Monthly Archives: January 2014

FRO – Part 3: When Frustrating Is An Understatement

Sidd and me have been hanging out so much at the FRO (Foreigners Registration Office) lately that we could become regulars. And maybe we would want to, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a bureaucratic sinkhole filled with dying souls and broken dreams.

You might remember my previous encounters with the FRO (Part 1, Part 2), the place where I was supposed to register as a foreigner within the first two weeks after arrival. Well, it’s day 114 now and we haven’t even started yet.

It’s absurd. You hear jokes about bureaucratic machineries where booth 2A tells you to stamp forms A and B at booth 3C before proceeding down to booth 1C for a Certificate of Approval, which is needed by 2A before handling the forms required by 3C to even consider doing anything at all. That’s not far from the truth here. Except that the places where I should go to have these things handled are located all around the city, and with occasionally very limited opening hours. I could go into details but it’s a mix of boring, hilarious and infuriating – and not good for blood pressure for anyone involved.

The funny thing? No-one knows how this thing works, what the big picture is. Every clerk can just say “you’re lacking a stamp here and a defined date here” and it’s up to you, the foreigner, to figure out where to get that stamp – provided you even have the correct document.

If Columbo took this case he wouldn’t be able to crack it even with his famous last question. Hand this over to doctor House and he’d unexpectedly arrive at the conclusion that it’s in fact lupus – and still be wrong. You know Watson, the new supercomputer that can play Jeopardy? Ask it “how do I get my C Form approved?” and it would probably bluescreen itself into oblivion.

No, but seriously, this was the fifth time I was to the FRO and it’s such a waste of time and energy. Saying it’s frustrating would be an understatement.

I have more, but for the sake of protecting myself from any even remotely possible repercussions in later proceedings I’ll keep it to myself. For now.

Life of the Expat

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Not long ago I was contacted by JWT New York and asked to write something for their Worldwide Blog, something I agreed to do without hesitation. Finding a suitable topic for a potentially quite wide audience, while keeping it personal, was a bit tricky, but I ended up choosing the dramatic curve of the expat as my topic. It was a bit of a balancing act since I wanted to write about both what an expat goes through in general, and my experiences in particular. But I think it turned out ok.

You can find the post at the JWT Worldwide Blog, however I’ll post it here as well to include it in my journal.

Continue reading Life of the Expat

One Hazelnut Latte For Mahesh

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After dropping off the equipment from our photoshoot, Sidd and me stopped by the Starbucks in Koreagon Park. Feeling like getting some change from the usual m-a-r, k-u-s spelling routine I decided to use the Indian name given to me by my local colleagues: Mahesh.

As the guy behind the counter started marking the cup and I gave my name, he didn’t skip a beat even though I’m without a doubt no Mahesh. We sat down and waited, and soon enough they yelled out: one tall hazelnut latte for Mahesh!

Guess I’m starting to blend in.

Mahesh is a very common name in India, which became apparent five minutes later as another completed order for a Mahesh was announced. I scanned for someone with equally non-blending complexion as mine, but this one was a bonafide local.

Photoshoot Fun

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Today we had some proper photoshoots. The need for new photo material came up when we were putting together a snazzy showcase of the things we do here in India – and being an avid photographer I was more than eager to play around with some good lighting equipment. A few phonecalls and we had the address of a shop that rents out all kinds of awesome gadgets for photo and video use. A drive to Koreagon Park later we had the trunk in Sidd’s car loaded with goodies.

For lighting we used two Elinchrom 400 FXR studio lights, equipped with softboxes for smooth shadows. They were a lot of fun to set up and worked hassle-free, came with a hotshoe remote trigger too. Photos were taken with my own Canon 5D mk3, with 24-105 and 70-200 lenses. You’ll find more of the photos in our showcase presentation, soon.

Here’s a making-of video that Bhushan shot:

Fun times! Maybe we should get some of that equipment to the new office and add photography to our service offering?

So, How’s The Weather?

We’re in the middle of the Indian winter here, which means the typical day in Pune goes between quite hot and pleasantly cool: during the day the average temperature is about 26 degrees centigrade, peaking at a little over 30 early afternoon. We haven’t had rain in two months. And usually no clouds for that matter – this week we had a slight overcast one day, which is somewhat rare.

One might think the constant warmth and sunlight is a nice thing, especially when considering how it is around this time of the year back in Finland, but it can get boring and has its downsides as well: the constant heat and lack of rain, combined with a few gusts of wind and the exhaust of mostly catalysator-free vehicles, creates a lot of dirt-ridden air. You can leave the apartment feeling fresh and nice but within 15 minutes you’ll have a feeling of being covered in a thin but tangible film of dirt.

But still, yes, other than that it’s an agreeable climate we have here.

The sun emerges over the hills at 7:30 and goes down at about 17:30. By then the temperature will have dropped to a pleasant twenty-something, and by midnight it’s around 16 degrees. Still t-shirt friendly, but if you’re going to ride a long way in an open rickshaw you might want to put a scarf or a light sweater on.