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 #4 - Southern India

TRAVEL LOG #4
Internship at Infosys Technologies, Mysore Campus.
February 2002


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 Bangalore visiting my friends at IIMB this past weekend and after lunch realized that my express train to Mysore was leaving in 40 minutes. Not worried, since the train station was only 20 minutes away, I grabbed my stuff, said goodbye to my friends, and caught an autorickshaw. By the time the autorickshaw began chugging out of the IIMB campus, I had 30 minutes to catch my train.

Now, the autorickshaw driver, who speaks little Hindi and about 10 words of English, comprehended that I have to go to the train station. The problem, however, is that he did not realize the time constraints that I was under. For instance, after going about 15 km/hour, he suddenly stopped at the side of the road without explanation. I watched with disbelief as he ran across the street and disappeared into a small store. He returned a few moments later with chewing tobacco. As he jumped back into the tiny vehicle, he gave me a goofy smile and offered me some. I declined and impatiently tapped my watch.

He gave me another goofy smile and nodded. He turned on the autorickshaw and continued to drive at 15 km/hour. People on their bicycles were moving past us. I muttered a curse as he suddenly pulled into the gas station to get some petrol. He parked behind an enormous line of autorickshaws waiting to fill their empty tanks.

Finally we were back on the road and I am happy to say that we were keeping pace with the bicycles. A few kilometers from the school campus we stopped at a red traffic light of a major intersection (incidentally, this is one of the few intersections in Bangalore that I have seen with a functioning traffic light). The traffic light turned green and every car, motorcycle, truck, bicycle, goat, dog, and cow moved past us. I glared venomously at the rickshaw driver who was busy studying something in his side mirror. He waited as a woman walked up beside the autorickshaw and then began an animated conversation with her. After two or three of the longest minutes in my life, I watched with horror as the woman squeezed into the autorickshaw beside me with a shy smile. He turned to me, gave me another infuriating goofy smile, and simply said: “Family.”

I pointed desperately to my watch and he looked at it thoughtfully. He then turned the autorickshaw on, and made a left turn away from the train station. As the woman and driver begin talking again in Kannada, I stared at the sky and asked why.

After 10 minutes, the driver dropped the woman in some part of the city that I had never seen before. I looked at my watch. 10 minutes left. To my relief, the autorickshaw driver actually began to drive recklessly, taking the three-wheeler to the limit of 30 km/hour. Now it was merely a race against time. So did I catch the train? Ha! Not only did I miss the train, but also worse, the next one came 2 hours later and was not an express train. This meant that I was wedged with 25 other people into a compartment designed to hold 10 patrons. But hey, that’s what I deserve for spending 26 rupees (87 cents Canadian) for the train ride. In short, a 4-hour journey took me 8 hours to complete. And Mysore is only 165 km away from Bangalore. I could have flown from Toronto to Paris in less time.

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