An Atypical Day in the Life

Of a Pondicherry University Student…

Francesca says she cannot even picture what India is like. I haven’t been toting my camera around everywhere, but I always have my notebook. Here’s a day in words:

8.25 Rise & shine, bucket shower
8.40 Leah (roommate) reports on breakfast, decide it isn’t worth it because it is spongy idli
8.45 Eat banana, check email
9.00 Grab a bike from the front gate (there are blue & yellow bikes all over campus; take one, ride it to class, leave outside a building, don’t expect it to be there when you come back)
9.07 Drink mediocre, 3-rupee tea at canteen near the Science & Humanities Block
9.15 Try to stop sweating before class
9.30 The barrage of the Spoken Tamil class
10.25 Head to professor’s office for Christianity in India
10.30 Read A Very Short Introduction to Buddhism while waiting for said professor
10.45 Professor shows up, begins lecture on the first martyred Christians in India
11.00 The professor, Dr. Sampathkumar, also the Chief Warden for all the student hostels, receives an emergency call from the campus registrar. Class is over.
11.05 Continue my informal education on Buddhism in the hallway, while waiting for a lecture from an American professor to begin, that Dr. Samanthkumar invited our class too
11.30 Go to the lecture by myself; the professor, Michael De Wilde, ends up being from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where 9 students in our program are from
12.30 Tea & biscuits arrive during the talk on business ethics, meditation in education, and Indian vs. American philosophy; a good substitute for lunch
1.30 Talk ends, power-walk back to the hostel to see if any lunch remains
1.45 Lunch is slim pickings; eat a quarter of a baguette purchased the day before
1.55 Eileen tells me about a new class being offered on Indian philosophy and culture at 2.30
2.15 Bike to said class, arrive early to stop sweating
3.30 Class ends, I have 3 pages of notes with Sanskrit everywhere; really interesting material; less appealing when I found out that it meets MWF 2.30-3.30
3.45 Return to hostel; use a baby wipe instead of taking another shower
4.00 Depart for Pondy via bus (4 rupees) to attend dinner with Professor De Wilde and other Grand Valley students
4.40 Arrive in town, sticky with sweat from being packed like a sardine with all the women in the back of the bus; no need to hang onto any railings when you’re that packed in
5.30 Arrive at Satsanga, a French & Italian restaurant, after trekking through the French quarter
6.30 Talk about India, wonder where the waiter is, attempt to get more than one menu for 8 people
7.30 Depart restaurant; thanks to Grand Valley for the delicious meal.
8.00 Find Choco-la, a chocolate shop in the French quarter; share 4 desserts between 3 people
8.30 Wait for the bus to go back to Kalapet (village where the university is, technically); are directed to the correct one by a kind man waiting on the corner
9.20 Arrive back at the hostel, after a similar ride to the one on the way there—packed like sardines

Don’t expect this many words or this kind of day for a while—each one is different.