This phrase (thanks to Max) just about sums up the past week... It’s been a crazy whirlwind of jet-lag, New Delhi, Hindi, Jaipur, rickshaw wala’s, host families, cell phones, yoga and exploration.
Let’s start back in Delhi. We were only there for a couple of days of our orientation week. With an overwhelming amount of people and air pollution we got our first exposure to India. We had general orientation classes which basically include DON’T DRINK THE WATER OR EAT THE STREET FOOD UNLESS YOU WANT TO GET REALLY REALLY SICK. One really cool thing we did in our short stay was go to the site where Gandhi was cremated and his memorial stands. That was pretty awesome and the memorial was beautiful.
Thus starts our seven hour bus ride to Jaipur. The ride consisted of crazy traffic (no surprise there) and cows and camels meandering along the side of the road. Cows…lots and lots of cows. Also, the occasional elephant being ridden. Once in Jaipur, we witnessed hoards of monkeys and stray dogs along the sides of the roads; nestled in with the cows and goats. It’s also wedding season so we drove by extravagant ceremonies being performed on the side of the road. After a lot more sleeping (a ten and a half hour time difference can be a lot to handle) we finally took rickshaws to our new home/academic center. The center is beautiful and staff is phenomenal so far. We did group bonding by having drop-off’s in the city, a scavenger hunt, a Bollywood movie (Race 2, HYSTERICAL), hiking up a fort and all sorts of other things. There seems to be a really great group dynamic already and I’m excited to see where it goes.
The fort we hiked up to during orientation week:
It's kite season...if you can't tell by all the kites stuck in the tree.
The walls of the fort
The view from up top!
Then came the host families. I would like to point out that my host family speaks English. (For those of you that read my blog last semester and/or have talked to me, you know that last semester was a language challenge) I’m the first student my host mom has hosted and I have an older brother and sister, both in their mid/late 20’s. The family is really great and are helping me with my Hindi and getting me oriented. I live near two other students, Max and Allison so we rickshaw to school together and are lucky enough to get to hang out during our off time. Our neighborhoods are really upper class…which is very much the minority here in India. I’m lucky enough to have my own room and bathroom (as demanded by the program). We went to an “informal settlement” (this is similar to a slum) today and realizing exactly how drastic the difference is made me realize how sheltered the SIT program is keeping us. No doubt, this is something I will have trouble with down the road because how do I get to know India when I am consistently surrounded with the top 1% but also realizing I need to careful with my safety.
This weekend we went to the Amber Fort in Jaipur…and took an elephant ride to the top before we walked around. The elephant behind us “loves Obama” said his driver when he realized we were American. The elephant then raised its trunk and sprayed us with a bit of water. That’s a positive thing right? The fort though was huge, and extravagant and fabulous. The view was amazing and the area is beautiful. Beyond words.
Part of the Palace
Allison and I on our elephant ride up :)
The elephant that loves Obama
This part was referred to as the glass palace :) You can see why
Next weekend we’re traveling to the Taj Mahal! I’m excited to continue seeing where this semester takes me. I’m still processing my time in Morocco, but so much is already happening here that I’m trying to process. I’m sure that in more blog posts to come, this will reflect that. Right now, there’s just so much to take in and so little time to try and figure it out. Now that I have more consistent internet, I’ll be sure to update more often.