Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friday status and 1st night in Shimla

Friday was the second status meeting with our client.  I was so excited to present as I felt I had a very good package put together; one that they could take action on immediately.  The presentation did not go as I had hoped and I am not sure all of my recommendations were heard or if they were even heard in a positive way.  I will not go deeply into the experience here, but I will say it was definitely not what I had expected.  Our client brought a few of their partners in, so we had my team of 3, the two interns, our two main clients and 4 additional NGO partners.  The plan was that I would present first, then Eduardo, Kazu and finally the two interns; the two interns were presenting the final results of their three weeks at the NGO/School. 

The presentations went from about 10am until 1:30pm with a lot of heated discussion and debate throughout.  As I was the only woman in the room for the majority of the time, I believe my experience was unique to that of my male colleagues, which I can share when I see all of you next.

The good news is that I believe my team has presented some excellent findings and suggestions to our clients and I hope that they will agree.  We are doing our best to ensure what we suggest is easy to implement and manage and we hope that they will be able to follow our recommendations. 

Vishwas and Sameer also gave an excellent presentation and even better their findings and recommendations were similar to ours.  I hope to keep in touch with those two as they have very bright futures ahead of them. 

Left to right: Vishwas, Kazu, Cathy, Eduardo and Sameer

After our presentations, the customer drove us quickly the the McDonalds drive through so that we would have some lunch before heading off to Shimla (Agra for Eduardo, Alessandra and Bernardo) - Thank you Tej!  I had the spicy chicken burger (of course there is no beef served in India) was SPICY and it was dark meat.  One of my other options was the Maharaja burther....  We also continued to discuss the outcome of our earlier meeting and received some valuable feedback and food for thought.

Later, eight of us (Peter, Anneliese, Dmytro, Cristian, Lukas, Kazu and Rafal)headed for Shimla just after 3pm in a tricked out Canadian maple leaf van blasting Punjabi music. 

It was a fairly uneventful 5+ hour drive....and then we found our hotel!  But first, the road was very narrow and extremely windy! Thankfully, it was dark enough that you couldn't see how far the drop was from the side of the road, but that didn't stop us from feeling a little frightened!  We could feel the air getting cooler and cooler the higher we climbed to this old British summer getaway and little did we know how much we would experience the cold.  When we found our hotel we weren't sure we were in the right location, in fact it almost looked closed. The van was not about to drive down the path to get to the hotel as it was just too narrow, more of a smart car or walking path.  A couple of the guys went to check it out first and when they came back they recommended Anneliese and I check it out first; that was not a good sign.  Off we went to check it out.  The rooms were 'rustic', but clean; the problem was the heat - there wasn't any!  We had arrived so late at night that it was going to be very difficult and exhausting finding another hotel, so we all agreed to stay one night.  The hotel provided (at a 200 rupee/per night each extra fee) space heaters for the rooms, which eventually made the temperature (when fully dressed with down jacket and thick socks on) tolerable.  We did not shower that first night/morning as it was just too cold to even change our clothes!  Thankfully, the beds also had thick blankets that we could snuggle up in and there were two people to a room to contribute body heat.  I had so many stories from Alaska coming back to me: when I was a little girl in the winter in Alaska, I remember waking up on the 2nd floor FREEZING because the wood stove fire had gone out and I could hear my mom and brother arguing over the best way to start a new fire ;-)   Then, once the fire was started, I would run down as fast as I could from my bedroom to the stove to get warm.  Unfortunately, this hotel Royal Oaks of Shimla did not have such a wood stove to snuggle up against...we even ate breakfast in the cold!  I am not sure how these places don't have heat!! 

I will put Saturdays adventures in the next blog and not to worry, that one will include a lot more pictures!

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