Pranav Padmanabhan

ppadmanabhan

Pranav Padmanabhan




Africa » Tanzania » Centre » Iringa July 4th 2019

Our first breakfast at RUCU went similarly to our first dinner; we were told to be in the classroom to start at 8 AM, but when we arrived at the dining hall at 7:30 and strategically Google translating some questions, we discovered that the cafeteria doesn't even open until 8. Class was promptly moved to 8:30 permanently, and we enjoyed the standard breakfast of maandazi (sweet fried dough balls) and very sweet chai. Today was also our first Swahili class; our instructor Paulo is hilarious and knowledgeable, so the hour flew by. In lieu of our lecture period, we all participated in the "selfie challenge," a 2-hour long group scavenger hunt around the city of Iringa. Two hours felt like enough time to get a feel for the small city and I'm now much more comfortable ... read more
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Africa » Tanzania » Centre » Iringa July 3rd 2019

After our first full night's sleep in Tanzania, we were rudely awoken by some roosters crowing in a coop right below the hostel building. Even with this interrupted sleep, the ensuing frigid bucket shower was good enough to jolt us awake. This day was set aside for "orientation," and no actual classwork was to be done - instead, the entire morning was spent setting up our classroom router and personal modems for internet, a valuable commodity. With an otherwise uneventful morning, we played card games until a lunch trip to Neema Crafts and Restaurant, the expatriate hangout in town. This unique establishment has won worldwide recognition for employing only disabled people. The menu wasn't exactly authentic Tanzanian, but the burger I had was very good, and the habanero and pili pili sauces added an East African ... read more
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Africa » Tanzania » Centre » Iringa July 2nd 2019

The next morning started bright and early at 4:30 AM in order to complete our 12-hour cross-country trip from Dar es Salaam to Iringa, in the Southern Highlands. While wrangling 17 college students to wake up before 5 AM is usually a near-impossible task, most of us slept very little anyway on account of jet lag, torn and ineffective mosquito nets, and wildly fluctuating temperature in the rooms. Before leaving, our driver warned us that police stopping buses (especially those full of wazungu) are extremely common in Tanzania (verbatim, "The police in this country are crazy!"), and to make sure we were always wearing our seatbelts; our professors then directed us to predict the number of times we would be stopped, with the winner receiving bragging rights (final count was 7!). While the official purpose of ... read more
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Africa » Tanzania » East » Dar es Salaam July 1st 2019

"Karibu!", greeted the Emirates flight attendants as we got off the long, but comfortable 18-hour plane ride. The Swahili word, meaning "Welcome", was emblazened on the roof of the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, and it concisely captures the warmth and hospitality we repeatedly came to expect of the Tanzanian people. The sterile airport entrance, coated with Western-style excessive security, begat a disorderly stampede reminiscent of an Indian temple or train station at the visa office. This was the location of the first snafu of the trip - we had been told adamantly by our program directors to ask for an ORDINARY visa, yet the officers insisted we obtain a STUDENT visa, which was $50 less expensive. After ~10 minutes of pleading our case to a guard who spoke little English, another kindly ... read more
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North America » United States » Montana » Kalispell July 27th 2018

Planning this trip was a whirlwind; whether or not we were going anywhere was uncertain until about 3 weeks before today, but after quickly renewing Swathi's passport and booking some last-second flights, hotels, and campgrounds, we made it happen. The first leg of the journey was an early morning flight from Cleveland which landed at Glacier Park Airport (probably the smallest airport I've ever visited) in beautiful Kalispell, MT just before noon. Immediately, we headed to the local Walmart to stock up for the 6 nights of camping ahead of us. Just a few hours in Montana was enough to validate some stereotypes about rural Western America - we passed multiple trucks with the word "Jesus" or the Ten Commandments proudly displayed, and I counted at least four people, two of whom had young children with ... read more
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