Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I don't have the patience to yet do my post for my second day of sight seeing in Delhi, so enjoy these pictures in the meantime!

Sight-Seeing in Delhi: Day I

As Delhi stood as the beginning and end of my travels outside of Pune, I was able to see may of the attractions (as well as much of the realities) in one of the oldest cities on the sub-continent. Delhi has had 7 historical occupations and is a swarming megatropolis by anyone's standards.

Day I: I started my sight-seeing in New Delhi, at the Arch of India, a true monument honoring India's military in World War I. Many monuments and governm
ental buildings lie on this central promenade called Rajput, in a style very similar to the Mall in Washington, D.C. I walked from the Gate of India all the way to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President's House, enjoying the sunset, instituted waterways, and the National Museum (see the sunset photo). Although we could only see in through the gates under constant military survalliance, monkeys wandered freely around the grounds, leaving a very romantic sentiment under the setting sun. This was the only place in Delhi that wasn't exhaustively over-crowded. The streets were so quiet and no one yelled at us "Hey madam, what country are you from?"

From there I went to my first Sikh temple at the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib. The temple marks the spot where the headless body of Guru Tegh Bahadur was, to the opposition of the Mughal Imperialists, cremated (and by that, I mean that one of his followers stole the body back to his house after his execution and lit his own house on fire so that the body could be faithfully respected without detection from the Mughals). Before entering the temple, we took off our shoes (if you didn't know, this is a common practice across South Asia to take your shoes off at a sacred place), washed our hands and feet, and borrowed scarves outside the temple proper to cover our heads. Inside, three young priests held vigil 24 hours a day, constantly singing and playing classical instruments. Our guide, who was also our rickshaw driver for the day, said that they work on shifts so that the temple is always staffed. We ended the day in a much less picturesque way, wandering in Old Delhi after dinner (an experience, let me tell you).

Monday, October 25, 2010


This will be the first in a series about my 10-day trip across and around Delhi, Agra, and Jaisalmer. Whhhhooooooo!

We flew from Pune to Delhi which was a nice little flight. Security is tight all across India, with passports and photos needed even for phones, and the airport is no exception. The procedure was pretty familiar, with women in one que and men in the other. I traveled, as usual, with only carry-on and my bag was stopped both times. Although I had my metal knitting needles sitting in my bag, they were more concerned with my twissers! When the security officer took out a tampon, looking quizzical, I couldn't help but smile and hide my giggles. It was evident that she had no idea what it was used for, and I had no words in Hindi to try and explain it to her. But she was satisfied to open the small package and see that it was just plastic.

The flight was rather standard, although somewhat modified.
The flight attendants were all very pretty I noticed, which is intentional according to the advertisement put in the on-board magazine. They all sported short bobs, two out of the three of which were artificial. Yes, as in wigs.

In the end, I was very thankful for our air travel, as it was clean, safe, and fairly cheap.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A New Obsession

Today, for the first time, I experienced a truly Indian sensation. And it even included chai break.

I'm talking about cricket. The game seems highly unusual on TV to the American viewer, with all of the players wearing white (I'll never understand those silly hats) and this obsession with the word "wicket". But underneath the seemingly slow game play and vague similarities to American baseball, cricket supports a vary complex series of mental complications that keeps the game in balance.

We played in the back of the hotel parking lot, in between buildings. It was raining, and there wasn't that much room, so we played without runners and shorter rules. Although our professor (and cricket-master) brought a ... bat? Stick? ... we only had one tennis ball, so when that went over the wall, a rescue party had to be arranged in short order to continue game play. A couple of us had played softball/baseball, so we had a slight advantage, but at this stage of competition the most useful skill was quick reflexes/ We all had a lot of fun and, although we may not quite understand all of the rules for scoring yet, have come with a refreshed interest in learning the intricacies of the game.

And it goes without saying that my team won. TEAM DOMINATION!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hindi Movies

Today we went to the National Film Archives to see the film "मन्थन" or "The Churning". We sat on stiff red velvet chairs to see the projection, transporting us back to 1976 when the film was released. The film was funded by the Dairy Farmers of Gujrat about the founding of a dairy cooperative in the 1950s, based mostly on the Amul cooperative. This phenomenon, also called the "White Revolution", brought about a huge increase in the availability of milk and other foodstuffs in the 1970s. (See the Wikipedia page about the film here.) The film touched on issues of caste, poverty, gender, and the feudal holdovers of rural India. Although very distant from the "Bollywood" Hindi movies I've seen, Manthan definatly protrayed some very sensitive issues with graceful acting and cinematography.

For a lighter movie, I highly suggest "Three Idiots" (IMDb here). It's everything you could ever hope in a movie- drama, humor, song and dance, romance, plot twists, births and deaths. It fully acknowledges its Bollywood heritage and the joys of bromance. Although the three hour commitment can seem daunting, the film mixes humor and serious issues in unbelievably quick turns, keeping the audience on its toes.

Ok. Time to study for my Hindi test. :P

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I have no patience to write this update gracefully, so I shall resort to the wonderful organization of numbers.


1. I've officially been in India for two weeks! Zomg!

2. Saturday Adventures:
After a lot of debate, I decided to stay the weekend in Pune rather than attempt to go to the famed Ellora/Ajanta caves (see this blog for a preview). But no worries, I will go! Because Saturday was the Mahatama's birthday (Gandhi, that is) we went to one of his memorials within the city at the Aga Khan palace. The palace had a small museum which contained affects of Gandhiji and his wife and beautiful grounds. (I apologize for no pictures; this will be explained below.) Interestingly, admittance for foreigners is Rs. 100 while only Rs. 5 for Indian citizens. There was a book launch going on when we got there in the afternoon, but it was surprisingly empty for being a National Holiday. A couple of young boys (aged 8-10) came up to us, asking for our autographs! We all exchanged names (in broken Hindi and English) signed in their notebook (in English and Devanagri) and took photos. From there, we took a rickshaw further into the heart of the city to visit the Shaniwar wada, a fort built in the 1700s. Most all of the interior structures have been destroyed through various processes, but the fortification still remains. From there we walked among Lakshmi Road, which hosts one of the busiest shopping areas in Pune.

3. Sunday Adventures:
Not going to the Ajanta/Ellora caves left a hole in my heart for some early Buddist religious architecture. To fill this hole, we decided to start on an adventure to the Karla caves, built before 200 B.C. This adventure required a 1.5 hour public train ride, a 10 minute rickshaw, and a good 30 minutes of stairs. One way. But it was totally worth it. When we arrived near the caves, the local town was having a celebration with a small crowd of young men clearly inebriated, covered in pink powder. We hiked up the stairs, braving the stares that accompany being so clearly foreign. We just made it up the stone pathway to be granted entrance to the site- the caves shut at 6 pm. Running back to the station, we ended up meeting a couple of exchange students from Germany, and shared some chai and English before getting back on the train. (And on that note, may I express my pleasure with the woman's compartment on trains. We sat on the floor in front of the open door, letting the air fill the mostly empty compartment.) And we made it back in time for dinner.

4. Photography
Over the weekend I, and everyone else in my foreign-exchange group, were asked to pose in pictures at least 6 times. Apparently it's a common expression of curiosity and happens to foreigners all the time. Complete strangers would come up to me, and ask me to be in a photo with them, their wives, friends, and family; once the photo was over, everyone was happy to go back to sight-seeing with their respective parties. It was in one of these instances, however, that I got distracted, showing a stranger the photo that was just taken, and got shuffled along to my own party. It wasn't until I got to the train station that I even realized that I no longer had my camera. *Sigh* But it's just a thing, and I'll get another one before my trip.

5. My trip!
In about a week I'll be going on an epic journey. I'll keep the details a secret, but let's just say that I'm gonna be able to see much more of India.

6. This weekend
In Bombay/Mumbai. I don't know if I'll have access to internet, but I'll at least have some stories and hopefully a camera when I get back.

Ok. So that's all I can force myself to do now. I'll leave social commentary and pictures for later. (^-*)