India is big. It's the third largest country in Asia, and the seventh in the world by area. The distance from Bangalore—where high-tech is concentrated in India—to Ahmedabad is vast. By train, it's somewhere in the range of 1600km over 38 hours.
So, after some introductions and meetings in Bangalore, our small team of soon-to-be Unbox Caravan participants boarded a train to ride up the west coast of India. Our destination: Ahmedabad's famous school of design, NID.
The ride gave us an opportunity to practice a form of research NID faculty Praveen Nahar has been using and teaching his students: slow ethnography. We got to experience and discover India's vibrant railway ecosystem, a unique, physically narrow, and fascinatingly brief community of residence and commerce. And we did so, continuously immersed in an atmosphere in which Indian people are comfortable.
Observing the almost automatic way everyone else settled in, we learned quickly. In our respective spaces, we were able to transform bunk beds into offices, living rooms, and common spaces—a home, which quickly lost its once foreign atmosphere. The colors were beautiful, the light was picturesque, the people were friendly, the journey interesting, and the landscape was endless.
With an experience on India's rails, we arrived in Ahmedabad at NID inspired, and ready to participate, with a localized appreciation for things that many young, aspiration Indian people feel: distance and community.