Freedom by foot

On the 9th of September 2011 we set out from England to the continent by ferry to begin our adventure in earnest. By foot we will make our way to the first destination, which is Milan, from there we will be flying over to Bangalore for an archaeological conference (as you do) and an escape from the harsh European winter.

At any and all points in our little wander we will be on the look out for interesting and exciting places and people to learn from. Our journey begins with a zeal for experiencing ancient and traditional life & new innovative ways of living for the future.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Metals and Ministers

Piacenza to Milan. Milan to Heathrow. Heathrow to Bangalore...
Two months on the road, total distance covered 800km. Two days travelling by train and plane, total distance covered 12415km. Mildly heart breaking.

Never mind, India doesn't give you the chance to dwell. Bammn!
As soon as we touched down in Bengaluru International we were met by our 'man' from NIAS (National Institute of Advanced Studies) who happily led us through the flocks of taximen to our car. As we charged through the traffic to the heart of the city, the sun rose and we were allowed a short early morning glimpse of the big city waking up. We entered through the iron gates of the institute and collapsed into our room.
We braved the jet lag and stayed awake, spending the day meeting and greeting old faces and some new ones, before heading out to buy some new frocks for our week of dignitaries, MPs and V.(self-)I.Ps.
After our first taste of proper Indian cuisine, we hit the hay at 4pm and awoke the next morning at 9am. Refreshed and ready to roll.

Dosa's for breakfast and a day spent with Smriti (the general go-to-girl for the conference and our very good friend) organising exhibitions, designing posters and panicking about the yet-to-be-written presentation followed. A trend that seemed to last the next couple of days.

We were the first to arrive, a good few days before everyone else, so we had (some) time to explore the city. Although as the conference attendees began to filter in, the food shifted from dingy restaurants around the back alleys of Bangalore to top notch catering provided by NIAS. The jury is out on which we preferred...

Those in attendance included a mob from Exeter Uni (consisting of a contingent of archaeologists, a huge gang of administrators and, of course, our supreme leader the Vice Chancellor Sir Steve Smith), a pair from Oxford Uni (our mate Brian Gilmour and prof. Mark Pollard), a rabble of senior international profs. and a load from the sub-continent itself.

Three days of backslapping, flag waving and arse kissing was equally matched by high class lectures at the forefront of international Archaeometallurgy. Amiee, who before was completely new to the subject ('It's a rock innit?') could probably discuss the industrial trade relations between East Africa and India in the Early Historic period, with the best of them.

Originally we were quite intimidated by the list of names coming to the conference (I was the only 'Mr.' on the list!), but we very quickly realised how down to earth  and absolutely lovely these guys and gals were. Which was very lucky, particularly on the Wednesday evening when we had to scrub up and head on over to Leela's Palace for a Dinner Reception with the Rt. Hon. David Willits, MP (and crew).

Not quite up to the standard we are used to...
So a jolly good conference, a few to many niceties and a strange introduction to our time in India. But, many new friendships forged (check out the pun!) and a grand stepping stone to our next port of call, Andhra Pradesh!

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