After a 26 hour journey, three planes, a bus ride and a few hours of sleep we finally arrive in Manipal. The city, which counts around 35,000 people is home to Manipal University –a partner to Robert Gordon in the implementation of the project. The campus is composed of a series of buildings including the Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, the Marena Sports complex and the International Hostel, our home for the next three weeks.
Walking through the streets of this area it is common to see stray dogs following strangers, tuc tucs dashing around and smartly dressed gangs of students. As soon as we get out of campus accompanied by our Indian buddies, the view changes to muddy streets, busy cafes and countless mopeds zigzagging between puddles and crowds of meandering people. Despite the humidity, which makes breathing really hard, let alone walking, local people do not seem to notice and keep riding their bikes, almost always with a passenger on board and jumping off buses which are still moving. To find a relief from the warm, thick air almost every shop has at least one rusty ventilator. The goods are piled in precarious positions on the shelves, and the receipts are written manually on a piece of paper by a smiling man who speaks perfect English.
Our Indian counterparts are a bunch of friendly guys from different parts of India and Malaysia. They teach us a typical dance called Garba, which we clumsily try to imitate, and then practise dancing the Gay Gordon’s and Strip the Willow ceilidh while clueless pedestrians stop to stare at this circle of laughing students. After struggling to make our way to the till as people keep sneaking in between us, we finally manage to get our lunch. The buddies help us to choose among the different kinds of sauces and breads and join us for the meal. We then head back to the Hostel with our bellies full of curry, accompanied by dogs wagging their tails.