Editor's note: Brian Harper, Jeff Heaton and Brandy Porter are hitting the road to teach our mobile design courses in Ukraine, the Netherlands, India and Japan. At each destination, they'll be sending blog "postcards" with updates.
I’ve done it again. I’ve fallen in love with another country.
Getting into India took a surprising amount of effort: Brian and I had to get a variety of vaccines for the trip, and we went through several hoops to get our business visas in time. The midnight ride from the airport in Bangalore was harrowing; there isn’t much discipline to the way Bangalore taxies are driven.
However, once we settled into our beautiful hotel we had a conference call with Mark and Sandeep, our Microsoft contacts, and everything came together. We confirmed our plans for the week, then explored the IT capitol of India via rickshaw.
Learning the customs of the country took a few days, but by the end of the week we were very comfortable. I stood out as a (very fair) Westerner, and got a few stares, but my broad smile was returned warmly.
The class in Bangalore was held at Microsoft’s office, nestled among other well-known tech companies. There were around 30 attendees, most of them IT professionals or students, and all interested in learning more about design. It was encouraging to see so many developers learning design principles. It is something we have seen at the Ranch, and it’s rewarding to be a part of sharing design knowledge with others in different disciplines.
In Pune, the camp attendees numbered more than 100, mostly designers this time. The camp was held in a beautiful (and intimidatingly large) Hyatt conference room, and the Microsoft team had a full stage set up with recording equipment. No pressure! The materials seemed to go over well, and the workshops were very productive. Afterwards a lot of attendees thanked us for the message, saying that it really brought home some key points for them. That makes it all worthwhile!
After each event, attendees asked to have pictures taken with us, which was extremely flattering. I even had a few people tell me they had seen my Microsoft Virtual Academy videos online! Yep, I have fans in India.
In Pune, most of the designers stayed late into the evening to participate in a “design jam." They assembled visual designs for their workshop app concepts, competing for a prize. There were such great ideas from the day, and such enthusiastic participation in this after-hours event.
We were able to spend an extra day in Pune to experience the city, and got to visit Lakshmi Road Market and MG Road shops—we even saw a temple elephant being led down the street! The Microsoft team gave us each a beautiful carved wooden elephant to remember the moment by. That night, Sandeep and Aditee, another Microsoft colleague, took us to see a Bollywood film, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, at a local theatre. I am a huge Bollywood fan, and seeing this blockbuster in India made my year! This sort of warmth and hospitality was everywhere we turned in India. It really made it difficult to leave.
I am looking forward to visiting India again soon. Brian is heading back home, and I am heading to meet Jeff in Japan for one more camp. Time to pick up a few Japanese phrases...