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.
After all my experiences in India I have to say it was an amazing trip. I was able to see a lot of great places and be where I wasn't exactly in my comfort zone, but still function and get work done.
After coming back from traveling, we were all looking forward to getting started on some research. When we got back we got a chance to look at our wedge and did some initial testing and tried to determine the cause of some funny looking signals we were getting. We decided that damping the wedge would help a lot. This damping would prevent any sort of delay occurring from reflections in the wedge (which would cause some odd trigger signals). We then decided that using a laser as a receiver would be better than trying to use a second wedge and a piezoelectric crystal.
The flight to Honk Kong was incredibly long but ended up going by much quicker than I thought it would. We arrived at the hotel on Saturday evening and turned in early as we were all exhausted. The following day Scott (other undergraduate researcher) and I went out to buy cell phones and stumbled onto a dragon boat festival in the Harbor. http://tinyurl.com/29wglrj We stopped to watch some of the races (complete with a guy at the front of the boat hitting a drum to keep the rowers synchronized) before continuing our disposable phone quest.
The aluminum plates as well as the wedges needed to be created in order for us to start our testing, so in that time, we decided to go traveling for a few days. Our first stop was Bangalore which is located in South-central India. The train ride was about four hours long during the day. The countryside was beautiful and was filled with a lot of rice paddies, mountains, and small towns. It was nice to get away from the noise of rickshaws and cars and to sit in a relatively quiet train reading a book while looking out at the amazing scenery.
With only a few days left in India, we’ve been taking a lot of data in the lab. We’re working with a makeshift setup that we put together ourselves. It consists of shining a laser down on an aluminum plate and taking wave readings every 2 mm across the plate at 4 different locations down the plate, totaling 304 total readings. Each reading consists of hitting pausing the scope and capturing the waveform onto a jump drive and importing them to a computer for analysis.
So we’re back on IIT’s campus now after our travels around south India and we’re living in the guesthouse here. We took the night train back from Mysore. It really wasn’t bad at all either. We slept for essentially the entire 10-hour ride and rode in air-conditioned cars.
They gave us all suites at the guesthouse, which are really nice, and it’s really eased down the atmosphere because we’re only a walking distance from the lab now and don’t have to scramble for and bargain with a rickshaw every morning and evening to take us to and from the lab.
After spending a week all around south India, I feel that I have experienced a much better representation of this country. After 5 days in Chennai, I realized just how conservative of a town it really is. This isn’t to say that that’s a bad thing, but it has its pros and its cons. Comparatively, Bangalore is much more of a metropolis and a much more exciting city.
So after 17 hours on a plane and 2 days in India, I’ve learned quite a few things about this part of the world. Chennai isn’t the biggest tourist spot in the world so we’re pretty much the only American people walking the streets. Needless to say, we turn heads. Everyone here is so nice though. Considering the relative poverty of some of the neighborhoods that we leisurely walked through, we were never pestered by vendors, threatened, or made to feel uncomfortable. People like waving at us, especially little kids.