The India experience

I had a fascinating experience in Rajkot (map). I was flown to Ahmedabad and then driven to Rajkot where I arrived at 2.00am. I was really surprised that my hosts were still waiting to welcome me. Even Tyag Swamiji was there to welcome me (a spiritual leader and gold medallist in mathematics).

The next day started really early and I had no idea how late it would finish. I gave a talk to 100-150 students at the AITS College in Rajkot (info about the Yogidham Educational Complex part of which is the AITS College). Great experience… A completely different world from what I am used to. For example, the male students were separated from the female ones! Then I was taken to another event where to my surprise I found out that I was the keynote speaker :-) I was originally told that it would be a small event on Emerging Technologies for the Grid but when I arrived I found about 150 people from all around India. It was organised by the head of the Computing Science department of the university there (don’t remember the name, sorry). It was supposed to be 30 mins but lasted for 2 hours (my talk from 15 mins that I was asked to talk, went on for 1 hour… the session chair wouldn’t stop the questions! :-). I enjoyed it a lot though. I was given presents, met all the “important” university people (dean, head of school, head of university, etc.). Excellent questions by the attendees in both events. I hope my main suggestion will prove useful: build Grid applications using Web Services technologies :-)

After that we went for safari in the largest forest in India. We were extremely lucky to see lions from really close-by (our guide told us that it was a rare event and that he was going to put an entry in his log book about it). Our guides were excellent. Managed to get lots of pictures even when we were close to the lions. I swear that one of them was looking at me with a really threatening manner.

After visiting the historical temple of Somnath in Prabhas, which is next to the sea, we headed back to Rajkot. We arrived back at 3.00am the next day and I left for Ahmedabad an hour later to catch a flight back to Delhi (I now wish I had stayed there).

New Delhi is a nightmare when you are on your own. People keep harassing you and trying to trick you. I was tricked by taxi drivers, almost mugged, and had monkey drops thrown at my shoe. Honest!!! I had read about it in my guide book but I didn’t believe it until it happened. The trick is… someone comes and tries to be nice to you. A collaborator follows you from behind and throws monkey drops on your shoes. A little later a shoe-shiner will point out the monkey drops on your shoe and, conveniently, he will offer to clean it with his shoe-cleaning equipment for a fee. I was aware of all this so I was careful. I caught the guy behind me doing it but I wasn’t fast enough to avoid it. I made him clean it for free but, nevertheless, I wasn’t able to avoid having monkey drops thrown at my shoe!!!

Now I see why my friend Jim was so anxious to leave this place. I am glad that I am going to spend tomorrow in Agra (to see one of the 7 wonders of the world) and then I am flying back to the UK (in fact, I tried to leave earlier but there was no seat availability).

Phew! That’s it. Back to techie stuff again.