Saturday, 11 May 2013

Bracing for the Notorious

Today's the day when 102 "notorious" youngsters will descend upon this idyllic campus (when we were brainstorming characteristics that describe gifted students, multiple Indian staff members used this adjective to describe the kids... the American staff exchanged puzzled looks "where do they get these kids anyway?" because notorious typically has a negative connotation in our english.  Apparently, they use it to mean more "mischievous" which makes more sense).  It does sound like some of these kids will be spunky.  My TA is on airport duty and I hope he's up to the challenge.  Supposedly, last year, the TAs had the airport kids corralled and calm, almost ready to go when someone spotted the Delhi cricket team.  All hell broke loose and kids scattered everywhere in search of their favorite players. It's cricket playoff season so we expect something similar this year.  The last I heard, Sidd was recruited for a rickshaw adventure around Bangalore to hunt down balsa wood for our bridges, so hopefully that will be a good warm up exercise for the impending chaos!

After an action-packed fun day yesterday, I slept like a baby, went running and hopefully will have a productive morning before we have to help with registration and meet the parents this afternoon.  But I'm so ready to stop talking about all these hypothetical situations and start teaching!
Rooftop swimming pool- Tyler and I decided we're going to risk and go.  He's training for a triathlon- I need to appease my inner fish, because I'm a mermaid.
 Yesterday morning, we finished some final logistics then we went on a tour of campus.  The facilities here are incredibly extensive- in addition to the ones that I already mentioned, there's badminton courts, a billard room (they call it snooker), a climbing wall, track, cricket field, laundry room, "saloons" (for hair cuts) in addition to all the food courts and cafes.  I'm probably forgetting something but its a nifty place and we can use any of the resources, usually for the equivalent of $1 USD.
After that, I met up with Abdi, the couchsurfer for yesterday and he took me on an awesome afternoon adventure (mom, you may not want to read this part).  He picked me up on his motorcycle, which is his pride and joy.  Supposedly, it's a top tier bike and he's planning to trade it in for a Harley within the next couple years.  He's also hoping to go on a fifteen day motorcycle safari early next month with one of his cousins.  It's an established triangular route that starts in Delhi, goes through almost all of Kashmir, through the Himalayas.  I can't imagine starting in 115 degree Delhi weather and then biking through areas of mountains where there's 12 feet of ice on each side of the road.  I had so much fun seeing the city on the back of his bike that I'm sure that would be an extraordinary experience.

He took me to a delicious restaurant "Sixth on Main" which serves Indian food but is popular with the foreigners- he recommended some sort of potato dish which was more sweet than spicy and epically delicious, especially with mint-lime soda.  After some excellent conversation (this 22 year old is wise beyond his years), we stopped at his flat to meet the rest of the guys in his apartment.  He lives on such a cute street within walking distance of the yoga studio- this city is a place that I could actually consider living- spiritual, quiet and nice.  The flatmate and metalhead I met yesterday played for me a song that he engineered from scratch with this music mixing program.  It was unbelievable how he layered piano, guitar and drums to create this "sexy" tune that sounded like it was made with real instruments!

Afterwards, we headed to the center of town, driving by the Mysore Palace and 9-square-kilometer zoo to a lake and nature park.  The park wasn't huge but it had an aviary with an incredible mix of birds and multiple varieties of peacock.  We got to see a male flaunt his tail feathers for a female who heartlessly refused his advances.  Poor guy had to pack away his feathers in defeat but we enjoyed the show!

There was also a bird observation tower overlooking the lake, where we saw even more types of birds.  Several young, adorable Indian girls asked for a photo with me so that was fun.

 After spending several hours at the nature preserve, we headed up a hill for an incredible view of the city.  Unfortunately, the road tax for his Punjab license plate didn't make it worth visiting the temple on top but the view from the roads as we wove our way to the top made it a very worthwhile trip.  After some juice at a peaceful cafe, he dropped me back on campus just in time for dinner.  Just went I thought this campus couldn't get anymore resort-like, walking back, I passed the main building just in time for a light and fountain show, coordinated with music.  The arriving storm added dramatic affect with sideways lightening in the background.  If it rained last night, I was sleeping to soundly to notice but I guess the rainy season is arriving so it sounds like there will be plenty of storms.

Wish me luck meeting the parents!
Light and fountain show- I felt like I was at the Bellagio, Las Vegas