blog Wetskills-India 8 January – by Björn Bolhuis (Utrecht University)
Today was our only free/relaxing day in the programme, but boy it was ambitious…
Waking up at 5:00 AM to enjoy the sunrise in Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary together with the stunning flamingos and magnificent cranes, learning to rule the skies above Ahmedabad with our kites as preparation for the famous kite festival, the biggest flower parade of Asia, and an all-you-can-eat pizza feast to conclude the day… It’s always nice to have good plans, but it’s also always very interesting to see that India has plans of its own and that they don’t always match perfectly.
We stood in high spirits in front of the gate at 5:30 AM, only to find out that the bus would turn up to be almost an hour-and-a-half late, and also didn’t turn out to be an actual bus. Luckily the Indian food and other circumstances reduced our group by a couple of persons, and we managed to squeeze all remaining 14 participants in a big car, providing us an almost bearable transport to the bird sanctuary. And of course, all of this was quickly forgotten once we were in our little boats, gliding through the wetlands, enjoying the weather and the birding.
The kiting was really amazing, and Poojan and his friends proved to be true kite masters. From a beautiful roof top in the heart of the old city we were competing with youngsters of the entire neighbourhood, trying to cut through each other’s lines. Not surprisingly it is actually quite difficult, which lead to some hilarious scenes, but slowly we got the hang of it and managed to cut through some other kite lines. Many thanks to Poojan and his friends for introducing us to this awesome local tradition.
The flower event apparently was cut off from power supply and water and was therefore not open for public, so we continued to the pizza place right away. Even though a part of the group was eager to have some “western” food again, most were so full and exhausted of all the impressions (and snacks) along the day we could only finish about half a pizza. Not entirely according to the original expectations, but nonetheless a good end to this wonderful day, and we all went to bed tired but very satisfied.