The Disha Story
Written and Edited by
Some content provided by employees of Disha Technologies
Written in 2006
Name: Disha Software Technologies
Date started: 24 August 1994
Federal Tax ID: 36-3976854
After getting my master’s degree in computer engineering
During Vikas’s visits in 1993-94
we used to roam around looking for software projects. Urbana-Champaign was a
University town, and there were very few companies in this area; most of them
were so used to cheap student labor that even the offshore rates were too high
for them! (Of course this was before the great outsourcing wave of the late
90s, and the offshore rates were a bit on the higher side.) We also used to
make rounds of the University departments looking for any kind of software
development work. NCSA, the
My last job was with a company called Addamax – which specialized in Trusted Operating Systems. It was a very niche business and they always struggled to get customers. But they had a great team, and I learned a lot during this job. There is something special about working in the system software space – it gives you the feeling that you really understand how software works after all, and gives the confidence that you can pretty much do anything else. After Addamax started showing signs of a slump, my urge to start something of my own got stronger. If Addamax really went bust I could always look for another job; but I might also try doing something independently. That was my thinking. So Tanuja and I worked on the idea together. I obtained some preliminary information about the legalities of starting a business. A name was required to do business, since I was sure about expanding the activity beyond just me. So Tanuja and I huddled to think about a suitable name for the entity. Since we had no children at that time we were completely inexperienced in the business of coming up with names. But we knew the criteria for the name – it had to be simple to pronounce, it had to have a nice meaning but nothing too pompous, and it had to be an Indian word. After a lot of thinking, we decided that the name would be Disha. I personally had an emotional tie with this name because a while ago when I was a student in Pune, I had received a lot of affection and support from a bunch of sisters the eldest among who was Disha.
(There is another story about why the company was named Disha. In Marathi, the question: प्रश्न असा आहे की “उत्तर” काय आहे? brings out the answer “Disha”. This indirectly means: Disha is the answer to every question. In my mind, Disha was the answer to the question ‘what direction to take next’.)
The next challenge was to come up with the logo. Again the goals were simple – the logo had to be nice looking, but easy-to-use for a variety of documentation. So I simply used WordArt to create the logo – which is basically “Disha” written in the Manhattan font with an arrow laid on top of it, and the arrow points to the right – meaning Disha was to be a place pointing to the right direction!
(People ask why the arrow in Disha’s logo is from left to right. The answer to that is: if you read दिशा - Disha in Devanagari - from right to left it reads शादी (Shadi) – obviously not the type of business we intended to do! So that’s why the arrow was left to right!)
The next challenge was to figure out a punch-line – which
was a relatively straightforward task.
Having decided the name, the punch-line came naturally – technology is a means, not the goal. I was enjoying all this very much. At this time there was no grand vision, nor a
business plan in place. I simply knew
that I wanted to do some software work on my own and in my own premises. I was
full of confidence that I could do any type of work - application development,
kernel level work, device drivers, user interface development, or even
training. The only constraint was the OS platform - which had to be UNIX,
because I had no experience with the Windows environment. In the back of my
mind, I also knew that Disha would have a connection with
Later in 2005, one of the employees – Khalid M.Shaikh – at Disha did a search on Google and found this entry:
E-mail address(s) : email@example.com (Last Update 11/18/94)(valid until May 1995)
Year of graduation from COEP : 1984
Department at COEP : Instrumentation and Control
Current Institution (School-Company): Disha Software Technologies
Current work address:
Work phone number: 217-367-4492
Current home address:
Home phone number: 217-367-4492
Disha was officially a partnership in the beginning -
between Tanuja and me. Of course, she had very little time, as she was busy
doing her PhD. But she had a big role in
defining the name, the logo, and she participated in brainstorming on different
ideas. My first project was some secure networking related development work for
Argus - the new company formed by previous Addamax
employees. Randy Sandone,
who was the VP of business development in Addamax,
became the CEO of Argus, and most employees joined his new company. So I knew
practically everyone here, and I knew they needed help. And they didn't mind
keeping me busy. When the Argus work
reduced to a trickle, I contacted my old friends in
I did not hire full-time employees during my consulting
days. But as the work started piling in, I decided to take help of contractors.
Naren Mididaddi, who was my
co-worker at Addamax, became my first part-time contractor.
I think he had taken up a job in
These sub-contracts where very informal; I never had a comprehensive legal contract with anyone, but it all worked very well. There was no question of managing people since these guys were quite independent and reliable. But it surely increased my confidence of taking up work of bigger magnitudes.
Disha in the State of
After I moved to
My classmate from
Sanjay continued to provide me and Kiran with insights into the software testing business, guidance on how to spot good talent for testing, etc. He joined Disha on full-time basis in 2001 - one year after he retired from Microsoft - and became CTO. He had, unquestionably, the deepest understanding of the software testing business in our company. He knew the joys and sorrows of this career path; he knew the challenges (and solutions too) of managing this business. So, although he joined Disha a few years after it was launched, we think of him as the third co-founder of ‘Disha Technologies – the specialist in software testing’.
One of the first projects was to write an automated Stress
Test tool for the RSS (removable storage service) component of Windows NT. In those
days it was known as NTMS. The work was quite difficult - probably too
difficult for our fresh inexperienced team. We realized that to test the
program we would need a Robotic Changer device - one which consists of a tape
drive, a rack of storage tapes and a robotic arm that inserts and removes tapes
in the drive. I was able to convince Microsoft to loan a small Changer device
to ship to the team in
We were an active participant in Microsoft’s Windows 2000
project. We were asked to test the migration feature: if users wanted to
upgrade their existing Windows installations (Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 etc), this particular feature would allow them to retain
their old settings. We were asked to test both the English and German versions.
In those days there was no high speed Internet connectivity available in
This is but one example of the pride we take at Disha in
delivering the goods to our customers. We know how important it is to
find that last-minute bug which can cause considerable end-user grief. And we
have been rewarded for this dedication. Engineers have had tremendous
opportunities to demonstrate their hidden potential and grow their capabilities
by leaps and bounds. I can safely say that anybody who has spent 3 years or
more at Disha has gained a fantastic amount of insight into what is software
engineering all about – which, in those days, he or she couldn’t have gained
anywhere else in
Incidentally Prasanna became the first employee of Disha
February 28, 2001, 10:55am.
We had done well thus far in the system software testing
space, having done lots of work for the Windows group. We were slowly extending
into the application software area. Web-based applications were (and still are)
very popular in those days. Radview was an
emerging company at that time that had a Load Test tool called WebLoad for web applications. They once came by to our
office and gave a short sales presentation. Subsequently, they invited us to a
half-day seminar on Load Testing in downtown
Technical details of the earthquake:
6.8 Richter, Epicenter
I don’t remember
exactly which year this episode took place. I think it was some time in 2001.
Sunita Koranne was visiting US for some onsite work.
She used to spend a lot of her free time at my house and had become quite
friendly with my wife and my children. Once we went to
Anyway, we knew
some folks in
Sunita was a strict vegetarian until that time, and her idea of adventure in the meat-space would have at the most included chicken or fish. But eating beef wouldn’t have been there in her wildest of eating dreams! She was shocked to realize that she had not only broken her vegetarian vow, but had committed the sin of eating beef! Poor Sunita! She was overcome with nausea and had to run to the bathroom!
Morale of the story? An attractive UI is not everything. The stuff inside is equally important.
These days it is common for people in the IT industry of
Let’s roll back to the year 2002. We were testing Windows 2000 Service Pack 3. While testing the FRS (File Replication Services) component, the team hit a regression bug in Active Directory Replication. The team promptly filed this bug in Microsoft’s bug tracking tool called RAID with a lot of information. When the Microsoft tester Rafik Robeal tried to reproduce it, he was unable to do so. He asked for additional information like logs and settings related to Active directory. He also suggested that we could tweak a few registry settings to enable verbose logging. It was the month of April, and we were facing major power cuts. Pune was red-hot under the summer heat. At the time Rafik asked us to re-run the test to get more information, it was a blackout day here in Pune. The UPS systems were draining fast. To get this important issue resolved, we cascaded 10 UPS systems in series to keep the test-bed of only 4 machines online!
We were able to reproduce the bug with the required information which we provided to Rafik. For the next 2 days he got busy analyzing it and after that he came back stating that we had hit a very important issue in NTDS-Sites, which might have helped intruders exploit NTLM.
Such was the feat accomplished in the days of poor
infrastructure. There was no air-conditioning and barely enough power to keep
the machines running. The team that literally sweated to deliver was led by
episodes are contributed by
Let’s go back to the days when we were testing Windows 2000 Service Pack 1. We were primarily running manual test cases for setup and migration. Each test case involved the lengthy procedure of re-installing the operating systems which used to take at least 45 to 60 minutes depending on the OS and the machine configuration. OS installation did not require any manual intervention, so we could simply take a break during that time. Each team member had his/her own machine and some of us had learned to synchronize our test cycles such that we were able to start the installation step at the same time. That allowed us 45 free minutes together. We utilized that time to play cricket in the test lab itself (on the fourth floor)! I still remember that once somebody hit a nice clean shot and crashed a tube light! There were times when there was no electricity for more than 3 hours and even the UPSs were useless. At such times, we used to play cricket on the road in front of the office building. We can never forget those golden days of work and play.
We used to celebrate Disha's
anniversary every year on August 1st. Since we were so small, we
celebrated it on the building terrace which was a little over 120 square feet.
Note: This episode is contributed by Prasanna Ganapule. Prasanna was our first STE hired in Pune, and
later became the first full-time employee of
This story dates back to the year 2002. I will narrate an unusual incident that puzzled us completely, forced us to desperately find a solution to mitigate risks, and ultimately taught us a valuable lesson!
Back then we were a small team at Disha in
Until this point we were treating this just like any other project and were preparing for ramp-up at our Pune office. A Project Lead was assigned and team members were identified. The work was very exciting – testing Windows Smartphone 2002 features. Sounds cool, right? When we met with Richard’s team to discuss logistics, they informed us that their deadlines were very tight, and we would have to ship the Smartphone devices in a matter of days. We had only 15 calendar days before testing must start. We returned to our office scratching our heads on how to ship the devices. For a moment we wished we could ‘beam’ the devices like they did in Star Trek! We called Kiran that night and conveyed to him the good news! He discussed the matter with Anirban and a bunch of other folks to get everything set up at a lightening speed. We were totally unprepared for a mysterious problem lurking in the dark.
As I said earlier, our logistics processes were not proven
to be mature. This included the shipping process! We had done some shipping
before and we had a shipping agent based in
Meanwhile the team in
Of course it wasn’t easy just to forget about the shipment.
If it had fallen in the wrong hands there could be serious implications –
hackers could steal this new prototype technology putting Microsoft’s IP in
jeopardy. Those devices were not commercially available in the market yet – we
had obtained prototype models specifically made for Microsoft! All phones
carried an unreleased version of the PocketPC
Operating system. They all even had SIM cards installed. It was really a worrisome
situation. We debated and discussed for hours and hours how to mitigate the
risks and get out of this hole! I discovered, a couple days later, that similar
Smartphone devices were available by Microsoft for mobile application
developers under the DDK (Device development kit) agreement as part of MSDN
subscription. Hurray! We immediately followed up to check the OS version
installed on those phones and whether we could flash new versions of OS on
them. They indeed supported flashing new OS versions.
As per the plan we immediately purchased 4 Smartphone devices at our own cost and shipped by FedEx to Pune office. The package reached Mumbai airport in 2 days as expected. Kiran immediately approved importing the devices by paying the full duty. We paid almost 80% of the purchase price as duty charges and got the 4 phones cleared in a day. The work started at last, not too late to finish the project on time!!
We spent considerable time fixing our shipping process. We started using an aluminum box with a combination lock to ship expensive equipment. We put in tracking mechanism and wrote best practices, dos and don’ts, and user guides for everything from purchasing, shipping to custom clearance. We made considerable changes to our risk management and mitigation plans, and established ‘trusted partners’ to tackle all our logistics. We finally shared the process document with Richard.
So what happened to the missing Smartphone? We were able to
track the device to
This episode is in the words of Rajini Anantha Padmanaban. Rajini joined Disha’s
Here is an interesting project that was executed during my early days at Disha (early 2003), which vividly demonstrated “flexibility to meet customer needs” as one of Disha’s secrets of success. The project was called “Windows Messenger (WM) End to End Testing”, in which we were asked to test WM user experience with different network devices (like NAT, firewall) and Internet connectivity services including broadband services like DSL and Cable. This was my first project coordination experience in Disha.
We were hit by
the first major challenge right away! We discovered that the broadband services
available in the city had their own geographical territories, and it was rare
that multiple services could be availed of at the same location. Our office in
It was a one bedroom apartment, right above his home. We signed a short-term lease, singed up all the ISPs, and carried tables, chairs, fans, lamps, stationery, water, toilet paper, etc to this new home.
Of all the ISPs, the MSN DSL was the last to activate access. We had to ask Microsoft managers to put in a word to expedite the activation. We set up the MSN connection in the kitchen! Qwest and AOL were given the privilege of using the bedroom, and AT&T cable was set up in the living room. Verizon DSL was set up in Disha’s office.
Finally the testing began, with 3 testers working from the apartment and 1 tester back in the office. They exchanged results with each other on IM, mail, phone etc. The customers were very happy with the extra effort we had taken to make this project happen. They visited the apartment, took pictures and video recorded our test activities!
required very meticulous coordination, planning, follow-up, etc. However, it
was great fun as well. Given that it was my first project, I got to know
several people outside of work as well. We successfully wrapped up the project
on time, turned the results in to Microsoft, cleaned the apartment, handed off
the keys to the rental office and returned to our office! Thus for this project
some of us got the opportunity to work from home – albeit of a very different
flavor. One of the testers from that project –
Note: This episode is contributed by Vaibhav Bedekar. Vaibhav joined Disha’s Pune office in March 2003, and is presently a Test Lead.
This incident took place in 2003 – just before the release of Windows 2000 Service Pack 4. We were running a test pass on the Escrow build which was to get released to the public after 2 days. I was working on IR testing related to Ports and Monitors components. I found a bug which was related to detection of IR printers while logged on as a power user. I reproduced it on multiple machines and thus ruled out hardware dependency. It was a genuine bug! I notified our Test Lead Sandeep about the issue and he asked me to regress it older builds and Service Packs (to check if the bug existed). After a thorough investigation we concluded that the bug was present since last 10 builds and had not been reported. Fortunately the behavior was not observed on older Service Packs. Clearly it was our mistake – we had not spotted the bug in earlier builds. The engineer who had tested this component before I took over had somehow missed it because of a misleading comment mentioned against that specific test case.
Nevertheless it was an important issue. Sandeep decided to report it to the customer with along with the entire history. Since this issue came to light just two days before release, it caused consternation in the Microsoft camp and a flurry of emails began. We were all very tense. After about four hours (at about 12:30 at midnight), Microsoft’s project manager Prasadi De Silva had a conversation with Sandeep. She was very supportive and showed no panic at all despite such late disclosure of a major bug.
In their daily war meeting at Microsoft they decided to postpone the release by one day and the bug was punted (postponed) to the next service pack. After the release Prasadi appreciated our courage, but I can never forget the hours which we spent under tension.
This episode is in the words of
I started as a
Project Coordinator in Disha’s
We could have repeated the test pass without telling the customer and come out clean. However, we chose to accept our mistake first, give the customer the opportunity to understand the impact, propose corrective measures and then make amendments. When I reflect back I look at it as a very important lesson learnt in “Integrity”. Also, it is very comforting and reassuring for an employee to know that the top brass of the company believes in and practices the most important values of this organization.
Note: Some portions of this section were contributed by Somesh Rai. Somesh joined Disha in October 2000 as a test engineer. Presently he is a Test Lead in one of the delivery groups in Pune.
In 2004 the company arranged an offsite meeting of the senior team members. This was the first time in the company’s history that we were all traveling to a relatively distant place for two days. It seemed more like a picnic since the meeting was at a beautiful resort near the Panshet Dam near Pune. We started early morning by a chartered bus and spent two days and one night at this resort. The resort was located at a lovely site – we were just half a mile from the huge lake formed by the dam. The resort itself was architected nicely. Every row of rooms was placed at a different height such that every room had almost the same view – of the lake and the greenery around it. The dam and the lake were just walking distance and there was a boating facility available also. There was a swimming pool inside the resort which some of us made good use of.
The schedule for the two days was quite relaxed. There were various presentations by our own people on topics ranging from software security to impact of globalization. There also was lots of free time to take long walks and enjoy boating which we made full use of.
were excellent; however what impressed all of us was the enormous talent
exhibited by Dishaites during the evening sessions.
Many of us knew that
Surprises didn't get over with this meeting however. In the annual function of 2005, we witnessed another personality with multiple talents. Chinmoy Bhagwat, who is a Delivery Head in Pune, was seen singing, acting, playing musical instruments on the same day.
Indeed I realized that Disha not only has deep technical talent but also a rich artistic talent.
Note: This section is presented in the words of Somesh Rai after some editing. Somesh joined Disha in October 2000 as a test engineer. Presently he is a Test Lead in one of the delivery groups in Pune.
Disha’s Setup/Upgrade team for SumTotal
(an LMS company) started the project at our
Every time the
team moved, there was inevitable people turnover. Not everyone was willing to
The Setup/upgrade testing involved highly interdependent and time consuming tasks. The available Internet bandwidth in those days allowed us to download the 350 MB product build in over an hour. The build was then deployed on 20 machines with six different configurations. The manual testing was then performed with different tools (used for database, file content and access verification and comparison). The testing task normally took 6 to 7 hours. Since the build was provided daily, usually available after 10AM, the team had to plan and execute the pre-testing and testing activities very carefully and with full understanding. Sometimes upgrades required more than 48 hours of continuous execution.
With every location change, the team had to accommodate challenges of setting up of all the machines. The new members had to quickly develop understanding of each test task and the exact intended functionality of each test scenario. All new team members introduced into this team accepted the challenge happily and did quite well.
In summary, the
SumTotal project underwent relocation four times, and
almost complete team makeover three times. These frequent changes did not
affect Disha’s performance on this project. The
transitions were managed well by effective training, knowledge transfer and
planning. I was a Test Lead and I would like to particularly mention
Note: This section is written by Prashant Bodas who came to software testing with a background in commerce.
In this article, I have attempted to describe my journey towards becoming a happy software test professional. I cannot yet claim that I am fully successful in this journey, since there are many more things to learn and achieve. But still the journey thus far might be interesting to read about because, looking at my academic background and previous work experience nobody would have taken me seriously if I had told them that one day I was going to be a software tester. But this is what actually happened, and the narrative might be helpful and encouraging to other folks who are in a similar situation and have similar aspirations.
I was born in
Becoming a Mumbaikar:
I married Preeti (nee Vidya) in 1996 and moved to Mumbai with my family in 1999. After struggling to make it through a few odd jobs that suited my educational background and experience, I decided that a career change was the best option. However, just thinking about it was one thing, and making it happen was quite another. But I was determined; I had a chip on my shoulder to prove to the world, to myself and to my family, that I could do the seemingly impossible. Armed with that determination and a never-ending faith in the Almighty, I took computer courses and waited in the wings for the right opportunity to come by. In 2003 I applied for a position at Disha Technologies in Pune and was invited for an interview. Unfortunately my bookish knowledge of computers wasn’t enough to pass the interview rounds and I returned with a rejection. I was disheartened but not discouraged. I persisted with my efforts to build my elementary knowledge of computers and software by reading up books and taking courses. And as the Hindi saying goes, “In the God’s world good things do happen, albeit late” (भगवान की दुनिया मे देर है, अंधेर नही), the opportunity came by.
The Big Break:
In December 2005, I was once again
called for an interview at Disha (now Aztecsoft). I
was interviewed by
I remember my very first day at Disha. I was this starry eyed, confused, deer-in-the-headlights kind of a guy with a non-technical background roaming around amongst BE, MCA and MCM types. I didn’t understand half the stuff they chatted about casually. But they were all very supportive of me. I went through a month-long training: 15 days of theory and 15 days of practical hands-on exercises. The shock of the career change sometimes made me wonder if I had done the right thing. Was I trying to chew more than what I could swallow? But I kept in mind the tough mindset of the Maratha soldiers on Kondana when Suryaji Malusare had cut the ropes: it was do or die. I drew inspiration from this bit of history. I worked very hard, day and night. I was away from my family who was in Mumbai, but I had their support throughout. That was one of the strongest things going for me and I wanted to repay them over and over again. And above all, I had to impress the man in the mirror - myself.
The next few months were very hard. Before joining Disha, I had already taken some courses in Office productivity tools and software. I had learnt how to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. I had also taken courses to improve my English and Communication skills, and I got the opportunity to apply them in the new IT corporate world at Disha. I started off with reading specifications of the software that I was responsible for testing. Since my first project was on software that was already developed over the previous 3 years and hence was stable, I talked to people who had worked on it earlier and asked them about areas they found the most challenging and buggy. I analyzed existing bug reports to discover buggy areas.
I went through a training course during the induction to strengthen my communication skills. I also applied common sense to help me develop good professional relationships with my team mates.
Initially I started off reading books related to Software Testing (Software Testing: Ron Patton, Effective Methods for Software Testing-William Perry etc.). I realized that not only did I have to raise my technical skills in areas like SQL queries, etc. but I also had to understand the software system under test from its user’s perspective. That is the most important thing for a tester to learn and bring with him to work every day. I made a determination that I would learn everything about how the users of the software use it in their everyday job and how it helps them solve problems. For that, I decided to look at the software system as a whole from an end-to-end functional perspective. I was thrilled to work in this challenging field and greeted all tasks assigned to me with open arms. I decided that I would not go home each day unless I had found 3 new bugs. It was a tough target to meet, and I did not necessarily meet it every day, but it gave me a focus and a goal to achieve. On the side, after work hours, I spent time in understanding the SQL language which is the backbone of all IT software. I read books on it, and I wrote sample queries that utilized INNER JOINS and AGGREGATE functions and transactional updates. I also started to learn JAVA on my own because I realized that I would have to start to learn the art of automation if I wanted to get more things done in a finite amount of time. I always kept an open mind about learning more and more.
I learned how to write test plans
and test cases, how to write bug reports, how to test an application and
explore all areas for more and more bugs, and how to look at software from the
user’s perspective. In Feb 2006 I was assigned to the CONCUR project. This was
the real test match, with a real leather ball, with a real bat, pads and shoes.
I had just opened my innings. Within a month I became one of the most reliable
engineers on the project, as my project lead would tell me. I kept on plugging,
toiling, and moiling through hours on end. Towards the end of that project, I
was presented the “Pat on the Back” award. It was the proudest moment of my
life. While transitioning to another project, the NSE project, I met
Good things come to people who wait:
Since then, the journey has become sweeter by the day. I got another “Pat on the Back” award for the NSE project. I look back upon my first few months, and I feel proud to be where I am now. I have the utmost confidence in Aztecsoft; the people, the technology, and their customers. I am passionate about what I do and keep an open mind. I am in love with my career and my job as a software tester.
Looking ahead, I will focus more on learning to program so that I can automate manual testing tasks. I will also familiarize myself with product code inspection, learn about tools such as UI automation and Code Coverage tools, and explore areas such as Performance and Security. I will try to keep myself up to date with the advances in technology by reading technical periodicals and be an even better tester. I am hopeful of educating myself in this trade such that I can become an SDET and a TEST LEAD some day. The sky is the limit.
I owe my sincere thanks to Aztecsoft for giving me the opportunity, my family, my friends, and of course Lord Almighty.
Moral of the story:
The biggest lesson that I have learnt, that may be useful to people in similar shoes, is “Live every day as if it’s the last day of your life. And never give up.”
By Arlette Wentz
Saturday, October 13th
- After a very long flight which lasted about 16 hours from
There are so many people!!
They are everywhere!!!! Ten men
to each female are out on the streets going someplace. Cars are packed with people, busses are
crowded, streets are alive with motor bikes, bicycles
and people walking. The traffic is
amazing with so much activity. Cars and
bikes maneuver around each other honking horns and hoping someone will move over
to make way. The roads are rough with
numerous pot holes and broken or missing sections of pavement. New to me are the 3 wheel vehicles with
driver taking 1 to 10 passengers. These
are open air without sides, but the top is covered. There are very few cars with a single
driver. Most cars have multiple
passengers, and they are much smaller and narrower than cars in the
We had a great visit with Saurabh as we traveled to the Transit Hotel in downtown Mumbai. The cars, people and traffic are quite overwhelming. Wow! It is crazy!! Our room is quite large with a separate sitting area. The air conditioned temperature was much appreciated.
Sunday, October 14th - Saurabh joined us in our hotel as we finished breakfast. We packed up everything and left our luggage at the front desk. Saurabh arranged for a car and driver to take us around Mumbai for the day.
Our fist destination was the Queen’s Necklace on Marine Drive. We walked along the sidewalk along the rocky beach and took pictures of ships along the shore. This area would be especially pretty at night with the sparkling lights along the bay.
Our next stop was at the Gateway of India which is a huge arch on the harbor. We took several pictures of our group and some birds. The beautiful Taj Mahal Hotel is nearby.
The Prince of Wales Museum was our next destination. It’ real name is Chhalrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangraalaya………oh my! There we found a wonderful collection of statues, bowls & vases, weapons, paintings, carvings, inlaid marble, costumes, rugs, jewelry, Indian sculpture…………tons of interesting things. I took a few pictures in the museum but my camera ran out of battery power so no more pictures for the rest of the day………….phooey!
The Planetarium was really great in this huge domed room to watch the light and planet show. It was cool and comfortable enough to take a nap.
We returned to Transit Hotel where we picked up our luggage and changed car and driver for the ride to Pune. Saurabh went with us to Pune. The countryside is rolling hills with small trees. It was green and pretty. We stopped for coffee at hilltop restaurant which was all open air. Much of the ride was in the dark and not lit with street lights. Litter and trash is all over the sides of the streets. The streets are full of pot holes and broken sections of pavement. Drivers slow down a bit and keep on moving. Amazing!!
We eventually found Hotel Autumn in Pune. Our driver had to ask directions of guys on the street several times to get directions. Our hotel is quite a distance from the main road with many turns through a pretty shabby neighborhood. The hotel was great with excellent staff. The single beds were very firm but comfortable.
Interesting hand held spray hose near the toilet. Hmmm……… pretty nice.
Monday, October 15th
We traveled on to new office of Aztecsoft in Infotech park area. The building is not complete but 2 floors are ready and some departments have moved in. Finance, HR, recruiting and training areas are located on the first floor. The remainder of the building will be completed in a few months. Jenish showed me around the ground floor area and introduced me to some folks. I got pictures of the finance team, all but Aparna since she was not feeling well and did not work today.
Abhay Joshi found me. It is so great to see him!! I delivered his mail and tax documents from
our accountant. Abhay showed me around the
3rd floor where he works. I
took pictures of Abhay Joshi, Rajesh Patil,
I set up my laptop in a small conference room in the finance area. Chetan Bhagwat of SMG got the internet up and running for me.
Abhay picked me up and I joined Abhay, Rajesh, Chinmoy and Sonali at Mezza Nine restaurant.
I ordered chicken tandouri, which was close to barbeque chicken which was spicy and good. Everyone shared their selection so we had a great variety of food to eat. This was an honor for me to dine with the company managers……….. almost like I am someone important! Chinmoy asked if I knew any Hindi words or had picked up any of the language as I work with so many Indian guys in the office. I told him “No, but I do know an Indian song.” I sang the first line of Ai Dil Hai Mushkil. They thought it was great. Chinmoy asked if I would sing my Indian song at the Aztecsoft Idol contest that afternoon. I agreed. J J We drove around other infotech company buildings in the area near our new building. I got some cool pictures.
I sat with Jenish
during the Aztecsoft Idol contest with 12 singing
contestants performing. I took many
pictures. Shots of Sameer Saxena and Utkal Murodiya are included in SmugMug
trip photos. They were so good!! As it turned out all the managers I had lunch
with were the judges of the contest. They
asked me to sing my Indian song, which I did.
Everyone cheered so loud that I lost my place when I didn’t they
couldn’t hear me so I started over. It
was pretty fun and the crowd enjoyed it!
I didn’t notice at the time but a video was taken of the performances,
including my song. One of the guys in
Pune emailed one of the guys in the
I worked on my laptop briefly, still not able to connect
with Wells Fargo payroll system Evolution.
SMG is working on it. I could
connect to Outlook but not internet. I
left work about 6:30 and took a ride with Jenish back
to my hotel. Great conversation
discussing immigration issues, transfer letters and various HR concerns for US
Ron and I had dinner in the hotel. He walked to a gas station from the hotel on the main road today, which was quite an adventure. The hotel is quite a distance from the main road with many turns and narrow streets.
I am so happy to be able to get online from the hotel. I answered emails and sent a note to our family. I can also open Evolution to do payroll with Wells Fargo. I filled out the worksheet for payroll Oct 1-15th. Hopefully this will also work in the office tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 16th
– A driver picked me up about 10 am to go to the office,
we picked up another couple people at Aundh office
and stopped at Astrix House office. I went inside where I met
We traveled on to the Aztecsoft office. Several people gave their best efforts to get Evolution to load. Outlook works, but no internet.
I went to lunch with the whole finance team. We walked to the same restaurant as yesterday, but we sat outside. It was very nice. People eat with their hands tear off bread wrap and scoop up sauces with it to eat. A finger bowl with lemon water is served to clean up. I’ll stick to a fork, thank you.
Abhay asked me to speak to his group of research and development R & D.
He gave me a great introduction. I sang my Indian song for the group and
talked about my experiences and what I do in the company. I gave my impressions of
Returning to finance area where Evolution finally loaded successfully! I trained Sunder and Anirban as I entered data for payroll. It worked okay, so I could even email .pdf to Sunder to print the payroll report. I need Melanie’s direct deposit info to complete the payroll.
Checked in with Jenish after not seeing him all day.
We rode back to Aundh office together then the driver took me on home to hotel.
I had dinner with Ron in the hotel as we shared the day’s events.
Abhay came to spend time with Ron this afternoon and took him to the store and had coffee. I caught up on emails.
Wednesday, October 17th – Ashwini arranged a car to pick us up at 8 am and take us around Pune. Sachin Ubhe was our driver for the day. He is a nice young man who spoke very little English but drives in this crazy traffic with great skill! After about an hour drive we arrived at Sinhagad Fort which is located on the top of a hill outside of Pune. The road getting there was narrow and rough with many switchbacks. Sachin walked with us to the fort which was quite a hike from the parking area. I took lots of pictures looking across the valley in all directions below. Amazing view from the top! There are not many pieces of the fort remaining, but the gate section and towers. Parts of the walls are visible and in total disrepair. I got a great picture of a lady carrying a load on her head…………also pictures of a group of young ladies near a gate. I got a picture of me with them…….pretty funny.
Our next stop was at the
Our next stop was to the
We stopped for lunch
at McDonald’s and ate upstairs where there were lots of young people as we
were near the college. Young people were
wearing jeans and t-shirts, just like in the
When we came out of McDonald’s we couldn’t find Sachin, our driver. He had to go somewhere else to park the car. He finally drove up for us about 20 minutes later. I didn’t like the little girl carrying her little brother, begging for money or food. An old lady on the sidewalk selling jewelry and stuff kept calling out to us to buy her trinkets. This was very uncomfortable and we felt totally out of place. We were certainly happy to see Sachin drive up so we could get out of there!!
Sachin took us back to our hotel about 5 pm. We took a nap in the cool comfort of our room until dinner time. We enjoyed a quiet meal at the hotel with waiters very attentive to our needs. “Smiley” is particularly good to us, speaks no English but really sweet, big eyes, mustache and huge smile.
Wrote emails for work. I finished payroll and submitted. I worked until till 3 am.
I visited on messenger with Melanie. Vince is on vacation and is not available. I wonder what is going on with him? Melanie does not know either, but he is not working from home and is on emergency vacation until further notice. Alka is leaving at the end of the month I believe. Melanie is going crazy with changes and requests in the apartments. Subodh is seriously looking to change to Cingular for our cell phone carrier so save $$. Melanie is dealing with Sahra’s T-Mobile issue and her personal calls on our corporate bill last month.
Thursday, October 18th
– Slept in till 9:30. Washed a few
clothes and had lunch in the hotel. Abhay
picked us up at 2 pm and showed us around Pune.
We stopped at the
Abhay parked the car in new Pune area and took rikshaw to old Pune area of town across the river. I loved the auto rikshaw ride! What a kool way to travel around the city. Abhay says it is best way to get around.
We did some shopping
amongst gajillions of people along the shops right
next to the sidewalk which were crowded and hot. We stopped in one shop to look at
blouses. We were ushered way upstairs to
the 3rd floor. It was very
hot up there although they turned on the fans.
They had stacks and stacks of tops in cellophane bags on the shelves to
show me…………….way too much customer service for my comfort! I kinda like it in
We held hands to cross the busy street….which was pretty scary!
Abhay took us for coffee in a local restaurant. We also tasted a kind of dumpling with chutney sauce. It was pretty tasty.
Abhay suggests that I should make a list and keep track of what I do and the time it takes for what projects to get a handle on what it really takes for my responsibilities. I can’t do it all and do it well. He suggests that I document my duties or it will not get any better and I will have no relief from working 16-20 hour days.
We went back to hotel to freshen up then Abhay took us to his home for dinner. We enjoyed great conversation and a lovely meal. Sarong and Abhay played a duet, Abhay on violin and Sarong on the keyboard. Sanika sang a song about a peacock before the rain. Abhay’s parents live with them in a townhouse in a nice gated community. A young lady helped Tanuja in the kitchen. Abhay gave Ron a decorated notebook cover and me a lovely woolen shawl. I got pictures of the family, with Abhay’s parents too. We had a great visit and fun time. Abhay and Tanuja took us back to the hotel by 10 pm.
I answered more emails and visited with Melanie. I wrote notes here, at least highlights to fill in details later.
Friday, October 19th – A company car picked up Ron and me both to go to office at 10 am. I guess Ashwini forgot because we were scheduled for pick up at 8:30. I had time for breakfast. We picked up a couple other people at Astrix House office on our way to Aztecsoft main campus. This is Ron’s first trip to Aztecsoft office. There were not so many people in office today, very few of finance team. I set up my laptop in the office area of meeting room. I took Ron upstairs to 3rd floor to deliver candy to Abhay’s area.
There is a sense of excitement in the office as today is the
Aztecsoft Vibes event. At 11:30 everyone in office began loading
busses. Anand directed us where to
go. We were handed sack lunches to eat
on the way. Many busses took the entire
office of employees to a convention area about an hours
drive to a large auditorium with theater seating. We sat near the front with Aparna and the
finance team. I took several pictures of
many people I know that have visited
It is great to see all the managers and directors together at this function………people I kinda know.
The top 3 contestants of the Aztecsoft Idol contest performed their songs. All are top notch so it was difficult to vote
between Asit, Sylvia and Shirish. Ballots were cast and later during the show
Shirish was announced the winner. He was
great! I particularly enjoyed the
dancing by both guys and girls and couples too.
The music was peppy and fun, very unusual and no words I could
understand. Samir gave a quarter end report on the
company growth and directions to continue.
He gave a great presentation which was very encouraging. Over 200 new employees have joined in the
last month. Great growth potential is
happening already……..more expected in
Samir and the directors danced on stage which was most entertaining!! Evidentally this was in response to a bet of some sort from the previous Vibes event. I took a ton of pictures including some movies of the dances.
This was a fantastic show to boost company spirit and pride
in the company. We really should have
something like this in the
Indian tea was served outside where everyone gathered to visit. I took a bunch of pictures of the group. We loaded in regular busses to take people to their regular bus stops near their homes. There were 6 to 8 bus loads of us. We went to old office in Aundh where we got another ride on home to our hotel. What a wonderful day with the folks from Pune office. It was truly memorable!!
Ron and I rested, then got ready for the evening. We hired a driver to take us to a restaurant for dinner,………….. also for a ride to airport in the morning.
We drove to Mainland
China Restaurant to meet Veeresh Kanitkar. He also brought his sister and mother to join
worked on Real Networks project and came to
This is why I do what I do for the Indian visitors of Aztecsoft! My efforts to help them get settled, take them places, get them what they need and be available to help them in a variety of ways is really appreciated by these guys!! No one else in the company shows them this special kindness and caring!
Our driver waited for us while we had dinner and drove us
home. I caught up on emails plus visited
with Melanie, Ashish and Avinash. I created org chart for
Saturday, October 19th
– We had early breakfast and checked out of our hotel at Autumn,
room 310. We wanted to say goodbye to
our favorite waiter at the restaurant and give him a tip, “Smiley”…………but he
was not on duty. Darn. One of the Aztecsoft
leaders, Dr. Raghaven joined us for breakfast in the
hotel. He was flying back to
Our driver picked us up at 9 to take us to the Pune airport. We liked how they tied a security strap
around our luggage and secured the zippers closed at Kingfisher airlines. Nice feature.
While waiting for our flight we visited with Craig and Matt, from
We hired a car and driver to take us to
After a 6 hour drive, we arrived in
There is no free internet hookup in the hotel so I wrote about the last 2 days here. Now I am somewhat caught up. Tomorrow we will visit the Taj Mahal. I am excited about the beaded squares I purchased and have plans to hang in the reception area at the office, incorporating other found Indian items on the wall as accents.
Sunday, October 21st
– We enjoyed a buffet breakfast in the Mansingh
Palace Hotel in
Hemant hired a horse drawn carriage for us to the entrance of the Taj Mahal as motor vehicles are not allowed near the entrance. This was a fun ride! Our tour guide, Hemant accompanied us and gave us tons of information as we strolled around the gardens and courtyard of the Taj. He took lots of pictures of us and the Taj with beautiful lighting as the sun goes down. Incredible!! Amazing!! Awesome place to see!! I can’t believe we are actually here! It was very crowded as we went inside to see replicas of the tombs where Shah Jeman and his wife are buried. She had 14 children during the 19 years they were married and she died giving birth to the 14th baby. The Taj was built in her memory. What a story of love!!
Hemant said he is getting married to college sweetheart of 3 years. The wedding is November 21st, just one month away. We really enjoyed his company and exchanged emails so we can keep in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
We returned to our hotel by 6:30 pm. After a rest we had buffet dinner in the
hotel restaurant. Many tour groups were
there. I visited with a lady from
We shopped in the hotel book store and got several gifts for family. I wrote more here while Ron slept.
Monday, October 22nd
– After a buffet breakfast in the hotel, we checked out of
In another area, many trucks were backed up along the road, the remaining lane was terribly congested with 2 or more lanes of cars, auto rickshaws, motor bikes, and you name it, trying to get by. Raj talked to a guy at a concession along the road to get directions of alternate route around the traffic jam. We headed out through some little neighborhoods, with skinny streets, huge potholes, ditches and terrible road conditions. 2 or 3 cars followed us, just as if we knew the way. Raj stopped to ask direction of many guys along the way. Of course we didn‘t understand a word they said but with arm gestures, we seemed to be headed in the right direction. Eventually we made it back to the main highway. This was definitely the scenic route and was quite entertaining! We passed by many little huts in the fields. I would guess people actually live there. It is amazing to see how little these people have, and seem to survive.
Raj likes to honk the horn as we approach everything along
the road. Some people move to the side
so we can pass, others ignore the request to get out of the way. Raj is an excellent driver and passes most
vehicles along the road, swerving in an out of traffic with great skill. We arrived at the Regale Inn in
Wednesday, October 24th
– The complimentary breakfast was served upstairs in a similar room arrangement
as ours, one floor below. We selected
what we thought would be pretty simple to prepare, toast and black coffee. About an hour later, one of the hosts
returned to the kitchen carrying a grocery bag with a loaf of bread. They were not prepared for such a strange
request I guess. Our coffee looked right
but had sugar in it. Oh well. We drank it and didn’t say a word. We also had great difficulty trying to call
the Aztec office in
The hotel host finally used his cell phone, called and spoke to someone who would send a car. About one hour later, the car came. Holy cow!……….what a morning!! We finally reached the Aztecsoft Hyderabad office about noon. Ron and I got set up in the conference room where I could get online and answer emails. SMG was good to help. During the afternoon we talked with Kiran Kumar, Pravin Gade, met Mohamed Abdul Azeez who will come to
Our driver had some difficulty finding the correct guest housing to take us home, but we made it. We had dinner upstairs again. It took about an hour and a half to get our meal of egg fried rice and a chicken curry dish. The meal was spicy and delicious and we were very hungry!! We also enjoyed the sweetened black coffee. We might even learn to like our coffee with sugar!! J
Thursday, October 25th
– A cab picked us up to go to the
Jasen suggested a nice restaurant
Friday, October 26th
– I joined the immigration task force conference call at 9 am. The main discussion is about blanket L-1’s. We packed up for our flight to
Indigo Airlines charged us for soft drinks and snacks during the flight. Nothing was free. We found that very unusual.
A car and driver from the hotel met us at the airport. It is overcast and humid in
I particularly enjoyed the live music by a young man playing a keyboard with rhythm accompaniment. He had a beautiful voice and sang many older songs I know.
Saturday, October 27th – It is so quiet and peaceful here at the resort……….a great place to relax. We had buffet breakfast, then took a walk on the beach. A sandy path leads down to the beach from the hotel. Ron and I walked along the sandy beach with the waves breaking along the shore. It was so pretty and a fun hike. Many people were out sunning on chaise lounge chairs. We were approached numerous times by children mostly, wanting to sell us jewelry, bags and trinkets. We spent the afternoon relaxing in our room. Ron read and I caught up writing here.
We joined the group at 3:45 for tea and snacks before the sight seeing tour to Dona Paula. Our driver took us to the city of
Sunday, October 28th
- We packed our bulging suitcases for the next destination. Ron didn’t mind leaving behind a pair of old
shoes. Our driver took us to the airport
by 2 pm for a 4:30 flight…………way overkill, with no place to sit down. The people-watching was entertaining though.
The flight from Goa to
Our accommodation is at Kuteera guest services apartment. This was formerly a very large family home, now remodeled for corporate guest housing. The room is great with lots of space, plus a desk and internet connection. Whoopie! I spent about 3 hours and never did get connected. Operator error most likely!
Monday, October 29th
– We were served an omlette, toast and tea for
breakfast. Our driver picked us up at 9
to go to the office. The traffic was the
worst I have ever seen! We had a total
gridlock of busses, trucks, cars, auto rickshaws, motorbikes and pedistarians!
I met with
I talked to
Our driver picked us up about 6:30 pm taking us back to guest housing. Somehow the traffic was a bit lighter. Our host in the service apartment Kuteera and his friend worked quite some time trying to get my laptop connected to network and MS Messenger. Strange, but there is something blocking the connection……………and it worked from office today. Very strange!! I got caught up writing here, so had plenty to keep me entertained till about 1:30 am.
Tuesday, October 30th – Our driver picked us up for another day in the Bangalore Aztecsoft office about 9:30 am. I answered emails and made notes of projects I need to do and stuff to print out. I made invitation letter for Seetharaman Suriyanarayanan – Seetha will travel on business emergency this weekend.
Seetha took me across the hall of
A3 to meet Srinivas KV. He is also one of the people Shiby wanted to deliver candy to………. so I did that. All the Microsoft
BU-2 people gathered in the conference room to meet me. Biswajit Mishra
gave a little introduction, with kind words of my help for the onsite team who
The office boys are so great to bring tea and order lunch for us every day.
I spoke to
Sunetha gave candy treats for
Vince which I will deliver. I talked with Poornima
about bus tour tomorrow starting at 7 am.
Our driver picked us up about 6:30 pm, taking us back to the hotel in
the rain. We discussed our trip tomorrow
I worked on pictures all evening, installed new
Wednesday, October 31st
– Halloween – We saw no signs of any sort that it was Halloween. They do not celebrate Halloween in
Thursday, November 1st – After breakfast, we packed up, signed out and left the Kuteera Guest House. While signing the guest book, I noticed that Subodh, Ashok and Venky also stayed here. This was a super place to stay and we were treated so well. The 2 young men were especially great to us, Ranjt and Monuj. I got a picture of them. We met the owner of the guest house earlier in the week, Mr. Kanteera. He was formerly an employee of Aztec Software.
Our driver Kumar picked us up at 8 to get to airport. Some local festival is happening which may
make traffic worse than usual. Actually,
the traffic on the streets was lighter than expected and we learned why a bit
later. The lines in and around the
airport were terrible. Evidentally, the festival provided many people with a day
off, so people were flying out of town.
There were droves of people waiting in line to check in and go through
security. We had huge long lines to wait
for each step of the check in procedure.
Many flights were delayed, including ours for about an hour. We impatiently waited for our 11:30 flight
We took an auto rickshaw to Hotel Transit. It is very hot and humid in Mumbai.
I tried to contact Saurabh, to no avail. We spent the afternoon in hotel where it is very comfortable. After much frustration with trying to purchase wireless service online, I finally decided to purchase a prepaid card for 24 hours. Ron and I had dinner in the hotel restaurant, then went across the street to the reception area to get the wireless card. It was raining pretty hard and while crossing the street back to our portion of the hotel, Ron slipped and fell at the entrance. He lost is glasses and hurt his hip when he landed. His glasses were found and no damage done, but his hip is sore.
I am happy to catch up on emails. So many problems and issues in office!! Melanie is so ready for my vacation to be over!!! I talked to her at length on Messenger. I worked till 3 am catching up and making my “To Do” List.
Friday, November 2nd
– Last day in
I completed my
I downloaded all pictures from our trip to my laptop and viewed 3 folders of the slide shows. I could do a lot of cropping and editing, but that may not happen.
We checked out of hotel and got a ride to the Mumbai International Airport by 7
pm. The entire airport seemed
deserted! We were totally shocked. We walked all over, finally found a
restaurant……..where there were about 3 customers. Amazing there were no people and such a
drastic contrast to the mobs of people at the airport in
Here are a few
observations or comments about the differences in
· Toothpicks have fancy shaped tops like they were made on a lathe with great attention to detail.
· Ladies generally wear their hair very long and pulled back without any softness around the face.
· Many more thoughts to share here……………….but this is pretty long already!!!