September Sun and the Air Dries Out

It’s September! Hyderabad is getting drier and sunnier finally, I still sweat profusely everywhere I go, but not to the same extent as when we got here 😉 .

This week I saw the most beautiful sunset of my life, coming home from the library one evening. I’ve recently discovered how much I enjoy hanging out in the library on campus, it’s in the main campus, a trek from Tagore in other words. In the foyer you have to leave your back packs in a cubby and the guards check the things that you want to bring in with you, you aren’t allowed to bring any books in… one of the stranger things I’ve encountered so far here. The guards are very fun though, they thought my Hindi flashcards were funny and we’re quite happy when I told them I was studying for my test! And although you can’t take books in with you, you can get anything copied in the copy room inside, ANYthing, they WILL copy an ENTIRE book for you if you want… and it will cost less than 5 dollars and take maybe an hour and a half if it’s long… IF the power’s on that is…

But I love the library. Each floor is divided with the stacks on one side and very comfortable long wooden tables for studying on the other side, the study areas are wide open, spacious and airy with windows all along the far wall for light and air when the power is out. The books unfortunately are in utter disrepair, dustier than the desert and some with bookworms… but they still attract me like all rows of bookcases do 😉 .
So after spending a good 4 hours studying, including a nice half hour nap I was biking back up to Tagore for dinner and the sky was on fire. So since I had a half hour to dinner I biked to the end of the road Tagore is on, and climbed up on one of the huge granite rocks that are the landscape here, and watched the huge swollen orange star set over India.

And that sun is out more during the day now as the monsoon rains become less and less frequent and the air dries out…
So now it’s time to travel! Less rain means easier travel. Since I last wrote I’ve actually gotten to take two trips out of Hyderabad! The first was two weeks ago to Hampi and Badami in Karnataka, the province to the west of Andhra Pradesh. This was a trip planned and paid for by CIEE so it was 30 of us all travelling together. I would never normally travel with such a large group, I would also never book so many toury touristy things into one trip, OR be able to afford to stay in such nice hotels as we did, so it was nice for the experience of all those things I wouldn’t normally do and I’m really glad for that. But from now on the rest of my travels will be with one or a few people and staying in hostels!

My roomie Caroline in our bungalow at the “resort” where we stayed in Hampi! Nice place, strangely though: most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever slept in…

Hampi is a town with tons and town of old ruins. We saw many, many different palaces and temples, including 4 cave temples carved into a cliff face in Badami. And CIEE hired a professor from a University in Bangalore to serve as our guide and give us the history of everything we saw, she was great and I really liked her. The trip over all was great and although I did get tired of looking at many, many really old buildings made of stone, it was nice to get out of Hyderabad and I did have fun travelling. We took the train there and back, AC sleeper class, the most expensive class to travel (and still a FRACTION of the price of a train ride in the US). They gave us sheets and blankets for the bunks and even with that I was a bit chilly they kept the car so cold!

Julia in one of the bunks in our train compartment!
Getting off the train at 7am in Hampi the bats, the Indian Flying foxes (largest ones in the world remember!) were roosting for the day and I finally managed to get a good picture!

So this past weekend then when I went to Aurangabad with a friend we travelled regular sleeper car, no AC. So no sheets provided either, but I brought my silk liner and the windows were open and it was quite fresh and nice, and less than half the price of the AC car. It cost us $3 for a 17 hour train ride! WHAT!? Train travel is the way to go! ❤

Non-AC train car, Triple bunks instead of doubles.
They drink a LOT OF CHAI here. I think Hyderabadis are more obsessed with the rest of the country (?) but here is a man walking around the train with a giant tea pot, selling cups of chai, 5 rupees 🙂

Aurangabad is in Maharashtra, the province to the north west of Andhra Pradesh and Aurangabad is famous for the Elloracaves. These caves are actually really similar to the ones I saw in Badami, but there are more than 30 of them, some Hindu, some Buddhist and some Jain. The setting is also very different, rolling green hills instead of the dryer scrub with lots of granite rocks of Badami and Hampi. In Maharashtra they speak Marathi, which uses the same script as Hindi, and NOTHING was written in English anywhere! I’ve gotten used to Hyderabad where every single thing is written in Hindi, Telegu and English. Not in Maharashtra! So I got a LOT of practice reading that weekend, even though at the time I thought I was reading Hindi! It came in handy though when we were trying to find a bus, and all the names of the buses were written in Hindi, I successfully found the right bus, so I AM learning Hindi! (got an A- on my first test too woot woot).

Ellora Caves
Ellora Caves, the main temple (Hindu).

Back in Hyderabad, his morning I got to hang out in the Botanical Garden, which is actually not too far from campus! Madhuri (one of my CIEE coordinators) had let me know about an event put on by the “Hyderabad Adventure Club”, which was a bird watching excursion at these gardens. It started at 6am today so I managed to drag myself out of bed at 4:30 to make it to Main Gate and walk (no rickshaws at that hour!) to my friend Melanie’s house about 25 minutes from campus and from her house the gardens were only another 15 minute walk. It was worth it though, we met some cool people and saw some cool birds (and plants! ❤ ) and now I know how awesome and close the garden is, with only a Rs 10 ($0.18) entry fee (Rs 15 extra if you’re taking a camera in). There was a pond area, an area with some snack shops, a rose garden and the usual area with labeled plants, but then there was a very large section much more wild with just dirt paths and this is where we did most of the birding. Lots of people were up and walking or jogging around for exercise, it was a very nice atmosphere. 

Male Purple Sunbird

So. I’ve been 8 weeks now here in India! I’m getting used to it, can’t imagine driving on the right side of the road anymore 😉 And I can eat pretty dang well with my hands  . So I’m working on classes, getting all the materials for my Independent Study (had to trek down to the Admin office 4 times this past week but finally got a pretty awesome master plan map of campus from the very nice Campus Engineer!) and I’m starting research on National Parks of India for my Resource Management class. And working on planning a trip with a few friends to one of these parks at the end of the month, up in Madhya Pradesh! And the most important part is really just that the air is getting dryer. 😉
Also, I found 5 peacock feathers today in the Botanical Garden. Peacocks are native here and everywhereeee….


One comment

  1. Your trip definitely sounds great! I was in Hyderabad last month for a short stay and could not make a full trip..after reading your blog, hoping to do that soon 🙂

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