Wednesday, May 31, 2023

India Work Trip 2022 ✈ 2 Months in India

In the last 2 months of 2022, I was given the opportunity to travel to India for a work secondment. I signed up to travel to India without any expectations, but the entire experienced turned out way better than I expected, all thanks to the warm hospitality I received throughout my stay in Kolkata.

25 October 2022 - 22 December 2022: Working and Living in India for 2 Months
After working from home for 2.5 years, I decided to volunteer to travel to India for 2 months to train and upskill our team members. Honestly, I was a lil' worried about being in India for an extended period of time but after speaking to other co-workers who were there pre-Covid and learning more about the living arrangements for short-term secondees, I felt a lot more comfortable and looked forward to finally meet team members whom I have worked with over the past 2 years. In fact, my stay was so comfortable and I enjoyed the experience so much that I volunteered for round 2...haha!

So, how was it like living and working in Kolkata for 2 months? 

My flight landed in Kolkata at 1.55am. Since I was one of the first few passengers to get off the plane (benefit of flying business class), I quickly made my way to the immigration and was able to get through it without waiting in line. My luggage was one of the first few bags unloaded on the carousel so I was out of the airport by 2.20am. The staff from JW Marriott Kolkata was already waiting at the arrival area when I got out and after a short wait for the driver to get the van, we left the airport around 2.25am. Took only 30 minutes after our flight landed to get out of the airport, not bad at all!

Arriving past midnight means no traffic at all and we arrived at the hotel after 20 minutes. It was pretty cool to see the city filled with colorful lights for Diwali. After checking in, I finally made it to my room at 2.55am and received these Diwali desserts as a welcome gift.

I had 2 days before my official start date in the office so I spent my downtime exploring my 'home' for the next 2 months...JW Marriott Kolkata.

Spacious and bright Executive King guest room with a huge bathroom.

Some amenities in the room. We get few bottles of water per day, which was more than enough.

View from the room. I learnt after a few weeks to avoid the rooms with pool view, especially during wedding season coz the music at the poolside can be heard even from the 18th floor. Btw, this clear view didn't last long either coz the city was pretty much covered in haze for the later half of my stay.

Daily Life in India - Weekdays

Our room rate includes daily complimentary buffet breakfast at JW Kitchen. There is a wide variety of food options, to the extent that I felt overwhelmed on my first day. I only ate here for my first 2 weeks and decided to skip breakfast for the rest of my stay. I'd just ask for a to-go box to pack some pastries to share with co-workers in the office.

Hotel drop-off and pick-up at the office daily. It's nice being chauferred around everyday...haha! =P I wouldn't dare to drive even if I had a car coz there is no lane concept here...just drive wherever there is space and honk for everything. =P

The ride from hotel to our office took about 20-30 minute depending on traffic, and there's always something fun to see along the! 

Our office at South City Pinnacle, and 10th floor where our team sits. It has been 2.5 years since I went to the office. Since our team is fully remote, the office is rarely full apart from during the Christmas celebration.  

I don't get any work done in the office coz I'm usually talking to people or having calls/meetings/trainings. 

Presented at one of the the townhall meetings.

Went out for lunches (and dinners) with the team but ordered delivery from Zomato mostly.

Executive Lounge at the 23rd floor is a nice place to hangout.

All secondees usually hangout here in the evening coz there is complimentary happy hour daily from 6.30pm - 9.30pm. =)

'2nd shift' begins in the hotel room at 7pm when the US is awake. Ain't fun working 2 time zones.

Had most of my dinners at Vintage Asia restaurant in the hotel.

I usually ate dinner around 7-8pm, which is considered early in India, and would have the restaurant all to myself. I went there so frequently with my laptop for dinner during '2nd shift' that all the servers knows me. If you look on Google, this is a $$$$ restaurant and other guests usually dress up all nice and pretty. Then here I am, coming to this restaurant everyday in flip flops like my downstairs!!

I was pretty consistent with my order...Nigiri sampler, Salmon Nigiri, stir-fried veggies, tomyum soup, Pu Erh tea.

I  ordered room service when I'm too lazy or busy to go downstairs. I usually work till 1-2am to  

No more pyjamas for!

Daily Life in India - Weekends

The gym at level 2...pretty well-equipped and almost always empty. Tried exercising a bit more since it's so convenient but I was lazy.

The pool area is nice but it gets not sun in the afternoon and you can heal all the honking from the streets. I came out here only once out of my entire 2-month stay.

Our room rate for long stay also includes one complimentary spa per week, which is amazing!

Another thing I did during the weekends was to hotel-hop to Westin Kolkata.

I receive suite upgrades for 3 out of the 5 times I stayed there.

This hotel is located slightly away from the city and closer to Eco Park with more greeneries around.

Had my meals at Nori restaurant (more salmon nigiri) or room service.

Another hotel I visited briefly but didn't stay was ITC Royal Bengal and ITC Sonar, which were located next to JW Marriott and are both under Marriott as well.

Also visited my co-workers' homes and got a glimpse of how it's like for joint families to live together.

Went to the housewarming party of another US secondee who went for a 2-year secondment.

Thanksgiving dinner with fellow US secondees at The Tollygunge Club.

Christmas decorations around the hotel

Time to Say Goodbye

Farewell with co-workers and JW Marriott hotel staffs. Thank you for making this place such a comfortable 'home' for me!

Came with 2 bags....going back with 3 fully packed 'overweight'!!

Thank you for the warm hospitality and my cute 'friends'!

Coincidentally, the driver who dropped me off at the airport was the same guy who picked me up at the airport when I first arrived. Thanks to this coincidence, I feel like my tour has come full circle. 

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