Spark City India Team

I had a great time work with the Spark City team.  Everyone is very enthusiastic about the project and working with the technology.  We have a good mix of both young and veteran team members and it’s really nice to see everyone pitching in to do their share.  It has been a great learning experience for me as well.  I was able to accomplish so many things during just two weeks, that the same would have taken me twice to three times as long if I were in the US.

We spent a lot of time going through the logic of each development function.  We printed out the screen design, wireframes  to plan out work activities and wrote test cases.  We also spent some significant amount of time on overall project context, giving the team an idea of the business reason, the coca-cola culture and our clients.  We also had a discussions about quality and how we all can improve the user experience.

Here’s a picture of the full team.


Every morning, we have a LLP (low level plan) meeting where each person goes through what they did yesterday and their plan for the day.  It’s also the opportunity to identify or escalate any issues or risks.  In typical Sapient style, the LLP is on a huge whiteboard.  Every team has one and at the end of each LLP meeting there is a team cheer.  So in the morning with five or six other teams in the same floor, you hear everyone’s team cheer.  Our’s is Spark City Halla Bol.  (I forget what it means, and I think I also spelled it wrong -will correct later)


Here’s Arif, our Site Dev Lead facilitating a LLP meeting.



The team giving their status update (front the left: Vaibhav, Archit, Pankaj, Jomy).


Here’s Avesh and Rajni discussing their story (functional development scope).


Printing out and posting the site comps with the wireframes on the wall helps the team discuss and communicate.


Hardik showing us his Connect & Collaborate page in development.


Arrival to India for the Spark City Project

It’s just under 2 hours before I leave to catch my flight back to the US.  I sit now in my hotel room stretching out my legs before the long trip home.  On March 1st, I arrived in Delhi, India for my second trip.  Exactly one year ago I arrived in Delhi, India for the first time for the Sapient People Portal project .  This time my purpose was to kick off the Coca-Cola Spark City Project with the team in Gurgaon.  My arrival to India the second time around was very different.  I anticipated the crowds, the dust, the craziness that is so wonderful yet so frustrating about India.  I knew where to go and didn’t feel like I was completely lost in a foreign world

Getting off the plane, the familiar smell of a country of people and growth. It’s hard to explain what that smell is but you can’t forget it though I loose the smell after being here for a day. This time, I had my camera in hand and I was able to snap a photo of the welcoming party of rental car companies. There were over a hundred plus signs. They all stare at you with foreign names on their boards wondering if you are their guest. I found my ride. 🙂


At the Sterling Guest House, and I was greeted warmly by the caretakers., Ankur, Laxman and Co. These guys were so glad to see me and I them. They treat me quite well and with great respect. I try my best to do the same for them. We exchanged hugs and hand shakes. It was a very nice reunion.

Gurgaon is quickly transforming. The dust is worse this time with the endless construction. From large corporate buildings, to sky metro rails, to little shacks.  The most notable is the huge metro project which is connecting all of Delhi and surrounding cities.  For just 10 Ruppees (25 cents) people will be able travel in a air condition train from Delhi to surrounding area.  The cab drivers and the rickshaws drivers are nervous for sure.  The project is slated to finish in another year.

I had lot’s of shopping requests this time as usual and I had frequent trips to the nearby Sahara Mall. It’s a small mall and not near as fancy as some of the new malls. These days malls are old if they have been around for a year or two.


The fruit market near the guest house looks so colorful, I had to take this pic.


I met of up with Jomy and Avesh the first day after my arrival and we went around Delhi streets.  I told them I liked crowded markets, that wasn’t hard to find.  Here’s Avesh and I getting a local street treat.  It’s steamed sweet corn kernels with butter and spices.  Very good.


Jomy checking out how the cornwalla.


Another interesting looking street food that I did not try was this chaat dish.  It is made with fried patotoes, spices, onions and this creen curry.


We ended the day at this spinning restaurant called Parikrama in Connaught Place.  The food was very good and the views were also nice though i was not able to capture it sufficiently with the camera.  The paneer or India cheese (curd) is the predominant food in India.  This particular dish, I think it was Paneer Pakora (fried paneer) covered with spices was particularly delicious.


Bean arrives for a Christmas visit!

At last Bean is here to visit us.  He came in on the evening of Christmas and brought with him many gifts from my parents mostly in the form of delicious Mrs. Peng’s food!  He had a long flight from Boston taking him to Chicago first before arriving in Atlanta.  These plane routes are ridiculous!  Bean freaked out when he arrived because the airline lost his luggage but things turned out ok in the end as the next morning they found it.  Here some photos of the first night and morning with Bean.


Of course no visit from Bean would be complete without a ton of video games.  The sound of guns blazing from the xbox 360 fills the air as I even right this.  The photo below is rare instance of when Bean is not playing and myself and Kumar, a friend from Sapient is. 🙂


Bean brought numerous treats made by my parents.  This morning, we cooked a few of them and I had to snap some photos.  Here’s one of Bean and I enjoying the wonderful food my parents made for us.


The pic below is a pan fried bun.  The bun is original steamed and is made with corn meal, flower and some other ingredients I am not aware of.  We then pan fry it to create a crispy outside with a very soft inside.  This puts the best bagels to shame or toast.


Mrs. Peng’s delicious scallion pancakes.  Very thick and with lots of fresh scallions and a touch of salt.


Since we’re on food photos.  This evening we also had some kal-bi short ribs.  Ash and I bought them from H-Mart and she marinated them.  They are awesome!


Leaving India

The last day finally arrived at the end of an almost 4 month stay in this amazing country. The People Portal project still continues but I must return home to get ready for the wedding, the move out to Atlanta. I am going to really miss the people on the project in Gurgoan. I wish I had a group photo of everyone but for now here’s some random pictures of the days before I left.

This is my typical ride everyday on the Riskshaw to the Sapient office. The name of this busy street is called the MG Road. Everyday there is something new to see whether it is animals to people shipping large chunks of ice. Guys on top of buses or a variety of roadkill, some including people!


This next photo is the Sterling Guest House crew sending me off. The guy in the front still remains nameless to me though I did finally learn his name the night previously during our farewell dinner but again I forgot. The guy on the far right is the infamous Lakshman. More stories about him at a later time. 🙂


Finally, this last photo is of the crowded Delhi airport. The entrance way to the ticketing booths are well gaurded by security with AK-47s. The lines can also be quite long. However or the impatient or the anxious, baggage guys will come out and for a small “fee” will help you cut the lines inside and out.


Back to India and the People Portal Team

Well after a great two weeks back home, I returned to India on May 22nd.  It’s been a long one and a half week since then, but even while in the US, the my hours were really strange, from 3 am to 5pm…  It was long but also really interesting as I realized how much I could get done if I had to do was not sleep, hehehe.  My biological clock is also no longer existant so I can pretty much sleep any hour I wish and still get the rest I need.
Upon arrival to India, the folks at the sterling guest house were very nice and greeted me warmly.  I got my old room back and posted a picture here below.


Since I haven’t talked much about the People Portal team, here are some postings of the last week and a half of them and the design sessions we went through all last week.

This is the org chart of our team.


This is them all staring intently at the white board and maybe pretending to listen…just kidding the team is great.


We started this week with a whole bunch of functional and technical design sessions.  This involved our developers  white board and annotating wireframes to document and determine the technical approach to build the designs produced by crazy Chad.  Here’s a screen shot of one of those wireframes after we got done with it.