Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Visit at IET, and Driving Back

The educational institution which Adam wanted us to get in contact is IET. This institution has the main mission to bring education to the tribal communities around Surat. They teach English and other subjects which are relevant to these communities in order to not stay behind in this rapidly developing country. IET has a great campus at the River Tapi.

We are welcomed by Ashok Vyas, the director of the institute. He shows us around and explains us the situation. We also realise that Adam and Dr. Jadeja (Sardar Patel University) are on the advisory committee of this institute. Beccy and myself are taking with us information material which we can then present to our home institutions. We visit the president of IET who is located at another building.

Afterwards, we drive through the city to Ashok's home, where he invites us to the usual great tea, and where his wife performs a puppet theatre performance for us, with her hand-made dolls. On a laptop computer we are shown a video recording that was taken in this flat during Brian's first visit back in January. The video shows him and the singer Ray Hearne, sitting in those seats were we are sitting right now.

We take off. Driving back through the town, on that elevated motorway. The city appears very contemporary, but somewhat run-down. Many glass facades of buildings are damaged. We are told that this city has many diamond processing factories and a large textile industry. I would be curious to see the old town centre. There is supposed to be a fort here. But interestingly, our hosts do not mention it, nor do they recommend anything in the old town. Instead they point out the factories and shopping centres that we are driving alongside.

We continue towards North. The road is a long construction zone, due to the conversion into a motorway. We drive again through many potholes. Our driver appears to be even more agressive than before, and even more than all the other drivers around. He honks a lot, speeds at intersections and roundabouts. But the most life-threatening scene happens when our part of the quasi-motorway is very slow, and he just moves across an intersection onto the other lane, right into the oncoming traffic. Lots of honking, but everybody sees our vehicle and moves to the side. This goes so for about 1/2 km, then he returns back to the correct track. From now on nothing can shock me anymore. Beccy is half unconsious and says nothing.

We drop off Adam near the town of Bharuch. No time for sighseeing, we drive further into the night. Eventually the road becomes better. After about 4 hours of driving we are back in Vallabh Vidyanagar.

Somehow after all this Indian food, vegetarian and spicy, I have an appetite for pizza. There is a place, and we all go. The pizza is quite a bot different than expected: an almost solid bottom crust, and on top some tomato paste, with grated cheese strips.

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