Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Home

I'm back home again :( The last month I did a really bad job in keeping my weblog up to date, so sorry for that. Though I would love to share them with you, I'm to lazy to start writing stories now I'm back but I'll at least upload all the pictures we made. If you're interested in more, just ask me.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

In Agra with Marjolein

Here a very short update. At the moment I'm in Agra for the second time, this time with Marjolein. We met each other as planned in some cafe and did all the sightseeing, the second time the Taj Mahal is still beautifull. The wether is now far cooler than when I was travelling with Michael. You don't get so tired of everyting. Tonight we will leave for Jhodpur with the night train. Maybe I can give a more detailed description of our activities when we reach there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The last week

This will probably be the last post from Kanpur, only two days left. Last week my presentation did not go like I wanted it to go. Not that it was a total disaster but still there’s much room for improvement, luckily I’ll have another chance when back in the Netherlands. The days after my presentation I enjoyed, apart from the fact that I was suffering from diarrhoea. On Sunday I was invited to the home of my professor to have dinner with his family. It was quite nice, he’s got two kids and a very fluffy white dog. His wife and a servant cooked a good meal for me, which even included pasta! I didn’t taste that for a long time. They had put very much care in making the food not spicy, not aware of the fact that I have eaten spicy food every day since I’m here so I’m used to it by now. This week in lab I got pretty much all the characterisation results of the films I have been making. I’m now desperately trying to do the analysis of all these, but I’m still troubled by my diarrhoea. I didn’t make it to the lab before 11 until now because I was continuously running to the toilet. Tomorrow I’ll visit a doctor here and I hope he will subscribe me some medicine that can cure me in one day, else my trip will become very uncomfortable. For the rest everything is arranged I think, I even managed to book train tickets via the internet and that made me very happy. I cost you a little money but it saves hours of frustration.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Nervous

Tomorrow is my final presentation, and I'm very nervous about it. I'll be glad when it is over tomorrow night and I can just enjoy my last week here. There are already some plans to go to the city for a dinner party to celebrate that Saumyadip's paper is accepted and some other plans involving whiskey and beer. Unfortunately also the workload of my internship is also peaking at the end. A lot of characterization of the samples we made will have to be done in this last week. And of course all that new data will have to be analyzed and inserted in my report. I'm not sure whether I will finish it before I'll leave here, which was my original plan, but we'll see. First I'll have to get over with that damn presentation.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Time flies

Next week my final presentation about my internship here is scheduled. It seems that the end is approaching very fast now. Without me noticing it time has past. It is very weird and I have mixed feelings about it. Of course I'm looking forward to traveling around with Marjolein, but somehow I don't want to finish things here. Maybe it is because I don't like finishing things in general. After my presentation Ive still a week left to hopefully obtain some more results, and of course prepare for the journey. Until now we don't have a plan for that, so it's about time that we made one. If we still want to get train tickets we'll have to be fast! I'll also have to think about a way of getting my laptop back to The Netherlands, because carrying it along with me for a month while travelling doesn't appeal to me that much. So mom, dad, if you receive a very big package somewhere in July it is not a present for you so don't get too excited over it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Varanasi - part 2 and the end of our journey

Varanasi - part 2
Our second day in Varanasi we went to visit Sarnath, a place with lots of Buddhist temples, which is about 12 km form the city. It was nice to see these temples, but they were not that impressive. Inside one of them the life of Buddha was depicted on paintings on the walls. A guide told us some background information, though not too much. In the end he took us to a sari shop; that might be the reason that he volunteered to guide us. Actually I had to do some sari shopping for Alka and Aruna and a friend of hers. They all wanted a real sari from Varanasi. In the end I bought them in a different shop and I think I got them real cheap after bargaining. We had lunch in Sarnath and then went back to Varanasi, to walk in the alleys of the city centre, and to visit the Golden temple. First we had trouble finding the temple in all these alleys. It was in an enclosed area, which was guarded by a lot of military people because there was also a mosque in the same area they wanted to prevent riots. You could not even take mobiles or cameras in the area, so we put everything in a locker. We walked to the temple, but we could not enter because we were no Hindus. We went op in a building at the other side of the alley to watch the temple’s golden towers. Afterwards we had some fresh mango juices on a rooftop terrace and watched some people on another rooftop flying kites until it was almost time for the sun to set. We wanted to go back to our hotel by boat and watch the sunset from the water. We found a boatman who wanted to take us. The sunset from the water was indeed very nice. That night we had dinner in a nearby hotel where they served some real good Middle Eastern food.
The next day our journey would end and we would go back to Kanpur, but not before we visited the Maharajah fort on the opposite bank of the river. We arranged an auto rickshaw but the driver didn’t take us to the fort for the arranged price, because the bridge was to fare away (a closer seasonal floating bridge had just been dissimilated). Our driver wanted to hook us up with some boatman, but luckily we had the lonely planet to tell us there was also a very cheap public ferry.
The Maharajah fort was not really well kept and people were just living in some parts of it. We were forced to buy tickets to the museum inside, we couldn’t enter the fort otherwise. The museum had an interesting collection of stuff, from American cars to weapons and even a steam fan?! Where all these things were coming from was not clear as they were not categorized and there were no signs with an explanation. Furthermore these things were not at all well preserved; they just were decaying there in dusty cabinets.
There was also a very large ballroom but it was not lighted and there was a massive iron fencing in front of the entrance, they certainly could have made more of it.
Before going back to the other side of the river we had a lassie (yoghurt drink) in the nearby shop that is supposed to have the best lassie in the country.
We had lunch in the same hotel as the day before, this time we had pizza but it was not as good as we expected.
Back to Kanpur
Our train to Kanpur would leave from Mughal Serai, a train station about 15 km outside the city. Our plan was to take a share jeep from the city train station, but the cycle rickshaw driver suggested us to take a share auto rickshaw from some other place because it would be faster and cheaper. I decided to trust him, but Michael was suspicious and turned out to be right. At the share auto rickshaw stand there were no people to share the rickshaw with so we were forced to take a rickshaw for ourselves (more expensive) or to wait very long (and we didn’t leave a that big margin). Michael managed to bargain the price a bit down and we arrived at the train station in time. In the train back, again people were sitting on our reserved seats and they acted like this was very normal and didn’t even ask us whether they could stay so we just shove in. Back at IIT we had a meal in the campus restaurant, though it was already closed the people who were still there were so kind to give us some food.
It would have been nice to spend some relaxing days in Kanpur with Michael but there was no time for that, the following day Michael would have to go back to Delhi.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Varanasi - part 1

By taxi we went from Khajuraho to Varanasi, you would think that travelling by taxi is really comfortable, but if it is on Indian roads it is not. The first part of the journey the roads were still good and the environment was beautiful. We passed a national park and some nice green valley. We also passed a truck that got off road and had fallen down a hill. We were wondering how this trip could take 10 hrs, but we found out soon enough. The asphalted road changed into a bumpy sand and stone road were 30 was the maximum speed. Some random stretches of road would be asphalted now and then, though there were no signs of infrastructural planning. When arriving in Varanasi we had trouble convincing our driver to take us to our hotel instead of the train station. He first lied that this hotel was no good and he would take us to another hotel, but it turned out that he didn’t know the way to our hotel, I think he was ashamed to admit that. We insisted so he stopped to ask for directions, and in the end took a cycle rickshaw driver in the car as a navigator. Finally we got were we wanted to be.
In a hotel near Assi ghat we took a nice air-conditioned room with a balcony and a view on the Ganga.
On our first day in Varanasi we went for breakfast in the centre of the city and walked back along the ghats (stairs down to the Ganga where people come to bath and to worship and to bring ashes and at some places burn the dead).

Sight from one of the ghats

At one of the gaths a public cremation was just about to start, the body was in a pile of wood and the feet were still visible, than the set it on fire. It was a weird thing to look at. One man was very kind and explained us everything about the burning, but he turned out not to be totally altruistic, afterwards he wanted us to visit his sari shop (we didn’t). That afternoon we visited the university of Varanasi (B.H.U.), which has a large campus with a lot of old buildings and a temple. In de evening we watched a ceremony at Assi ghat, there was some priest near the water performing a kind of dance, an people could light candles and let them float on the Ganga and throw flowers in the water. This thing didn’t really feel like a sacred event, mainly because the music accompanying the ceremony was very load and was coming from two big speakers, and a lighting installation was installed. That night I was so tired that I fell asleep before dinner and didn’t even notice that Michael had a meal in our room.