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.
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. (^-*)