Trip Report: Three-Day Getaway to Neemrana Fort Palace

At the end of December we took a entertaining, three-day getaway to the town of Neemrana, India

It’s about three hours by car southwest of Delhi, in Rajasthan state on the way to the well-known city of Jaipur.

Our destination: the excellent Neemrana Fort Palace, shown at the top of this post. It’s a 15th-century fort that has been expanded and renovated and made into a comfortable hotel.

Here are some images from our stay. There’s not much happening in the city itself but the palace is great location for relaxing, eating food, sipping coffee or tea and enjoying sunsets.*

The highlight of the trip, for me, was visiting a step well about a 15 minute walk away. Step wells are unique to South Asia; rather than a conventional well, step wells are large and wide and allow people to walk down to the source of the water.

In this case the structure is water-less and seems to be abandoned, but it’s still fun to hike, down and around. More on that below.


On the way down from Delhi. One of the many interesting sights to see on Indian highways.


Entrance to the hotel. 


Blue, blue skies


Inside the hotel


The nearby step well


Looking up toward the step well entrance 


Requisite #StepWellSelfie


Waking Back to the hotel

The hotel itself is spread over many stories, and is fun to explore in its own right; its many alcoves and vistas invite quiet contemplation.

Highly recommended for a quick getaway from noisy Delhi.

*There is also a zipline. I did not try it.

Newley’s Notes 83: Varanasi Visit, Morning Routines, Micro-dosing, Non-Micro Pigs

2017 02 20 moon

Edition 83 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers last week. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

It’s been another busy week. I was down in Bangalore, a tech hub in Southern India, last week. I had some excellent meetings and some fascinating chats.

Then last weekend we took a trip to Varanasi, India’s holiest city. It is known for its ghats, or embankments along the Ganges, where people perform religious ceremodies and cremate the dead.

You may have seen some of my images or videos on Instagram or Twitter. I hope to post some here on Newley.com as well soon. It is a remarkable place.

On to this week’s dispatch:

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Apple Is Set to Make in India, State Official Says. The story begins:

In a potential boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, tech giant Apple Inc. is nearing a deal with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. to start making products in the southern state of Karnataka, a senior state official said.

“The contractual agreement between the two companies is on the verge of being signed,” the Karnataka government official who has direct knowledge of the matter said.

The first phase of assembling iPhones will likely start as early as the end of March, and further expansion is expected over the next two to six months, the official said.

As I’ve mentioned before, Apple is keen to boost sales in India. Making devices locally would allow the company to open its own stores here, helping branding.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) “Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe.” That’s the name of a new book that shows how chefs organize their fridges, and what kind of (often exotic, naturally) goods they keep inside.

2) A website analyzing hundreds of peoples’ morning routines. I love this. There are 218 routines and counting described at MyMorningRoutine.com, with details like wakeup times, exercise regimens and more.

3) “I had no intention of owning a pig.” So begins this amusing tale from a guy took in what he thought was a miniature pig. Now it weighs 650 pounds.

4) How tiny doses of LSD improved a novelist’s life. In The New Yorker, Nathan Heller describes how Aelet Waldman was able to find relief from her severe mood swings via micro-doses of the drug. As much as anything, the story is a fantastic display of the adept use of details in storytelling.

5) HaterDater is an (apparently real) app that allows people to find one another not based not on their affinities, but on their dislikes. Among those shown in the demo: “Trump,” “paying extra for guacamole,” and “slow walkers.”

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Newley’s Notes 82: H1-Bs, Tim Cook on India, Filter Bubbles, Caffeine Bracelets

2017 02 05nn

Edition 82 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers Thursday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

It’s been a busy week.

First off, earlier today a colleague and I recorded a Facebook Live video in which we discussed the ramifications of India’s new budget, presented yesterday.

Click here to check it out.

So far it’s been viewed more than 35,000 times.

Before we get going, an administrative note: There will be no Newley’s Notes next week. I’ll be back the week of Feb. 13, though. Try not to miss me.

Here we go:

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

What Tim Cook Said About Apple’s Big Plans for India. The story begins:

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook says India’s move to replace its largest-denomination bank notes with newly designed ones has presented a challenge in India, but the tech giant is still bullish on sales growth in the South Asian nation.

What the White House Said About Its Plans for H–1B Visas. The story begins:

Tighter restrictions on skilled worker visas to the U.S. could come via both executive action by President Donald Trump and via Congressional moves, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.

Vodafone in Talks to Merge Indian Unit With Idea Cellular. The story begins:

Vodafone Group PLC’s India unit is in talks to merge with rival Idea Cellular Ltd., a move that would combine two of India’s three wireless biggest carriers and catapult the proposed company into the top ranks of the global telecommunications industry.

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

‘Arrival’: Yes, It’s That Good. Some brief thoughts on this year’s hit alien invasion thriller.

Book Notes: ‘The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century,’ by George Friedman. An interesting read.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) “Ten Meter Tower.” That’s the name of a short New York Times film designed to “capture people facing a difficult situation, to make a portrait of humans in doubt.” Would you jump?

2) Find of the decade: an antique Ferrari in an L.A. apartment. “If Indiana Jones was a car guy, this would be the plot line for his next film.” What a car. And what a strange story.

3) Reminder: filter bubbles exist. With the momentous stories emerging from Washington, a reminder to visit our excellent WSJ interactive “Blue Feed, Red Feed.” It’ll give you a taste of how events are being viewed through filters on the left and the right.

4) Tool of the week: Facebook, without the addictive newsfeed. Speaking of the world’s biggest social network, with this Chrome extension, you can post items to the platform and check updates, but you won’t be sucked into the FB vortex.

5) Headline of the week: “I tried the caffeine bracelet that promises to be the next best thing to a coffee IV drip.”

NEWLEY’S NOTES SHOUTOUTS

More love for the shoelaces video, which I featured in NN80. Julie M. writes in to say:

I have to laugh b/c I had forgotten that I’d gotten the shoe-tying video from your Notes and sure enough, at my son’s bday party last night, I found myself tying many shoes and I did that trick and it worked!!

Took my brain a second each time, but it was awesome. Now if I could just teach them to do it themselves…

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Video: New Delhi Street Dogs are Totally Unflappable 

​I often pass this group of street dogs near our office building in Connaught Place. 

These mutts are totally unflappable. 

Honking cars, pedestrians weaving between them, bicycles, horses, you name it. 

They could care less. 

They just keep dozing, sunning themselves as New Delhi buzzes all around them. 

A level of zen I can only one day hope to attain!

Previously: a super-enterprising street dog I saw back in August.

‘Arrival’: Yes, It’s That Good

Arrivalposter

You may have heard that “Arrival,” a thriller about an alien invasion based on a Ted Chiang short story, has been nominated for eight Oscars.

Yes, it’s that good.

Amy Adams, the protagonist, plays a linguist brought in by the U.S. government to try to communicate with mysterious beings, who have landed in pods around the world.

Longtime readers know how much I love sci-fi.

But this isn’t a hard-core, technologically heavy film. It’s beautifully shot, with exceptional sound, and is really more about life, time and — of course — language.

It’s not a perfect film, if you ask me, but it’s very good.

Book Notes: ‘The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century,’ by George Friedman

From time to time I share notes about the books I’ve been reading, or have revisited recently after many years.

These posts are meant to help me remember what I’ve learned, and to point out titles I think are worth consulting.

For more, see my Book Notes category

Next 100 years

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

Published: 2009
ISBN: 9780767923057
Amazon link

Brief Summary

Can anyone really predict what will happen over the next century? Friedman, the founder of geopolitical research firm Stratfor, which analyzes global events for private clients, gives it a shot.

In this 2009 book, he argues that American influence began after the U.S. won the cold war, and will only continue though the 21st century. But it will be tested by factors like an increasingly aggressive Russia and other states like Japan and Mexico.

My notes:

  • Don’t worry about U.S. economic troubles — the book was published in the midst of the Great Recession — the author says, because history shows the U.S. government tends to intervene to prevent total collapse. So the economy will online continue growing
  • Three crucial factors affecting the world order during the 20th century were:
    • The end of the European imperial system
    • The world population quadrupling
    • A revolution in transportation and communications
  • Three important factors during the 21st century will be:
    • The continuation of American power
    • The end of the population boom
    • Technologies to deal with declining populations
  • The main threats to U.S. power will be Middle Eastern states, Russia, Japan and Mexico.

    Russia will continue to expand its territory to recoup its losses after the fall of the Soviet Union. Japan‘s desire for empire will rekindle. Mexico will spell trouble for the U.S. due to demographic issues, with so many people of Mexican descent living in America.

  • Friedman says the U.S. shouldn’t be overly concerned about China, because its history shows ongoing conflict between the poor interior region and the richer coastal areas. Rather than aspiring to expand its territory, Chinese leaders will focus more on tamping down social unrest at home.
  • The U.S. economy is a global power, and will continue to be one, in part because of its military might. The U.S. Navy controls the world’s shipping lanes, crucial for international trade.
  • Cultures move over time from being barbaric to civilized to decadent. The U.S., as a relatively young country, is still in its barbaric stage and is thus willing to wage war in its national interest.
  • Ultimately, military conflicts will move into space, where the U.S. will continue to have the upper hand against rivals.

Newley’s Notes 81: Trump and H-1Bs, Apple in India, Silicon Valley Preppers, Full-Auto Crossbows

2017 01 26NN

Edition 81 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers yesterday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Indian Outsourcing Firms Prep for Curbs on H–1B Visa Workers Under Trump. The story begins:

President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t take office in Washington until Friday, but he is already forcing firms in India’s mammoth $108 billion technology-outsourcing industry to rethink their hiring practices in the U.S., their largest market.

While Mr. Trump has chastised U.S. firms for offshoring American jobs, Indian outsourcing firms could be set to see renewed heat for doing the opposite—placing foreign workers in the U.S., mainly through a skilled-worker visa, known as the H–1B. Faced with the prospect of possible new curbs on those visas from a president who has pledged to ensure that Americans get their first pick of available jobs, outsourcers are ramping up hiring both on American college campuses and at home in India.

H–1B Visas: How Donald Trump Could Change America’s Skilled Worker Visa Rules. The story begins:

During his campaign, President Donald Trump assailed a skilled-worker visa program used to send foreigners to the U.S., and in his inaugural speech Friday he said the country would “follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.”

Indian outsourcing firms are already preparing for potential changes to visa rules, which could present a challenge because they send thousands of workers to the U.S. every year via the H–1B program.

So how much, and how quickly, could Mr. Trump change the regulations?

A significant shakeup would likely need to be approved by Congress, though there are some steps Mr. Trump could take himself immediately, analysts say.

Apple Said to Be Near Deal to Manufacture Products in India. The story begins:

Apple Inc. is nearing a deal to manufacture its products in India, according to a senior government official, as the company seeks to boost its sales in a market that is home to more than 1.2 billion people.

A team of executives led by Priya Balasubramaniam, an Apple vice president, met with senior Indian government officials in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss the firm’s proposals, the official said.

“It’s almost a done deal,” said the official, who has direct knowledge of the matter.

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

Book Notes: The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen. My notes from the 1997 business classic that gave rise to the term “disruptive innovation."

Is This Arsenal’s Year? Probably not. But still. One can hope, no?

The difference between saying something and actually doing it. Insprired by an interaction with an Uber driver here in New Delhi.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) A history professor analyzes the so-called “alt-right.” The Univeristy of Massachusetts Amherst’s Daniel Gordon says he discerns a “cluster of conservative principles that need to be understood if we wish to comprehend the terms of political debate that are going to endure in America for many years to come.”

Ignore the headline and read the whole thing. I haven’t had time to think too deeply about it, but it raises some interesting questions.

2) Trump will put American institutions to the test, but they will survive, Francis Fukuyama argues. He writes:

Americans believe deeply in the legitimacy of their constitutional system, in large measure because its checks and balances were designed to provide safeguards against tyranny and the excessive concentration of executive power. But that system in many ways has never been challenged by a leader who sets out to undermine its existing norms and rules. So we are embarked in a great natural experiment that will show whether the United States is a nation of laws or a nation of men.

3) Why do movie villains often have British accents? I’m not sure this piece answers the question, but it’s a thought-provoking look at perceptions and speech.

4) Rich people in Silicon Valley are girding for the apocalypse. Fun New Yorker story by Evan Osnos that will not surprise fans of the show “Doomsday Preppers.”

5) And finally, just because: This dude created crossbow that fires in full automatic mode. #Ingenuity.

NEWLEY’S NOTES SHOUTOUTS

– Thanks to longtime pal Wendy H., who last week tweeted:

“Anytime I learn a new use for square knots AND for viewing YouTube, I’m happy. Sign up for @Newley ’s Notes: http://www.tinyletter.com/newley

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

The difference between saying something and actually doing it 

About a quarter of the time I take Ubers here in Delhi the driver asks me, when I get out, to give him a five-star rating. (Drivers must maintain a certain rating to ensure they can continue working on the platform.)

Usually I just nod my head and say “yeah okay,” and proceed to give them whatever score I would have given them anyway. 

The other day a driver did something different. 

As I was getting out of the car he said “sir” to get my attention, then pointed at his phone, where he had selected five stars in his rating for me

Then when he saw I was looking, he pressed submit.

When it came time for me to score him later, I also gave him a similar rating. 

He was a good driver indeed, but he also understood the law of reciprocity. He knew the difference between just saying something and actually taking action. And that I may well feel inclined to help him out too (since riders are also ranked). 

Clever. 

Is This Arsenal’s Year?

Alexis Sanchez just scored a panenka in the 98th minute to secure three points for #Arsenal and move into second place — after Arsenal gave up a foolish penalty just a few minutes earlier in stoppage time. 

Chelsea have a five point lead with a game in hand. 

But still. 
But still:
Could this be our year? 

UPDATE: Naturally, Chelsea won and the gap is back to eight points. As you were.