Saturday, August 29, 2009

First days in India

I have finally arrived here! I've been in India about a week, and it has been wonderful. Sometimes I miss home, and Alaskan/American things, but most of the time I am too busy to think about it. When I do, I realize I miss the cold. Not the weather, exactly...but I miss really nice iced coffee, or cold sheets, or a nice cool breeze. Everything here is warm, I haven't had any cold food even since I arrived.

I've been attending college since Wednesday, it's so terrible. Many of the teachers are on strike, and so they just don't come to class. However, we never know if the teacher is going to come that day or not, so we just sit in class for an hour wondering. And some of my classes are all taught in Hindi, and so again I just sit there wishing I could understand. Other times, it is so incredibly easy, it's hard to believe. And sometimes, they are just so boring and terrible. The first day, I went to English, Economics, German, and history. Economics was taught in Hindi, German had nothing to do with me (I'm officially signed up for Hindi, but I didn't realize it was advanced Hindi, and my other options are German and French. I want to take french, but the teacher is on strike, so I have been in German), English was really really pointless for me, and then in History we studied the history of coinage in India. I was so mad I had to go at all, but since then it has been a bit better.

My host family is wonderful. We barely speak the same language, but we manage to have a wonderful time in spite of that. We often have to mime a little, and call a translator (most of the young people here are fluent in English) and we go around in circles so much, but it is fine. The most frustrating part of it is when other people want to make plans with me, and I am going somewhere. I almost never know where or why I am going, or when I will be back, or what I'm doing afterwards, and they say "well just ask!" and I try and I can't at all. I call my parents here "ai" and "baba" which is marati for Mom and Dad. They are really really nice people, and I love them so much.

The weirdest part of being here is how much of a minority I am. I stand out so much, it was so frightening when I first arrived. I had never felt so different before, and the feeling was escalated by the fact that everyone stares, openly and all the time, especially the men. Some people are just curious, and watch you to see what you do, but some people look so angry that you are there. Mostly I am used to it now, but sometimes people will not stop staring, and I have taken to looking at them as well, just staring them down until they either get nervous or tired. When that fails, I start glaring and shooting them the angriest looks I can, and that almost always makes them stop. There have been exeptions though, which is unfortunate.

I have done and seen so many incredible things already, it's hard to take in. Everything is completely different, yet none of it has seemed really different or shocking or hard. It just seems new, and all seems to come naturally so far. I've been learning a few words of Marati, ridden in a rickshaw, walked to the temple to do yoga, done pooja to worship lord ganesha, learned to ride a scooter (motorcycle) without holding on, I eat with my hands sitting cross-legged on the floor, and am learning to deal with the poor and the beggars. India is amazing, perfect, and wonderul. I feel like I have dropped off the planet of America and the western world, and India is all there is for me now. It's a strange feeling, but I can barely imagine going home, and my english has definitely gotten worse.

Any questions, leave a comment, facebook or email me: Also I have skype, ruby.quarton! Hugs and kisses from India!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm a liar. But finally, I am leaving!

Soo basically I lied in my last post. I thought I would be leaving the 16th of July, but now I leave (officially!) the 20th of August.
Here is my itinerary, in case you were curious:
Leave: Anchorage - 12:50 AM, Aug 20
Arrive: Portland - 5:35 AM Aug 20

Leave: Portland - 12:00 Noon, Aug 20
Arrive: Amsterdam - 7:35 AM, Aug 21

Leave: Amsterdam - 10:20 AM, Aug 21
Arrive: Mumbai - 11:15 PM, Aug 21

And then I figure I have to get to Pune, which is close ish (relatively), but I don't know how I get there...train maybe?

I've been having an awesome time this past month or so, spending every moment with friends, I've been out so much, soaking up sun, memories, friendships. I thought I was ready to go, even when it seemed close before, but now I feel totally unprepared to go. It's suddenly too close, to much, and yet not close enough. I don't think it can be close enough until I can smell and touch India, dance in the monsoon rains, absorb it all. I want to suck it all in, until it is a part of me and I am a part of it, forever and ever and ever.

People tell me that you either love or hate India, and if you love it, it just absorbs your soul and you never are the same, or you discover that the madness and mayhem are too much for you. Perhaps I am hoping for too much, I have set my sights too high, but I already feel in love with India.

My host brother, Sagar, is going to Kodiak this year for exchange (Kodiak is a large island in Alaska, about a 13 hour ferry ride south of Homer), and will be arriving in Alaska on Friday. My mom and I are going to go meet him in Anchorage this weekend, let him get a little bit of a taste for Alaska, and America, as well as meet me, so that we don't totally miss meeting eachother. I'm pretty stoked to meet him, he seems pretty cool.

I don't know how much time I will have for blogging in this next week, but if there are any significant updates I will let everyone know. Perhaps I shall blog about Sagar after our meeting. :)