I came back from Houston about four weeks back and there are so many anecdotes from Houston that are playing in my mind. This is a wrapping up article, about some of the small interesting things and incidents.
Anecdotes from Houston
Ice Skating at Houston
Initial days of exploring Houston, we landed on in Galleria, one of the best-known landmarks of Houston. In the middle of the mall, there is an Ice Skating ring, where we observed a lot of people, especially kids enjoying skating. It almost appeared effortless from their expressions and body language. Four of us decided to take the plunge and try our hands at Ice Skating. Only to discover how difficult it is and when you fall, how painful it can be. While I was trying to skate with extreme caution, I did fell and for a minute lost my consciousness.
When I opened my eyes, I could see a man looking down at me with a smile that said ‘It is difficult, didn’t you know it?’. I gave him a look back saying ‘Help me get up first’. And his next look said ‘You want me to be on that floor too, no, I am not taking that risk, but let me locate help for you’. He looked around for an instructor and signed him to me, who came and helped me get up and do some moving around. But I was amazed at the non-verbal communication that was stronger than some of the verbal ones.
Video of Ice Hockey
Many years later I enjoyed watching Ice Hockey on a frozen lake in Ladakh.
Homeless in Houston Anecdotes
This is the funniest thing that happened to me. Few days before the project was to be over, lots of work, working almost around the clock and had no time. 3 days before the deadline, 2 of us went to eat at ‘Olive Gardens’. But there was a 30 min waiting time, and at that point in time 30 mins was not the time that we could afford to waste. There were no empty chairs in the waiting area. So both of us opened our laptops, sat on the footpath near the parking, and started working. My colleague had to go to the restroom and hence there I was sitting with two bags and two laptops and apparently working on both. I could notice that people are looking weirdly at me. But I had so much stuff to finish that I hardly cared about what others thought.
But one guy probably could not resist and walk up to me and with tons of pity in his eyes asked ‘Are you a homeless person with a laptop?’. I looked up and instantly replied ‘I am a hungry person with a lot of work to finish’. He obviously was not expecting such an answer, or the answer was beyond his understanding. He gave me ‘you are lost / crazy’ look and carried on. But I could not stop laughing and even now when I remember that incident I burst into laughter. It has become one of my favorite anecdotes from Houston to tell.
Fueling the Car
Again a day (should I say night) before the project, all deliverables to be reviewed and submitted in the morning. Packing and leaving the place, car to be returned in the morning. We decided to fuel the car on our way back from dinner so that we save some time the next day. In some confusion, we ended up putting diesel in a gas car. Thankfully we realized it before we could start the engine. Now both of us had no clue what happens if you put the wrong fuel in the car. Immediately one of us called up the car rental agency and the other one made 2 people search on Google on ‘what happens’. Within 10 mins we got the answer, ‘do not start the car’.
It meant again sitting in the car for the next 90 mins. Waiting for the replacement vehicle to come, but a big lesson learned. Never stress yourself so much that you make silly mistakes. And when you do ‘Google’ is always there to support you.
Overall I think I enjoyed my stay at Houston, it was a good mix of work and play. Some fun and some learning. Learning to live with systems and teaching work around (Jugaad as we call them) to people when they get stuck with systemic situations. I wish I could share some of those anecdotes in the public domain.