Wednesday, March 17, 2010

India - Day 28

I had asked Jayashree where the old city of Delhi was so that I could go look around there. She had pointed me to a metro station and told me that it would be on the same line as the metro stop on the other end of the street I was living on.

By the time I got to the metro station, the mystery of the frequency of dreadlocks had been solved - it turned out that what was on the other end of the street was the New Delhi Railway station, thus making the street one of the most frequently visited by tourists. I do have to admit that in other parts of the city white people were a much less common sight. That did not mean everyone was native, however. For instance, there were a rather large number of Punjabi Sikhs on the streets, who were all fairly easily identifiable by having a considerably stronger and stouter build than the average indian, making them easy to recognize even without the help of a beard and a turban that are the hallmarks of Sikhism.
In general, Delhi seemed to be poorer than Hyderabad. For instance, instead of motor rikshas, the traffic was dominated by manually pedalled velorikshas. There were also quite a few ox carts on the streets - I saw dozens in one hour of walking whereas I saw less than 5 in my whole stay in Hyderabad.

All this I found out while taking a nice long walk around the city - having come out in a wrong metro station (as I had forgot exactly which one she had pointed to the day before). It was for the best though, as I allowed me to get a more balanced view of the City.

However, after walking back to the railway station, I decided to try my luck with yet another metro station I was hoping would take me to the old city. This time I stroke lucky... well, until I empirically confirmed what Jayashree had told me the day before - that all the sights are closed on mondays. So - I got to look at a nice castle, an even nicer temple and a rather large mosque - from 200 m outside their front gates :).

All that required quite a bit of walking, however, and as it can be quite exhausting in 35 degree heat, I decided to find a cool place to sit down and rest for a while. Parks did not work, as the few I saw were either closed or did not have trees for shade. So I just settled for a metro station, where I found a pillar behing which I could hide (so that noone would come to bother me). I sat there for about an hour, waiting for the clock to strike 4, which was the time Jayashree should get off work.

At 4 PM I walked to the nearest payphone, only to find it out of order. Not a problem - travel to the next station and try there. I got a dial tone this time, but now ran into another problem. Jayashrees accent, bad qulity of the reciever and the fact that the telephone booths only accepted one rupee coins (which gave you 30 seconds talk time each) meant that I after 2 minutes on the phone I was absolutely none wiser and was, in fact, feeling a lot stupider that before. I decided to go back to the hotel and try to get change to pay for a longer call. This I failed at, but after a conversation with the hotel receptionist (who did not speak much english), I found a payphone where you could pay to a person rather than with coins, thus solving my problem.

Sadly, Jayashree was busy in the evening so I decided to just go take the metro to one end of the line and back to see some more of the city (as the train comes above ground out of central Delhi). Again - Shanghai came to mind, but now in a bit different way, as this line went through a rather different neighbourhood than the one before. I would have taken photos but when I tried that, a policeman came to me and asked me to delete the pictures I had taken because it was illegal in the metro. I complied.

When I got back to the center, I realized I had not eaten anything for the whole day. I had not really felt hungry either - the heat has a way of taking away the appetite, as I had already learned before. I headed back to the hotel and paid my bill there. I then asked them to order me a taxi for the following morning. Learning that the taxi ride would cost 350 rupees, I put one 500 rupee bill aside for the morning and set out to spend the rest of it, first on dinner (which I had alongside a german bioinformatics student) and then on small but nice little tokens that would make for good gifts. I actually found quite a few nice things that were remarkably cheap, even considering I probably got ripped off buying most of them.

I did try to bargain a little, as in Delhi it seemed to be standard practice, probably more due to the fact that tourists expect that to be the case. When in China, I got one thing 5 times cheaper than the initial price, the best I could get here was a bit less than a factor of two, and that too just barely and with some trickery.

Shop owners fell in two categories. Type A was quite pushy - asking you to come in, showing you all sorts of things, then offering discounts when you liked something but still did not buy it. Type B was the complete opposite - you literally had to go to the owner, ask for attention and even then he might ignore you on the first try. As you can probably guess, bargaining only worked for Type A cases, as Type B always just named their price and stuck to it.

The prices were pretty even around the street and, despite being one of the most tourist-ridden place in the whole of India, did not seem significantly higher than those I saw in Hyderabad. I guess that the stiff competion that goes on on the street probably keeps the prices in check and that it is reasonable for them not to elevate the prizes too much because that way, people actually buy more. Not that I would be suprised to find that the prizes they ask are 2-4 times what the things actually cost... Which still makes them 2-8 times cheaper than they would be in Estonia:P

I spent my last 100 rupees on a bottle of water and two bracelets.

In the morning, I took my bags and went out to wait for the taxi, which they supposedly had ordered.. only to find out that they didn't - and that overnight, the price had gone up from 350 to 400 rupees :P The price rise was because the old clerk had seen me check in, under the watchful eyes of the hotel owner who had told him to be nice to me. The new receptionist had not. However - this (plus any other "unexpected" service charges) had been the reason why I set aside 500 instead of 350 and had planned everything with one hour to spare. So I was still in good shape. I got to the airport without problems, went through customs and practiced playing my bass for an hour before boarding (as I had still arrived an hour too early).

India - Day 27 - Delhi

I arrived in Delhi at noon. I had made agreements with Jayashree (a friend of Tom) so that I would call her from the airport and she would tell me where we meet up. To get to the appointed place from the airport, Tom had recommended I take a prepaid cab, which works as follows: you go to a booth at the airport, tell where you want to go, they tell you the price, you pay the man in the booth and they then give you a receit to take to the driver, who will then take you to the agreed place. As I understand, the system is there to prevent taxi drivers ripping off foreigners. Quite clever.

Unfortunately, the driver did not quite take me where I needed to go so I had tohop on the metro and ride to the next station. This, however, turned out to be a non-trivial task. After buying a token, I had to go through a security checkpoint - with my large backpack, which they wanted to examine quite thoroughly, making me just miss the train. Thankfully, the trains run every 10 minutes.

Looking out of the train, absolutely everything reminded me of the suburbs in Shanghai that I had seen from a similar vantage point about a year ago. Except for the people and the advertisments around me, I could have sworn I was back in China. Strange.

Jayashree turned out to be a very friendly lady in her 40-es, supreme court lawyer and a social worker by profession and fluent in three languages (nepalese, hindi and english). She did not like to brag, however, so all these facts turned out casually during the conversation.

She took me down to the city center via the metro. In there I had a rather major cultural shock, as this place was about as un-Hyderabadlike as it can get in India. 2/3 of the people were foreigners and 1/10 of them had dreadlocks - making me a completely normal, even to-be-expected, sight - something that has never happened to me before. This in stark contrast to Hyderabad, where 99.9% of people on the street are of indian origin. There were other differences too - such as the ratio of women dressed in western clothing as opposed to traditional clothing being half-and-half, there being relatively few muslims and, of course, me spotting my first budhist monks. Anyways, Jayashree went to a hotel owned by a friend of hers and helped me get a room.

Once I had dropped my belongings there, Jayashree asked me what I wanted to do next. I told her I had yet to see a large temple. So she took me to one. One where the security measures were absurd, to say the very least. You had to hand in all your belongings, save for your wallet and possibly a bottle of water, but - here is the punchline - before handing in the camera and the mobile phone, you had to remove the batteries from them. Don't ask me why. After that, men and women were separated and there was a rigorous metal detector screening (I think the fourth one today).

The temple was for one guru, whose name I can't remmember and which does not matter much anyways. What does matter was just how intricately beautiful the whole complex was. It was carved out of sandstone, and when I say carved, I really mean carved - most of it was intricately decorated with patterns and small detailed statues. And considering the size of the complex, I was in awe as to how much work must have gone into it.

After exiting the complex, I asked Jayashree to show me something distinctly Indian. So, in a parody of tourist sightseeing, she took a riksha and asked the driver to drive by a few large and important looking buildings (banks, government offices, the India gate). Not that there would be much to see. Not that I could, even if I wanted to (I did not). Not that I would learn much from it. But it did make me laugh :) The more western part of Delhi, where the gate was located, reminded me of the university district in Moscow. Similar architecture, similar streets (with parks) and so on. So I did learn that large cities have a lot of contrast in them, if not anything else.

She then had some business to take care of so we agreed to try to meet up again the next day and I went back to Sri Ramakrishna Asham station to try to find my hotel. Which was not as easy as I first hoped and took me well over half an hour. In the end, I went to one of the side streets on a hunch and it turned out to be the right one.

In the evening, I went out to try to find some dinner. I eventually settled for a small diner that served chinese food (as I did not feel like eating spicy Indian cuisine), and yet again had noodles. I then browsed through some shops in the hopes of finding a few more interesting things to take back home with me.

Arrived in the hotel with a bunch of gifts, a bottle of water and a roll of toilet paper. Watched a movie from my netbook before going to bed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

India - Day 26

My last day in Hyderabad. So, being me, I spent most of it trying to fix computers that I did not have time to look at before. The computers of Shrewan and Venela/Ramona got cleaned of viruses and spyware rather easily. The computer we took from the school and the computer of Sandhya are both in a bad state still, however, as I do have their windows CD keys but these keys work for neither OEM nor Retail versions. I will try to find an answer somehow and to convey it to Tom so he could reinstall windows on both of them.

In the evening, we had dinner with Nandita and Shrika (the two neighbours). After we had finished, I went out with Gabe. I took the scooter.

We tried to find a place called "10 Downing street" (an english pub) but we couldnt't, so finally just went to Hard Rock. We just had time for one drink (him beer, me Sprite), sadly, but the scooter ride across the city was quite fun. I have really gotten used to the traffic here. Sad to have to leave it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

India - Day 25

Was out to school yet again. However, the CD-key did not seem to be for the retail version either so Im kind of baffled. On the way back, we ran into a traffic jam. Tom insisted we make a U-turn but swami was reluctant to follow his advice. In the end, hejust jumped out of the riksha and said he would meet us at his place. Well, me, having a desktop computer in my lap, could not really follow him so just let swami continue his driving.. and he actually found a quick route around the jam, so we could have made it home before Tom (but didn't since I had to stop by two places).

In the afternoon I took the scooter onto the bigger streets for the first time.. during rush hour, as I understand. It was scary, but not nearly as bad as I had feared. Both me and the scooter are ok, in case anyone is wondering. Although, by the Estonian standards I would be considered a traffic hooligan by now for some of the things I have done.

In the evening, I took a look at Sandhyas computer. It seemed to be in exactly as bad of a shape as the school computer was so I hope to reformat it tomorrow. I also installed a DVD reader into Pats computer, which took longer than expected as I also had to install VLC and a few other things.

Last day in Hyderabad tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

India - Day 22

Spent the better half of today trying to fix the virus ridden computer at the school.
Some problems I encountered:
The machine did not have a CD-drive
Internet connection seemed broken so one piece of software I badly needed could not be downloaded
Installing windows XP to the hard disk in another machine does not work.
The CD drive of its neighbour was horribly slow and failed to eject the tray on numerous occasions
The machine was reluctant to boot from the CD drive of its neighbour (but finally agreed)
The CD drive of its neighbour was also faulty (made read errors)
The CD drive of the other neighbour was also somewhat buggy
Just when I finally managed to boot the CD, the power went out for an hour.
Oh yes, and I had an OEM cd but the cd key seemed to be for a retail version - so I could not reinstall the operating system.

I then had to walk 2-3 km back to the road in the afternoon sun (thankfully, today I did put some sunscreen on, but I still had burns from yesterday) and I had also left my headscarf at home.

And now Im trying to fix my own laptop which refuses to see any wireless networks under Ubuntu.


Monday, March 8, 2010

India - Day 21 - Always wear sunscreen

I went to see one of the (few) sights of Hyderabad, the Golconda fort. I decided I was going to walk there. Managed to get lost on the way due to inaccuracies in the map - paved road went over to dirt road half the width of the original, but it was still marked the exact same way on the map.. also, Im quite amazed at what passes for a road worth marking on the map here. Add to that the simple fact that there are no streetposts and very few people can actually communicate in english (or read a map) and you see that figuring out where you are can be a pain in the backside.

Anyways, after backtracking my steps to the last good configuration, I finally found my way. The fort really was quite amazing. More amazing, however, was the fact that just outside the fort wall were the slums.. which gave it a rather remarkable contrast. Two locals showed me a way into the fort, which was literally just a few bricks being dug out under the wall so one could just barely climb under it.

The outer fort provided for some rather good photographs. The inner fort was even better, however, as it was located on a hilltop overlooking most of Hyderabad.
One thing I have yet to mention is that Hyderabad, being a city of 8 million inhabitants, has mostly very low buildings (2-3 storeys). This means that it does stretch out over a rather large area. However, that area is not nearly as wide as youd think - maybe 4-5 times the size of Tallinn. So people do live really densely in the slums - its not uncommon for a family of 5 people to live in a single room with a small kitchen corner and no bathroom.

The fort was located in the more islamic part of the town, so women in sarees were replaced mainly with women in burkas, and telugu signs were replaced by signs in arabic. Needless to say, I passed by quite a few mosks on the way as well.

After leaving the inner fort, I took a nice walk towards the main gate of the outer fort. The gate was very beautiful, although a bit in ruins. Id reminded me of one of the gates I had seen in Suzhou, being probably even more impressive. What was interesting, however, was that whereas in Suzhou, tourists had been all over the gate, which was purely a tourist sight, in here you had to enter a back alley to get up to it and I could enjoy the view in solitude. The gate, however, was still in use as it was situated on a rather active road. This meant I could also walk through it once I had walked on top of it.

Since I had walked for quite a long distance, I decided to take a riksha. I said before that in here, people do not expect you to bargain. Riksha drivers are a clear exception to the rule however.. they do not expect a foreigner to bargain, but if you use aggressive negotiation tactics (plainly walking away), they will let you know that they are willing to accept less. The minimum bid you should always start with here is "Meter" which means they have to pay according to what the meter tells. If they accept it, it would be polite to give them a bit extra.. even up to half of what the meter sais. They usually do not accept this however, but they will let their price down. You can then reply with something akin to "meter plus 20", which is usually still way better than what they are offering. All that being said - rikshas are very cheap and even their first offers would usually be considered dead cheap when compared to taxis in Estonia, not to mention anywhere else in the western world.

Ow yes, and in case anyone is wondering about the title - Yes, my face and arms are, in fact, quite red at the moment. 5 hours walking in the sun can do that to you here.

Edit: I went to dinner with an american I met at the inner fort. Took the scooter there and had a really close call in the traffic. Two cars were maneuvering on a rather narrow road, one trying to turn around and the other trying to get past it. I was approaching with quite a speed and just barely managed to slip by the two of them (they had a gap between them that was just over half a meter wide. I know because the scooter is just under half a meter in width).

Cases like this make me think I should learn to use the horn. Logic of its use here is very simple: you honk whenever you need everyone else around you to be aware of the fact that you are there. This applies to all the cases where you attempt to do something completely idiotic, like trying to drive past a bus by going into the other lane (although - lanes are a VERY loose concept here). It also applies to moderately idiotic things like driving past a 6"5' white guy with dreads on a scooter who is behaving rather erratically. Mildly idiotic things (such as driving here at all) also sometimes warrant a honk every now and then, just for good measure.

The american guy, who had stayed in Delhi for 5 months said that he also tried driving a scooter once.. and showed me rather nasty bruises and scars. He said he had been forced out of the road by a bus. He also said that his indian friends who owned scooters or motorcycles had all of them been in rather nasty traffic accidents. So yes, driving here is not really safe and I'll try to keep off larger roads for the time being, just in case.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

India - Day 20, Hash

Today I did two things. First - I went to a used books fair and bought two more books for myself. Secondly, I participated in a hash. Now in more detail about both of these things.

I went to the book fair accompanied by Shrewan and Venela (his sister, also one of Tom's assistants). We went by riksha to what seemed to be quite a distance away until I started spotting books being laid out on the pavement on the side of the road. There was maybe a kilometer of such improvised bookstores. What was most interesting to me is that there were very many textbooks on mathematics, computers, engineerind and physics there, all of which cost nearly nothing (20-30 rupees or 5-8 kr). Novels and popular science books were a bit more expensive, costing around 100-150 rupees (40 kr) which is still quite low, all things considered. I was also taken to two stores that sold new books, but there prices were about the same as in the rest of the world and, as nothing really interesting stuck out, I did not buy anything from these. I did buy two more used books though.

On my way back, I recieved a call from Gabe. As I was in traffic, I told him I would get back to him. Which I did. He said he planned to go to the hash and I asked where we should meet up. He named a place and I set off towards it.

Now a "Hash" is an event similar to "Friday night skate" except
a) you walk or run (a distance of 5-10 km), depending mainly on your shape.
b) it takes place somewhere outside the city
c) there is beer and food afeterwards
d) most of the people doing it are foreigners (although this is probably specific to india).

Just before the start, Gabe introduced me to this guy who he said is a programmer but who turned out to be a mathematician instead (specializing in geometry). We had a rather interesting discussion, first about what we were researching and then about religion (as the walk led us through a graveyard). We discussed evolution, Dawkins and different aspects of religions, which was quite fun.

After the walk, I met a couple of other people as well. There were people of all ages from 14 to 60, at least 8 of which were americans, a few french and a few germans as well as a few natives, maybe 40 people in total. They asked all the new people to introduce themselves, and Estonia recieved a wide applause as they had not had anyone from there before.

A few things that this event drove home for me:

Firstly - no matter how crazy things you have done or how many things you have seen or how much you have thought about a topic - there will always be people who beat you in that hands down. And chances are good you run across one in any given company, especially an international one. It is fairly easy to forget that, being the big fish in your own small pond.

Secondly - conversing in a language non-native to you in a culture space that is completely foreign is.. complicated. And if there are people who share your cultural space and language, you find it much easier to speak with them. MUCH easier. So fitting into the conversation is quite hard at first... but it gets easier with practice, as you start figuring out the cultural space and its implicit rules. That seems to come with trial and error, however, so one has to be ready and willing to make mistakes. And as one has to make an effort to do so, so it is often much easier not to bother. I have seen this in both my own behaviour and in others behaviour towards me.

Thirdly - spending a longer amount of time abroad will change ones view of the world. However, the change might not necessarily be for the better,

I'm going to finish up with one interesting factoid.
It is illegal in India for a doctor to tell the parents the sex of their child before he/she is born.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

India - Day 19

Today was a rather busy day (by my current standards). At 10.30 I went to Nandita (one of Tom's neighbours, an older woman) only to find out that the driver had not arrived yet (so I managed to hear what was cussing in Hindi judging by the tone used). At about 11 we went shopping with her and Tom's other neighbour, Shiika (the one with the huge library). I managed to get quite a few souvenirs for both myself and some of my friends as well. When in the car, we also had interesting conversations with Nandita about charities and how to keep them going. Her main idea was that one has to always train ones own apprentice, and she cited Jesuites as very famous successful example of being able to keep things running for years on end, from one leader to another.

They left me at a souvenir shop (well.. an art shop, as it also had statues way too large to go in airplane luggage) I was approached by someone asking if I do acid and whether I would like to go to a rave. I declined, in case anyone is interested.

Me and Tom were then invited to Pat for pre-dinner drinks. We went with the scooter. I asked jokingly whether I could drive and he said sure, go ahead. We arrived in one piece, although I did manage to scare Tom considerably by my driving style. We drove past Sandhya on our way and when Tom asked me to pull over and I did, he looked visibly distressed.. and nervous laughter followed, from both of us.

Gabe was also invited, although he arrived a bit late. He had actually phoned me earlier to ask whether I would like to go out with him and a friend of his he had met a week ago. Sadly, that didnt work out because the friend had had a busy day and wanted to rest.

For dinner we went to this rather weird chinese-indian-european place. Portions were big, but prices were similar, being comparable to those found in above-average places in estonia. Tom said he was paying, however. During dinner it turned out that Pat had also had a rather crazy life, having stayed with headhunter tribes in South America and having had to watch a building she was supposed to be in be blown up in a terrorist attack, while being next door and recovering from a hangover.

The drive back on the scooter was similarly distressing to Tom, especially because I took all the turns at considerable speed and the last left turn was quite a close call because of that. When he got off, he said "You really are insane" and Im quite sure he did not mean it as a compliment, although he did admit that in here, being a bit crazy is quite useful for driving. Thankfully, the streets were rather empty today, as I do have to admit I did not plan on cutting things so close (it was actually a byproduct of me not being able to account for the extra weight of another person on the bike).

Also - I am reading Penrose at the moment and I, as a computer scientist with a small amount psychology background, do not agree with his ideas of conciousness, or, rather, think they are completely ludicrous and that he understands nothing of either what computers are capable of or how human mind works.

Friday, March 5, 2010

India - Day 18

I hate goodbyes. Dave and Alex left today for their round trip of India (2 months). Thankfully, Brits are (supposedly) just as bad at saying important stuff as Estonians are. Just before leaving, Alex told me of his uncle, who has proposed to his wife by just leaving a ring and a note "will you marry me" for her to find.. and had gotten no reply other than the fact that the woman was wearing the ring the next day. Actually, kind of cute when you think about it.

One of the computers at school is completely virus-ridden and will probably need a clean reinstall. The trouble with windows is that even if you have a legal CD key, it can be a pain in the ass to find the appropriate CD for it. Not to mention the trouble of installing it. But the people at the school are really nice. Especially the head mistress (principal) of the school Lavanya, who I have been told is just a little older than I am. When the power went down, I sat down to read a book, but then I was asked to do it in their classroom.. which is kind of weird, but I have sort of gotten used to the odd customs here. I took a look at one of the textbooks they were using and it was in English. That was quite unexpected for me, as the children seemed quite young (10?) and to my understanding, the English skills of even the teachers are quite poor (except Lavanya, whose english is by no means perfect but quite good for a non-native speaker).

I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of my life lately. I do not find my research meaningful, sadly. Teaching at the university fares somewhat better on that scale so I will probably try to continue with that as well. However - doing both of these simultaneously is what drove me to the edge in the first place. Then again, there seem to be no good obvious alternatives.

My hopes of recovering whilst being here have not really come true. If anything, some things have gotten worse. Maybe because I am forced to deal with some things I was running away from before. However, I am not really dealing with them either, or rather am trying but not succeeding.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

India - Day 17 (?)

Damn the left sided traffic here. Being on a scooter and looking into the headlights of a (forward) moving car is not something Id recommend. Thankfully, people here are rather used to someone occasionally (and deliberately) riding a bike on the wrong side of the road, so they do not seem to mind that much..

For those of you that are wondering why I haven't written anything in two days, the reason is very simple. I just haven't had much to write about. Fixed some computers, practiced some bass, talked with some of the older people around, sat and read a book in a park, went shopping... nothing really noteworthy.

Edit: I was used to scare little children. Well, one little child, but still. It was a kneese of one of Tom's assistants. Funny thing is, they said she kept referring to me as a doll and asked "how is it moving" or "look, it is eating". David, who was also there, was referred to as "the devil", by the way.

Today is David's last day here, so we went to the Hard Rock Cafe with him, Shrawan and his friend. There was live music there this time - they played covers of U2, Iron Maiden etc and were pretty good. Dave said he will try to come back to Hyderabad some time in the next two years. I might well do the same. It is a nice place and I will miss it when I leave.

Monday, March 1, 2010

India - Holi, day 14

Today was the festival of colors, called "Holi". Shrawan (one of Toms assistants, male) came to pick us up along with one of his friends Satish. They both rode motorcycles. I took the backseat of Satishes motorcycle.

Riding on a motorbike in this traffic is an experience in itself. Seriously - the videos do not convey even the half of it. Nevertheless, I took a few more today, as at least one of my friends mentioned she has been looking at the traffic videos quite avidly.

We arrived at the house of one of Shrawans friends and started celebrating the festival. Its kind of like valentines day except instead of giving your friend a card, you rub paint all over him/her, soak him with coloured water and then crack a few fresh eggs open on top of his head. Yep - it really was just like that, and truly fun just as you can imagine. The paint was not synthetic (as they have celebrated this festival for hundreds of years) and so they threw it in the face and everywhere else as well. We were, thankfully, warned to wear old clothes, and I also wore a headscarf to protect my dreads (and kindly asked people not to crack eggs on my head.. which they complied with). There are loads of photographs of their family along with me and Dave. The pictures are in picasaweb (or will be soon). The festivities took place on the street, and the people driving by did not let themselves be bothered by it. In fact, a fair number of them also had their faces and clothes in a bit unusual colours.

We then went to the house of Shrawans sister and then covered his brother-in-law in green paint. They then served us lunch, which was quite spicy but very good nonetheless. That was all the way on the other side of the city, and the long bike ride on the inner-city highways and later through the small streets was just as enjoyable. So was the ride back. Final stop before going back to Tom's was the busky (a slum), where three other Toms assistants live. Again, we all got soaking wet and swiped with paint. As it is quite chilly in the shade (when you are soaked), we danced a little to warm up and stop shivering. Public dancing seems to be a thing mainly men do together (for bonding purposes). However, once I got over my homophobia, however, it was quite cool.

By the way, not all of the paint comes with water and soap. So now, after a shower, I look:
a) like Na'vi from the Avatar movie
b) like I had a very bad case of sunburn
c) like I was just beaten up.

Today was the most fun I have had since coming here. Its good to just completely let go and do something senseless every now and then.

Which reminds me - I should try to get some practice in with the scooter now that its working again :)

Edit: (2 hrs later) I drove the scooter around in the parking lot some more and realized that I have gotten the basics more or less down now. I told Tom that I thought I was ready to take it out to the streets and asked him whether he would like to come and supervise me the first time there. "Most certainly not", he replied, "But if you are going out, we need some eggs and milk. There's a store just up the hill and then down the hill along the curvy road that should be open." Well.. the milk and eggs are in the refrigerator now. Thankfully the trip was quite straightforward.

Edit: (6 hrs later) I took the scooter once more, this time to go visit Pat (head of another charity here in Hyderabad) to help her set up her new computer screen. Also got some reading in before that.