India – Part 1
Day 1 – Saturday 7/30
Brad, Ningli and I arrived at the airport in Chennai close to midnight and attempted to find our driver that had been previously arranged. However, we had no luck finding him. Instead we grabbed a cab and headed to the Ginger Hotel. In the morning we walked over to the university to check out the lab and a few other places around campus. We then went to lunch at Liu’s just outside the main gate. After lunch we headed back to the lab to see Professor Balasumbramaniam and let him know that we made it safely and that’d we would be in on Monday to get started. On our way out I had my first encounter with some monkeys in the restroom.
Day 2 – Sunday 7/31
After trying to sleep off our jetlag, we headed over to the food court at Ascendas for some lunch. I tried to order food from an Indian restaurant there but neither the cashier nor I could understand each other so I had to walk away. Luckily I found another Indian restaurant where it was a lot easier to order. Later we headed down the street to the train station and took the train down to the beach. We accidentally got on the women’s car at first and had to get off and change cars at the next stop. The beach was really interesting. There are shops and stalls lined up and down the road and there is also a corridor of stalls across the sand towards the ocean. Even though it was raining outside there was a lot going on at the beach.
Day 3 – Monday 8/1
Before heading to work I ordered a cheese uttapam from the food court not knowing what it was. It’s similar to a pancake that has cheese sprinkled on top with several kinds of dipping sauces and is pretty delicious. While walking to work we had to dodge a bunch of bikes, motorcycles and car. It seems like almost every student at IIT madras owns a bike. I guess it makes sense though considering how big their campus is. After a couple hours in the lab we went to lunch at Café Coffee Day, which is similar to Starbucks but has so many more options, including meals. Then we went back to the lab for a couple of hours. Abi, from the lab here, suggested that we got to a place called “The Rock” for dinner. Trying to get an autorickshaw to this restaurant was incredibly difficult. No one knew where it was and everyone was trying to rip us off. After an hour we got to the restaurant and it ended up being an insanely overpriced themed restaurant. It was so uncomfortable eating there. We were one of two tables eating there, everyone was staring at us and the whole theme thing was so tacky.
Day 4 – Tuesday 8/2
Today was pretty uneventful. We spent a few hours at the lab in the morning. Brad and Ningli went to lunch while I waited for something to get done in the lab. Later, I went to Café Coffe Day so I could grab something quick. While there I met a couple people from France and Germany that were studying abroad in India. They were all trying to get as few classes as possible in their schedules so they could travel throughout India on their off days. The week before, they all ended up in the hospital with dengue fever, which they thought was pretty ironic and funny.
Day 5 – Wednesday 8/3
Unfortunately this day was pretty average as well. We just worked in the lab and had another run in with the monkeys in the hallway.
Day 6 – Thursday 8/4
Today we went to work as usual and then part way through the day went to the library to get our student ID cards. At the entrance of the library we were required to give the security guards our bags while in the library. If you wanted to carry something with you, you were required to fill out a permit for whatever you happened to be taking with you. I found this pretty strange considering a lot of studying done at Northwestern is in the library and you kind of need your books and computer for that. I guess the library isn’t used as much for studying here. On the walk home from work something very entertaining happened. Earlier in the morning some workers had poured concrete over the gravel road that we take in to work. So, on the way home the concrete was drying. While walking towards the hardening concrete, someone’s cow got loose and started running all over the concrete. It was really funny to watch people try and get the cow while it messed up the roadwork that was done earlier that morning.
Day 7 – Friday 8/5
This day was especially frustrating in the lab. Everything was working perfectly fine the day before but absolutely nothing wanted to work today. We went through our setup over and over trying to find the problem with not much luck. Since it was Friday we went to a pretty nice restaurant and got an awesome meal. The power did go out several times during dinner however. Today also marks the first day of bed bug sightings for Ningli and Brad.