Today, in addition to checking emails and talking to Edith and the kids on skype, I had to shove everything in the suitcase so we could check out of the hotel. We ate breakfast and then brought all our stuff down and checked out. It's pretty weird to see your bill come to 28,000 rupees, but that ends up being about 560 dollars. The exchange rate is right around 50 rupees to the dollar so the trick is to drop two zeros and multiply by 2. Luckily the company pays for this part.
Sasi and Ganesh took us to their version of the mall. It was 3 levels of shops and then offices above that. Here's a shot from the courtyard.
Most of the shops, especially the smaller ones, have somebody standing outside who try to get you to come into the shop. Most of the time it makes me NOT want to go in there. There was a really big store that had tons of everything, including lots of DVDs, books, toys, etc. I couldn't resist taking a picture of the "Indian Barbie" display
The prices in these bigger stores weren't that much better than in the states. Randy bought an Indian CD and DVD just for fun. I didn't see anything that I wanted to own. Most movies produced in India are in Hindi, and some in the local language (every state has its own local language). Most movies have optional English subtitles, since English is the official language.
We did get sucked into a few of the smaller shops where we tried to bargain with the guy. They would pull out all kinds of items and tell us the price, then the bargaining would begin. Sometimes we would walk away, and sometimes they would call us back and give it to us and sometimes they would just let us walk away. Ganesh was with Randy and me and helped somewhat with that. I bought several things for Edith and something for each of the kids, but won't say exactly what so it can be a surprise.
After shopping we met on the 3rd level at the food court. They had all kinds of Indian options as well as food from other countries, including a Subway and a Pizza Hut. We opted for a Chinese restaurant. I had fried rice with the "devil chicken" which was much less spicy than the name would imply.
We drove to the airport and said goodbye to Sasi and Ganesh and tipped the drivers. There were some mixups inside the airport, since we didn't really know where we were supposed to go. They required an intinerary to even enter the check-in gate. Luckily, I had one in my pocket, but Randy had to go outside and get somebody to print one for him. Then they zip-tied our baggage shut and we checked in. We had to hurry through security and barely made it on the last bus out to the runway. The plane was a turboprop so the bus took us out to it and we entered through the back. The plane only held 70 people.
We met our drivers and Raghu and Ajay from Cognizant. We drove through a pretty slummy part of town on the way to the famous fort at Golkondor.
The fort was pretty cool. I took a million pictures, but I'm only going to upload a couple. Here are the five of us, with Raghu and Ajay standing in front of the fort.
The fort was actually a palace for the kings here, and had running hot, cold, and rose water (and some other kinds, I think). The way they got running water up to the top of the fort is they had 4 different holding ponds and they had slaves to pump the water up to each holding pond. Now the holding ponds mostly hold algae and trash.
The front gate had a cool acoustical effect that echoed a clap so that it could be heard at the very top of the fort (almost a mile away).
We hiked all the way up to the top of the fort and back down, the stairs were pretty steep on the way down. Then they had a "light show" where they went over the history of the fort and the kings that built it. It was pretty good, but very long and we were all very tired.
Finally when the show was over we were driven to our hotel and we checked in. This hotel was extremely nice.