Thursday, January 26, 2012

Saffron a different note...

These are a few of my favorite pictures taken during my first week here.  Most of them are from Durshet, a nature preserve we stayed at for the first three days.

There's a pack of cows to the right but they didn't fit into the frame...
Taken at dawn.

Hiking to a nearby village.

A woman from the village making rice powder.  She puts the rice in the hole on top and grinds it with the stones.
A woman delivering water from the well to her village.

A view of Pune taken from the top of the Chaturshrungi Temple.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mum-bye, America!

First I'd like to let you know that the title of every blog post here will have a pun, because I love puns.  Also, Alex Norris gave me a big batch of India puns and I have to use them somewhere.  But hey, I'm in PUNe, aren't I?  (OK I'm done with the puns for now...)

My experience in India has been great so far.  I landed in Mumbai on Sunday night and left for the Durshet Nature Preserve on Monday.  We had orientation in Durshet for three days and it was beautiful.  There was a cow outside of my room almost 24/7 and I heard a rooster crow every morning at dawn.  My favorite experience in Durshet was traveling to a village that was a 30 minute walk from where we stayed.  Although it was a remote village, I definitely saw a DirectTV dish so I can't say it was entirely removed from society.  In the village we saw an elder woman make rice powder and helped some of the people fetch water from the well.  I use the term "help" loosely because we were new at the job and they already had a pretty efficient system.  One woman walked with three water-filled jugs on her head, it was incredible.

The colors in India are really awesome, they have definitely lived up to my expectations.  Even transport trucks have beautiful and intricate patterns painted on them.  The pollution in Pune is a real problem, but there are a lot of carts filled with fruits and flower necklaces that really brighten up the scene.  The city is really congested, but there's a lot to appreciate when you walk around.

The streets of Pune themselves are also unbelievable, but in a less artistic way.  The traffic pattern in India is akin to a game of Mario Kart with1,000,000 drivers added to a track.  There are no "lanes", just chaos.  Everyone rides a motorcycle in India, so there's a lot of bobbing and weaving between cars.  And everyone drives bumper to bumper, literally.  The lanes are so congested I could easily pickpocket any motorcyclist if I wanted to.  I wouldn't park as close as these cars drive next to each other!  It's like a game of bumper cars, except everyone miraculously stops when they get 1cm away from the car in front.  And if you're a pedestrian, you don't get any additional rights.  I saw an old woman with a walker stranded in the middle of a street with cars whizzing by on both sides.  I also saw a car race down a one-way street in the opposite direction.  My tour guide said that police don't always enforce traffic laws, so people can get away with that sort of thing.

Tomorrow I start my classes.  I'm taking Contemporary India, Intro to Hindi, Public Health, and Social Justice.  My program has been incredible so far, I really love the students I'm with and the people in charge.  It's all run very smoothly.  Also, the food has been absolutely unbelievable.  At every meal I'm fed about 4 different dishes, and they're almost always something I've never tried before.  Almost everything is vegetarian here as well.  Food is classified as either "veg" or "non-veg".  My family is entirely veg so I really lucked out.

I hope to update this blog at least once a week.  I'll have internet on my laptop soon, so I should get some pictures up then.  I hope everyone has a great spring either home or abroad!