha Delhi. It was run down and dirty but soooo delicious! After we ate we had sweet lassi in a ceramic cup. We then managed our way to red fort. We saw a war memorial museum and walked around the entire fort. We took a few group pictures and there were random locals taking pictures of the group, it was great.

  

 

 

From here two people from our group split off to see a mosque and the rest of us went to Akshardam. This was a massive Hindu Complex with amazing architecture and gardens. Unfortunately the main temple was closed so we could not see inside. The grounds however are huge and we plan on going again sometime in the near future to get the full experience. We walked into one of the temples and a few of the people with us gave a water offering to the deity being worshiped. We then took the metro for the last time to get to the location of dinner. The food was delicious as usual and after a long day of sightseeing we finally made our way back to Green Park in an auto.

 

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July 06, 2010

After a very long plane trip we arrived in India!! The airport was nice and the immigration line went by relatively quickly. Despite some mishaps and perhaps 30 dollars in phone calls we managed to arrive to where we were originally living, ISID, which was a 1 minute walk from IBM. The next day we were picked up by a cab and driven to IBM’s location in Noida. This was just strange because we were sitting in a room with a bunch of other people who were going to work in IBM. Everyone was filling out forms… except us because we were considered interns so we had to just watch… and watch… eventually after a few hours we were allowed to leave because we filled out the few pieces of paper required for us.

 

We were showed where we were going to be working and met some other interns.

 

One of the interns was nice enough to provide us a ride to get SIM cards for our phones. Then he dropped us off at the DLF Promenade mall… This mall is huge and considerably better than some malls back home. We managed to get an Auto, three wheeled taxi transportation, back to IBM. We basically spent our entire weekend at this mall. We watched the Germany vs. Argentina football game. It was interesting to see how excited people outside of the United States get about the game. After Germany completely destroyed Argentina we ate at the food court. I’ve come to realize I enjoy Indian food… a lot… It’s all been very tasty! I believe I have now gone a week without eating meat… Unfortunately we haven’t done any sightseeing yet nor have I taken my camera out of my suitcase so hopefully next week pictures will come along with a post Smile

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June 25, 2010

This is our final week at IBM Almaden!! The experience has been incredible and I’m sad to see it come to an end. I have met a great group of people that I hope to maintain contact with for a very long time... Despite that its the second to last day in Almaden today though was… just… I’m at a loss of words for the warmth and kindness that our mentors and manager showed us today. Today was our farewell lunch where everyone in our group and a few of other interns in our office came to a China buffet. There was conversation, laughter, smiles and a general happy atmosphere. At the end of our meal Mauricio had stood up and given a kind speech about the work I have done and handed me a gift… it was a book of different sites to be seen in California and in the front cover page signatures from people I have worked with. It was a gesture that I was not at all expecting and am truly grateful for it. Sekar then spoke about his experience with Melita and gave her a book as well. I have come to really enjoy the people I work with and I must say I will miss them greatly. Howard has been an amazing manager who seems to have transformed into an awesome advisor.

 

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These past two weeks we did a lot of stuff.

To start off we went to an Irish pub in Mountain View to watch the U.S. vs. U.K. game. It was an interesting experience and I was happy that we managed to at least tie. After that we enjoyed a gelato in a place that claimed to be the best in the area, and I must say it was very good. We also walked into a small local bookstore.

 

In the middle of the week we got an URGENT email from one of the heads of the CS department at Almaden and that it was top secret. Apparently she needed help… this prompted Vivian to ask everyone in the lab if they wanted to join her in helping. Well after a massive group of people showed up in the conversation area we were instructed to go outside and hear what was in to come… Apparently top secret really meant “I won’t tell you what I need you to do because you won’t come if I do”… She had us participate in the creation of a promotional video, a sort of “bring it on” video, for the Almaden Olympics. It was weird, crazy, and a blast, though I will forever hold it over Vivian’s head that she made us participate in something so wacky.

 

The following weekend a group of interns decided to go to the Monterey Aquarium. It was very well laid out and not too overwhelming. I saw a group of sea otters for the     first time and watched them be fed… they were very VERY cute! I got to touch some random sea critter like a sea cucumber, a star fish, and a rocky crab. There was also a neat bird area where they could fly freely next to the guests. We enjoyed lunch in Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. inspired by Forrest Gump. On the way back from Monterey we were all very bored so I downloaded a game on Tina’s (Fordham Business School) iphone called 20 questions. It’s supposed to guess the object we are thinking of by asking 20 questions… it guessed everything we threw at it. When we reached the hotel I had finally convinced Melita to watch the best movie ever… Wall-e! We watched it while doing laundry.

 

 

The next day we went to San Francisco to enjoy the North Beach Fair. On the walk to the fair Melita, being the adventurous spirit she is, dragged me into this tiny hole in the wall French chocolate shop that sold a vast variety of truffles… needless to say I’m we went in cause they were really good. It was interesting to see all the stuff people were trying to sell. I ended up buying some really cute things for my family. We then enjoyed dinner in Fisherman’s Wharf which was kind of touristy and very cold because they made us eat outside. Although it is almost summer and we were under a space heater we were both extremely cold. We then had some crepes, but for some reason the tourists had a fascination with watching them be made, there was a crowd outside the window just staring… apparently crepes aren’t as common as they seem to be? We also enjoyed a nice local tea shop that I fell in love with… it was so cozy and warm and my Chai mocha was delicious. 

 

 

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June 07, 2010

Our time at IBM is slowly coming to a close!

Out of curiosity we drove up to IBM during the night and saw a crazy deer right next to the road. If we had stopped I could have touched it from the car. There was a nice view of the surroundings from the top and the stars were nice.

Since we have basically done everything there is to do in the area we revisited San Francisco(S.F. as the locals call it) with many interns from our cubicle area. We started by visiting the De Young Museum and seeing the Birth of Impressionism exhibit which contained art pieces from the D'Orsay Museum. As in most museums no pictures were allowed to be taken. There was a nice observation deck from the Museum where you can a beautiful view of the city. After the museum everyone was very hungry so we walked around until we found a hot dog stand thats very yummy. 

  

We then went as a giant group to cross the golden gate bridge by car.

  Without Wind:

 

With Wind:

 

 

Jorge has some amazing pair of eagle eyes because he was able to spot these construction workers on the top of the bridge. We only saw them after using Melita's camera to ultra zoom in on them. 

 

This week started the Dine About Town event in San Francisco where you can enjoy a three course meal in a nice restaurant for a moderate price. The food was very delicious! We were reminded though on the way back on how steep the roads can be in San Francisco can be. It's a little intimidating. 

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