SANGAM15 – See you there!


I mentioned my Oracle OpenWorld 2015 trip in a previous post. Yesterday evening I picked up my passport with my lovely new India visa in it!

The talks are written. The flights are booked. The hotel is booked. I have a visa. So that’s me sorted for SANGAM15 in November! :)

It’s going to be a rather hectic few days. I fly out, do the 2 day conference, then fly straight home. It looks like I will be in aeroplanes and airports longer than I will actually be in India. :)

If you are coming along to the conference, be sure to come and say hello. :)



OTN Yathra 2014 : It’s a Wrap


The OTN Yathra 2014 tour is over and I’m back home now. Here are all the blog posts from the tour.

Although I come from the second biggest city in the UK, Birmingham has a very slow pace in comparison to other UK cities. Friends had told me how busy India was, so I was quite nervous about this trip and how I would cope with it. My initial fears were confirmed during my first taxi ride from Amritsar airport to Jalandhar. Getting ill on the first morning of the tour wasn’t a good omen either. Once the kind folks at the Lovely Professional University sorted me out with some medical attention, things started to get better and I started to believe I might make it to the end of the tour alive. :)

As the tour progressed I got into my stride and really started to enjoy the whole process. As I’ve said many times, I’m not a fan of travelling, but I like being at different places. The travelling part of this tour was very strenuous, which was my own fault for choosing to do all 7 events, but that was easily outweighed by getting the opportunity to connect with the attendees and speakers in all the cities.

Here come the much deserved thank you messages:

  • Thanks to everyone from All India Oracle Users Group (AIOUG) involved in the organisation of this tour. Aman, SaiSatyendra and Murali did a great job of making the logistics as simple as possible.
  • Thank you to Oracle Corporation for the use of their offices and to all the Universities that let us visit them.
  • A big thank you goes out to Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and the Oracle ACE Program, without whom this tour would not have happened.
  • Thank you to my fellow speakers. I’m not sure I would have stayed sane on my journey from Jalandhar to Noida without the company of Raj Mattamal. :) Raj, Debra and Hans were welcome distractions from the hours spent in airports, planes and taxis. Thanks everyone for putting up with me. Thanks to all the other speakers that dotted in and out for specific events. It was fun to hook up with you all.
  • Finally, thank you to all the attendees for coming and supporting this event! Without you being there, the events would not happen, so if you want to see more of these events in future, please join AIOUG and get your friends to join too. :)

My lasting memories of India will be:

  • Crazy traffic.
  • Fantastic food.
  • Very friendly people.

Until next time…



OTN Yathra 2014


I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately, mostly because I’ve been spending my time freaking out about the arrangements for the OTN Yathra 2014 tour of India. I had to apply for a visa, which in itself was not too bad, but I spent quite a long time without a passport, thanks to the courier not bothering to attempt a delivery. All that time I didn’t know if my visa application had been successful, so I wasn’t sure if I would have to submit it again. By the time that arrived, it was so late that booking the flights became interesting… At one point I wrote to Debra Lilley and said words to the effect of, I think this is just not meant to be!

Well tonight (Tuesday evening) I got my flights confirmed for my trip that I start on Sunday. :)

This is proving to be quite an expensive trip.

  • Visa: $130.00 – About £110 for the visa itself, and about £20 for the courier service.
  • Vaccinations: £250 – I feel like a human pincushion now. I had a bunch of boosters that were due, as well as stuff specifically for India.
  • Malaria Pills: £80 – We are in low risk areas (cities), but we are doing a couple of journeys between cities by bus, which travel through high-risk areas (countryside), so they advised me not to take any chances. I could have got the cheaper pills for about £8, but I decided to go for the ones with less side affects. I don’t see the point in travelling all that way to stand on a stage and feel like crap because of the anti-malaria pills. At least these should minimise the chances of that. If so, that’s worth a few extra quid.

For those that think this Oracle ACE thing is a free ride, you don’t get any of this money back!

I’ve still got stuff to get, like insect repellent. My pastey white skin seems to be very appetising to insects and I am not a stranger to infections when I do get bitten. Fingers crossed I can avoid the worst of it…

Getting to this point has been a bit of a trial. :) Thanks to everyone who has helped. Murali put together a great pack to help the speakers plan the trip and Lillian and Vikki from the Oracle ACE Program have done a great job pushing through my last minute travel bookings!

Normally I’m doing the thanks when the events are over. :)

Let’s hope everything from now on goes a little smoother than it has up until now!





OTNYathra 2014 : India OTN Tour


Just a quick note to say the top-level approval for OTNYathra 2014 – India OTN Tour has been granted. Next, we’ve got to submit our individual travel approvals and see how that goes. If everything goes to plan, I will be representing the Oracle ACE Program on this tour in February, which visits the following locations.

  • Jalandhar – 18th February
  • Noida – 20th February
  • Mumbai – 22nd February
  • Pune – 23rd February
  • Hyderabad – 25th February
  • Bangalore – 27th February
  • Chennai – 1st March

Fingers crossed everything goes to plan. :)