Saturday, March 29, 2008

stones on top of stones

the style of hampi's architecture was clearly influenced by the surrounding boulders. some of these boulders were simply carved into idols right where they lay; others were carved up into building blocks and turned into temples, palaces, market stalls etc. the whole region is a massive quarry of good quality granite.

monkeys outside of hanuman temple

at the hanuman temple just outside of hampi, there are monkeys in great quantities. hanuman was the king of the monkeys which helped rama win a few important battles. it turns out that the monkey armies came from the region around hampi, and that hanuman was born in a cave on the mountain right below where the temple is.

it was quite a climb up (two hundred steps or so) and the sun was beating down on us mercilessly.

the tropical sun is MUCH higher and hotter than in the temperate zones! a friend here tells me that the sun will be DIRECTLY overhead on april 13. no shadow from a flagpole.... or even from our peace pole...

Friday, March 28, 2008

so we wandered among the ruins in the blazing sunshine

notice the boulders which frame every scene in hampi.

swimming pool with no water

we spent two nights on the north side of the river, because the weather was HOT, and we had read about the lakshmi golden beach resort with their BIG swimming pool. but we were not warned that the pool has a season! it is only filled and ready for swimmers from november through february....

holiday in hampi

back in the 15th century hampi was the center of south indian culture and commerce. but the invading muslims pretty much wrecked all the architecture and especially the "infidel" temples. the ruins are still amazing: this was a city of half a million people. and the landscape all around the town is spectacular: giant boulders stacked on top of one another.
(does anybody know how to rotate an image for this site? i have rotated it in "preview" but it still shows up unrotated...)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

about my school and its students

several people have pointed out that i have written almost nothing about my school and all my experiences there.
perhaps it seems i am on some sort of holiday?
no... i just feel like my work-a-day world is just what i do, and that blog-readers will have little interest in a little school in the suburbs of big bad bangalore.
so forewarned is thousand-armed (as they say in india). anybody not interested in details about teens and colleagues ought to skip this post...

the students are a deeply international lot: around a quarter are korean, about a quarter indian, and the other half are widely spread, with more than a handful from france, germany, japan, australia, brazil, holland, singapore, USA, australia, etc etc there are even a few canadians! it is actually surprizing how few canadians there are here, because i am teaching at the CANADIAN international school of bangalore. the photo shows one of my seventh grade classes. notice how small the class is. my eighth grade classes are a little bigger: 16 each.

the kids are great, for the most part. just like in any collection of teens, there are a few lazy kids, but nobody is mean nor openly disrespectful. it is a weird challenge to teach math to a group of kids knowing that a third of them cannot understand the language, and that their biggest challenge is learning english, not the subject matter itself.

i am reminded of how far advanced asian curricula are in math compared to the US norms. the canadian math curriculum is even SLOWER than the US!! in the eighth grade we are just introducing the basics of algebra, while koreans got a pretty thorough dose of algebra in grades six and seven. so for them there is NOTHING new in the normal course of studies; it's all about language-learning... and wild & crazy enrichment provided by yours truly.

my colleagues are also widely international, but with a greater concentration of canadians. they are a great group, but i usually like teachers!

during multi-cultural week a few weeks back, several teachers got together and did a bollywood style dance routine. i was a big hit in the revue: to think that an old white guy can actually do those moves! it was great fun. i might be able to find a photo of that later. in the meantime, here's the trailer of the film whose title track we danced to. notice how much i look like the big star amitabh bachchan (called the "big B"). so i was indirectly cast as an aging hippy!

i think you'll have to cut and paste this, or do a search for jhoom barabar bachchan or some such.
it's great music and a fun dance style.