Less than a week in, we were already pretty bored of dhal and rice for dinner every day, so on Friday evening we decided to take a trip out to a nicer restaurant. After successfully crossing a six-lane highway “Frogger”-style, all nine of us piled into what can only be loosely defined as a nine-seater taxi. We told him our destination, 23km away, and off we went. However, after 20 minutes of driving, we didn’t seem like we were any closer, so we decided to just get dropped off opposite a Pizza Hut. While our dreams of a lovely restaurant were gone, the cheap and plentiful pizza was a nice break from the usual curry we got at the EDI campus. Thanks to Rocky, we managed to negotiate a decent price for some rickshaws (tuktuks) to take us back, and we got a true taste of Indian driving (though we’re pretty sure we still got ripped off…)!
On Saturday we went to a local market, Law Garden, to explore and do some shopping. Negotiating with the locals was quite fun. That is, until Sachin and I found that the scarves/wall-hangs we got for Rs. 750 each after considerable bargaining… were hugely overpriced – Panos got the same one for Rs. 300!! After settling down for some authentic (& cheap) street food, we made our way back to EDI, this time a little more experienced in the art of tuktuk negotiating. On Sunday, we visited a round of temples and a stepwell. One of them, Aksherdam Temple, seemed extremely holy as they didn’t allow cameras or phones in there, nor did they allow Sachin and I as we were wearing shorts. This meant that we had to buy some women’s trousers, much to the amusement of literally every single person in the temple… though in all honesty, the trousers were pretty cool. So, we queued up, expecting to see some super holy temple, and as soon as we get in, we see a huge waterslide! Then, bumper cars, a roller-coaster… it was basically a fair! The temple itself was beautiful and it was such a shame that they didn’t allow us to take pictures. We then saw a gorgeous “water show,” which was basically a combination of lasers and projections on fountain streams. The show told us the story of the guru who set up the temple, but of course we understood none of it, so it was down to Rocky to translate for us. On the way back, we finally got our wish and ate at a quite upmarket restaurant…with Sachin and I still donning our women’s trousers, naturally.
To say the first week in India was full of confusion would be an understatement. The second week has been a little more clarifying – the group as a whole is now more aware of what is expected of us in terms of work. George and I spent a night in a nearby city, Baroda, visiting the local foundry cluster and interviewing the managers and CEOs, in order to finalise our research topic. It was a very fulfilling experience; I think both of us truly enjoyed the opportunity to connect & interact with the owners. A 1st year student at EDI that we met playing football, Abhisheik, joined us on the trip as he was from Baroda. He showed us around the city, and we ate at his family’s restaurant which served authentic Gujarati food. We took a public bus with no air conditioning back, just so we could experience the Indian way a little better, but if it wasn’t for Abhisheik, we might’ve never made it back to Ahmedabad!
The second week has been fun. I think we’re now a little more settled in, largely thanks to the hospitality of the locals around us. We’re going north to Udaipur, Rajasthan for the weekend, and then George and I will be spending 10 days in Baroda to do some real research… exciting times!