Thursday, 9 May 2013
Oh what a beautiful morning… let’s hope it’s a beautiful day
Just came back from another lovely run. My earbuds broke on one of the first flights over and I haven’t had a chance to buy a pair (still waiting on a rupee reimbursement…) but Anne let me borrow hers. So I was jammin’, probably with a Cheshire Cat smile on my face. I bumped into the only other possible “runner” that I saw yesterday… I wasn’t sure if she was actually running for exercise because it looked like she was dressed in pajamas, running after a dog who escaped while she was pouring her morning coffee. But our paths intersected multiple times this morning and she gave me a huge wave so I think we’re going to be friends. Maybe because the music made me so happy, I started to elicit more smiles on the faces of people I encountered- one biker said “good running, good running”, the security guard yelled down a jolly “Good morning” from the top of his perch on the observation tower and I finally got permission to run on the asphalt instead of the concrete. Running on asphalt pounds your joints but running on that concrete was even worse, it got dangerously slippery near sprinklers and I constantly had to leap up and down sidewalks that were more elevated than normal. And I found some new birds (Eliot, the birdwatcher, would have a hay day!) and some new cool trees (Fact: seed pods resemble badminton balls).
In general, I feel like I’m starting to bond with more of the Indians here. Rajiv (the network engineer) and I are practically best friends. He spent another two hours in my room last night after an hour and a half in the morning, I learned most of his life story and he left me his cell phone number. Not like I can call it. He might have called my room last night around midnight to check if my problem was fixed but I passed out after dinner, even though I was watching some Indian music videos desperately trying to stay awake for the Internet service providers who were supposed to stop by in an hour. Oops. Everyone’s on-line but me at this point so I keep telling him it’s not the Internet service but he’s convinced.
Unloading supplies yesterday provided a great opportunity for team bonding. We had a small closet filled with boxes in one building so after lots of waiting (that goes without saying in this country haha. I’d love to get a statistic on what percentage of Indians are actually working at any given minute during the workday. I’d estimate 30%, to be generous) we had to bucket brigade the boxes down a floor, over a building, up a floor including a segment of the journey outside in the sweltering heat. Sweating through your clothes in a cloud of Indian body odor is about as good as it gets (I wonder what Americans smell like to Indian people… The most American smell I can think of is greasy McDonalds so hopefully not that. After using this “Mysore sandalwood” soap and eating their food three times a day, I doubt I’ll retain my gringo scent for long). But it was fun talking to more of the TAs and RAs. It’s kinda silly because although I’m the youngest instructor here, I’m one of the most revered. The two most prestigious fields in India are engineering and medicine (business is starting to catch up) and since there are no medicine classes here, as the resident engineering expert, I’m one of the most well respected. Even though people are starting to learn I’m not a trained engineer (shhh…). I’m also the first staff member to earn a nickname “007”. (Partially because of my room number but also because I’m as smooth and sly as James Bond… haha I wish).
After we got the boxes up to a classroom, we were told to open and sort them Christmas-style. Fortunately, most of my supplies seem to be here except for my balsa wood shipment which is the basis of the solar-powered boat and balsa-wood bridges project… which is, of course, our first project, starting as soon as Wednesday. So hopefully they can find some in Mysore.
I finally got to talk to my TA more extensively and figure out why he kept asking me the same question over and over again prior to the conversation. Apparently, his “engineering physics” major is basically a physics major that had a couple basic engineering courses his first year. So he’s a little nervous about the practical, engineering emphasis of this course. That makes two of us (but I didn’t tell him that!). Building things, writing engineering design proposals, drawing technical sketches is definitely out of my comfort zone (I haven’t done it since high school and my first year of undergrad) but I constructed the course around what would be interesting and engaging to the kids. After talking for awhile, hopefully he feels better that this class will be a new but exciting challenge for both of us.