First impressions

I am spending the 2008-09 academic year at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, India.

I am spending the 2008-09 academic year at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, India. My wife and I are both Fulbright Scholars, a program that enables teachers and researchers to visit foreign countries for academic exchange and to encourage international understanding.

We arrived just past midnight on August 12, 2008, after a flight from Paris. We landed at the brand new Bengaluru International Airport, opened just two months ago.  This spacious, gleaming structure is a far cry from the cramped and dingy airport we used last year, where the exit from the airport left you in an utter chaos of hundreds of taxis and small streets. 

The signs around the airport  highlight the new name for this city of 6.5m people: Bengaluru.  As with other cities, such as Mumbai (Bombay) and Chennai (Madras), Bangalore decided last year that it was time to revert to a more traditional (pre-British) name.  Apparently, Bengaluru means “city of beans”.

The downside to the new airport is that it is 30km drive, albeit on a new 4- or 6-lane highway, into the city.  I was amazed that our taxi driver could fit five of us, 10 suitcases, and 8 carry-on bags.  On the other hand, some of these were tied on a roofrack with a rather flimsy-looking rope.  When it started to sprinkle, I winced… fortunately, it never rained hard and our luggage was fine.

The highway itself demonstrates some of the contrasts you see in Bangalore. New and well-built, it highlights the new Bangalore, booming with IT jobs and prosperity. But in the darkness of midnight one may be surprised to see donkeys resting on the median strip, untended and untied; or an overloaded agricultural truck, with no lights or warning markers, broken down in the traveling lane.  Not that lanes mean anything to a Bangalore driver – in the city, where streets are perpetually jammed, drivers jostle for position wherever possible.

The air is cool, even chilly, as we depart the airport and drive into town.  This is the monsoon season, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s.  It rains nearly every day, sometimes heavily. 

MobiSys in Colorado

Some hiking and sightseeing around a conference in Colorado.

At the MobiSys 2008 conference, which was held at Breckenridge resort in Colorado, a group of us met to celebrate the retirement of Carla Ellis by taking a hike in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.  See the trail description and review.

Surendar Chandra, David Kotz, Carla Ellis, and Rick LaRowe.

On the way back, I drove over Loveland Pass to stand on the Continental Divide. Gorgeous!

See the photo gallery.

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is truly a spectacular place, particularly for some of the many waterfalls that plunge into the river from the steep mountains alongside.

While at SOSP 2007 I visited a few neat places in the Columbia River Gorge, in Oregon. The Columbia River Gorge is truly a spectacular place, particularly for some of the many waterfalls that plunge into the river from the steep mountains alongside. Below, Multnomah Falls.

See my SmugMug photo gallery.

Exploratory trip to India

We visited Bangalore in August 2007, after filing our Fulbright applications but long before we knew whether we would be accepted. This was my first trip to India!

Pam and I went to Bangalore, India, for a week in August 2007. [Saturday August 18 – Friday August 24]

I was speaking at Intel, Infosys, Microsoft, and IISc, and we were scouting the city in advance of our plans to live in Bangalore for a 2008-09 sabbatical.  My goal was to make professional connections, find a place for us to live, and to identify which school would be best for the kids.

We also toured the Canadian International School, just before its new campus opened for the first day.

See the photo gallery.

Another major temple in Bangalore. India. Bangalore.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls, Washington.

Snoqualmie Falls, Washington state, June 2, 2006. I was there for a Microsoft Research workshop, and the falls were a short stroll from the hotel.

This stunning waterfall is in western Washington state, and includes a hydro-power facility by diverting some water around the falls, through pipes.

See my SmugMug photo gallery, including video.

Riva del Garda, Italy

I attended WiOpt 2005 in Riva del Garda, Italy.

When I attended WiOpt 2005 in Riva del Garda, Italy, I spent some time strolling around this picturesque village, and took a day off to drive around Lago di Garda.  Gorgeous place! 

On another day off, I walked right out the front door of my hotel; in a few blocks I reached the base of the mountain to the west; enclosed is a sunrise photo of the mountain from my hotel room. I climbed up past the ruins of a small castle, and a beautiful tiny mountainside chapel, to a tiny peak near the summit. The little peak, known as Cima Sat, seems to be the common destination rather than the actual, higher, summit. Although a direct trail offers a lot of exposure and hundred-foot ladders.

Cima Sat is at 1270m; I started my hike at the lake (200m).

See my photo galleries.

Costa Rica

“Eco-Paradise” tour of Costa Rica.

In late June 2004, Pam and I took a 10-day trip to Costa Rica, where we had scheduled a personal “Eco-Paradise” tour from Big Five Tours. It was wonderful!

Although I was initially skeptical about a trip to the tropics in June, the weather turned out to be fabulous and the forests were spectacular. Indeed, in San Jose the weather was about the same as in New Hampshire; moderate and sunny. Only in the lowland forest was it hot and humid, and less so than in, say, South Carolina at that time of year. In many places we were able to sleep with our screenless windows open… no bugs!

Our first stop was Corcovado National Park, in the southwestern coastal lowlands. Then Arenal Volcano, high in the central mountains. Then Monteverde, on the continental divide. Then back to the coast at a fancy resort called Villa Calletas. On the way back to San Jose, Carrera National Park, and then a day in the city of San Jose itself.

See the photo gallery.

Lake Louise, Banff

Lake Louise, in Banff Canada.

During SOSP 2001 a group of us hiked up into the hills above Lake Louise, in Banff Canada.  This lake is in a gorgeous section of the Canadian Rockies.

We stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, on the edge of the lake and in the midst of some impressive mountains.

October 21, 2001. Lake Louise and Fairview mountain.

See photo gallery.