The last few weeks have been travel-heavy for me. First there was TechEd in Orlando. Then I was home for a few days before heading to India for a return visit to Microsoft’s Hyderabad campus.

The Microsoft campus is a sparkling jewel on the outskirts of the town of Hyderabad. It boasts big beautiful buildings, great cafeterias, and lots of really smart developers. Getting to work, however, is a frightful experience. It’s a 30-minute ride to work in which your driver is weaving in and out of heavy traffic and narrowly missing trucks, motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians. There are few red lights in Hyderabad and even fewer rules. Anything goes, and the lines in the middle of the roads are considered suggestions and nothing more. I’ve seen several accidents happen and have almost been in a few myself. It’s a wonder more pedestrians aren’t killed, because Hyderabad has millions of them, and since sidewalks are virtually nonexistent, people walk in the road and are constantly crossing in front of speeding vehicles without even looking. It’s the driver’s responsibility to avoid them, even if he has to stand on the brakes and put his passenger in the front seat. You have to experience it to believe it.

Sitting in the middle of Hyderabad on the top of a 400-foot granite hill is a centuries-old fortress named Golconda. I spent Sunday afternoon touring the fort and taking pictures. A few are posted below. Notice the iPod headphones in my ears. When you visit tourist attractions in India (and China, for that matter), you’re constantly badgered by people wanting to take you on guided tours and sell you post cards and trickets and such. I warded them off by putting on my headphones and ignoring them. It worked, and it made the tour of Golconda more pleasant, too. I’ll have to try it on my next trip to China.

Golconda (1)Golconda (2)Golconda (3)Golconda (4)Jeff at Golconda

The poverty in India is striking. Outside the fence surrounding the Microsoft campus are shanty towns with people living in lean-tos. They cook their food over open fires and eke out a living God knows how. It’s so far removed from what we’re used to in America. We’ve become a nation of whiners, and it would do the whiners good to spend some time in India to see how other peoples of the world live.

Tomorrow I begin the long journey home, which includes, among other things, a 16-hour flight from Mumbai to New York. It’s going to be a long day, but I look forward to getting home and getting back into my routine again.