On getting back home I found we had another trampoline in the back yard. Second one acquired by Andrew from his job. Trampolines are way more fun in two’s!
My time in India went well. I gained a better understanding of how university students there think and how they use the Internet, and I had a good planning time in Bangalore.
Finally on my last day in country I began feeling comfortable, but I left with more questions about the culture than I came with. For example, Mumbai is home to 4 of the 6 richest people in the world, but it also is home to Asia’s largest slum. Why do the ultra rich live there? How can huge slums exist in the middle of a city where real estate prices are high?
My first reaction on seeing some of the slums was pity. But from two different sources I heard this story: As land owners develop a piece of land, they are required by law to build free housing for any slum dwellers their development displaces. In the past when this has been done, the displaced slum dwellers take their new apartment and rent it out to someone else while they move their slum to another location and continue living in it! Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but either way it highlighted how far from my own culture I had traveled and how long it would take me before I had a good understanding of the mysteries of India.
Fried brain masala with naan bread was today’s lunch. Hmm good. It had the consistency of tofu (the brains, that is), but the masala spices overpowered any flavor the brain itself had. It was a challenge getting my mind to eat brain. I can now check this off the list of things to do before I die. It wasn’t really on the list actually….
Today we got blocked from entering two campuses, so we didn’t get to talk to any students there. And on a third campus where we were welcomed by the administration, we were not able to talk to any students. So we didn’t connect with any students today, but we learned a lot about the difficulties of connecting with them in general. I think it illustrates the need to find other ways, like the Internet, to connect with students other than visiting a campus.
Top Ten Signs We’re Not In Kansas Anymore
- transvestite eunuch beggars, hijra
- enormous slums beneath expensive real estate
- people everywhere
- muslim calls to prayer
- everyone has an angle on you; beggars, swindlers, salesmen, etc.
- everyone is sweeping and cleaning, but the streets are still dirty
- eating rice and curry (and everything) with your fingers
- free range cattle – ranging everywhere in the city
- city goats – shepherded by children
- black and yellow taxis everywhere, horns always honking
This is a video taken from the back of my friend’s motorcycle on the way home from church. The most fascinating thing to me has been driving around town and taking in everything going on here.
As much as I like my work, by comparison it just seems a little mundane. That’s good, because it means things have gone fairly smoothly and we’ve been able to make plans and talk to students here in this city.
Getting to church this morning involved a half hour ride across town on Robin’s motorcycle. Before we left I asked him if I could drive, but he just laughed.
After a while it got easier. By the trip home I was taking pictures and video and could have sent a text message from my phone just like everyone else riding on the back of all the other motorcycles.
Watching a video driving down the street isn’t very interesting unless it’s from another country. This was part of our drive across town today.
I generally try to avoid McDonalds in other countries. Why eat the worst of American culture somewhere else? But this one was too hard to resist, and my Indian friends wanted to eat there. A Chicken Maharaja Mac. Just sounds funny.
Over lunch I learned why cows are sacred but not chickens, how students pay for university, how the caste system works and where foreigners fit into it.
Before and after lunch I learned how students use the Internet in India, but there were no surprises there. Google, Facebook, and lots of time online were consistent among the thirty or so students I talked with.
After arriving in Bangalore at 12:30 am today I was surprised at how functional I was the rest of the day – until 4:30 when my brain decided it really wanted to sleep. After a 15 minute nap I headed out for a walk on the street near where I’m staying. It was quite a contrast to the quiet office I worked in all day!
Everyone that I stopped to photograph was really friendly. They all smiled back at me, and two guys even asked me to take their picture. I feel much more comfortable here now than I did 12 years ago.
Breakfast and lunch today were curry, as I’m sure dinner will be as well. It is being served now, so it’s time for me to eat.
I’m sitting here with my friend, Sam, showing him how to use a WordPress blog.