Breakfast was provided and through our conversations with the coordinator, we found out that there is Wifi in each rooms. The user ID is your room number and password is kdr<room_no>. I am not too worried about revealing it because the signals are unlikely to "escape" from the hotel.

Food was spicy but good. I particularly like the Medhu Vada with some spicy gravy. The prata was also great, although they probably call it by other names. The cornflakes with milk tasted familiar and so did the toast, which will be great for people who are not used to the local food. For a Singaporean who had been exposed to various cuisines of food, this is definitely familiar taste.

We waited for a while after breakfast before being "shipped" to the Centre for Cell and Molecular Biology for a presentation and a tour of the institute. This was followed by a visit to IICT (which I can’t really remember what it stands for now). While at the CCMB, we were shown a professionally done video which introduced their institute and the technology harnessed. What surprised me was the way they run the institute, where everyone is known by their first name and titles thrown out of the window. The center is also ran 24×7 with support staff (admin and tech staff) on 3 rotational shifts and transport provided. Scientists and students are free to come in any time they want and to leave when they feel like it. Ultimately, they will be gauged based on their work from which they will be graded.

We had a tour of the facility and if they really shared all their resources within the various groups within the institute, it would relly be great. Such things are almost unheard of in Singapore because so much bureaucracy exists within the school that it’s some times just not possible to get hold of any facilities even though there’s a need. Talk about counter productivity.

Lunch was provided after the presentation at IICT. It was local fare, but apparently made less spicy. Alice thought it was rather spicy although i thought it was quite alright. The dessert was quie sweet and tasted like a small round cake the shape of a golf ball soaked in condensed milk and served with lots and lots of maple syrup.

The trip to the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) was an F1 race in itself (videos to be posted later). Apparently, the right of way is directly proportionate to the size of the vehicle (excluding trucks? which seemed to get horned at everytime). The car we were in, a 7 seater which is briefly "escorted" by 2 government vehicles, zig-zagged in and out of traffic like how Lewis Hamilton would to overtake his competitor – at high speed. Potholes were everywhere and avoiding them requires lots of skill and knowledge of the road. Occasionally when the roads get jammed, the car goes onto the sandy areas of the road and moves forward. Actually, everyone does that so I guess it’s no big deal. We also saw that "horning" other drivers as you go along is also something that seems to be usual practice. At times, we saw funny looking signs at the back of vehicles that says "Please horn". Hmm… is there something that we are missing?

When we finally arrived at the HICC, we realised to our horror that we were not registered for the event! Apparently, the Indian coordinator, Mr Nitesh, didn’t register us and a long negotiation started with the organizer of the event to get us into the opening ceremony in time. After hours and hours of waiting, we finally got our invitation card to go in. It seems like the basic unit of measure of time in India is 5 minutes and it seemed to last for hours. The 5 minutes seemed like infinite time.

We also realised that we were charged for airport transport even though we didn’t get it. Apparently Mr Nitesh thought that the event organizer would arrange for it and the event organizer didn’t know about it. In short, it’s just a jungle out there. Attempts to get him to commit to refund us for the airport transport was also futile until we brought in our own coordinator to intervene. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works. First, he will be busy. Then, he can’t find the main person. Then, the office is closed/phone is engaged/phone has low battery/he is on the line (rotate and reuse where applicable). Lastly, either party will give up first (unlikely to be him) and the matter is solved. =) Simple, isn’t it?

Such people give the nation a bad name for hospitality.

The event lasted till night following which dinner was also provided. We had to queue for a plate with a coupon that was given with the registration pack. Well, the invitation card does not include the coupons for all the meals at the event and the manager at the event was kind enough to provide us with the plates after we explained to him the problem. Effectively, we cut the long queue. Oops! Sorry….

Dinner was quite rushed because we had to rush for the bus which leaves the convention centre at 8pm, after which, we would have to find our way back (which we tried on Day 2). It. Was. Not. Fun.

When we reached the hotel, everyone was quite dead beat and we had to wake up for the transport to the convention centre at 5am because breakfast only starts at 7am and we had to leave by 745am. At least drinking water was provided and there wasn’t the brown water that we hear so often coming out from the tap. The television… was a 42” LG TV. Then again, the hotel rate was quite expensive… =(



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