Back in action!

After a hiatus of about 6 months, which included a 3 month project with a startup, in Bangalore and a 3 month sabbatical during which I traveled a good lot, I’m easing into the summer in the good ‘ol land down under. A lot has happened in the last 6 months. I will hopefully post all that I’ve written, over the next couple of weeks.

Feels good to be back here!

First week in Dublin

Its been a week exactly since we landed in Ireland. And except for those initial hiccups mentioned in my earlier post, its been a good trip so far. A lot of roaming around and seeing places plus work were the highlights of the week that went by.

Irish are fun loving people. They have fun and frolic written all over the place. They have fun doing whatever they are doing. They specially enjoy Sport and Music. This being the football season, you can see people glued to live matches on tvs at various pubs and restos. Football is religion, very close to their hearts. For that matter, any physical activity is what these people enjoy doing. This is obvious from the number of football and basketball fields that i have seen so far. Also you find a  lot of people cycle/jog/walk to work. Like we have 2-wheelers parking lots in India, its cycles here in Dublin.

[Parked cycles in the streets of Dublin]

Come rain or cold winds, these people just cycle. I love this place for that one reason, and seeing so many people cycle, is seriously tempting. But quite unfortunately nobody rents out cycles, so no cycling for me while am here. But i cant wait to come back home and get my hands on my cycle, probably cycle long distance.

Anyways, while am here, lets get back to talking about Dublin.Music is another thing that you find all over Dublin. On weekends, especially, every alley or any major shopping center will have street musicians playing various styles of music. From traditional irish music to Rock and Roll in a group and solo gigs, one can find street music to suit their taste. A few of those bands sell their cds during such performances, while others just put down their instrument cases where people drop money for their performance. Most places where such gigs happen, are streets which are strictly pedestrian only(and cycles ofcourse).

[Graftton Street – is a pedestrian and cycles only street
 And is the main high-profile shopping street in Dublin ]

[Shopping for flowers on Graftton Street]

The "Grafton street" and "Temple Bar", the former being the main shopping center and quite expensive too, the latter known as the cultural hub of Dublin are typically the places you can find such street musicians.
Of-course all this happens only when its not raining, which it most of the time, even in summers. But thankfully the last 2-3 days has had excellent weather. And i hope it will remain this way the coming week too.

[Street Gigs on Temple Bar]

[Musician at the Howth Beach Walk way]

A very important part of an irish is beer, and it has got to be Guiness. Drinking is a social activity. People have beer, just like we have water probably (am not sure if thats the perfect analogy). Everybody drinks the Guiness. These people are so much in love with this beer that there is a ‘Guiness storehouse tour’ – a paid tour (15 euros) – which will take you through the manufacturing process of the Guiness beer. You get a pint of Guiness at the end of the tour(well, i settled for a coke :p ), at the Gravity bar which is at the 7th floor of the Guiness store house and gives you a 360 degree view of Dublin city.

[Guinness Beer served chilled]

[The "waterfall" inside the Guinness Storehouse showing
the purity of water used in the beer

This place is mostly visited by tourists, quite obviously none of the local irish folk visit such places. But you ask any irish, Guiness is all they will have. Nothing else will do. The most obvious difference between a Guiness and any other beer, is its distinct dark color.  It looks more like a cola drink than beer as you might have noticed in the picture above.

[A poster saying "A Guinness a day, is good for YOU"

[Me with my coke at the Gravity Bar in the Guinness storehouse]

Although i personally have not tasted Guiness, this is what Abhijit has to say ".. stronger than regular beer and its very heavy..".  No wonder, most of the irish folks you find in pubs just drink, and dont eat much. Infact a lot of pubs around, just have stuff to drink and very very little (if any) to eat. And this is a serious problem for people like me. Well for starters drinking more than one coke – not possible – and you only get hungrier with time. I happen to have a first hand experience of such a thing when one evening we were meeting up with Brian Costello (an irish former co-worker and friend and Sun). So, lesson number one – if you are not the beer drinking types never go to a pub with an irish, you are just going to end up hungry.

[L->R: Abhijit, Brian and Dan with their Guinness]

[Its Guinness everywhere baby!!]

Our commute to work everyday, involves a 3 KM walk to the nearest train station (Tara Street Station or the Pearse Street Station) and then take a train to Clontarf road. The walk to the station is particularly interesting because, we try hard to keep pace with the locals who quite briskly (young and old alike) while we are struggling to keep pace with them. The folks in Dublin walk really fast, and after a few days in Dublin everyone gets used to that style of walking. Brian quips "..its a cold country and raining always, we need to head to some place warm and we need to get there fast…". Well Brian, if you say so. But jokes apart, they do walk really fast. Infact after a week of walking around both me and Abhijit are quite accustomed to this brisk walking style or the "Irish walk".

[Abhijit , Dan and Me (behind the camera) travelling to work by DART]

Sun has quite a small footprint here in Ireland, around 250-300 people most of whom work from home. Consequently, the office perennially has a deserted look. And people who we actually had meetings with used to turn up only those days when we had to meet them. Our office building is right beside the Oracle building, making it easier for Oracle during the integration process.

[Me, pretending to be involved with work]

Sunny days are quite hard to come by here, but when there is such a day, the whole of Dublin is out on the beach or in the parks. Dublin being a coastal city has many beautiful beaches, and many beautiful people on these beaches. The last weekend happened to be one such time. The Saturday we spent on this small beach town called Howth to the North of Dublin city, although sunny, it was very very windy. The Sunday though, was not disappointing. Dublin is the home of Europes biggest city park called "The phoenix park".

[Wellington Monumnet, Phoenix Park]

The park apart from housing a few historical buildings and playing areas, also houses the Dublin zoo. It had been a long long time since either of us had been to a zoo, so Dublin zoo it was to start off our Sunday. After spending 4 long hours among small kids and families we were famished and tired. It was a wonderful experience though reminding me of my life as a kid – oh! those small things in life that gave so much of joy, happiness and memories. … what have you become…sigh!!

[People, queuing up to enter the Zoo. It was swarming with kids and families]

Anyways, getting back to the task at hand. After the tiring walk through the zoo, we decided to lie down in the park, with scores of people who were lying there. And there lying on those beautiful gardens of Phoneix, i came up with this brilliant proportionality theory. Although not brilliant, its quite insightful. In Dublin, the sunnier the days  the deeper the necklines plunge and higher the hemlines. Again, interesting, but not *always* a treat to watch.

Dublin is a beautiful city. A perfect holiday city, a place to have fun. Theres something here for everyone. And this first week here has been quite an experience. A few more pictures before i sign off.

[Liffey River by night]

[Angel Gaurding at the beginning of O’Connely Street]

With one more week to go, we have much more to discover. And hopefully it will be as interesting as it has been this past week.


Dublin – First Post (written earlier, posted late)

(originally written on May 17th)
It’s been 2 long days since i left India. And it has been ok so far. Work starts from tomorrow. All i have been doing until now is go around Dublin.
This trip was off to a bad start since the beginning. We (me and  abhijit, my team-mate at work) – had to wait in the Bengaluru Airport for more than a couple of hours, because the flight got delayed. And obviously, waiting at the airport is not such a great idea, specially when one is totally tired and sleepy. Thankfully the new airport is much better than the old one. I shudder at the thought of spending times at the old Bengaluru airport. But thankfully that nightmare is over for bengaluru. Actually  the new airport is much better, small in comparison with other international airports, but good. Actually one gets to see a lot of sparrows in the BIAL. And that is quite good. I feel happy to see those birds, since i don’t get to see them in bangalore, like earlier.

So finally the Lufthansa flight which had to leave at 1.50 AM left at 4.30 AM. My international travel experience in flights has been with Singapore airlines so far. And trust me, Lufthansa comes no where close in service or comfort, if you are taller than 5 feet and/or weight a little more than 40 kgs say goodbye to comfortably being seated on the Lufthansa seats. The people in the economy class are treated like chicken being shipped or something. And they even did not have any inflight entertainment-system. We reached Frankfurt airport at 10.00 AM local time on Saturday, and our connecting flight to Dublin was at 10.25 Am around 5 gates away – and despute trying our best – running, like we are being chased for our lives – we missed our flight. And the next flight out of frankfurt to dublin was around 5 hours later. So we were stuck in the Frankfurt airport for a while, tired, hungry and sleepless and definitely irritated. I was actually cursing myself not to have got a schengen visa. If i had – i would not have been stuck at the airport.

We reached Ireland late in the evening, around 5.30 local time Dublin. Its a pleasant country. A lot like Bangalore actually, just a little less traffic and people – and a little more organized. Makes a lot of difference obviously.
The Irish accents are difficult to understand. But so far its been good. We have figured our way around the important places in the city and we have been walking around everywhere – and sometimes taking the bus. There are enough local buses and they are usually on time too. But everything in Ireland is very expensive. Everything. If you want a decent meal – it costs nothing less than 15 €. Taxi minimum fare is 4€, although the taxis are good – skodas, lancers, toyotas are the most common taxis. So in general its pretty expensive. I called up one of shilpas friend, and spoke for a couple of minutes and it costed me 1€. So you get the idea. Its expensive.
If you can eat junk food – getting veg food is not a problem. Although eating french fries is a no no. They openly admit that they are fried in beef oil or share the same oil to fry meat. So french fries are a big no, and i think its true for most of the fried stuff. I ask for veg burger – no meet, no egg, no cheese and i get is 2 burger buns and some lettuce, no sauces too – since most of them are meat based. But actually have been eating a lot. Feeling way to hungry; Abhijit tells  me that, “.. its because of the weather, its too cold and one tends to feel hungry when its cold…..” Am not sure about that. I need to look that up somewhere.
Its daylight until 10.30-11.00 PM here. Feels a little weird. But i guess in the next couple of weeks i would get used to that.

The service apartment we are staying in, is a two bedroom and has a kitchen, living area and entertainment systems and stuff. A balcony with view of the rest of the apartment  block. There are pigeons  aplenty, and they are perched on the balcony ledge all the time and fly away when we get any close.

Will be getting to work tomorrow. Need to figure out the way to Sun office, which is in a Tech-park a little distance away from the Dublin City. Hopefully can make it in time. 🙂

Thats about it for now. Until my next post, cheers.