IITB (Bombay) is one of the campuses of the elite IIT = Indian Institutes of Technology. Developed in the late fifties, each campus was the result of a bilateral cooperation; Bombay was the cooperation with the Soviet Union. IITB is actually in Powai, a suburb North of Bombay proper, nestled between Powai and Vihar lakes (the latter the water reservoir for the city). It is close to the airports, and under a mile from train stations on the suburban line that reaches (in about 45 min) Victoria Terminus, in the heart of the city.
The first thing that strikes the visitor is the change from the atmosphere on the street. Powai is a bustling town, with much traffic noise, engines and horns, and street vendors and people milling everywhere. But as soon as one walks into campus, the soft penumbra of its trees, and their coolness, take over; walk another hundred meters from the gate at dusk, and a different racket, one of hundreds of birds, envelopes you.
About half a kilometer into campus is the lakeside Guest House. People come to the area to take in the breeze coming from Powai lake. They also come to make their pooja offerings in the lake.
All around one sees people walking, or biking, or riding Vespa-style scooters, besides the occasional car, bus, or three-wheel auto-rickshaw. Sometimes one sees a military (Indian Navy?) truck that ferries the children from garrison to campus school. Bikes are also cargo vehicles: canisters of compressed natural gas (see picture), impossibly high piles of newsprint, mysterious bags; and they are also family transport: fathers with two or three schoolchildren, couples, etc.
Another half a kilometer along IIT's main road and one gets to the the new School of Management building, whose construction progresses next to the favorite coffee place. There are elegantly dressed ladies walking in the middle of all that, while a new drain is built.
Just passing the coffee shack one gets to the cluster of academic buildings, all connected with covered walkways, essential during the monsoon rains. The aptly named Main Building houses bureaucrats and classrooms, and assorted services, including a tiny Thomas Cook travel agency, the co-op stationery store, and a long-distance telephone booth. It boasts a large garden in front, divided into a big lawn and a more decorated greenery patch around a sculpture; the perimeter is lined with palm trees.
Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) has one of the newer buildings on campus; its interior is airy and faculty offices are clustered around large vestibules which are perfect for impromptu meetings. The building has laboratories and a well equipped A/V room, and it includes a small but very inviting library.
There are various services on campus: two schools, bike repairs, a barber, various eateries, post office... There is also a sizable population of wildlife and mellow cows and many dogs, who are strangely discreet and rarely, if ever, bark.
All the students, faculty, and most of the personnel live on campus, and there is even a smattering of informal housing. There is much activity on weekdays, with a lull at midday, when most people return to their homes, or hostels, for lunch.
The other lake, Vihar lake, is much larger than Powai, and it is the reservoir for Bombay's drinking water. Most impressive are the water pipes, which are probably the fastest way from IITB into the city.
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