Located just outside of Bangalore, participants were bussed to Round Table School, a project of Bangalore Metropolitan Round Table-44 (BMRT-44) in Roopena Agrahara village on the outskirts of Bangalore city. Once again we were greeted with opulent flower garlands and traditional blessings for a good journey. This time the school had been mobilized into formation. The girls lined up playing flutes and participants were able to talk to the BMRT-44 tablers who described the difficulties of getting the children, most of whom come from a nearby slum, parents often need persuasion to send their children, particularly girls, to school. The largest difference they found was that by offering free meals, the attendance has greatly improved. Also notable is that the cost to feed and educate a student for an entire year is only about $50.
Once out of the hot and dusty school parking lot, almost everyone (including the pace car) got lost and confused navigating out of Bangalore. After watching the landscape became tropical and filled with small local farms, the challenge for the day was the incredible Shravanabelagola monolith and Jain temples. After losing time with a late start and the confusion of Bangalore’s traffic heavy streets, most teams risked losing all of their daily points to make it to the temple and correctly answer the challenge questions for the reward of 30 extra points and the chance to witness the largest monolith in the world with one of the most spectacular views in the world –at least for those willing to climb over 600 stairs.
With too many factors working against them and drivers still learning the ropes, most teams arrived to the flag down late and were forced to forfeit the day’s points. The colder monsoon winds and rains began to approach in the late afternoon and a handful of teams learned the hard lesson of breaking down just as the rains and darkness began to fall.
At the Hotel Ashhok teams regained their strength and spirits by exchanging incredible stories and relishing in the special camaraderie only the CEAT Mumbai Xpress 2008 can create, bringing together 39 participants from 10 countries together.