Thursday, September 29, 2005

My Chennai


My entrepreneur friend plans to open 3 offices (Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai) simultaneously. Think big! ;o) Heading for Chennai to hire people... My motto in India: Don’t miss any opportunity. If necessary, invite yourself!

A few hours by train. Half sleepy when we reached there. Uncle, aunt, cousin and grandmother waiting for us. All of them speak English, except the grandmother whom sweetness fully compensates for the limited possible communication in English.

Tests, interviews, lunch, beach, restaurant, beach again. Time flying… A bit lazy today… Check my friend s blog to have more information ;o) Haven’t spent enough time with the relatives. Will catch up the next day…

Planned to sleep til noon… Badly need it. Really? They all came to “my” room, one by one. ;o) Gave up. Had breakfast. And went on the roof… to study! Read again… Study! ;o) Exam next week. Might be time to find out what is the course about. Sun shining… Incredibly high productivity.

Lunch time. More and more (good!) food. Went with my friend to fire one of his business partners. Read: “ending up a relationship” ;o) Then, roamed around in the city trying to find Indian clothes and (wedding?) ring… Back home. Went to the uncle’s pharmacy and aunt’s small clinic. Impressive… But felt a bit uncomfortable in front of the patients.

Time to leave already. Feel privileged. So far, had the chance to spend some time in 3 families. Indian hospitality is well-founded. Had a great time…


Chennai


Chennai (சென்னை in Tamil), formerly known as Madras, is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is India's fourth largest metropolitan city. It is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. With an estimated population of 6.90 million (2005), the 368-year-old city is the 31st largest metropolitan area in the world.

The city is a large commercial and industrial centre, and is known for its cultural heritage and temple architecture. Chennai is the automobile capital of India, with around forty percent of the automobile industry having a base there and with 80% of the nation's vehicles being produced there. It has also become a major center for outsourced jobs from the Western world. The 12-kilometre long Marina Beach forms the city's east coast and is one of the longest beaches in the world. The city is known for its sport venues and hosts India's only ATP tennis event, the Chennai Open.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, September 26, 2005

Compliments

Indians easily make compliments. On the other hand, they won’t hesitate to tell you that “you look horrible today!” ;o)

I got my worst compliment a few days back… “You start dancing like an Indian”. That was at an IIMB party. I was the only exchange student (Where is everybody?) and I was dancing in the less harmonious possible way ;o)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

IIMB classes

IIMB offers a range of classes from International Finance to Competitive Marketing Strategy. Each lecture lasts 90 minute (without break) and is attended by around 50 students quietly listening to the professor.

Attendance to class is compulsory. Too many absences might result in not getting credit for a course. Conclusion, BE in the class. Many IIMB students don’t hesitate to sleep during the lecture which is quite disturbing at first. Some professors don’t care or, if they do, you'll only find out when you'll get your grades.

I'm hoping to have long weekends to have the opportunity to travel. Given the proposed schedule and the attendance requirements, I doubt it will be possible. Add to this that other exchange students have to take 3-4 credits when I have to take 5 and you can guess how tricky it will be for me to find the perfect schedule.


Update: In 2011, IIMB decided to make attendance voluntary across all courses.

Arranged marriages

"Love marriages" do happen in India but it is not the norm. It is an accepted fact that a person's family will play a role in picking the marriage partner. It is important to remember that in Indian society an arranged marriage is seen as an act of love

Before coming to India, I had a hard time conceiving a marriage which was not based purely on love. How to manage a long-term relationship with someone that you didn’t choose? How to make an arranged marriage last when so many love marriages result in a divorce?

Some Indians, even in the new generations, think that an arranged marriage is an easy alternative to a love marriage. No need to hunt for the “right one”, your family will do the work for you.

Definition

An arranged marriage is a marriage that is at some level arranged by someone other than those being married and is usually used to describe a marriage which involves the parents of the married couple to varying degrees (forced marriage, traditional arranged marriage, modern arranged marriage, modern arranged marriage with courtship, introduction only).

In many cultures that are modernising, children increasingly tend to view an arranged marriage as an option that they can fall back on if they are unable or unwilling to spend the time and effort necessary to find an acceptable spouse on their own. The parents then become welcome partners in the child's mate hunt.

Origins

Arranged marriages have been part of the Indian culture since the fourth century. Many consider the practice a central fabric of Indian society, reinforcing the social, economic, geographic, and the historic significance of India. Arranged marriages serve six functions in the Indian community: (1) helps maintain the social satisfaction system in the society; (2) gives parents control, over family members; (3) enhances the chances to preserve and continue the ancestral lineage; (4) provides an opportunity to strengthen the kinship group; (5) allows the consolidation and extension of family property; (6) enables the elders to preserve the principle of endogamy.

The practice of arranged marriages began as a way of uniting and maintaining upper caste families. Eventually, the system spread to the lower caste where it also was used for the same purpose. "Marriage is treated as an alliance between two families rather than a union between two individuals".

95% of all current Indian marriages are arranged, either through child marriages or family / friend arrangement. The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929-1978 states that the legal age for marriage is 18 for females, and 21 for males, with most females being married by 24 and most males being married by their late twenties. However, many children, age 15 and 16 are married within a cultural context, with these marriages being neither void or voidable under Hindu or Muslim religious law, as long as the marriage is not consummated until the legal age of 18 for females and 21 for males.

Reasons

-Since marriage is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make and because divorce is not accepted among most Indians, it is imperative that the marriage choice is carefully thought out and planned. How can a young person make such an important decision on his/her own?
-For some parents there is pressure from the community to conform and in certain cultures, a "love marriage" or even a relationship is considered a failure on the part of the parents to keep control over their child.
-For some, it is fear of what the community - social and/or religious will think if their child is not married, often by a certain age. In some cultures, sons and daughters have a "sell by date", meaning the son or daughter are deemed less likely to find a suitable partner if they are past a certain age, and it is considered folly to try to marry them off at that stage.
-The religious and spiritual aspect of arranged marriage can play a large role in finding a "suitable" spouse. Numerology is often used in Indian culture to predict the fruitfulness of a particular match. This can sometimes be expressed in a percentage, ie a 70% match.
-Caste can play a large role in Indian marriages. One reason for Indian parents opting for an Indian arranged marriage, rather than a marriage of mixed races is that the caste cannot be found out or simply does not exist in that culture/country. This ambiguity can create a "fear of the unknown" and so an arranged marriage may be insisted upon.

Proponents' views

-Reduction or elimination of incompatibilities: Since marital incompatibility has been found to be the major reason for divorce, arranged marriages ensure a much higher probability of success because they tend to match persons of the same religion, caste, dietary preference (e.g., vegetarian), linguistic group, age group, socio-economic background, education, professional status, physical stature, etc.
-Following one's head is often wiser than following one's heart: What is idealistically called "love" and "individual choice" is often the infatuation of the moment, which often passes when it is too late and the marriage has already taken place. Having elders vet the prospective spouse and their family is a kind of "due diligence" that needs to take place.
-Low expectations: Neither the man nor the woman knows quite what to expect, and there is a lot of understandable trepidation on both sides. This often works out well, because things turn out to be "not so bad after all".

Opponents' views

-Forced marriages: Much of the stated opposition to the concept of arranged marriages is actually an opposition to forced marriages. None except the incorrigibly feudal would defend forced marriages where the individuals being married have no veto over the decision.
-"Loveless" marriage: This has, however, been disputed by many people in happy (arranged) marriages who claim that love grows in a marriage, even if the marriage does not start with love.
-Individual accountability: Even if arranged marriages prove to be significantly more stable than "love" marriages, the latter are still preferable. There is something more important at stake than stable families — respect for individual accountability.

Process

The steps involved in an arranged marriage vary by communities and families. Here is the most common scenario, and the process can break down at any step.

-Broadcast of Availability: This is when the guardians of the groom or bride announce that they are in market for an alliance.

-Horoscope Matching: The interested parties trade birth horoscopes as a sign of showing interest. Those who believe in horoscopes consult with astrologers and priests to find out compatibility. The compatibility score is often used to reject an alliance.

-Photo Exchange, Interview, and Background Check: The pictures are exchanged and if in agreement, one or more face to face interviews are arranged, during which elders are also present to help with familiarization

Potential bride-grooms come under close scrutiny. Do they have enough means to support the bride? Do they appear to be men who will make good husbands and fathers? Often, the bride will live with her in-laws after marriage in what is called a joint family. Because of this, the groom's family is also brought under close scrutiny. Do the women of the household seem well cared for? Do they have a big enough house for another person and grandchildren? Does the family have a good reputation?

Potential brides also come under scrutiny by the boy's parents. Since it is a commonly held belief that brides are the embodiment of that family's honor and pride, the girl must be from good family and have good manners. She should be respectable and have no taint on her name. Does she have the makings of a good wife and mother? Does she want to work after marriage or stay at home?

Traditionally, the bride and groom would not even see each other until the day of their wedding. Today, while most marriages are still arranged, times are changing. There is usually a small courtship period where the bride and groom can meet and talk under the careful watch of a guardian. Also, if either one of the two do not want the marriage, it is likely to be cancelled. Very few family's today "force" marriages upon their children.

-Dowry and Contract Negotiations: The logistics of marriage are then discussed. Who pays how much for the wedding expenses, the gold, the dowry, girl's and boy's net worth, the house they'd live in etc.

-Engagement: If all the parties are in arrangement, sweets are shared to announce the engagement.

Listen to interviews.
Read testimony.
Visit a matrimonial website.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Saturday, September 24, 2005

IIMB campus

24/09

One more friend to meet. Just came back from the States. And for a change, he loves his job ;o) For those of you who know Vivien, he is just like him. Guitar player, same look, same attitude… Had some fun in the city before going out at night… Tried a lounge… Empty! Quite rare in India. Ended up at the rock pub I went to two weeks ago. There are only a few great places in Bangalore. This is one of them… Came back at my place… With him… Extra bed in my room. No problem with the security guard. Lunch at his place the next day with his friends. Have to learn how to make Indian dishes! All in all, fun!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Theatre

Watched my first (westernized) Indian movie in a (westernized) Indian theater with an Indian friend ;o) The movie: “Salam Namadse”. Partly in English and partly in Hindi. Quite commercial… My friend was a bit embarrassed to have brought me to such movie. Basic story… Understood it despite my absolute ignorance of the Hindi language ;o) But I had a great time! The movie was not the most important… Enjoyed the ambiance and the company…

19/09…

Not much to say… Caught up some sleep. Saw a few friends. From now on, I won't write about my daily life on the blog. Don’t want to become too repetitive for the potential reader. But know that I enjoy every moment spent here and that I love my Indian friends ;o)

Two exceptions: 1) when I meet one of my online Indian friends I haven’t met before. Quite a few more… Sorry for those of you I haven’t had the time to meet in person… 2) when I do something new for me in India.

Home Sweet Home

Back in Bangalore… Home sweet home! What a strange (and great!) feeling… I have been here for only 3 weeks but I feel home… I didn’t expect to adapt so fast to Bangalore.

Group projects

Indian professors love group projects. Indian students love unplanned academic meetings during the day, as well as during the night. Impact: it is absolutely impossible for me to make plans with my non-IIMB friends. So please, excuse me for the dates I had to postpone…

Friday, September 16, 2005

My Kerala and Tamilnadu

Leaving to Kerala. Skipping a few school days in the process. I promised one of my Indian friends I would visit him (and his family) for the Onam festival.

Onam is a time for sports, festivities, and ritual celebrations in Kerala. The Keralites celebrate this festival in memory of the golden era of King Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit the state at the time of Onam. Colorful aquatic festivals are organized along the sacred rive Pampa as part of the celebrations. After three months of heavy rains, the sky becomes a clear blue and the forests a deep green. The brooks and streams come alive, spouting a gentle white foam, the lakes and rivers overflow and lotuses and lilies are in full bloom as if to welcome the spirit of the King. It is time to reap the harvest, to celebrate and to rejoice (...)"

We missed the 4pm bus and had a hard time finding a seat in the 9.45pm train. At last, we bought two emergency tickets, hoping they would be confirmed in the train. Conclusion, the two of us on the same 50cm seat for a 15hour night journey. Fun!

We finally reached my friend's family house and we were wonderfully welcomed by the parents. Also met the neighbours and friends.

In Kerala, learning English is strongly encouraged in the education system. It was unfortunately not the case before. The dad knows a bit of English but I had to use the sign language with the mum.

We had special dishes for the Onam festival, served on banana leaves. Eating with fingers? Let's try. Mixed the rice and the sauces with the right hand, took the food with my fingers, opened my mouth… I obviously need a bit of practice. Slow process. Decided to use a spoon. The food was extremely good but Keralite people must have a disproportionate stomach. I was so full after the third round.

At night, we visited the city. There were so many places to see. Ran out of batteries for my digital camera.

Went back home.. where 3 more rounds of food were waiting for us. Cant move anymore. Loved my first day in Kerala!

Our next stop (by bike) was Kanniyakumari (Tamilnadu) which is the place where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet. Despite being hit by the tsunami last year, the coast remains beautiful. The waves were as high as the Thiruvalluvar Statue (the combined height of the statue and pedestal is 133 feet denoting the 133 chapters in the Thirukkural).

“Described as the southernmost end of Tamil Nadu, the land’s end of India or the point where the three seas meet, enchanting Kanniyakumari or Cape Comorin is one of the most popular tourist spots in the state. Part of the fascination is of course due to the fact that it is the very tip of the Indian peninsula. Nature is so spectacular at Kanniyakumari that several other Indian beaches pale by comparison. Cape Comorin is at its best during Chitra Pournami (the full moon day in April) when the sun and moon are face to face on the same horizon but other full moon days are also special and you can see the sun set and the moon rise almost simultaneously.”


At night, we had a few drinks on the beach. My paranoiac friend didn’t want us to go there too late in the evening. Nothing happened but I was glad not to understand Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam.

We woke up at 6am to see the sunrise. Climbed on the hotel roof, half sleepy. The view was amazing. We then headed to the island to visit the Thiruvalluvar Statue.

3 hours by bike later, we were back at my friend's place. My skin had turned completely red because of the sun. We were late and his parents were waiting at the door. Worried…

I wore the saree that my friend's mum had bought me. Red hair, red face, orange and goldish saree. Perfect match!

Back on the bike. This time with heels, flowers in my hair and saree (not really stable!). The first temple didn't allow foreigners to enter. We went to another temple, much smaller but extremely peaceful.

Went to a beach. A foreigner one as it wouldn’t have been much fun to wear a saree where wearing such clothes is so common. Had our dinner in front of the sea.

On my last morning in Kerala, my pant's button broke (too much food?).

We were in a rush. My friend's friends had been trying to find train tickets for the past few days. A big thank to them for their time!

15 of us on 8 seats. If you buy your ticket too late, you might have to sleep on the floor. I was glad to know that one of the seats was going to be mine at night. I woke up at 4am, a stranger lying next to me in my bed! Didn’t feel like pushing him on the floor.

Feel free to visit Kerala! Wonderful people, great food and stunning landscapes! Thank you!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Wearing a saree


Burned by the sun during our bike trip from Kanniyakumari (Tamilnadu) to my friend's home (Kerala). That's why wearing a helmet should be compulsory!

Fishing boats

Located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, Kanyakumari is the geographical end of the Indian mainland.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Kerala


Kerala (കേരളം - 'Keralam') is a state in South India, occupying a narrow strip of India's southwestern coast. Referred to as Keralam by the natives of the state, it is known for being the most literate state in India, with a literacy rate greater than 90%.”

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bugs & animals


My biggest fear… snakes, rats, bugs, spiders! Either I m lucky and there are not many of them or I just pretend not to see them… ;o) So far, saw a few small rats, small spiders and small lizards. Cockroaches are not as big as expected but they still turn me crazy… especially the few 5-cm ones! Elise, calm down… They don't bite, don't hurt, don't carry specific germs… Only ugly looking and running crazily fast…

Mosquitoes? Don't use my mosquito net anymore… Never know where I might spend the night. Too lazy to carry it with me all the time. Anyway, my roommate attracts mosquitoes a lot more than I do ;o) But when I'm the only non-indian in the room, you can be sure I'll be the one bitten... Exotic taste!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

IIMB party

This looks like you just screw in a light bulb with one hand and pat the dog with the other.
- Quote from "Bride & Prejudice"

I was back on the campus after an evening at a Rock pub in Bangalore when I heard some loud music coming from the L-square. Curious, I walked to the campus main square and was stunned by a gesticulating crowd. Are they dancing? Or only moving in every possible direction? The style was extremely energetic and, well, unique.

It was easy to learn the basic steps by watching the other students. The key is to make your moves as vigorous as possible (no shy/tiny steps as in the West). It is quite liberating!

One of the Indian students complimented on my style. Him: “You dance terrific”. Me: “Trying to imitate Indians.” Him: “Thanks, I take it as a compliment.” ;o)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Indian birthday bump

You might want to avoid celebrating your birthday in India! Luckily, as I am born in the spring, I won’t have to celebrate mine here...

On the campus, birthday rituals include:
-Cake smashed in the face
-Cold water poured over the head
-Having to perform silly sexy dances
-Being kicked in the ass!


Regarding the latter, the birthday boy* is held up in the air by his hands/legs by his friends and kicked in the butt. The number of bumps is supposed to equal the age of the person but the kicks usually don’t stop when that number is reached. And the kicking is quite brutal!

The birthday bump tradition is widespread in India (not IIMB specific) but is not usually followed in presence of families.


*Girls are not spared but the kicking is gentler as it is done by girls only.

My Mysore

Another exchange student and I were offered a trip to Mysore by one of our university professors. Thanks to the provided car and driver, our journey was exceptionally smooth.

Commonly described as the City of Palaces, Mysore is the second largest city in the state of Karnataka. Mysore is famous for the festivities that take place during the Dasara festival as well as for its paintings and its silk sarees. Tourist attractions include the Mysore Palace, the Mysore Zoo and the Krishnarajasagar Dam.

First built in the 14th century within the old fort, the Mysore Palace is absolutely breathtaking. Walking bare foot while admiring exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world was an amazing and peaceful experience. I also met our guide from the Jain Temple in Mumbai. Small world!

In addition, we visited the Krishnarajasagar Dam and the adjoining Brindavan Gardens where a musical fountain show is held in the evening. Our driver couldn’t hide his enthusiasm and (strongly!) encouraged me to take as many pictures as possible.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

08/09 Wedding reception

Tamil wedding reception at night… Quite kitsch ;o) Only foreigner in the place! A bit uncomfortable at first… But my Indian friend introduced me to his friends to make me feel at ease. Great ones but a bit shy when it comes to speak in English to a Western girl… Do I bite? ;o) Too far from IIMB… Spent the night at his place and met the parents. Felt bad… Woke up his mom to introduce me! Then spent some time on the roof of his house. Just relax… Great guy. Didn’t make me feel as a foreigner…

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

07/09 Tourism in Bangalore…

Not much to see in Bangalore except a few temples such as the Bull Temple. Went only with another exchange student. Didn’t know how to act in such places… Imitating them wouldn’t have made much sense. Just remained silent…

Badly need to dance… Waiting for a friend to bring me out. The place? Zero G… Not to crowded on Wednesday night. But only Indian music on week days. Let's try! The tune might differ from one song to another but to enable people to dance, the DJ adds the exact same bit on every melody ;o) Fun… Forget everything and move.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

ISKCON

ISCKON stands for "The International Society for Krishna Consciousness", also known as the Hare Krishna movement.

Krishnas usually chant the mantra "Hare Krishna" 108 times (cycles of auspicious numbers) and repeat it "16 times a day".

I went with one of my friends to the ISKCON temple in Bangalore. The temple was beautiful and modern but slightly too crowded for my taste.

Monday, September 05, 2005

On my way to Mysore

Current expenditures

Bangalore is the second fastest growing city in Asia after Hong-Kong. That would explain why the cost of living in Bangalore is relatively high (compared to the rest of the country).

Clothes? Western clothes can be found at various prices but in malls they will cost you almost as much as in Europe.

Food? Eating out is quite cheap when you eat local.

Alcohol? Alcohol is relatively expensive given a 100% government tax. Note that some people (air force, etc) are exempt from paying taxes.

Thanks for your many mails!

I guess you dont want to give any personal information via the blog ;o) Anyway, I m really glad to hear from you! Keep writing...

Btw, I published quite a few new posts... Modifications have also been made on previous posts. I plan to add the pics as soon as possible. Slow process... India, remember? ;o)

Friends

Have met quite a few Indians I had met on fropper and on other websites. So far, no bad surprise! All of them are really different. But they are great! Must be a lucky one… ;o) More to meet!

IIMB campus

IIMB campus is a 100-acre oasis located in south Bangalore. It is quite far from the city centre. Good, I'm getting used to bikes! Given the traffic, they are much faster than cars as they can simply zigzag between cars, autorikshaws, cows, dogs, people, etc.


The campus offers accommodation to all students, a library and computing facilities (the Internet connection is quite slow which would explain why I didn’t publish my posts earlier).


In addition to the mess providing food three times a day, snacks are available 24/7 in a couple of shops located on the campus. During the night, you might find the vendor sleeping near the shop and it is common practice to wake him up if necessary.


There is also an ATM as well as a travel agency (meaning a guy with a phone!).


Update: IIMB campus was the site for the shooting of the Bollywood film “3 Idiots” directed by Rajkumar Hirani.


05/09 And more…


Two more guys to meet! One for lunch, the other one at 5… Haven't changed my mind… Indian food is delicious! The first guy had just started his own company… I love such entrepreneurship spirit! Went at the company he just left to meet a girl who were at IIMB a few years before. Need some advices to choose my classes ;o)

5 o’clock! MG road again… Would have die for some chocolate. Had chocolate with ice! Yes, Ice! Made with water… Stomach first and then brain. But was really good! Shopping… Bought clothes and my own helmet! Don't want to depend on my Indian friends for security anymore. Had fresh fruit juice… The guy added water… I guess my stomach is really the boss! Went to my friend’s place… Met my friend’s friends which was great!

Back on the campus… Have to book some buses/trains to go to Mysore on Wednesday… Planning to go with another exchange student.

Btw, my mosquito net is still in my bag… Don't feel like using it! A bit claustrophobic… Mosquitoes, don't bite! I would bite you back! ;o)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

04/09 More

Back to IIMB… Met other exchange students… Have to meet an Indian friend in the afternoon… One more! Tried the pubs on MG road again… Not too crowded. Good! Had a nice time. At IIMB at 9 because the guy had to work the next day.

Didn’t feel like sleeping! Sent messages… Any Indian friends close to IIMB? ;o) One of them came to pick me up… by car, for a change! Smooth long drive… Cross the border of Karnathaka and went back 3 hours later… Slept the last 15 minutes in the car. Speaking English takes me so much energy and the city is kind of stressful too… What’s more, understanding Indian English requires a lot of attention!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

03/09 The city

Hunting for a new prepaid card… Don't want to pay the roaming activation every month. Need a Bangalore number.

Buses? Well, there are many of them! But which one should I take? Found my way to the bus stop, asked +-20 people how to get to the mall by public transport… Not really familiar with hindi ;o) No way to have an answer. Took a bus… Here, the bus doesn’t stop, only slows down… Jumping from a moving vehicule with heels was quite adventurous. But didn’t fall. ;o) Changed my mind and tried to find a autorikshaw with an English-speaking driver. Quite impossible… Finally found one… Had to bargain hard! He offered me the drive me to the mall for 80rp. I said 40, last price! He didn’t want to… Well too bad! I was completely lost in the city with the only English-speaking driver but I told him 40 or leave it. I won! ;o)

Long drive to get to the mall… An hour, at least! The traffic…

The mall! Huge western one but still no foreigners! Where are they? Everybody told me Bangalore was a cosmopolite city…

Back to IIMB… Waiting for an Indian friend to pick me up. Raining again! But don't want to give up anymore on my trip to MG road… Ate… Love Indian food! Can have different kind of food everyday. Looking for a pub. Crowded! We left. End up at the Meridien. First time in such hotel! Had a few drinks… Food is quite cheap in India. Cant say the same thing about alcohol :o(

Time to leave… Raining again… Driving to IIMB would have been to long. So, spent the night at my friend’s place. Two beds… Mum, don't worry! But had a drive in the middle of the night under the rain… No more traffic, just complete freedom!

Friday, September 02, 2005

02/09 Alone


September 2d! Time to split! The other Belgian student is going to Gurgaon and I'm finally heading for Bangalore… Alone!

I couldn’t wait for this moment…

At the airport, most people were obviously Indians. A few tourists were also waiting for their plane. They were wearing Indian clothes. They looked ridiculous! Not because of the clothes, but because it looked so fake… Wearing Indian clothes on special occasions is great to feel involved. I, myself, plan to wear the saree for the Onam festival. But at the airport, no way! So, I tried to stay as far as possible from them. I didn’t want to be a part of the “tourist group”. I m not a tourist anymore. I feel like a regular student going for the first time to the University. Expecting to meet nice and open-minded people…

The flight was so smooth! Who told me that indian internal flight were dangerous? Come on! No accident for years! At least, that s what the university professor I met in the plane told me…

Bangalore, here I come! I wasn’t really homesick when I arrived in the Sillicon Valley of India. A typical Belgian rain was waiting for me ;o) Lucky me!

IIMB is quite far from the airport. Took a cab, saw a small part of Bangalore, reached the Institute, met a guy from the exchange program office, got my hostel room and visited the campus… Quite fast!

The good news is that all blocks were full… So I ended up in the executive block which is the really best one! ;o) And guess what… My closest roommate is a guy! We ll have to share the bathroom. My room is quite neat. But please, forget western standards… The mattress is 1-inch high! I ll get used to it… But don't even want to talk about the bathroom.

I really wanted to see the city. One of my Indian friends told me he was going to pick me up at IIMB… Nice! But the campus is so big and confusing. It took me 20 minutes to get to the entrance gate (Crappy orientation skills!). Then he came… by bike! Me? On such a vehicule? In India? Under the rain? For info, I had never been on a bike in my life. At least, I wore a helmet...

The traffic is not as bad as in Mumbai. But driving like crazy under heavy rain is not exactly the best idea I could have had. We had to stop a few times cos there were waves of rain on the streets. Wouldn’t have made much sense to continue… So, I asked him to bring me back to IIMB. First day in Bangalore, the end!