Hampi: The Beginnings
This weekend I made my first trip outside of Hyderabad! Emily, Rachel, Anna, and I traveled 400 km southwest to the city of Hampi. The following blogs are about our new experiences and adventures!
Sleeper Class: Our journey began via train. This marked my first time riding on a train for such a long distance and the first time riding in sleeper class! At 10pm on Thursday night we walked across campus and caught a rickshaw to the Lingampalli train station. Our 11:45pm train arrived at midnight, bringing in the month of February! The sleeper class is arranged by bunks stacked 3 high- upper, middle, and lower. We found our coach (S5) and arranged ourselves in bunks 2,3, 5, and 6 (the middle and upper bunks of our coach). It was actually better than I expected. I thought I would feel more vulnerable but the bunks are against a wall, which felt more secure. The mattresses are thin and covered in plastic. I laid down in my middle bunk, arranged by backpack at my head with my travel pillow, unwrapped by sheet (from my bed at Tagore) and tried to snuggle in for the 10 hour ride. I slept on and off throughout the night, aroused by the various stops and chatting passengers. The rocking of the train was soothing but it still took me a while to find a comfortable position. Despite the inconsistency I actually felt quite rested.
Coming back was a little different. Initially we were on the wait-list but we were happy to arrive at the station and see that we had seats! Though we were not all together, we were all located in the same birth. Upon boarding the train at 7:30pm almost all of us had trouble acquiring our seats. Others had taken our spots or were just sitting on our seats. Luckily there was not much haggling and we all found spots. I found myself much more comfortable on this journey than our first, though there was much more noise. It is still hard to say how much sleep I actually got, but we arrived back at Lingampalli station at 5:30am. Needless to say, we took naps before breakfast at 8am and class at 10am this morning!
Making New Friends: One of the best things about this trip was getting the chance to meet new people! Almost everywhere we went, I found myself chatting with those around me. For example, on our train ride to Hampi I woke up to a group of Indian guys loitering around our coach area. Upon exchanging a few words with one guy, soon I felt like I was chatting with the entire group! It turns out that they were students from a university in Maharasta (the state North of Andhra Pradesh) and traveling a bit farther south than us. They were on a sightseeing/school trip! We chatted about being a student and the similarities/differences between education in our countries.
One morning I had a long conversation with Itzik, from Jerusalem. Itzik had finished his masters degree in Physics and decided to take some time off before attempting a Ph.D. We chatted about our families, our future plans, and even a little bit about faith.
Another night we were at a café listening and dancing to drums when we met Ruby. It turns out that this café is owned by a pastor in another town, is run by volunteers, and the proceeds are all free will donation. The current volunteers were all from a bible school in New Zealand. Part of the program is to volunteer in another country and Ruby was sent to India with a few others! She started in Mumbai, has been here in Hampi for a few weeks, and is now moving on to Kolkata before returning to New Zealand. It was amazing to be able to connect on a level of faith!