Shaun Mehta

An informative blog that provides insight of my sometimes mundane, sometimes wacky life as a writer and teacher. To learn more, please go to: www.shaunmehta.com

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Travel Log #1 - Southern India


TRAVEL LOG #1
Exchange at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB)
September – October 2001

I am an East Indian born and raised in Toronto who traveled to Southern India for the first time. As an aspiring writer the dynamic subcontinent fascinated and inspired me. During my 8-month stint in the country, I completed an exchange at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), an internship at Infosys Technologies in Mysore, and found some time to travel and write. Through my journey, I grew to love the people and land, despite having a few misadventures along the way. I hope you enjoy some of my travel logs:

I was in the mess (cafeteria) the day I had arrived to the campus, and a man with a curly bushy mustache wearing army fatigues drove in on a motorcycle, and roared straight into the kitchen. I seemed to be the only one perturbed by this, and asked a fellow student who told me nonchalantly that the driver was a retired Indian commando who had become the head chef. This man used the kitchen as a garage. I paused for a moment to digest this news and thought of the diesel fumes that were probably embedded in my curry. I shrugged and continued eating. I am realizing that anything is possible in India.

On my way from a job interview I was taking a public non-air-conditioned bus and I swore that I must have lost a few months of my life. All the windows and doors to the bus were open because of the incredible heat. I was suffocating from the black fumes spewing from the traffic. It was so bad that I felt dizzy and nauseous, and I felt that I had consumed a carton of unfiltered cigarettes. As the bus drove past an intersection, I found myself envying a police officer wearing an air filter mask as he directed traffic.

Last night, I woke up at 3:00 am to use the bathroom. As I stepped out of my room and walked towards the common bathrooms I was disturbed to hear scurrying and squeaking behind the large garbage can by the doorway. A black shape that seemed to be the size of a small cat suddenly darted towards me. I screamed like a little girl as I felt wet fur brush against my bare foot. The filthy mammoth rodent dashed into the shadows as I ran back into my room, suppressing my urge to go. The following morning, I was comforted that the garbage can was no longer vibrating or squeaking. Eager to relieve myself, I entered the bathroom to the sound of splashing, which I assumed was from someone taking a bath. How wrong I was. As I approached the toilet I was horrified to see a great rat trying to stay afloat in the wash bucket. The bucket was full of water and the rat was struggling to avoid drowning, only its quivering nose sticking above the surface. Terrified, I slowly backed out of the room, suddenly content with the cramps I had.

There is only one sports facility on campus—a badminton court. It is located within a large metal barn constructed with corrugated sheets of gray metal that is covered by small punctures reminiscent to bullet-holes. Despite being covered by a roof, the court is flooded when it rains because of all the gaps and holes in the barn. One afternoon when I was playing badminton, I heard the sound of water splashing against the concrete floor. When I looked at the roof above my opponent I only saw the bright dots of sunlight. Perplexed, I turned behind me where a pool of water was collecting around the heel of my running shoes. And suddenly I knew what had happened. I looked straight with disgust and astonishment to find 3 monkeys bouncing on the rafters and urinating on me.

To get anything done here takes much patience. I still do not have textbooks or a student ID card because the bookstore and office is always closed. I received business cards from the school and my information is wrong. In one class, the professor gave us his home phone number if we had any questions. When I called, the number did not exist. Ah, India.

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