Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sorry...been tired....update on Austin and day 1.5 of India

Hello again!

First, allow me to apologize for not updating any sooner than now. I will be making updates regularly at this point on.

My adventure began in Austin, Texas on Jun 30. I arrived mid-afternoon and was whisked off to our hotel, The Homestead Suites, in Downtown. I met the 15 other math and science teachers right before we went to dinner at Clay Pot, an Indian Restaurant there. I look forward to getting to know each of them more over the next 5 weeks together!

The next morning, July 1, we awoke early to go to the South Asian Institute at UT Austin. There, we had 2 full days of meetings with authorities on the economy, politics, language, religion, caste and class systems, sexism and education. It was to VERY full days of being introduced to all the complexities of India’s culture and life.

Dinner that night was on a river boat cruise. It was a lovely evening of chatting and getting to know my colleagues better! I was also voted to be the group leader for our journey in India, so I will be the main source of contact between the people organize our trip and the team of teachers.

On July 2, we had more meetings, as well as an early Texas BBQ Dinner. We then went to Bat Bridge, which is the Congress Street Bridge, where each night at dusk, hundreds if not thousands of bats fly from their home under the bridge to get dinner. It was truly amazing.

Our big journey began on July 3. We left our hotel at 8:30 am and eventually boarded a small plane in Austin bound for Washington Dulles. After waiting in Dulles for about 3 hours, we boarded a rather large plane for Frankfurt, Germany. After waiting four hours there, we boarded an even larger plan for Delhi, India. We arrived in Delhi at approximately 1:30am local time, which was about 31 hours after we left Austin. The flights were long as well as the layovers.

The rest was truly magical.

After receiving our bags, we were greeted by our handlers from USEFI (United States Educational Foundation in India). They gave us each a small bouquet of flowers before we boarded our bus for our hotel, the Hotel Taj Mahal. Our hotel greeted us with a full 5-Star welcome! All their employees were on hand to greet us as we walked inside. We were led to the lovely bar area and were honored by receiving a Bindi, or red dot on our forehead. We were also given mango juice as our bags were unloaded and our rooms were sorted out. After much fanfare, we headed to our rooms to clean-up, unpack and get a nap before July 5 officially began. By the time we went to bed, it was nearly 4:00am.

About half of us decided to get up early (9am) and have breakfast, so as to force our body to adjust to the new time change. The food and service was impeccable. Four of us then decided to go for a brief walk around the neighborhood before we had to meet for lunch at Noon. Lunch was another spectacular buffet. The food styles and flavors were amazing and delicious. At 1:30 we were picked up to go to the USEFI office for our inaugural sessions. We had about 3 hours of meetings, followed by lunch and then another hour of meetings. Again, the topics of the meetings were about the educational system of India as well as more of its history, art and culture. That night, we also had a reception held in our honor at USEFI. We were all terribly tired, but we managed to make it through a long afternoon and evening of activities and work.

I’m tired…more updates tomorrow….

1 comment:

Glynn said...

Dear Brian,
How exciting is this !?!!!
Looking forward to reading more about your trip.
Congratulations on the Fulbright and the opportunity to study India up close and personal!
Thinking of you lots, with much love,