19 September 2006

Travel begins

Route: Ahmedabad - Lothal. Distance – around 70 km one way. Time 5.30 am

It is a public secret that exchange students mainly come to India to travel. The urge to explore is so big that classes come in the second or even third place while here. This, certainly, does not make receiving school very happy thus they do not provide us with class schedules right until arrival. Otherwise people would choose subjects which fit their travel itineraries the most.
After hanging around campus for more when two weeks your obedient servant has decided its time to explore the surroundings as well. As per suggestion of Marco from Italy we decided to head to Lothal – ruins of what once was one of the most important Harrapan city of Indus valley civilizations. Those interested in archeology or ancient civilizations can read more about by following this link.
It is very early morning and 5 of us are waiting for the second car to arrive. The one already sent by the agency cannot take all of us. Finally the car is here and, after short negotiation about the price increase due to the bigger van, we start our journey.
Our new driver must have been awaken right 10 mins before the thus he stops every 10 km asking for proper directions to the site. We in the meantime enjoy pleasant coolness of the morning and observe early traffic on the road.
After five to six consultations how to get where and a few wrong turns we finally turn into the side road to leading to the place.
It is a real countryside with landscape framed by flooded rice fields and women carrying feed grass on their heads. Someone in the horizon herds holly cows….
At 8 pm we are on the site just to realize that it will open in 1 hour time. Meanwhile few local countrymen bring water melon, cut it into pieces and try to strike a conversation with a few early intruders. We eat melon, exchange smiles and take pictures. One hour passes quickly.
At 9 am site opens ans we go to see the remains of this formerly magnificent city. A local guide appears form nowhere and gives us thorough explanations in broken English. He is very cautious that no one takes pictures and, therefore, blows his little whistle every time we spot our cameras onto an interesting piece. However he smiles and we realize it is rather a formal gesture than his intention to forbid us doing that.
The site is explored in full in 15 mins and we settle by the car to wait until the museum opens at 10 am. In the meantime first village inhabitants are replaced by 3 young girls, who, after a donation of 3 candies, Rs 20 and half a pack of biscuits, nicely pose in front of our cameras.Brief look around museum. Farewell picture with all the actors of this early morning life play and we head back to Ahmedabad. The sun is high, the weather is hot, the traffic is intensive and the air is dusty and noisy. Stay tuned!

18 September 2006

Give us pasta and more pasta!

Indian food is great. It tastes good it smells good and it looks good. And it is cheap. For 1.5 EUR per day the canteen serves four hearty meals involving varying degrees of spiciness. It is has been about 20 years (back in school when I stayed all afternoons waiting for my parents to pick me up) that I got meal at 4 pm which here is called “High tea”. For many of you a simple mention of the Indian food invokes mouthwatering memories of your recent visit to an Indian restaurant (which many of us do not do too often). However being stuffed with dals, koftas, rice and raitas for the last two weeks and consuming annual intake of spices per day our stomachs and tongues have requested a change. Due to the big Italian minority on campus and the reputation of the Italian kitchen pasta was chosen as the European ambassador to make inroads into the Indian kitchen. As a result an Italian guy taught 15 or so cooks at our mess how to make it. Result – we all got slightly overcooked and sweetish dish with a bit of a Chinese taste. But it was great! You never know how unpretentious you can become. Stay tuned!

16 September 2006

Warm welcome (and we mean it)

Having two mid life crises in rapid succession is a sure-fire way have your sanity questioned. Leaving work to do an MBA just when most of our pensioner-peers are hustling their zimmer frames along the peers of Florida was not enough. Vygantas and Paul needed more of a challenge, so packed their bifocals and slippers to join India’s brightest and best at IIM, Ahmedabad.Over the course of three months we will try to update you about life, people, travel, food, culture…whatever might come to our minds worth sharing with you. Stay tuned!