Monday, 20 May 2013

Dropping like flies!

And it's only week 2!  The myths and legends instructor is hospitalized with a fever over 100 degrees, one of my students passed out in class today and my TA had been suffering from a sore throat.  I asked him how his throat was doing today and he's like "I had whiskey" which apparently implies full recovery.  Some of the instructional staff noticed him pretty tipsy yesterday afternoon, which is kinda hilarious, but if it's for medicinal purposes, it's ok, right?  Apparently, it works like a charm!

I had a nice weekend.  We have to teach on saturday afternoons (don't get me started on why they make us teach on weekends when we already work a billion hours a week... it made me miss a potentially awesome journey to the jungle with two couchsurfers and an Albanian girl) which did encourage me to be productive that morning.  After class, the instructional staff planned to go to the temple on the hill then to a sound and light show at Mysore Palace.  Unfortunately, the drivers took so long to pick us up that we missed the temple so we went straight to the Palace.

The drivers-for-hire around here are pretty ridiculous.  I think the company that we use from Infosys is fairly legit (although not necessarily timely) but Anne came to India two weeks before camp started for sight seeing through a reputable tour company.  Her driver had worked for them for 25 years but she said that while they were in the car, he knocked down a gate and ran over and killed a dog, without a backward glance.  Later on, they noticed him drinking from a flask in his glove box so they had to let him go....  Gosh, the guts in a land with minimal regulation.

At the light and sound show, I met up with Achyutha, a couchsurfer who was very knowledgeable about the mythical origins of the city. Mysore was named after the buffalo-headed monster demon that ruled the city according to the legend. In response to the prayer by the Gods and Goddesses to save them from the demon, Goddess Parvathi came down killed the monster on top of the Chamundi hill (which is where we were supposed to go and see her temple). The palace is large from the outside but it's even bigger inside- as the sun was setting, we explored one of the eight auxiliary temples on the ground then we settled down for a 45 minute, very dramatic tale about the history of the city.  Unfortunately, it was in the local language so I didn't get too much out of it besides that there was a lot of fighting, partying, some soup slurping and a fire.  But then, they lit up the palace for five minutes and it was gorgeous!  (They do it for an hour on Sundays but according to my couchsurfer, it's better to come to these shows to avoid some of the crowd)
Anne, me, Todd, Tyler, Jimi and Krisnan- all the instructors
After that, I met up with Abhi for some ice cream, meditation and he shared some of his favorite Rumi sayings and poetry.  I was impressed- a computer science major who writes poetry?  And it was definitely infinitely better than anything I could do.  He looks pretty serious and solemn, consistent with being raised in a warrior state and he's of the Punjabi Raj caste but he's surprisingly spiritual and thoughtful.
Sunday was my day off and I met up with Sujay for a really nice lunch, a nice drive, a trip to the Brindavan Gardens and we ended in his favorite coffee shop.  Sujay said he's the nephew of the king of Mysore so he has to attend the opening ceremony of the ten-day Dasara festival, where the royal couple (and family) have to perform puja to the goddess to supposedly slayed the demon and saved the city.  Sujay just graduated with an MBA, likes to race motorcycles and basically spilled his life story.  I'm always amazed how much people share to a random person who they met hours before.


Sujay and the Brindavan Gardens
 Besides that, today was a pretty nice day.  The kids were still relatively sedated from their campus wide scavenger hunt the night before.  We tested their bridges but none of them broke despite filling the waste basket that we hung from them with any borderline heavy thing we could find, from actual scientific masses to random sheets of metal we took from the forensics class, to water bottles to magnets.  We had some cracking and bending but all the bridges made it!

Well, I think it's time for bed- an old friend from my Research Experience for Undergrads in Minnesota is teaching my Nuclear Science course this summer so I've got an early Skype meeting to catch him up to speed.  Good night!
My class and their balsa bridges