We arrived in Pune at approximately 5 am. I guess this was a good time to get there, because the airport was practically empty, the only people outside were the drivers ready to pick people up, and there was no traffic. The airport was a lot more modern than what I was expecting. It was still dark when we arrived, and we quickly got to our hotel. Due to the 9.5 hour difference from the US, we weren’t really ready to go to sleep. I was very impressed with my hotel room. The Courtyard Marriott in Hinjewadi was top of the line accommodations. I quickly prepared to unpack my bags, there were a few things that I had to get adjusted to.
First of all, when you arrive at the hotel in the car, a security officer goes around the perimeter of the underside of the car with a mirror to look for bombs. They also circle the car with a dog, sniffing for bombs I assume, and they open each door. As they open your door they always say “good day” with a smile. I suppose this is supposed to make you feel better about being searched. When you approach the hotel, they take your bags to be passed through an x-ray machine, and you have to walk through a metal detector to get through the front door. As you get through, a woman wearing a pretty teal and blue sari welcomes you with a smile as she passes a metal detector over your body. After a few days this behavior became to be quite normal, and I would just greet her with my arms open assuming the position for scan.
When you enter the hotel room, there is a slot next to the door where you put your room key. This activates the electricity in the suite. This benefits the hotel guest because they always know where their key is, and it benefits the hotel because after a few moments it deactivates the lights in the room. It does not turn off the power outlets, so your computer and razor can still be charging after you leave. Another thing I had to get adjusted to was brushing my teeth with bottled water. Most of the electrical outlets in the room have built-in adapters that work for US plugs, however it doesn’t convert the AMPS, so there were still certain electrical items that could not be plugged in.
From hotel room window, there was an interesting view. A large power line tower was immediately to the left, straight out was a hotel that was under construction. To the right I have a view of the Security gate, the road, and across the road is a very modern looking HP gas station. Behind the gas station I can see green fields, the city line, and behind that are some mountains. The sides of the streets are littered with exorbitant billboards advertising modern luxuries.
After I unpacked I went downstairs to an amazing breakfast buffet. The Marriott really out did itself in food quality and service. Most of the service personnel go out of their way to remember your name, and who your colleagues are. They are also very well versed in the art of small talk, which helps a traveler eating alone feel more at home. The breakfast buffet included Indian specialties, cereals, western breakfast items, british breakfast items, a full array of baked goods, fresh fruits, and fruit juices. They would also make eggs, waffles, and eggs benedict to order. They also offered masala chai upon request.
After lunch I retired back to my room, and took a 2.3 hour nap. My coworker was spending time with her mom and sister, so I decided to go out for a little shopping. I requested a driver and asked him to take me to shop. He took me to a little shop on Bund Garden Road. There I looked at semi precious stones set in silver and gold. The prices were in USD, and I managed to haggle the price down 20%. I was very proud of myself as until recently I was not very good at negotiating prices.
During that period my coworker’s family came and she got reacquainted with them. We spent some time at the hotel, and I tried a few drinks I had never heard of before. One was called a Paantini, which I didn’t really care for. It was vodka, maritni rosso, gulkand (sweet preserve of rose petals) and coconut chunks. The other drink I had was a Pina Spice, and it was Pineapple Juice, Vodka, Lime and Cardamom seeds. I really enjoyed that one a lot. Unfortunately it took me 2 or 3 days to see how much tax they charge on alcohol at the hotel room.