India SharePoint Days

Michael Noel and I recently finished a 3 city SharePoint day tour across India reaching over 600 passionate SharePoint people.  We started by flying into Mumbai and driving to Pune.  Originally when I started planning this trip with Michael Noel, we were planning on visiting Persia where one of my contacts Neo Farvashan, now good friend Neo was going to give us a tour of Tehran and the sites of Iran.  With the more recent political activity we decided to focus on India and Nepal, and Neo decided to join us in our tour.

We did a call with Mark Miller over Skype while we were in Kathmandu Nepal on a recap of our India & Nepal trip in Today in SharePoint.

The Pune SharePoint day was with the Pune User Group (PUG) and a Microsoft technologies special interest group with over 1000 members.  We had around 300 register and 200+ attendees in a huge auditorium.  The amount of SharePoint experience in the crowd was much, much more than either of us expected.  More than 75% of the room had working with SharePoint.  Our Q&A was quite intense with great questions that kept the crowd going on technical questions alone for more than an hour.


After the event we rode on motorcycles with a couple of people from the User Group leadership.  Even getting the chance to drive for a few blocks.

The Chennai SharePoint day,  started with a visit to the beach where we got hit with a wave.  Great attendance with over 100 attendees.  Apparently they’d only notified the attendees five days earlier to the Chennai .NET and IT Pro chapters in Chennai .  The lead there has been running the group for 9 years!  We had a chance to sit down with the user group lead for lunch afterward.  The community was very developer heavy and hadn’t had much experience with SharePoint while a handful were currently working on SharePoint projects.  We met a number of MVPs across a number of technologies in the group leadership. 

The Bangalore SharePoint day had an amazing 300 show up for the user group meeting  This would be the largest user group meeting I’d ever been to, if I was there.  Unfortunately I had to leave, but Michael Noel presented my deck along with his.  Michael told me it went extremely well and got a number of contacts that we both plan to follow up with to help foster community in one of the largest centers of IT focused people in the world!  It’s exciting to meet


Our Decks from the event can be found here:

Q&A about our experience in India:

Did you do your sessions in English? If so, did anyone have any problems understanding?

Yes, we did our sessions in English.  All attendees in all our sessions were very well versed in English and were quite comfortable in asking questions.  We didn’t have any problem understanding them either, beyond a bit of getting past the accent in some cases.  Very intelligent and smart people with a deep development focus from what I saw.

Is Microsoft Technologies well understood in India?

Microsoft has been investing in India a lot in the past decade.  I remember about 8 years ago when Microsoft really started moving a lot of it’s operations to Bangalore.  It also started investing a lot more in schools and colleges.  The number of MVPs and community leadership that showed a deep technical knowledge was impressive for any country.  I understand the number of development centers that are now in India.  It was interesting to see the Who’s Who of American Silicon Valley by simply driving around and seeing various in sourced companies not just with call centers, but development centers and even operations centers for follow the sun scenarios.  At 5 in the morning we ran into a couple of IT guys that were getting off their American shift.  .NET and C# are well versed in the communities that we visited.  The wave of SharePoint experience and training appears to be on the cusp.  We found deep developers, but our experience varied when it came to pure SharePoint development.  In fact when we asked for business cards with the words SharePoint, we didn’t find any, but some development experience with SharePoint we found 30% in the more purist .NET community and 50-60% when mixing IT Pro and Devs.

In these cities did you find it hard to get a good hotel?

Nope.  Hotels were great.

How was the transportation?

Getting a car from the hotel to pick us up at the airport was easy, as is getting a prepaid car from the airport or hotel.  While you won’t see much traffic lights, transportation does flow.  I find it kind of flows like a river and the collective consience of the drivers keep the traffic moving with little interruption, assuming that horns don’t bother you.  Most Americans would have a problem driving here, not just because it’s the other side of the road, but because of the importance of the honking and lack of ‘rules and assumptions.

What else did you see?

After the SharePoint meetings we flew to Delhi and got a visited some amazing locations across India

Our favorites were in the Rajasthan area:

Karni Mata Rat Temple – looking for a culture shock this is the place to visit.  This Hindu temple has hundreds if not thousands of rats that scurry around waiting to be reincarnated into human form.  It was a wild experience to have the rats scurry over our feet and see a young girl studying without barely even noticing the rats around her.  Read more about it on National Geographic.


Jodhpur, the Mehrangarh Fort & Blue City – We thought the fort on the top of this mountain overlooking the blue city should be in the current 7 Wonders of the world.  I personally think it’s the name of the place and possibly it’s obscurity that kept it under the radar. It truly was amazing and I hope anyone who goes to India is able to see the fort along with the view.


Jaipur, the Amber fort and Pink city – in such a small area with such grand palaces, and multiple forts in such a small area complete with floating palaces, and elephants to take you around.  The mystery and magic of this place was incredible.  I found the women very beautiful with their silk and amazing lace and bead work.  It was different in Rajastan, being so close to Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Felt like a different world.  A few of the kids had these piercing green eyes.  It was suggested that it might be from Alexander the Great’s army.  The maharajas of the past had really built some amazing places.


Pictured: Amber Fort in Amer just outside of Jairpur. L-R: Michael Noel, Neo Farvashan, Joel Oleson – (me)

Outside of Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal was incredible.  Highly recommended, amazing this thing was built so long ago with LOVE as the driver. 



The actual city of Varanasi was quite chaotic, but the river and the gattes was an incredible experience.  Known as the most holy city for Hindu’s you could actually feel the importance of it by spending time along the river.  The holy river itself has is refreshing after a hot and humid day.  On the steps of the river you can see the faithful washing and swimming, enjoying the effects.  Not far you can also see fires burning the dead.  If that’s not enough culture shock, jump in and join the water buffalo and other followers in a dip.  The water has amazing soothing affect.


More Pictures of our trip…

From My Profile:

From Michael’s Profile:

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