After a business trip

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.

  • 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.

  • 30 minutes of outside walking in a large Indian city – and you literally feel your lungs getting coated by pollutants.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

5 comments on “After a business trip”

  1. Tamila

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

  2. Sharon Marsh-Wyly

    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

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

  4. Ilya

    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. Ilya

    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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