Two members of our team, Chris Williams and Rob Jolly, are travelling to India to visit IIT Kharagpur. Click on the day numbers to get updates and pictures of their travels.
We arrived back to campus just after 11am desperate for some sleep. Thinking we could get a few hours in before the cricket at 2:30, we went to bed. After a good 5 minutes, some other members of the team arrived having just organised another meeting with the tutors. Feeling very sleep deprived we discussed their suspension and upright design, helping to determine if any changes were needed to the designs before the start of manufacture.
The meeting finished around lunchtime, so we headed over to one of the cafe’s on campus. The place was buzzing, ready for the cricket final which would be shown on a big screen inside. The waiter made sure there was no confusion about who we were supporting by painting our faces the colour of the Indian flag. I’m sure the face paint only added to the confusion with the locals about who we were and what we were doing there!
Apologies for the late update, it’s been a busy few days!
The visit has definitely been a success with both teams learning a lot. Not only have we been able to share ideas for both design aspects and running of the team, but having met prior to the competition, the teams should be able to integrate easily for their time over here in July. One suggestion was that a visit earlier in the year may have been even more beneficial as our experience could be better utilised during the design stages of the project. In addition, an early introduction should enable better collaboration throughout the year.
After the meeting and a bite to eat, we headed back to the workshop during the early evening to prepare the chassis and wishbones for welding this weekend. All tubes have now been profiled and just need to be jigged in place. We finished for the night around 9pm to get ready for an overnight trip to the beach Siddartha and Ganesh had organised.
We arrived at the beach around 1am. It really was amazing. Completely empty with perfect sand and sea still warm despite the time. We set up by a nearby light and had a great time joking around and shared a few drinks until the sun started to rise. At around 5:30am, a few more people started to arrive so we organised a game of football in the morning light. After a couple of hours it was already getting hot. Perfect time for a swim! Finally, after such an awesome night we left at 8am for a surprisingly seamless drive home.
In the morning we headed back down to the market for our daily supply of bottled water and our chance to look round some other stalls. Ignoring the stares of the locals, we noticed a store with stacks of spices we’d never heard of. The owner gave us a little taster of one of the unknown spices, forcing us to drown our insides with all the water in sight. We decided these would make perfect gift for our family and friends! Ensuring we avoided the bags of white power (customs might be a little suspicious of those ones), we bought a full range.
Once again the walk home was eventful with the busy roads parting for a bull casually walking down the street. Strangely the driver of a large lorry stuck behind got even more agitated as we stopped to take a picture.
With the huge popularity of cricket over here, whenever a high profile game takes place the country near enough shuts down. It almost seems like a public holiday with the usually busy streets emptying as everyone crowds around the nearest TV. On this occasion, India were in the semi final of a world cup they haven’t won since 1982, playing against their biggest rivals, Pakistan. Imagine an England vs Germany semi-final at Wembley, then multiply the number of fans by 25! The atmosphere was awesome!
As the game lasted most of the day, any thought of building the car was left until the evening. We had a fairly relaxed day watching the cricket with the locals exchanging banter over England crashing out to Sri Lanka. India progressed to the final setting up what will surely be a carnival atmosphere for our last full day on Saturday.
Once again we were left to ourselves during the morning. We wandered around the streets nearby hoping not to get lost. On this journey we saw the first slightly overweight person since arriving. This little girl’s father was clearly not impressed, forcing her to run alongside him on a motorbike in the midday heat. Every time she slowed, he sped up, revving his engine and beeping. Tough love! (See first picture).
When a few members of the team came to pick us up, they insisted on us getting a ride in a bike towed cart, as the workshops are quite far away. This was horribly embarrassing as what looked like a skinny 14 yr old boy was forced to pull along two heavy British tourists sat comfortably in the back. He was clearly ecstatic with his effort though and grinned ear to ear with his 20p tip.
With the Indian university arranging for us to have free meals in our halls, we headed down for breakfast around 8:30am. We’re not quite sure what it was, some type on naan bread with vegetable curry sauce was our best guess. Slightly different to the usual crunchy nut anyway. After noticing the lack of cutlery on hand, we realised that everyone just eats with their hands. It turns out this is true for almost all foods in fact. Far easier than mastering chopsticks at least, and the food was really tasty.
After breakfast Siddatha took us to for a tour of the workshops and labs where we met Prof. Mohanty, the project leader here at IIT. Along with the rest of the team, it’s obvious he has put a lot of effort into arranging everything for this visit. They really are great hosts!
We were met at the airport by Sathya and Tharan, two members of the Indian FS team. We would have been horribly lost otherwise. They had arranged a taxi from Kolkata airport to the University in Kharagpur, a 7 hour round trip. Somehow that’s only 1300 Rupees, equivalent to about £20!
The journey was a pretty terrifying experience. It appears that the horn is a direct replacement for checking your mirrors and indicating. It’s simply a case of forcing your way though. Motorbikes are used to transport just about anything, from boats to haybales. Cars were driving on the wrong side of the highway as well as tyre change in the fast lane. All very hilarious!
13 hours after leaving the UK we finally arrived in India. The flights have been pretty good, although serving breakfast at 3:40am local time was a little strange. Especially as it consisted of vegetable curry, chicken sausage, fruit salad and orange juice. Still, having our 5-a-day before 4am must be a record.
Predictably we didn’t get much sleep. There only seemed to be about 4 hours of darkness as we travelled so far east. A combined total 6 meals, 5 films and 1 hour sleep sums up a successful journey! Stepping off the plane, the heat hit like a brick wall. It really was insane considering it was only 9am!