I apologize for the absence, but I finally have internet access in India. We just finished the first week of classes, and I am now sitting in an air conditioned cafe (the one in Anokhi) with fellow classmates.
Let me bring you up to speed with what’s been happening:
Another student, Alicia, also came late to the program, so we left from Delhi together for Jaipur via bus last Saturday. It was nice to have a traveling companion, particularly since she’s been to India before and knows much more Hindi than I do.
On the way to Jaipur!
As expected with any long trip (five or so hours), we encountered a big problem: first, the A/C shut off, then the whole bus broke down!
View outside while bus was broken down.
Alicia and I during the bus breakdown with no A/C! It was crazy hot!
The bus was fixed within about 15 minutes, but the A/C didn’t work again. 😦
Here’s a view of my bed.
We arrived in Jaipur around 4 and were immediately taken to see possible living situations. We viewed a few (somewhat sketchy) apartments and one home stay family. Luckily the family had two rooms available, so Alicia and I decided to stay with them. The family is really nice. Our Jaipur family consists of a mother and father and a sister and brother. The kids are older teens, and both go to Rajasthan University. We eat breakfast and dinner with our host parents every day. Alicia and I have two rooms and a bathroom in the ground floor of a two-storey house.
This is the view into my room (from Alicia’s door)
This is a view of our bathroom. Though there is a shower head, it doesn’t work as well as desired. So we’ve been bucket showering it!
Though Alicia and I have separate rooms, I do in fact have roommates in my room:
Lizard from behind one of my curtains yesterday. Why?!
Anyone who knew me as a kid can guess how I reacted to having critters in my room. Yes, I do squeal every time I see one, and sometimes I quickly jump onto my bed.
From the first day of school. Please ignore my shiny face and crazy hair. I haven’t figured out how to fix those problems yet.
The other students had an orientation at the end of last week, so Alicia and I were a bit behind on our first day of school on Monday. It took a few days to figure out what was exactly expected of us and how the program works. My classes in intermediate Hindi include grammar, conversation, listening comprehension, journal writing, vocabulary, among other things. My biggest problems are with spoken Hindi, as my general focus in on translation. Hopefully I can start understanding people and coming up with good ways of expressing myself within a week or so. Also, though our host father speaks English, our host mother does not, so this forces me to listen and try to communicate with her. The program is about 10 weeks long (if one includes the orientation time), so we will be finished on August 17.
It’s really hot in Jaipur this time of year (over 100 degrees during the day, and around 100 at night), and most places do not have air conditioning, including our house. There are a few places where we can find reprieve (the school and our local coffee house are nice and cold), so we tend to spend as much time at such places as possible. The temperatures should change in the next week or so, as monsoon season will be beginning. Our host father said that it has already started raining in Mumbai.
It’s also an interesting time to be an American in India for a few reasons. First, the rupee to dollar exchange has been changing drastically, so it will be interesting to see what happens to the Indian economy by the end of the summer. Also, some elections will be coming up in the next month, so the political climate may be changing with the rains.
Temple celebration for Vishnu
The other night our host father informed us that there was a several-day-long celebration for Vishnu happening at a nearby temple. He told us that it was very beautiful, so we decided to check it out.
Here are a few pictures of the temple (below) and the celebration singer (above).
Well, that’s all I have for you for now. We have some cool plans on the horizon, including a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra and possibly visiting a tiger reserve nearby. I’ll be sure to take pictures if and when we go to such places. Until then, I hope all is well with you, and please drink some Diet Coke for me, as that is one of the things I miss the most from the US.
फिर मिलेंगे! बहुत प्यार!