Saturday, 14 June 2014

Life in Jo'Burg

Things are moving really fast !
The last 36 hours in Jo'burg (yes, that's what its called locally) has been literally zip-zap-zoom. Travel to Jo'burg has been pretty cool but felt like an alien when I landed there. That's because unlike any other travel, I would have a person waiting for me at the airport. Things happened according to arrangements as I did have somebody from the DOT team waiting for me. Met Lucia from Brazil at the airport - she'd be working with me in this assignment as well.
Jo'burg is a very modern city with skyscrapers scattered around, though I believe our hotel is located a little towards the suburbs, with extremely posh bungalows everywhere around us. I am told some of the South African cricketers (including Jacques Kallis) is a resident nearby.
The entire team met each other in the evening at the hotel lobby - we are a team of 14 people from 9 countries, all committed towards a philanthropic initiative for an NGO named DOT ( Our aim is to establish a blueprint for establishing a Knowledge Centre for North West University, South Africa, located in the North Western Province of the country.
It is a wonderful team !
Different people from different countries, trying to target the problem from their own perspective - in 9 different ways !  I am sure we are looking forward to a cultural melting pot.
Today morning we visited IBM South Africa - not that we are going to work for them, but the purpose was mainly a security briefing about the country from the Security Officer of this country. Yolanda has just given us a set of scary instructions which has already freaked out some in our team! Don't walk alone, don't eat alone, don't shop alone, don't drive alone. Don't stop even if you are asked to, by a cop (because apparently a cop may not be a cop!). Its so confusing :) Well, I have decided to give it a shot - that's be normal as I always do and try to look at this country with an eye of optimism. It is, after all the country of Mandela and the country of F W De Clarke. And of course, if I get into trouble, I'd reveal that I am related to the girl with the pearl earring - I am sure they'd let me go.
2014_06_14_09_27Interestingly, in the IBM office, I met Abraham Thomas - who is the country manager in SA now - but I had met him 12 years back in Calcutta when he was the country manager of IBM India. Old-timers would certainly remember why he is still remembered in India for pulling off some amazing stuffs in an November '02 evening in Grand Hotel, Calcutta. I did ask him over a cup of coffee whether he remembered that evening - he still does he admits :)

2014_06_14_12_48The trip to the Apartheid Museum and the Residence of Nelson Mandela was amazing. You are inside an amazing moving-timeline which takes you through the history of Apartheid - how it started, the atrocities and then the immense sacrifice and struggle of people that led to the birth of the modern SA in 1994. As an Indian, I have special personal memories of 1994 when the then banned SA cricket team visited Calcutta. India was the first country that had welcomed them. And then the world came to know about a speed rocket named Allan Donald and a cricketer-that-could-fly named Jonty Rhodes. The rest is of course history.

IMG_2770_1IMG_2776Dr. Mandela's home was so very touching. The two small bedrooms are preserved as they were, but with several laurels and certificated around. One is instantly taken back in a time warp to relive the great man's struggle throughout his life while staying amidst a very below-moderate neighborhood.

IMG_2786Having done all the Jo'burg-seeing today, time to attend the customer meet tomorrow morning. Yep, tomorrow is a Sunday! But so what?


  1. Feels so great to work with team members from different countries participating for a common cause.