blog#16, 5 December – by Sebastiaan Oudendijk (Windesheim University of Applied Sciences)
The Wetskills event started with typical Indian flair, waiting for our luggage at the airport.
This seemed to be a returning event of the first week, waiting. There is one accurate Indian expression chalta hai. Whether it was breakfast at 9 (9:30), leaving for dinner at 8 (8:30), going on a field trip at 10 sharp! (11:00), the expression always came to be accurate. With that mindset I found India to be one of the most calming countries to visit. If cities are like clocks, Indian cities are like space ships. It is chaos, no one really seems to know what is going on. But it still ticks. Just don’t rely on its accuracy too much. This discovery was a very frightening one for a regular Dutch student who will get frustrated when his train (or professor) is five minutes late. This of course only applies when the Dutch student in question is punctual himself.
Back to India. When we arrived at the campus of CEE (Centre of Environment Education), it was a slight shock to some of us used to different accommodation. Now when I look back, I would describe it more as a wakeup call. The absolutely beautiful CEE campus made getting used to a cold or nonexistent shower much easier. One thing you literally cannot get around in Ahmedabad is traffic. The main theme here seems to be the mindset of the road-users. You don’t wait for right-of-way. You make your own right-of-way. This is something that does not seem limited to traffic in India. Something won’t just come your way here, you will have to take it.
Unfortunately there is a lot of life in India not able to stand up for itself. Poverty is present everywhere. Animals, people living on the streets. This place will make you think twice about what you value. Cows, donkeys, dogs on the street, living alongside humans is an incredible sight. A local in the old city of Ahmedabad told us how regularly when bread is baked in the morning, cows come up to the houses to eat the first piece of bread. If the bake is late, the cow will knock on the door until it receives its bread.
My first week was an enriching experience. I asked my fellow students awake at the hour of writing this blog for their observations. I hope to have given correct expression to their experiences.