Day 10: Taj Mahal & Agra Fort

Namaste from India!

BIT09a at Taj Mahal

BIT09a at Taj Mahal

Today, we travel by bus to fulfill a lifelong dream. We left off at 4 o’clock from New Delhi. From the moment I learned about the Taj Mahal, I’ve always wanted to visit it. And this week, that dream finally came true. Can you believe I went to the Taj Mahal? Sometimes I still can’t believe it!

The Taj has three points of entry and we went through the east gate, which is known for being the least crowded. A ticket to the Taj Mahal is good for only one entry so if you want to see the sunrise (it’s foggy in the morning this time of year) and the sunset in the same day, you’ll have to buy two tickets. I doubt you’d be able to hang out there all day because there are very strict rules about what’s allowed in and what’s not: no food, books, makeup, tripods…

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Day 9: Last day in Chennai

Unfortunately we had to cancel our factory visit of Royal Enfield. A remarkable producer of motorbikes in India, all their bikes are all handmade and are recognized as one of the finest in the nation. Canceling this visit had freed up our schedule, allowing us to do individual sightseeing trips, special massage treatments or simply just to sleep a little bit longer.

McDelivery

Individual sightseeing tours gave everybody the opportunity to explore the city by themselves.

We all gathered in the hotel lobby at 13:00, fully packed with our entire luggage we were all set to leave this vibrant city of Chennai. But before leaving we decided to have lunch in this City one last time. Honestly, who likes to travel with an empty stomach?
Our guide Kannan lead us to a very popular restaurant called fusion9. It is rumored that reservations have to be taken early in advance in order to get a table in this super fancy restaurant. But thanks to Kannan, who has managed that we would get a table for 20, we were able to experience an exceptional Indian cuisine one more time. After all, time flew by and we headed to the airport for our evening flight to New Dehli.

After arrival at Dehli international airport, a bus drove us to the nearby hotel. We will stay at this hotel for the next 4 days.

Day 8: Chennai – Visiting Cognizant Academy

Address exchange

Group photo

Those who found the time and leisure to attend the morning joga had to be ready on 6 o’clock in the morning.

Everybody was on time for the departure to Cognizant Chennai on 08:15, but this time it was one of our bus drivers who was 15 minutes late. The weather however was becoming brighter but in our case that wasn’t that positive. The sweat run already when we were waiting for our delayed chauffeur.

After the 90 minutes bus ride through Chennais heavy rush-hour traffic and after receiving the visitors-badge at the security desk, we were warmly welcomed by a waiting class of Cognizant Academy students. The students were seated in an order that we had to split up and sit between them. First we were a little confused and unhappy, but the attitude of these friendly and open people once more changed our minds. Some words about the Cognizant Academy. This Cognizant-internal education system covers four different but related parts:
– a basic program targeted to get university graduates business-ready with the basic needs for cognizant
– a big advanced training section
– an individual “career compass”, aiming to help people to get a customized career perspective
– a leadership development program

After learning this, it now made perfect sense that we were sitting with a class of this academy in the same room. To better getting to know each other, we were supposed to play a funny game and develop as well as perform a short presentation in smaller groups. The atmosphere was both relaxing and funny. In these smaller groups, we also visited some other classes in their rooms, asking them about their lives as students of the Cognizant Academy. In one of these class-visits the ambiance became that good, that the Indian students told us to dance. After showing us some basic Indian-style dance moves, we indeed tried to imitate them. Our audience had really a nice time. As a reward, a male student sang a little Indian song and a female student danced really nice moves.

After dining we heard again some words about off-shoring and outsourcing. The hospitality of our hosts and the ongoing talks at the end made it hard to leave. However, after a group-photo outside it was time to say good bye. Or: Cu on FB.

By Kristian Bubalo, Dario Cocchi, Simon Guldener

Day 7: Chennai – sight-seeing


Government Museum Chennai


MGR Memorial

Marina Beach

After waking up in the fabulous Marriott Hotel, sight-seeing was scheduled. The few steps between the hotel entrance and the waiting bus were enough to predict: It’s gonna be a terribly hot day!
First object to see was the Government Museum Chennai where we lionised lots of historic sculptures of Vishnu, Ganesh, Shiwa (not Mike), Buddha and his other friends. These sculptures were not as old as they seemed to be, some were “just” around 200 years. However, some were really amazing detailed elaborated. The zoological section showed all kinds of animals found in India, a few foreign species could be seen as well. Because the rooms of the museum were not cooled, everybody was glad to re-enter the bus, although we saw only few of the generally interesting museum.

The short visit in a park near the sea with the MGR Memorial and the Anna Memorial caused everybody to sweat, some only little, others a little more. It was quite muggy and hot, around 33°. Our last stop before lunch was at the “International Schrein of St. Thomas Basilica” where a mass was just in progress. The drive to the place where we were supposed to have lunch lead us through some lively streets. Tons of people, hectic traffic, markets, beggars and even artists could be seen.

After a typical Indian buffet and some moments of rest, our two buses carried us to marina beach, a part of the remarkable wide beach of Chennai. On our way along the sea to get to marina beach we saw empty parts of beach, fishermen maintaining their nets and finally the well populated area of marina beach. The 250 meters from the street to the sea were characterised by Indian children, as well as adults, extensively watching us. As swimming was prohibited, we soon went back to the buses.
The heat and moisture was heavy for us to take and we all were quite idle and powerless. Back in the hotel at 16:30 most went in their rooms, some went to the gymnastics-room and few took a massage.

By Kristian Bubalo, Dario Cocchi, Simon Guldener

Day 6: Sightseeing in Hyderabad and flight to Chennai

After a very good dinner and an exiting night out (at least for some of the guys), the day started an hour later than usual. Giving us a chance to rest a little bit longer, we met at 9 at the hotel entrance and headed to a shopping mall in Hyderabad. It took us about 30min to get to the “Hypermall” located at the outskirts of the city, only to find out that they open at 11 o’clock. So we decided to visit a special market known for its unique handcrafted art items, such as wooden sculptures, pearls or luxurious pashmina shawls. After driving another 30min, we found out that this market has moved to another location. However, we decided to go back to the shopping mall as we were running out of time.

On arrival we have split up and moved on to an individual shopping trip. The mall consists of more than 50 shops and was beautifully decorated.  Although the “Sale” season was still on the prices were moderate.

We met at 14:00 at our usual restaurant within the Savory hotel. The hotel has just been opened and therefore it was still unknown to the locals, causing the rickshaw ride to be an adventure, once again.

The lunch was very good, truly one of the best restaurants in Hyderabad! We headed back to our hotel afterwards to pack our luggage and to check out. After loading our baggage on the bus, we shared some of our Swiss Chocolate with the local kids and a few workers from the construction site next to our hotel.

Mr. Boev from his social side

As we headed to the airport, the bus took us through various beautiful sceneries with lots of green vegetation and impressive rock structures, a pleasant chance of scenery in a very urban trip so far.

A spectacular view on Chennai’s skyline was revealed as we approached the airport. Later after we loaded our baggage on the bus, the driver took us to the Marriot hotel where we had dinner and a few good drinks.

Day 5: Hyderabad Cognizant and Microsoft

We met at 9 am and drove to Cognizant Hyderabad, where we had a half-day presentation about EMI Electronic Media Interchange. They informed us about their iPhone App solution for their customers. The second topic was about their supply chain management application, which was designed for a tomato sauce company from the UK. The connection between the core business and the supply chain management of this solution was very interesting.

After that we had lunchtime in the new business hotel Sarovar. The lunch was amazing, although we couldn’t order some beers because this hotel was so new, that they still don’t have any alcohol license.

In the afternoon we went to Microsoft. The building was huge and exclusive. Microsoft was the reason that Hyderabad became a main IT city in India. After Microsoft decided to build a new hub in Hyderabad, some other big companies followed them. First, we got an introduction from a Senior Program Manager about their developments here in Hyderabad. Beside of many Microsoft applications they developed Office 365 in Hyderabad. It was great to see where this cutting edge software has been produced. After that, we changed from a meeting room to the visitor center, where we had a short introduction to Xbox Kinect.

Day 4: Visiting Cognizant and UBS in Hyderabad

This thursday we were invited at Cognizant in Hyderabad, where also the UBS is placed. We met us at 8:30 in the morning and went there with our stylish tour bus. As we arrived we had to walk through a metal detector for the security check and we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the campus so we had to leave our mobile phones and cameras at the security desk.
After taking seat in a state of the art meeting room the first speaker presented us, what Cognizant in Hyderabad is doing especially in the field of BPO (Business Process Outscoursing). He explained us why companies should think about BPO. The main point about this topic is that companies should focus on their core businesses to generate as much value for their customers as possible. So they should outsource all operatives and services which don’t belong to the companies main skills.

After this session Thomas Zeindler, the UBS vendor relationship manager of India joined our group and hold a presentation about how UBS operates in Hyderabad. At the end of this part we were able to see the UBS labs and to talk to the chief researcher. 

After lunch we stayed at Cognizant and Shailaja Jha (Assistant Vice President, Information Media & Entertainment) explained us what Cognizant do in the domain of media and entertainment. Most of us were surprised that Cognizant is such a big player in this area, working with well known companies like Sony Entertainement or Warner Borthers. Another interesting point is that they also develop apps for mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad. After we picked up our stuff at the security point we moved back to our residency.

At the evening we had dinner in a new built hotel in Hyderabad called Sarovar where Thomas Zeindler joined us. Finally some of us went to the Novotel-Bar with Thomas which is by the way the only bar in town that don’t closes doors at 23.00.

Day 3: Sightseeing in Bangalore

Today the group counted around 8 people at 8.30am instead of the expected 20. The night activities seem to be exhausting. 🙂 But 15 minutes later the waiting students doubled and were ready to start.

Our coach drove us through the whole city with a lot of traffic jam and crowded streets. Almost everybody took this opportunity to have a nap. One hour later we visited the Bull temple in south Bangalore – an impressive temple which is sacred for Hindi people. We found a granite monolith of Nandi there, built by Kempegowda in the 16th-century Dravidian style. Almost everyone left the temple with a red dot between his eyes and found shelter in the coach to avoid the begging children waiting outside.

The second stop was at the Lalbagh Botanical Garden which is famous for roses and flower shows. Unfortunately July is not the best time to visit the huge area. However we found a few  monkeys having lunch and posing for pictures, a lake and a lot of different flowers.

BIT09a in the botanical garden Bangalore

BIT09a in the botanical garden Bangalore

As we were running out of time we hit the road again and went back to our guest houses to get our baggage. On the way to the airport we pulled over at the Orchid restaurant again to try typical Indian food which was very delicious even though it was – typical India – very spicy.

The flight to Hyderabad was smooth and we got squeezed into a bus to chek-in in our new guest houses. The contrast in India couldn’t be more present: Next to a field of tents for homeless people the world’s biggest companies have their modern and luxury office buildings. Tired but happy we had dinner in a very good hotel with a buffet providing food from all over the world – especially Indian food.

We’re looking forward to our next company visits tomorrow!

Day 2 – Visit to Cognizant’s Headquarter in Bangalore

On Tuesday morning we managed to be on time. Our bus had one hour for the 8 km ride to Cognizant’s headquarter in Bangalore. We received personal “visitor batches” with pictures of each individual and headed towards the 8th floor where we got placed in an oval meeting room already provided with different soft drinks, nuts and cookies.

The presentation gave us a good insight into the whole outsourcing industry and services offered by Cognizant. In addition they showcased how they add value to customers. In our opinion, it gave us a better insight than the presentation from SAP. Very fascinating was that a ‘Chai Walla’ brought us tea. This expression stands for someone who delivers tea during a meeting or office hours. You might know it from the movie called ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. This was the first time we experienced something like that but it seems to be a common job in big companies.
Unfortunately we received for lunch some American style pizzas from Domino’s delivery service instead of typical Indian food, which we have expected. But this might be because we first have had to get used to the spicy Indian food. By the way they eat spicy food for breakfast, too!

After the interesting speech we took some photos within the Cognizant building. Actually this was against regulations but as the vice president allowed it, we took some more shots to remember this awesome and especially exciting day. As appreciation we gave the speaker team, CH Murali and Shrikant, some Swiss chocolate and original “Swiss Army Knives”.
In the evening after dinner, nearly all of our class attended small house party at Raj Comforts. There we have had an own living room. We drank some drinks, mainly beer and some non-alcoholic ones. This party was going on until 4 o’clock in the morning. Imagine how sleepy some of us were at the day after.

Day 1: Bangalore

Monday morning, 0830 – in front of the Raj Residency meeting point. 22 of us were expected, only eight were there. After 15 minutes the last one arrived and we could start our 15 km drive to the SAP Labs. In the early morning traffic it took us 90 minutes for one way. Some snapshots of the ride are attached below.

As we arrived at the SAP Labs, we were impressed by the huge complex. After some coffees and teas, we had the opportunity to get insight into the SAP business model and how they cooperate with Cognizant. The interesting presentation was followed by a campus tour and we had the chance to get a close look inside the SAP Labs. The complex provides space for about 5’000 people, of which 30% are women. We all liked the “no-waste” strategy they had, where they converted waste of food into dungier for the gardens. The complex had also a lot of other things to offer: gyms, many cuisines, many cafeterias, a library, some creative-room, labs and many more.

In the afternoon we drove to the “Art of Living Ashram”. This is one of many “Ashrams” in India. An Ashram is a huge area of land with many different buildings. This are used to help the society. In the middle is a big meditation center which is surrounded with schools, farms and education center. After meditation session with the “monk” we joined an exciting ride through the campus, where we saw how the whole complex is managed and organized and how they help people all around the world.