I awake to no less than 4 servants staring at me, urging me to drink my coffee. As guests of this Ahuja guy, weíre big cheeses in this town. This is nice the 1st time it happens, but by now itís just getting annoying.
A visit to a Hindu temple is mostly indistinct from the other temples weíve seen. The ďnon-Hindus not allowedĒ sign should have ďunless guests of somebody importantĒ: in small letters at the bottom. I donít pay attention to the guide, but Professor Gangulee later explains that he was differentiating 2 meanings for statues: the smaller, outer depictions of gods are idols, but the innermost statue, adorned with flowers and attended by priests, is the devi, believed to be actually possessed by a god. Iím focused on the 20+-foot intricately carved solid gold temple over the godís head. More specifically, Iím working out the technicalities of how I could steal it. I settle on a small, fast, and high-tech operation in the middle of the night. Instead of stealing the whole thing, I drill a hole to the center, heat the end of a tube, and pump liquid gold right out. Sealing the hole, I can be driving a local-looking SUV heavily armed with nonlethal weapons and laden with a ton of gold to the nearest cargo port and a very early retirement. Itís encouraging when I notice a government sign: maximum penalty for defacing an archaeological site is just 5,000 rupees (~$115) and/or 6 months in jail. Hey if these business and having a sense of morals things donít work out for me...
In the grand tradition of doing things just because I can, as an excuse to avoid going shopping for saris (Indian womenís garments) with the girls, and because who knows when Iíll next be at a barber shop thatíll offer my hair as a sacrifice to the local resident deity, I get my head shaved. Not shaved as in crew cut: shaved as in straight razor. At first, the barber just gives me a trim as I worry about hepatitis and other fun diseases Iíll get if he slips and slices my ear. It takes a translator and pointing out the fresh razor blade we brought for him to understand: Iím going as bald as a monk. Heís smiling the rest of the time, probably thinking that heís never seen a scalp this white. Looking at the finished product, I halfway agree with him: Iím so white where my hair used to be that I can almost see right through to my brain. I entertain some second thoughts but, short of pulling a Pedro in ďNapoleon DynamiteĒ and buying a wig, thereís really not much I can do about it now. Oh well: at least I look comically crazy and itíll grow back quickly. Besides, with my hair supposedly being taken to the temple as an offering, this should place me about square with Hinduism.
Although I do feel a bit cooler, the rest of the dayís nothing different. We stop at the local NIIT branch to set up replacements for the 2 broken computers we tried to install yesterday; with a little luck and help from the collegeís engineers, this is smooth and quick. Weird are prominent posters in the stairwell. Most are hip-looking college students with captions like ďI didnít get into a top-10 engineering college, but I will get hired by a top-10 IT firm,Ē and one breaks down demand for programmers by type of application. Doesnít seem like a place where students can satisfy their intellectual curiosity, but rather an effective low-level engineer factory...
And the evening flying back to Delhi, remarkable only in that Iím awake for most of it.