Sunday, November 02, 2008

Arrival in Anand

Our flight (Emirates Airlines) arrived in time in Ahmedabad. Both flight legs (stopover in Dubai) had been without any problems. The first flight (7h long) had a very nice flight entertainment system where one could choose between probably several hundreds of movies, played individually from start. Food was excellent. Also the luggage had arrived well. The Indian immigration control office made some jokes when he checked my passport: “ How is Boris Becker? Steffi Graf?” They obviously do not see many Germans arriving here in this region.

Ahmadabad Airport is quite small - even Leeds-Bradford looks big in comparison.

We wonder if there actually is someone to pick us up—we had called yesterday and had been told that there would be a driver with a car. And indeed, he is there, with a 4x4 vehicle with two seat benches. We are 6 people, plus the driver—4 squeeze into the back bench, two of us in the front next to the driver.

Leaving the airport, going through some outskirts of Ahmedabad. My first view of India. A mixture of bright colors and poverty. Little tents with blue plastic foil roofing, providing shelter for people along the street. Some slum-like huts, and in between a few temples. Colorfully dressed women walk around.

Our driver honks a lot, but this seems here normal, just as a warning sound to others. It takes more than an hour to drive to Anand, where we will stay for the next 2 weeks. In Anand we realise that in the rush of the arrival at the airport we had forgotten to change some cash. Our driver stops at a ATM machine where we get some money – works fine.

Anand appears similar to the parts of Ahmedabad which we had seen on our way, just the town is a bit smaller. We stop at the guest house of the University. A building looking about 30 years old, somewhat run down. But that seemed to be with all the buildings: they appear as if they were built, and then forgotten. No paint job, no fixing of deteriorating stucco.

The sun shines quite high — no wonder, we are around N 22 deg latitude. Warm and humid, but not unpleasant. Everyone gets their individual room. But no internet is there. There is a phone plug, but no eithernet or WiFi. This will be a problem... The rooms are for students, and some of them are very spacious: like little studio apartments, with a lounge area, working desk, and a double bed. Obviously this is for double occupancy. I am luck to get one of those larger rooms - some of the other rooms are only about half the size. The bathroom is a bit weird: Shower is just in the middle, no curtain, next to the toilet. One just stands there and switches the shower on. The water is supposed to flow into the corner with the outlet in the floor, but it remains standing in the middle. The toilet is also unusual: Instead of flushing, there is only one water beam coming “up” (similar to how it is in Japan). No hot water comes out of the shower: instead there is a small run-through water heater in the upper corner, and a fosset on the ground: one has to collect hot water with a bucket, then use it during the shower process. There are two large buckets and two smaller plastic cups in the bathroom - one has to figure out how to use them.

After a brief freshen-up, we meet with the organisers from the university (about 500 m foot walk distance) and have an introduction, plan the two weeks ahead. A few schedule changes. Then we have lunch: very good spicy sauces, with rice and some kind of baked stuff. After that, we walk towards the stores and buy some bottled water. This appears to be a MUST for western visitors, as we are not used to the things that are in the normal tap water here.

In the streets there walk many cows around – and stray dogs.

This will be an interesting experience here!

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