I have a bunch of small things to write about to get me up to date. I am sure there are plenty of things I am forgetting, but I am getting sick of the feeling that I am behind with the updates. So here are some things that I have done or what is going on in the last few weeks...
Nature Reserve- 9 November
After a day of shopping with my friend Sowmya and her daughter Nishka, I went back to nature. There was a trip to the Bannerghatta Nature Reserve organized by students at IIMB and a bunch of the foreign students were going. So, I thought I would join along.
The park is further south of the school on the same road. Apparently, up until a few years ago, IIMB was pretty much in the country. However, the development of the city has been so rapid that now the city is expanding farther and farther south and hitting right up to the partk.
We took a 2 hour or so walk in the nature. We mostly looked at birds, butterflies and plants. One of the coolest things was this plant called a “touch-me-not” that would curl up when ou touched it to protect itself from predators. Besides that, the walk was sort of on the boring side and the foreign students were complaining quite a bit. They were told they would see wild animals, but this wasn’t really cutting it. As we were sort of ending this part of the day, we got a big surprise though:
Okay you might not be able to tell what this is, but it is a crocodile! There were two of them. They look like rocks, but trust me—they were the mighty reptiles.
Then we finally go to go to the exciting part of the day. We paid to get into the park and then got on a bus, which had bars on the window and drove into a section of the reserve. Well, here is what we got to see. Yes, in India for only 2 ½ weeks and already I got to see a…
And also a white tiger
They were so close I couldn’t believe it. They were literally right next to the bus—closer than I have even seen in people’s safari photos. However, they weren’t really in the wild. Still it was incredible.
Here is another photo during the day. It is me, Fredrik from Sweden, and Surrender who is from India, but lives in Seattle and works for Microsoft.
Out in Bangalore
There have already been some nights out and surprisingly a lot at that place Spin that I mentioned before. One week there was a conference here sponsored by HP Labs called “Contextual Invention.” The topic was similar to the Doors East Conference (mentioned in the last update). There were these two women presenting. One, Priya, was a designer who is Indian and living in London and then another, Indri, who is German (with Chinese/Indonesian parents). Here they are with Emily (from Oregon), me, Zeenat (works with CKS) at Spin.
An aside—Emily is from Eugene, OR. She was staying Bangalore with an Indian family. The father’s name is Eugene. And, as you know, my dad’s name is Eugene. Too weird!
Nights at IIMB
There is this strange tradition at IIMB when it is someone’s birthday. At midnight, they all meet up at the main meeting area and pick up the guy whose birthday it is and kick him in the butt. And I mean really hard! It seems like torture to me, but this is what they do. One day, it was one of the foreigner’s turn. Fredrik’s birthday was on the 18th of Nov and he was not spared.
Getting his ass kicked
But it doesn’t end there. Then you get chocolate cake smashed all over you. And there is more…Next you get a bucket of water poured over you! So glad it is not my birthday (well, girls do it to girls so it is less harsh). Here is Fredrik after steps one and two with the crowd.
In addition to these activities, there has been a lot of celebrating on campus among the foreigners because they are all leaving. This is the last week for exams. Already a few have left and the rest will depart by Friday. Most are meeting up and travelling together, but to go out with a bang, there have been some parties. We had some good dancing and lots and lots of photo taking. I am not sure why I am showing these because I look particularly yucky, but that is okay. We were all supposed to wear Indian clothes. I even put on a bhindi (or bindi or bindhi—not sure of the spelling), but I don’t think you can see it.
This is Gilles from Brussels. He loved that I had lived there.
I am in between Morton, the Dane, and Fredrik, the Swede.
Me, Lars-another Swede, and Sharon—a Canadian
Here is a group-- Zivile- a Lithuanian who lives in Denmark and will be here for the next 6 months, David- a minister from Montreal, Ian-an Aussie who I will travel with from Xmas to New Year’s when I get back, Fredrik, Sharon, Lars
I didn’t get everyone, but you got the drift. Too bad they are all leaving :( I was lucky because it felt like Brussels again for a bit—being with all these Europeans and such. An aside—the other day someone asked me if I was Dutch!?!? Because of my last name-- (lef) is a Dutch word which means ‘guts’. I laughed so hard to myself b/c of my history with the Dutch and because—do I look Dutch to you???
Fulbrighters in Bangalore- 15 November
Swetha, the woman who is helping out the Fulbrighters in Bangalore called to get everyone together. We actually had had a plan for the following Monday, but a new girl had just arrived so instead we went to a Saturday lunch at the Bangalore Club. This is a club that has been around since the colonial days and is supposed (or was supposed) to be posh. I am not really sure what it is like now. I had actually read about it online coincidently and thought it might be good to join temporarily for the gym and other amenities. However, I don’t know how great it is and it is too expensive. Here we are, minus Mitali who was travelling at the time.
Up to my old tricks
Okay, I think you will find this story particularly amusing. I was shopping with my friend Emily, actually trying to find a tailor to get something made (that is a whole other story), when we wound up in a Kashmiri shop. This is where you find rugs, other handicrafts and the ever-popular pashmina shawl. You can go into one of these shops and ask for the most specific detailed thing and no matter what, without fail, they will ask you if you want a pashmina. It is quite humorous actually.
“Hello, do you have a sandalwood statue of the god Saraswati?” “Would you like a pashmina shawl?” “Hi. I am looking for an Indian miniature of Krishna.” “We have pashmina shawls.” “I need a leather belt with mirrors on it.” “Why don’t you try a pashmina shawl? I give you a good price. It is a festival today.”
Anyway, as we were, in fact, looking at pashmina shawls (hate to admit it)—for my mom, we met this American/Canadian guy in India for work. His name was Hussein and he was of Indian origin, his family was from Gujarat I think. We befriended him, as he was shopping for things for his fiance and he wanted to the advice of two women.
We went across the street to this clothing shop with this amazing Gujarati, beaded outfits. There is a name for them, but I am not sure what it is. Emily and I were trying to direct him to buy a red outfit instead of a gold one, but not sure if we were successful. Because she supposedly had my coloring, we held up the outfits to me. I even tried one on. Here is a photo:
We then went to go grab some dinner at this restaurant/lounge place called Cosmo Village. Well, when we get there we bump into this guy Emily and I knew, Srinath. We met him on our second night out in Bangalore. He is one of those omnipresent people. I have literally bumped into him 3 or 4 times out. We joined him and some of his friends and then all went to sit together to have dinner.
In the meantime, Srinath sees this guy he knows across the room. The guy is a red-headed American who then comes over to our table. His name is Eric and he works for National Geographic. He is with his co-workers who were going the next day on a shoot to record an excorcism in the north! They wind up sitting with us and of course our first comment is—Wow that is so cool you work for National Geographic! I think that must be on the top ten list of overall dream jobs—right beside astronaut. Anyway, Eric is from NY. So, I ask-“Where?” He says, “Westchester.” And we leave it at that.
About 10 minutes later, I start looking at him again. Hmm…
I say, “Where in Westchester?”
“Chappaqua”… I knew this was going somewhere.
“You don’t happen to know Melissa Biren “(a friend from Cornell).
“Yeah, I was good friends with her,” he says.
And I say, “Yeah, I think I remember you from her wedding. “(6 years ago!!!!)
So, my friends, Elizabeth had not lost her touch. In Bangalore for a few weeks and already bumping into friends of friends who I recognize from the street corner sometime in the last decade. Hahahahaha. Everyone at the table was in amazement (but they don't know that this is old hat for me, so...)
Well, about ½ hour later I mention to his friend, Rika (I think that is her name—she is Indian, but I think moving to the US to be with her husband who is living there) that I have a good friend who works at Discovery. Oh yeah, she says, “Who?” “Jim Kowats “(hi Jim!). She starts laughing. She knows him!!! Hahaha.
So, here we have it, not one, but two, yes, two people who I am connected to at this restaurant in Bangalore, India, thousands and thousands of miles away from home.
And the legend lives on….
By the way, I am going to pitch a travel show idea with either Jim or Jeff sometime in the near future. I mean, if someone should have a travel show, shouldn’t it be me? … Just have to come up with an angle, a schtick. I have one idea, but I can’t tell you. :)