Arrival in Delhi…
On the plane I sat next to a 28-year-old Indian engineer. He probably thought I was insane because I asked him so many questions about his educational background and his life. I could not have sat next to a better person than this because he had been through a science and math education in India, gotten into their elite science university (Indian Institute of Technology-IIT) but chose to go to a different engineering school and now works for BP, an international oil company. He works as an engineer on an oil tanker and travels the world 9 months out of the year.
He discussed how the competition to get into a very few spots at the prestigious institutions is absolutely cutthroat and they spend many extra hours during the last two years of high school with private tutors getting more tutoring in math and science in order to prepare for the exam that will get them into the IIT. Apparently, about 250,000 people apply for under 2000 spots and he got one of them, obviously a smart guy. So, my previous thought about motivation being linked to getting out of poverty doesn’t apply here because he didn’t grow up in poverty, but I am starting to see that the high population here leads to intense competition and thus becomes a HUGE motivator to excel.
Sitting next to him made the time on my second 8 hour flight so much faster because it was so interesting to pick the brain of a person who actually lived through exactly what I am studying here. In total, our trip took about 30 hours. It was definitely exhausting, and I definitely had “cankles” by the time I got here but after about 5 hours of sleep, I am feeling much better. I am trying to get myself on a day schedule as soon as possible, so I am not sleeping late. By the way, those of who had an obsession with Magnum ice cream bars in Europe (Dad, Kir) will be happy to know that they are still alive and well.
Our layover in Germany was really fun although the whole time I had weird vertigo from the bumpy flights. I actually went through passport control and went outside a little bit so that I could say that I made it out to Germany! I am dork, I know. We flew Lufthansa airlines from Frankfurt to Delhi and you could have Indian food on the plane! We had mattar paneer (peas and cheese we call it in my family) and my dad would have been so excited because there were individual servings of lime pickle.
When we got to the hotel, we all went through the very opulent lobby where they put a red smudge on our foreheads to welcome us. The rooms are beautiful, the hotel has about a million employees every 5 feet. Today we are going to the welcome ceremony and dinner at the United States Education Foundation in India (USEFI from here on out) and then to bed early to try to get over this jet lag. Breakfast and lunch are in the hotel and are filled with a huge variety of food of all types.