I had many reasons to return to India. There are the professional reasons, of course – I had a paper accepted at WISARD (a workshop associated with COMSNETS in Bangalore), and I was invited to participate in an Indo-US workshop on infrastructure security, held at IISc. But, personally, I was really missing India. The friendly people, the fantastic food, the sights and sounds and smells, and let’s face it, the nice weather this time of year. Read on for more…
Landing at Bangalore airport and taking a Unique Travels taxi into the city, even though it was 3am, felt like coming home. The next day I struck out by autorickshaw to do some shopping, and ended up at many familiar places and with familiar experiences. Auto drivers trying to overcharge me, or to take me to their favorite souvenir shop where they get a kickback. Scurrying across busy streets at great peril. Trying not to fall through the cracks when walking on broken sidewalks. Fending off street hawkers. Smelling the curries cooking inside streetside restaurants. Stopping to examine carts full of fresh tropical fruit.
I headed over to IISc to visit the old neighborhood and friends. Now it really felt like coming home. My grad-school friends Varsha and Jitendre, with their two boys, had moved into our old apartment just days after we left. Out in the street, just where I would expect to find them, I found the kids’ friends Sonali, Roshini, Prashant, Lisa, and Althia. They were quite surprised to see me… I could tell that I was an incongruous sight, which they had not seen in 8 months; they weren’t quite sure what to make of me. But they were happy to receive the letters I brought from John, Mara, and Andy, and later gave me a letter to bring back. It was evening, the boys were playing football in the parking lot and the birds were all out singing. Somewhere a pressure cooker hissed about rice for dinner. All those familiar sounds made me smile.
I visited the little cluster of shops near our home. The vendors all said hello (or namaste) and of course the bread man had to chat for a while. I stopped in to see some neighbors, Suarti and Sajeeta, who were quite surprised to see me! I went over at ECE to see my old office and to say hello to my hosts.
Mostly things looked the same, except the institute had finally put waterproofing paint on the roofs, so the apartments did not leak so much. The new international visitors hostel was open, and looks quite nice inside, and construction is progressing on many new academic buildings. A new cafe opened at the old coffee board site, next to the tea kiosk. It looked clean and comfortable, and was very popular; the old tea kiosk was pretty quiet.
I managed to do most of what I had hoped to do, though I never made it down into Malleswaram, or get out to many restaurants (mostly ate the workshop catered foods). I did have masala dosas (essential!) twice, dinner at Coconut Grove (Keralite food), and dinner at Taj West End. I had tea at Infinitea and shopped at Cauvery and similar shops.
Well, enough of the self-indulgent reporting. At the conference and the workshop, it was good to catch up with many of my colleagues from around India. I spent a little time at Intel, Microsoft, and Philips, visiting colleagues there and brainstorming new projects. I still hope to set up some sort of long-term collaboration on mHealth.
All in all, very worthwhile and very enjoyable. Time to think about how to get back again….
See more photos.
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