Regardless of being on our summer holidays and free from university classes, I know that we were all sad to come to the end of our full days of lectures at the University of Madras. Despite the fact that the ten of us came from different degree backgrounds – from medicine and biology, to linguistics and economics – we all gained from the variety of lectures hosted for us.
We were all exhausted from the heat and the late nights but despite this, each lecture encouraged us to ask more questions about the country, its culture and livelihood; in turn stimulating interest in topics that most of us had never considered thinking about before this trip. (I think the extremely sweet coffee that was served to us during the break helped a lot!)
Today was no exception. Dr. Swarna Rajagopalan’s lecture on Women’s Rights in Indian Democracy was probably my favourite lecture of the week. Not only was she a very intelligible speaker, but the class was incredibly informative and inspiring on so many levels. A lot of us were aware of the caste system and how this effected people’s lives but it was extremely eye opening to see how patriarchy effected women’s rights and its further impact on politics.
The next lecture we were lucky to have was the ‘Role of Indian Media in Society and Politics – Furthering Democracy,’ given by Mr. Gunasekaran, who is heavily involved in Tamil television. We were fortunate to have a insight into the workings of Indian media and how it plays an important role in politics and society. India is a massive country but I never realised just how big until we were shown statistics of the growth of media – from print to broadcasting – the country has seen an incredible surge. Did you know that India is the world’s third largest internet user, behind the US and China, with 124 billion broadband connections? Considering the number of shanty towns I had seen out of the mini bus window and the poor internet connection I have in my own flat back in Edinburgh, I never saw that coming.
After having a few hours in the
afternoon to start packing for our exciting trip to the South we were taken on another adventure in the mini bus. We drove through the streets of Chennai, through shanty towns, roads full of gleaming white-fronted shops with the odd dog and cow dotted throughout the streets. We finally reached our destination – the beach!
Sadly it wasn’t the time to sunbathe in our swimming gear on our hotel borrowed towels, but I did manage to sneak in a paddle in the Bay of Bengal. It was weird leaving the hustle and bustle of the crazy city roads behind us and wandering along the peaceful beach, littered with the odd fisherman’s boat. We did have to avoid the dogs roaming the beach and the odd crab skittering its way down to the water – but that just made it more of an adventure. Watching the impending storm clouds roll in, followed by the occasional flash of lightening did make the pace quicken, but luckily we didn’t get caught in the downpour.
Slightly apprehensive about the travels ahead of us, we returned back to our hotel, to finish packing for the journey ahead of us.
But as my mummy would say – it’s an adventure!
(And it certainly was.)