“Ten Girls, Fourteen Suitcases, Five Minutes”
Today (Sunday), May 7, has been a whirlwind of travel. We began with a four-hour train ride from Mumbai to Pune. As a newcomer to the Indian railway system, I was nervous at first but enjoyed the experience. People strolled up and down the train car, selling wares ranging from the beloved Masala Chai to Dora-the-Explorer coloring books. Once the reserved seats were filled, people began standing and the hawkers sidled nimbly past. The ride was remarkably smooth as we wound across the Indian countryside.
In true engineering-style, we determined the most expedient way to de-board the train with our suitcases while the train made its five-minute stop in Pune. We had fourteen suitcases, including those containing outreach activity supplies. Our plans were ultimately thwarted (for the best!) by a friendly stranger who helped carry our suitcases down the steps. This is symbolic for my experience in India so far: things don’t necessarily go along with our planning, but we succeed nonetheless, meet great people, and enjoy the experience more.
In the din and commotion of the train station, we were excited to see a friendly face: a member of the SWE Pune professional section. We spent the early afternoon with SWE members from the Pune area: two professional members (Stueti and Rupali) and an engineering student (Priya). They graciously spent their Sunday afternoon with us and showed us around an engineering college in Pune.
Following our meeting with Stueti, Rupali, and Priya, we met up with an affiliate (Bharati) from Bharat’s Children’s Academy (BCA) in Walchandnagar. We travelled three hours by van from Pune to Walchandnagar. We received a warmest welcome from the teachers, principal and staff at BCA.