Welcome!

This  blog is all about my experiences in Ghana as a part of IBM corporate service corps assignment. If you are not sure what to read and where to start, I’d suggest to read my introduction post about CSC and then explore the blog based on your interest in the below categories.

Our Experience in Ghana as a part of CSC (Blog post co-authored with Thiago)

About Ghana

What i had done in week-days?

What i had done in week-ends?

Food

Birthdays

CSC Related

If you want to leave your feedback or have any queries, please use the below form. I would be happy to help you.

Time to say Good-Bye

Its time to say Good Bye to my new friends from around the world. We all said good-bye to each other hoping to meet some one somewhere in the world in the future!

#ibmcsc ghana

Last day Group Picture – Our Team with Barbara and Francis from CDS.

Week 4 – Deliverables & Presentations…

Our last week was spent in preparing our deliverables. Preparing drafts and then doing a multiple peer reviews helped us to refine the deliverables. During Wednesday, our team briefed about the recommendations to our key stakeholders in the TWG (Technical Working Group) meeting.  Friday was the de-briefing day and we presented our findings to a larger audience group from USAID, IBM and Ministry of Health. At the end of the presentation, we handed out gifts to our stakeholders. Later we had some interviews about the CSC experience and the film crew was there for the whole day to capture all of the activities. Our client also gifted us african style tops for all of the team members.

Link of press release regarding our project  – http://icvonline.org/2012/05/press-release-team-of-ibm-experts-delivers-recommendations-to-ghana-ministry-of-health/

We managed to achieve a long pending activity during this view i.e., during the busy schedule of this week, we managed to visit the local IBM office in Ghana.

#ibmcsc ghana

Orchid & GHS

For the last one month, the two places which have been like our mainstay are our hotel and office. First the pictures and then some words about what i wanted to say about each of the places.

 Orchid

Our Hotel is at Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and it is being managed by Orchid Hospitality Management Services.  Of all what Orchid provided to us, my favorites were the fellows lounge and the breakfast.

Fellows lounge is a nice place for the whole team to get together and socialize after hectic work. It has some couches, a big pool table, a small bar and TV.  Except during important football matches, our team will be the only one who is hanging around and I like this kind of setting instead of the busy lounge where there are many people hanging out.

The breakfast being served has loads of options in breads, eggs, pancakes, baked beans, mushroom / potato, fruits, yogurt, porridge, corn-flakes etc. Being a person who likes to eat vegetarian food this is the best meal that I can eat in a day. For lunch and dinner I have to either compromise with the limited vegetarian dish or try some fish / sea food. Over the last one month I had eaten at least 4-5 times more fish and sea food than what I would normally eat.  But its the same breakfast daily and we got  bored as final days approached us.

Hotel had broadband cable and wi-fi connectivity but many times it won’t work or the connectivity will be poor. During such times USB dongle (modem) has been the saviour.

Just before the 3rd week-end there was a letter in the room which briefed about some work to be done around hotel elevator during the week-end. I thought elevator won’t work and I needed to use steps for two days. But then the scene was totally different when we return in the evening. The hotel reception / veranda were totally covered with dusts from the construction / re-tiling work and we couldn’t even stand a minute there.

We were taken aback by the activities that happened and CDS / Barbara pitched in and arranged us an alternate hotel for a couple of nights. I was expecting a different breakfast there but then the same kind breakfast was served with limited options.

GHS:

The office where we worked, is at the Ghana Health Services Campus. The staffs there were very courteous and they make sure that we are not always pressed for lunch by serving delicious cookies and juices.  During the last day at office, we handed some gifts to the staffs over there and departed with a good-bye.

#ibmcsc ghana

Roads and Vehicles

Even though I am a sedate driver, Vehicles do fascinate me a lot. Over the past 4 weeks, we had traveled a lot on road and that gave me enough opportunities to observe the vehicles and road transportation systems.  I managed to pen down a few of my thoughts below.

  • Initially, I was surprised to see a greater percentage of high-end 4×4′s, SUV’s on the road despite the economy status of Ghana. All the vehicles are imported from other countries.
  • Toyota’s are reliable everywhere in the world and Ghana is no different. I can safely make this assumption considering the Toyota’s I had seen in the road.
  • Two wheelers are rare to find and from what I heard law & easy accidents keep it out of the road. Even the rare ones are flying on the road.
  • As like India, Road infrastructure varies from place to place. Is it one of the reasons why people prefer 4×4 SUV’s?
  • I managed to spot some Indian brand vehicles (Tata Indica / Indigo / Mahindra Scorpio)
  • The lane / road discipline is much better than India despite the high volume of traffic at peak-times are . I managed to spot vehicles queued up for around 2-3 kms to pass some junctions.
  • People refer to travel destinations in terms of hours rather than distance.
  •  There are less Metro Mass Rapid Transport buses plying on the road and Tro Tro’s serve as the major source of commuting for the common man.
  • Just like auto-rickshaws back home, we need to bargain and set a rate for taxi ride’s. No metered taxis. Some of our team members (including me!) had got lost in a taxi since drivers doesn’t know where is our hotel . Francis has been our saviour during those times and he explains the full route to the driver to drive us to the hotel.
  • Our drivers provided by the client for our official transport was fantastic! Thanks to them for taking us safe throughout the trip.

#ibmcsc ghana

Papaye Fast Food Restaurant – Review

The Papaye restaurant at Osu, Accra was the only place where our team had dined out more than 3 times during the last one month. We didn’t check out this fast food restaurant for the first 10 days even though it was on the same Osu street where many eateries are located.

One of our subteams (risk) had got a list of places to visit from a local IBMer and this was on the list. At the same time our team also heard about this place from internet and local guides. So as a team we decided to check out this place and we liked it and we came again and again.

What I liked?

  • Boneless Grilled Fish / Fried Fish.
  • Service time.
  • Value for Money.

What I disliked?

  • Limited Menu.
  • Nothing vegetarian in the menu.
  • The answer ‘NO’ for ordering something from the that Limited Menu.
  • Fried rice is not so good as fish.

Limited Menu. Just a page!

Ambience – Always filled with people

What I ate?

Initially I ate fried fish and one day I tried grilled fish and it was so yummy. So whenever we visited again I would like to try that, but the standard answer from the waitress was ‘Not there’.

Grilled Fish with Fried Rice

Alvaro – Soft Drink

Today, being pen-ultimate day and probably our last lunch at Osu eateries, we decided to check out papaye again and I was happy to hear when the waitress said ‘YES’ to grilled fish.

Both Grilled and Fried Fish were well cooked and the grilled was even coated with some Masala like pepper which made it taste so yummy.

Once when we were running late for a meeting, I took some fried chips from the take away section and it was good too.  The quantity of rice being served in take-away and eat-in differs. In take-away the quantity is so much that you can skip your next meal.

What to Drink?

Although coke, water, some juices are there, I would like to pick Alvaro – A malt based drink but without the taste of malt. It comes in flavors of pineapple, pear and passion fruit.

#ibmcsc ghana

3rd Week-End – Time to see more of Accra!

There was only one week to go in our CSC assignment and during the last week-end team members were divided on their opinions where should we go.  The options were

  • Week-end trip to places like Amedzoke, Gemi Mountain, Wli Water Falls and Tafi Monkey Sanctuary.
  • Places nearby Accra.

I was getting tired off the travelling, work etc., we were doing over the past two weeks and part of me also wanted to see more of Accra – the city we are living in. We are spoilt for Choices everywhere! In such cases, one of my team members – Gerard flips a coin and takes a scientific decision. It’s better to follow such methods instead of debating and analyzing on not so serious issues.

We had hardly toured Accra except OSU for eating-out, Accra Mall for shopping and money exchange & Arts market for handicraft shopping. After deliberations, our whole team decided to stick to seeing Accra. With inputs from Francis, a plan was drawn to spend the weekend.

Makola Market

Over the past two weeks, I had heard this name from many people and I was curious to see how a market is in Ghana. Is it similar to Indian market or something different?

In the end it turned out to be a much bigger and crowded market than the Jayanagar 4th block Market. Even though I was in Bangalore for 6 years, I never visited the Jayanagar 4th block Market. Just before departing to Ghana, I went there looking for some souvenirs and do some other shopping.

Artsian Market

It seems this place won’t leave us until we leave Ghana as this is the third time we visited this place. This time I purchased some wooden handicrafts. It is mandatory to bargain here, otherwise you will be fleeced.

Question: How do you bargain?

Answer: Local guides told us that divide the price by 3 and then start from there. I added one more rule to it – compare prices of similar products back home and then tell your quote.

Botanical Gardens – Aburi Hills

There were many varieties of the trees over there and it was such a pleasant sight to soak your eyes in greenery for 3 hours.

View from Aburi Hills

Entrance of botanical garden

Its no wonder Ghanaian people are masters in wooden handicrafts.

Jamestown

Steps – Light House

Our Tro-Tro driver wasn’t sure which way to go to Jamestown as there were lot of one-ways. In the traffic intersection, a person got into our bus and introduced himself as Nice One. He offered to show us around Jamestown area consisting of fish markets and Light House. It’s like fish market back home in India and the interesting part for me is the light house. I was excited to climb up the stairs in the light house and enjoy the view from there.

Independence Square / Accra Sports Stadium

Independence Square

Daily we had driven past this on our way to office, but today we spent some time there taking loads and loads of pictures. Is this the difference of seeing the area and being in the area?

Initially there were thoughts about seeing a football match in the Accra Sports Stadium. But then time availability and this post by previous CSC team made us not to think of that again. Instead we decided to visit the stadium just to see around and click some pictures.

Bojo Beach

Even though we had visited two beaches earlier in the last two weeks, we opted to visit another beach as there is nothing much to do in Accra. Also this was one of the top recommended activities by tripadvisor / local people.

Bojo Beach Restaurant

Is n’t it a nice way to relax in the beach?

Compared to the La Palm Beach which we visited earlier, the beach was much calm and just had the right amount of crowd for fun. I played beach football with some Ghanaian people and found it very tough to cope up with them even for 5-10 minutes.

Some people of different origins were playing beach volleyball and I asked whether I can join them. They welcomed me and it was pure fun to be out there in the beach. There were some Indian people in that group and I was surprised to hear about the Mahatma Gandhi University in Ghana.

There will be some instances where an unknown nice person whom you meet without even exchanging names will stay in memory. I had one such experience when I met a nice gentleman from Polynesia as we played the volleyball in same team.

Q: At the end of week-end, did I get some rest that I was hoping for?

A: The trips were relaxing & fun and I didn’t felt tired like the last trip to Volta. But then there were always some unexpected activities which will alter the course of your plan. More on that in the posts to come….

#ibmcsc ghana