We went on a field trip for one of my classes on Wednesday. Our teacher took us to a Sikh temple, a gurdwara. Having covered our heads with scarves, we stepped inside to hear about some of the main philosophies in Sikhism. Sikhism is a minority religion in India, most often associated with the northern region of Punjab.
One of the traditions of Sikh temples is the langar, where free meals are served to anyone equally regardless of any social differences. Though this particular gurdwara typically only serves food on Sundays, they made extra effort to accommodate us with a meal to show the sentiment behind it. So, we all sat on the floor in the dining hall and ate food served on our metal plates together. People from any background are welcomed at gurdwaras and the langars. This sense of acceptance was emphasized to us, but that was probably unnecessary. I thought it was natural even as we were walking in.
By now, I think all of my SIP peers have had multiple exams under their belts. Midterms here are called internals, and I didn’t have my first one until yesterday. It was for Hindi class. Though pretty short and straightforward, I am a bit relieved to have one test down. More exams, papers, and projects will inevitably come throughout the semester, so it is grounding to be reminded that there is a graded component to being here and being in classes.
Right after our Hindi exam Thursday morning, five of us collected our bags and headed to the train station. This weekend, we have a planned trip with one of our directors to visit two really cool-sounding ancient Buddhist cave sites. Stocked with packaged lunches, packaged dinners, and lots of snacks, we boarded the train for our 11-hour journey to Aurangabad.
It sounds like a long ride, but we had a good amount of space on the sleeper car. The areas are set so that passengers can sit together for a chat or some tea, but the seats can be pulled up into makeshift bunk beds. Since our journey was from afternoon to nighttime, we fit in a couple hours of sleep after having talked and eaten enough.
Aurangabad is in the state of Maharashtra, Telangana’s neighbor to the northwest. We arrived just after midnight and are at the hotel for some rest before getting up at 7:00 tomorrow. After breakfast, we will head out to see the Ajanta and Ellora caves.