After a business trip

February 5th, 2014

A recent business trip took me to two countries farther east that I’ve ever been and to one country that I have not visited since I was a kid (not counting the well-familiar fourth country where I had only an hour and a half between flights this time around). Here are a few quick observations.

  • 14+ hours in coach of far-from-best international airline is a bad investment. I know that very few companies nowadays send people on business trips in business class. I understand the bottom line mathematics. But there is a clear productivity loss when I have to effectively convalesce for a day or so after such flight. I am still being paid during that time. Even though it is not a readily visible expense, the company wastes money by cramping me into a small seat in the back of the plane. And that’s just money – I will leave aside such things as employee well-being and appreciation.
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  • India, as one of my colleagues put quite pithily, is not for squeamish. I do not want this to sound derogative to any degree. It is simply that a lifetime of Western sensibilities does not prepare you for most common things you see on the subcontinent.
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  • 30 minutes of outside walking in a large Indian city – and you literally feel your lungs getting coated by pollutants.
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  • There are few better ways to impress your relatively new colleagues than to order a huge mixed-grill plate at a fancy restaurant and polish it off on your own. Yeah, I can eat.
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  • 5-hour layover in Dubai, under right conditions, is more than enough to get first-hand look at the city’s main architectural wonders via a series of taxi rides. (The right conditions include relatively quick passage through passport controls and a low-traffic day, such as on a Saturday.) You can even pay in dollars if you don’t want to bother exchanging money – but the driver will not help you with the exchange rate, so make sure your brain does the math correctly. (Yes, I grossly overpaid on the first ride.)
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  • A day in central Kiev during the putative height of unrest turned out to be almost serene. I skirted Maidan in a reasonably wide circle and only came upon one demonstration; the people might have been chanting football battle cries, for all I could – not! – understand what they were shouting. Actually, I gained a significant measure of respect for the way residents of Kiev go about their lives in the face of all the troubles.
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  • I have not been to Kiev for close to 30 years and to the former Soviet Union for almost 15, and this visit was such a trip down memory lane! For all the modernization and Westernization of the last couple of decades, around every corner I came across things mummified from my youth.
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  • Amsterdam Schiphol airport is one of the best I’ve seen, but I had to walk for seemingly a mile between the gates. The practice of doing security checks right at the gate probably defuses some of the tension that builds up in long security-check lines found elsewhere, but then you have to know to go ahead of time to a special counter to plastic-seal your water bottle, or you will have to give it up even if you had just bought it on the airport premises.
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  • Emirates Airlines business class is infinitely better to travel in than Air India coach. (Ok, this one is probably self-evident even if you never travelled in either. And it does not contradict the first bullet – my trip consisted of six legs, one of which inexplicably put me in the business class of one of the best airlines in the world; sadly, it was one of the shorter legs.)

Pictures yet to come.

Travel Miscellany

  1. Tamila
    February 7th, 2014 at 14:22 | #1

    Wow!! India+Kiev+Dubai – what an eclectic mix. Would love to hear more. We read a lot about Kiev these days too…

  2. February 7th, 2014 at 21:14 | #2

    Vic just returned from a business trip to Beijing. DFW->Tokyo->Beijing. Then Beijing->Chicago->DFW on the return. Client upgraded him to American Airlines business class both ways. He thinks it probably saved him a day of convalescing each way.

    Just checking in to see if you’re following the Winter Olympics in Mother Russia.

  3. Artem
    February 8th, 2014 at 09:16 | #3

    Ilya, many thanks for beautiful high end pictures taken at Shiva castle!

  4. February 8th, 2014 at 10:53 | #4

    You’re welcome, Artem! Turns out I did not take as many good ones as I thought, but I still have to finish all of the processing before posting the rest.

  5. February 8th, 2014 at 10:56 | #5

    Not really following following, Sharon. I watched the opening ceremony and will catch glimpses of this and that when my family is watching (figure skating, foremost). But I am not too much into winter sports to start with.

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