Stay in Pilani, Report by Lars Koestrewa

Before the beginning of my journey to India, I was frequently told, that I should be prepared for a “culture shock”. But when I finally arrived in Delhi, I felt different. It wasn’t something I would call a “shock” rather, it was a fascination that would accompany me from the first to the last day of my stay in India. A fascination for a country that is as different from place to place like no other I’ve seen before and yet united. One thing that has helped me to understand this more was the BITS in Pilani. At the University students from all over India come together and bring pieces of their culture with them from all the different areas of the country. Still, there are things most of them share like the passion for dancing, chai tea and cricket, love for their food and their country and the strive for development and success.

In Pilani, I spend most of my time in India. Driven by the fact of being the only foreign student on campus, I wanted to become part of the everyday campus life as quickly as possible. So I got used to the Indian food quite early, took part in various leisure activities in the field of sports, replaced my coffee consumption with chai tea breaks and after a while I also coped with the challenging climatic conditions in summer.

At the “new workshop” on the campus students can get practical experiences in different fields of mechanical engineering. There is also the Joint-Indo-German-Experience-Lab (JInGEL) where I worked on my student research project. In the JInGEL as well as at the IWF of the TU Braunschweig are small manufacturing lines, for educational and research purposes, called learning factories. I worked on solutions for cross country production data exchange between these lines. For this, I dealt with various industrial bus systems, communication protocols internet-enabled gateways and options for the targeted transfer of data through the Internet. The different solutions were evaluated by me on the basis of a few use cases, which shall be implemented in future projects. For this, I set up the base connection in the form of a VPN tunnel to a learning factory server at the IWF, as well as an MQTT broker, which communicates through this.

Besides the work, I was able to get an even more direct insight into India’s diversity, as well as some of my best memories while traveling through the country. For example, the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, with a friend’s family in Indore where I could experience the great Indian hospitality and life in a joint family. I also went trekking and camping in the Himalaya (Himachal Manali) for a few days, got an insight into the Indian village life near Udaipur and attended a Hindu wedding in Lakhnau.

India taught me what it means to get to know a country and its culture not as a tourist but as part of the people who live there. It taught me what it is like to be on your own in an for me totally unfamiliar environment, to adapt, to settle in and to find a home anywhere. Afterward, this journey left me with great gratitude. Gratitude for the friends I have found, for the great experiences, the fantastic memories and the opportunity for deep insights into a country of that I’ve seen so much and yet so little. India I am looking forward to seeing you again.