Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Índia

Eu fiz uma viagem à Índia em janeiro, e tenho aqui um texto em inglês descrevendo-a. Por enquanto vai em inglês mesmo até eu ter tempo de traduzir.

We went to Hyderabad which was really poor and ugly. The whole city, not only parts of it, is very poor. Things were messy and disorganized, even the conference which is, after all, internationally organized (for example, there was a rat inside the conference bus!). Internet didn't work acceptably even in luxury conference venues. People you deal with ask you money all the time based on the single fact that you are a foreigner. The rickshaw guys ask you exorbitant amounts and you have to bargain pretty aggressively in order not to be ripped off. We stayed in a kind of dorm accommodation where the people taking care of it were really obnoxious. They wanted me and D to be in separate rooms because we were not married (although using the excuse that they thought she was coming along and didn't have a double room, even though our room was fine for two people). They rang the bell at six am to bring coffee and newspaper and ask if we had laundry. They woke us at seven to tell the bus is leaving in an hour and a half. They told us to notify them if we needed dinner but if we didn't they would still insist we ate.

An interesting thing before taking a domestic flight was: "Carry-on luggage limited: men are allowed to take a bag and a laptop, women are allowed to take a bag and a purse"! :-) But at the end they didn't really enforce this and D could bring her laptop too. :-) They also had special lines for unaccompanied ladies in the airport.

Communication was hard because many people's English was very limited but they also insisted on answering the question even if they didn't understand it. They kept saying "yes, yes" even to clarification attempts until you gave up. Also their yes is hard to tell because they wobble their heads in a particular way that looks a lot like a no. After a while you learn how to tell, though.

From there we went to Hampi (after a two-day saga to buy a train ticket which took us to many interesting places in the city). Hampi is a historical site with five-century-old temples. It was interesting, but not mind boggling. Then we went to Goa, by the ocean, and staying in this hut by the beach, which had many interesting restaurants which were also very cheap. That was pretty relaxing. Goa was a Portuguese colony and we visited some mansions that belonged to Portuguese families that were true palaces, huge and with many many expensive art objects, shown to us by family members that still lived there. They had Portuguese names and spoke perfect Portuguese, but were racially essentially Indian because the mixture was intense.

After Goa we went to Bangalore visiting Prasad who works for Microsoft Research and managed to get the lab to invite us there, so we flew on them and stayed at a MS apartment for visitors. Bangalore was really pretty and interesting, and visiting MS and meeting researchers there was also nice. We were supposed to give talks but they canceled them because it was a hectic day. Then we left to the US.

Overall, we weren't really amazed at India. Maybe we should have sought more cultural things and interacted with more people, I don't know. One thing was consistently good all over, the food, always cheap and yummy. I am still curious about the country and maybe I will go back someday.

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