Travel diaries: Karnataka Calling!!!!! Part-1

Travel, it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller. Travelling is a form of rebel and once the travel bug bites us, there is no any antidote.  To pacify my wanderlust, I have been travelling near and far (farthest is India) and trust me nothing gives you such immense happiness and vibes than being a vagabond does. 

Finally, I received most awaited break from my mundane life at the moment and this time, it's Bengaluru Calling!!! Early May, I got an email that my research on vultures is selected to be presented at Student Conference on Conservation Science 2015, Bengaluru. This was pretty exciting news for me amidst the tragedy of earthquake. I have been to India few times but with different purpose and this time I was presenting my work. I booked my flights, prepared my poster and the day arrived when I found myself wandering inside the Tribhuvan International Airport baffled with all the procedures that I needed to follow. 

I was thinking to myself, 'How can people tolerate all these complexities just to go outside the country?' However, I was also enjoying everything before boarding in the plane, I could see people rushing; some with happy faces and some sad, some confused and some anxious. Many youths were bidding farewell with their families either to study or work abroad. Awakened by a boarding call from the Air India, I hurriedly glimpsed over my elephant engraved watch ;) and rushed.

This was my first ever solo international flight; yah, I was quite nervous and happy. The plane takes off, all I could see was houses getting smaller, roads getting narrower, mountains getting closer and above the clouds. I had one hour transit in Delhi; I was thinking I could at least get out of the airport and have a glance of the capital city. 

But, as soon as I arrived at Delhi Airport, I was startled how enormous and dazzling it was, forget about getting out, I even didn't have time to stop for a while. It was completely a different world than I have ever seen. I sighed with relief when my flight departed towards Kempegowda International Airport and btw I loved the food provided during the flight, yum yum!! 

So, after about 2.30 hrs, I reached my destination Bangalore :) but I had to wait for my friends whose flight was 1 hour late than mine. As soon as I got out of the airport, fresh air blew away all my fatigue. I met some Nepali students there and helped me to contact my family in Nepal. There again, I could observe faces; some searching for their guests to come, some desperately waiting for their family. I could merely understand them.

Bengaluru is the capital of the capital of south western state Karnataka. It is one of the fastest developing states and also known as Silicon Valley of India. I have been always fascinated by South Indian unique and diverse culture. I am a huge fan of South Indian movies so it has helped me a lot to know about their culture and lifestyles. Kannada is the major language along with Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, and Hindi etc. Hastily, I ran through the arrival board to confirm if my friends have arrived and finally, they did.

It was already getting late and Indian Institute of Science is quite far (as per the information), so we got into the shuttle from the airport. The bus was another thing that impressed me. The drivers and conductors in uniform, properly maintained seat for women, men and disabled people and lot more was so cool. I was imagining the busty bus in Kathmandu, angry driver, rude conductors. Chilling wet air pulled me back to Bangalore; wide lane roads along with greenery, managed transportation system, subways were quite new and amusing for me.

The digital screening in the bus mentioned that IISc was the next stop after 1 hr journey. It was raining heavily, we ran across the road in heavy traffic (it was crazy and stupid ;)) and finally reached Indian Institute of Science. The organizers had managed our accommodation in a Guest House of Indian Academy of Science, Jalahalli so we were asked to have our dinner in Prakuthi canteen before the shuttle arrives. The canteen was the social get together forum for us, many were the local students, some participants etc. I could hear the croaking frog inside my stomach so rushed to order; I was pretty excited about the food as I have heard a lot about south Indian delicacies. After a long crazy session with my group, we finally decided to order range of foods from North Indian mini meal to idli. I wanted to try south Indian mini meal but it was already over so had to limit myself in the paneer fried rice. The annas (brothers) in the canteen were really sweet and smiled at my broken Hinglish.

After the dinner and some interactions with other participants, we were taken to the IAS Guest house. I and my friend Anita got a room with an anonymous room partner who hadn't arrived yet. It was quite hectic day so we collapsed into the bed. In the midnight, we heard a knock on the door; first we were like staring at each other 1) Ghosts????? Nahh! 2) Men???? Hmmmm!!!! (We were used to such scenes in lot of  bollywood movies).

Slowly, we asked who it is then received an answer from a girl who happened to be our room partner from Srilanka, haha! We grinned with our lousy eyes and again fall asleep within a second. We were informed to get ready by 6.30am so we got ready quite early but again there was no presence of our room partner. I wasn’t wearing my spectacles last night, so even didn't remember her face.

Srini anna, the volunteer, was running here and there asking participants to hurry, yelling in the phone for some confusion. It was fun watching him. The shuttle took us to the main venue; JN Tata Auditorium Hall. It was a very lively spot with many participants from far and wide, volunteers announcements, dignified faces etc. The Student Conference on Conservation Science- bengaluru brings together young researchers in the science and biodiversity conservation.  The SCCS series in Cambridge, Australia, Bangalore, Beijing, New York and Hungary is the only international series of conservation conferences aimed entirely at students. 

As a sister conference to SCCS-Cambridge, SCCS Bengaluru focuses on attracting student participants, primarily from countries in South and South-east Asia and Africa. The 2015 conference was organized and hosted by Indian Institute of Science, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Foundation for Ecological Security, Asian Nature Conservation Foundation and Madras Crocodile bank Trust and held at the JN Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru from 8-11th September 2015.

It included 6 plenary talks by eminent conservationists, diverse workshops, 20 student talks and around 80 poster presentations. The plenaries included both technical talks and practical facets of conservation from T.R. Shankar Raman, James D. Nicholas, Krushnamegh Kunte, Sudha Vasan, Kanchi Kohli, Uma Ramakrishnan and finally Former Indian Minister Jairam Ramesh shed light on climate change and COP 21 issues. 
There were six presenters from Nepal; I, Anita and Balkumar (my classmates), Hem dai along with his wife and two very talented and congenial brothers; Ganga ram dai and Tirth dai(as he pronounced to many focusing on the last letters J). It was a quite packed conference but we still got time to socialize and connect with many experts, students and researchers from far and wide. I was very happy to interact with IUCN vulture specialist, Chris Bowden and many other renowned scientists whose literatures and works I have been following. Likewise, the conference also provided a wonderful platform to share our knowledge and experiences with many students through student talks and poster presentation. I also received lots of suggestions along with appreciation from many people. In addition, I met amazing Srilankan, Indian, African, Australian, European friends who were also contributing a lot in the biodiversity conservation in many ways. So, overall it was not only an academic sharing but also socio-cultural flow along side. I loved the local food provided during the conference but my taste buds were reluctant towards coconut sauce.

Mariamma Temple

During the conference, I and my friends also visited some nearby attractions like Mariamma temple, ISKCON temple, Sankey Tank, Bangalore Palace. I was enthralled by the beauty and glory of the astonishing ancient monuments. We ran across these beautiful places via Auto-rickshaw which was another adventure. The drivers we met were quite friendly and gave us lots of tricks and tips to shop around. I was left in awe with the massive skyscrapers, shopping malls along with undeniably beautiful architectures around the city. 

Bangalore is a complete mosaic of scientific advancement and ancient enigma. I was startled by the beauty of Bangalore palace and ISKCON temple.Manu, our new friend from Karnataka itself, volunteered to guide us around these and we are so grateful for making us feel special. Along with encountering the historical master pieces, we played some pranks which made it more memorable (Anita, Balkumar and Manu can't disclose but m sure u guyz remember it).

Bangalore Palace

I have always tried to live my life to the fullest and when you have the good company then who on earth can stop us to make the best out of everything. Tired with the hectic sessions, we get back to hostel in quite dead form but on the last 2 days of the conference, we had a moving disco in the shuttle. One night, when they played some energetic dance numbers, my innate passion just exploded out and I initiated dancing in track lungi dance followed by many south Indian songs I had never heard. Many friends accompanied me simultaneously which transformed the entire environment.

On the final night, most of us came together in the hall, played the name game, danced, teased, and took lots of selfies. True is the saying,' A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.' We exchanged souvenirs, gifts, delicacies amongst each other and got connected in Facebook and watsapp. SCCS Bengaluru 2015 came to an end with lots of aspiration and hope in the days to come.

                                            P.S Part 2 is more fun!!! 


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