Monday, August 04, 2003

We spent all day Sunday in the office working, finishing up the bits of work we didn't do on Saturday. By 7 PM we were all done, so we went to a restaurant on the other side of the river for dinner. It's been extremely hot here for the past few days, and though our table was inside, the restaurant had large doors to the patio wide open and our table was just inside the door. So we sweated through a delicious meal. I had sea bass over orange-ginger risotto and a raspberry mousse with mango ice cream for dessert. I enjoyed playing "name that tune" while listening to the pianist: he played continuously for about 45 minutes at a time, with everything from old jazz standards to Gershwin to "Strangers in Paradise" to Paul Simon's "The Boxer."

I'm back in the office again today, but there's not too much for me to do. At lunch I'm planning to buy some chocolate to take home, and I might take the tourist elevator to the top of the Main Tower to take some pictures. I uploaded a few more pictures last night, and I'll put more up today.

They have all these little cars here that look like go-karts or bumper cars. I can't believe how popular they are. The "SMART" car looks small enough that I could drive it into my hotel room and pack it in my carry-on bag. There's a sports car convertible version that looks slightly better, but I don't think I'd buy one. The "KA" is just ugly. There are few SUVs on the roads; in fact, I'm not sure I've seen one, but my colleague here says that he has seen a BMW version. There's nothing like the Lincoln Navigator or Ford Excursion here. But they do have plenty of bikes. There are on-street bike lanes, and on the busy streets, bikes share the sidewalk with pedestrians. I keep expecting to be run over by a cyclist, but they go slowly enough that there aren't any accidents. There are also these rent-a-bikes parked every so often on the sidewalks. You use your cell phone (also called "handy" over here) to call the number printed on the bike (or or send an SMS message, we're not sure), and give them the serial number printed on the bike lock. You get an unlock code in response, and the bike is yours for however long you need it. When you're done, you lock it up again, and I suppose you call back to let them know where you left it. The charges could go to your credit card, but I bet they put them on your cell phone bill. Anyway, pictures of some of the cars and the bike should be available at my Webshots URL (see below) by the time you read this.

I'm ready to go home. I like traveling, but I want to sleep in my own bed again and do my own cooking. Besides, the relaxed schedule of the office here and the convenience of staying in a hotel less than five minutes from the office is too soft. It doesn't feel like I'm actually working while I'm here. And all the rich food is undoing the good work I've put in on my bike and in the gym. Getting back to New York will put my whole system back in order, and I'm looking forward to that. And, of course, I miss Liz and the cats. They're the best reason for wanting to go home.

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