So you don’t think I can?

The positive feedback from my last post gave me the momentum to continue writing — maybe even for the next two weeks! People have especially enjoyed the photos, which I have sincerely neglected in the past, and did again last night during another moderately interesting experience. Thus, no photos to accompany this post. I will be better.

The ICM normally ends for the evening at 6pm, and buses depart for hotels around 6:30pm. However, last night was one of three where they had a special engagement. Lectures went an hour longer and then some famous Hindustani soloist gave a beautiful performance, rocking the vocals for an hour. Buses were supposed to start departing at 8:15pm. Combine this with the end of the conference and our daily pick-up time of 8:15am, to imagine that people were pretty drained. Anyways, as is pretty standard in the rainy season of tropical Hyderabad, there was quite a storm going on outside. This was the first time we had weather of this sort while trying to load the buses, and so the organizers tried something different from their standard orderly procedure. CHAOS ensued. They tried to load thousands of exhausted mathematicians through the hourglass sieve of double doors, amidst a backdrop of thunder and lightning. Each bus was destined for one of approximately 20 hotels, and they tried to load them one at a time. It was an absolute disaster. People were getting soaked while people from all over the world — running the gamut of the queuing style spectrum — couldn’t figure out how to load the buses in a civilized way. I was waiting for my bus for over an hour, and mine was one of the first. Their system was an absolute failure. We packed the bus so full that we couldn’t close its collapsing door. Anyways, at least we were on the bus, and on our way back to the University of Hyderabad!…

We moved well for a couple of kilometers but the downpour had decimated the road, and there were parts covered by at least nine inches of water. After a few minutes, traffic  stopped with the rain. I had been standing and therefore didn’t know where we were. I probed my fellow passengers, all of whom were Indian, about how far we were from the UoH and how likely it was to start raining again. I received a range of answers, but people unanimously deterred me from walking. Actually, this has been a common theme in India — people consistently underestimate me. Even more than usual. They were telling me stories of dangerous people, that there was nowhere to walk, blah blah. I couldn’t take the negativity on the bus and calmly exited. It appears many others had done the same, because the street was filled with pedestrians. I walked through a sea of stopped traffic for about two kilometers before finding the issue — a bus was stuck in an improvised lake, straddling both lanes. I paid 10 rupees, or about a quarter, to share a rickshaw the rest of the way. One of the main advantages of doing so was that I was able to grab a disgustingly greasy dinner by the main gate. I got back to my dorm around 10:30pm, after an interesting walk and a filling meal. I don’t even want to know when the others got back. I wish I would have taken photos of the foot-traffic on the road, the puddle the bus was stuck in and the shack where I ate dinner. I should mention that my dinner cost 15 rupees (33 cents.)

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