India travelogue—Warm welcome greets ACerS staffer, but monkeys offer scoldingPublished on January 18th, 2013 | By: Megan Bricker
L.K. Sharma (Joint Secretary of InCerS and Scientist-in-Charge of India’s Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute), second from left, greeted the ACerS delegation visiting India, which includes Jay Singh (left), Donna Wicks, Megan Bricker, and George Wicks. The members of the Indian group in the center and far right are unidentified. Credit: Bricker; ACerS.
[Editors note: Megan Bricker, ACerS' director of marketing and membership, is in India this week as part of a group working to strengthen ties between ACerS and the Indian Ceramic Society (InCerS), and also with the country's engineered ceramics community. She is attending the Global Ceramics Leadership Roundtable Conference in Greater Noida and is accompanied by ACerS immediate past president George Wicks, plus Mrityunjay "Jay" Singh and Tatsuki Ohji, leaders from the Society’s Engineering Ceramics Division. Because of the time delay and her busy schedule, we have not heard much from her yet, but she was able to share a few first impressions on her arrival earlier this week.]
We arrived at midnight in India and met our new friends, Rahul Kumar and Lalit Kumar, who took us to the hotel. I could not believe how fast they drove, weaving in and out of trucks, motorcycles, etc. Mostly there were tons of trucks—trucks decorated with streamers and bright colors on the front for good luck. The trucks have very high-pitched beeps, and we went down back alleys hitting speed bumps fast—lots of speed bumps—we were laughing so hard because it was so bumpy, so fast, and so close to other cars.
The first day we traveled to Khurja, an area of India that is considered to be one of the oldest regions for ceramics. The just-over-an-hour drive to Khurja proved to be very interesting, to say the least. We flew along country roads flying over speed bumps and dodging oxen pulling carts of straw, fruit, or other goods such as bricks and raw materials. There were also donkeys, horses, and tractors pulling items, too. We had to stop a few times for a cow or two to clear the road. We also passed lots of goats, dogs, chickens, pigs, and even monkeys wandering around. Regrettably, I got a little too close to a monkey and the monkey scolded me by yelling at me and walking towards me. Cute— but don’t touch!
On the way, we saw lots of fields of what the locals call homemade fuel. These round discs that are used for fuel for cooking, heating small kilns, and other items, are all “natural.” They are made from a composite of cow dung, straw, and few other natural resources. They are made wet, and then dried and stacked. After stacking, a thatch roof is made over them to keep them dry until used or sold. They look like little huts/sheds all over the fields.
The food is good but spicy. Yesterday we had roasted goat meat for a snack—interesting!
Everyone we’ve met has been so very friendly and hospitable, and we have made so many friends already.
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