The best way to kill jet lag: lots of action the first day in town. Brad also recommends no eating on the airplanes. I feel like we’ve been here for a week when it has only been ONE day. We started early this morning on campus, which is b-e-a-u-tiful especially compared to the rabble outside the campus. The ambient noise drops decibels after pulling through the gate and checking in with the security guards. The sound of tropical birds (and maybe mythical monkeys) is appropriate among the large vine trees, cactus patches and sandy roads.
We awoke at 4:30 am this morning to pack and get ready for our trip to Bangalore. After spending the first week organizing our project on campus and explaining to the guys in the shop (with the help of a translator) what aluminum plates we needed, we embarked on a nearly week-long trip to Bangalore and Mysore. The roads were quieter than usual this morning, though of course there were still cars about and honking and people wandering and squatting on the streets.
The first day in Bangalore, we were headed to a day trip at the General Electric campus. I woke up to the pleasant surprise of a high-quality complimentary breakfast including made-to-order eggs. Our car arrived at 7:45 and we napped on the way to the GE campus. Brad said he hoped it lived up to my expectations as I was very excited to see R&D in an industry setting, and I was in awe all day long. We began with an overview presentation about the expansive GE company, and I was surprised to learn that NBC is a branch of GE.
In stark contrast to the traditional and conservative city of Chennai in which we spent most of our trip, Bangalore is a huge, bustling city with sky-scrapers and young people dressed in jeans and short skirts. Amidst the metropolitan chaos, we did our best to stay together while navigating and bargaining with tuk tuk drivers, exploring the city on foot, spending way too much on souvenirs, and fighting crowds of shoppers, vendors and onlookers.
At the end of our travels, we spent a couple days in the small touristy town of Mysore and one incredible night on jungle safari at the Kabini Lodge. In complete contrast to the bustling, often disgusting city life, I saw the Indian countryside on foot. This blog includes a hike through tiger country in Bandipur national park, tourism at the palace and shops in Mysore, and a night at Kabini under more stars than I've ever seen in one sky. And elephants!
For the last two weeks of the trip, we settled down on campus in the guest house. From there, it was an easy but never boring walk to the NDE lab each morning. I met some incredible students and staff who showed me the beauty of India and IIT Madras through a native's eyes and ears.