Friday, 17 May 2013

Satisfying Social Activities

“Social activities will be satisfying but don’t neglect legal documents”.  Hmmm… last time I read my horoscope in India, it told me to “get any inflammation of the skin investigated immediately” and it turned out my rash was shingles.  Maybe I should make sure that I’ll actually be able to leave the country on this Visa… (if it wasn't for Thailand and more exotic destinations ahead, I'm not sure I'd want to!)
But yesterday’s horoscope was correct in predicting very satisfying social activities.  After a decent day of teaching, I went for another nice swim (after the fact, I learned that there’s a girl and guy side of the pool.  Another one of India’s many unwritten rules.  Fortunately, I chose the right one!)  then met up with Sudeep.  Sudeep is a mechanical engineer by trade but works for some bank as part of Infosys and he’s a tattoo artist on the side.  He picked me up on his motorcycle and we headed into the night!  He took me up the same hill for the view of the city- I think Mysore is even more breathtaking at night, especially because the moon and the stars were more striking away from the campus lights.  After hanging out for a bit, we went to the rooftop of a nice hotel for drinks and “a bite”.  We had fried baby corn, which comes on a stick and looks like an American corn dog.   So that was fun and I decided I’m a fan of Kingfisher beer.  The temperature was perfect, there were candles on the table and relaxing with a new friend and good conversation was just what I needed after a fairly hectic week.  He’s the first couchsurfer who didn’t complain about Indian girls… well, I guess he complained about one Indian girl.  But that was an ex- who stole all of his cigarettes as he slumbered. 
The gender dynamics here are still pretty strange.  The instructor from last year told me he struggled to get boys working with girls so from the first day, I emphasized that just like real engineers don’t get to chose who they work with, every one in this class is expected to work with everyone else and be happy about it.  I change the seats and groups everyday so now, they’re used to it, even though the girls asked me on the second day whether they could avoid working with girls.  However, during any break, meal, walking anywhere, the five girls are in a clump, visibly separated from the thirteen guys.  Obviously, my kids are thirteen and all thirteen year olds are silly.  There’s slightly more interaction for people my age but, considering the segregated swimming pool and from what I hear from Abhi and Mayukh, girls tend to be very reserved (perhaps bordering on excessively paranoid) toward guys.  All the guys I met were gentlemen and I doubt it’s justified but there’s a lot of traditional societal pressures at play.
Today was a good day- the students started building their bridges and it was nearly impossible to drag them away from working- they missed juice and cookies entirely this afternoon.  I was slightly worried about what the visitor from Indian Academy of Sciences would think of the class because today, the kids were vibrating with excitement and she didn’t come at a particularly exciting time.  But she spent a lot of time talking to students and looking in their notebooks and she couldn’t believe what they’ve accomplished in just four days and she said she wanted to join the class!  So that was nice to hear.
Some of my oh-so-photogenic munchkins on our architecture field trip
After class, I crashed Abhi’s laundry party with some of his friends from last week.  He and Gabriela spent three hours of their Friday night getting me a local number, which I appreciate.  We successfully activated the international SIM but my AT&T phone rejected the card so Abhi’s going to give me his extra phone tomorrow to borrow.  So I’m close to accomplishing the “impossible” task of a foreigner getting a local number around here (I don’t know how Indians do it- supposedly they need a new SIM card for every state!  Ridiculous!).
Anyway, I’m off to enjoy my relaxing Friday night with some cheesy Indian soap opera (the only channel that decided to work on the TV) while working on week 1 evaluations-  śubha rātri!