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Incidents (घटना)

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging, but there hasn’t been anything too interesting on which to report.  Life here settled in to just being life.  Sure, crazy rickshaw drivers are interesting at first, but eventually you get the swing of things, and they stop charging you four times the acceptable rate because they know you won’t go for it anymore.  I have loved seeing this transition in myself and my friends; eventually, crazy India went from this novel adventure to an everyday, in-and-out experience.  It’s still crazy, but I have definitely come to expect, and even embrace, that craziness as a part of my routine.

Speaking of craziness, my final exams were this month!  Classes ended November 7th, and my first exam was on the 12th.  This final was one that I was anxious for.  My fellow students are working on their PHDs in mass communication, so to say they had studied the subjects over which we were being tested more extensively than had I is a bit of an understatement.  All things considered, I think it went extremely well, but I had to literally bicker with the proctor of my exam to convince him to take my paper up at 1:06 since the prompt had taken six minutes to arrive at my desk.  The way I viewed it, my time started at 10:06, and I intended to use my three hours since the minimum acceptable length was 4,000 words.  I won the argument and finished my paragraph with about thirty seconds to spare.  🙂

Other finals were not nearly so eventful, but I feel confident with all of them.  In my Hindi class, one portion of our final was a written exam, while the other portion was an oral class presentation.  We each had individualized prompts and mine was about my memorable incidents in Hyderabad.  I didn’t think it went as well as it could have until one of my peers presented, forgot what she was presenting, and proceeded to shout curse words before resuming the presentation.  Relativity, folks.  Anyhow, I hope they went well because end-of-term exams count for 60% of class grades in India.  We shall see.

Other than finals, the past several weeks have also been filled with lots of time with this nugget.

she's too much

love her bob haircut

India has done nothing for my hair clearly

There has also been lots of good food consumed lately.  I am obsessed with Asian food, and it would seem that proximity does wonders for the authenticity of cuisine because the Asian/ Thai food in India is so. stinkin. tasty!  I have made it my mission to Indo-Asian food at every opportunity, and I have yet to be disappointed.  May I introduce you to Vegetable Manchurian, Gobi Manchurian, Gobi 65, and Egg Noodles?  They are my best friends and, because of them, I need to do a cleanse when I return to America.  My poor, poor arteries.

veg manchurian...you make my day

this stuff makes my nose run...totally worth it

fried eggs and noodles? yes please...also, dont let the innocent color of these fool you. they are SPICY

my fave...gobi manchurian. which just means Chinese-seasoned cauliflower, but gobi man sounds better 🙂

My friends and I have also bequeathed ourselves (can you do that?) with the task of finding the best method of enjoying eggs in India.  So far, we have tested:

egg dosas...kind of like a savory crepe with a fried egg inside

egg masala...boiled eggs in curry

egg bhurji...eggs scrambled with chiles and tomatoes

egg curry...boiled eggs in coconut sauce

My personal favorite is one I can’t find a picture of, but it’s called Egg and Pea Fry.  It’s scrambled eggs and green peas with spices.  So good!  My cholesterol hates me and I’m only 20, but it’s so worth it.

Anyhow, now that you’re all wondering if I’ll be able to fit into one seat on the plane ride home, I’ll sign off for now and come back soon with a recap of my recent travels to God’s country, or Kerala, if you’re familiar with India.

Also: Happy Birthday to the best older brother in the world!! 🙂

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Trick-or-Treat!

Halloween came and went in India without much of a splash, but we foreigners did our best to inject a little holiday cheer into things! We all went to classes and went about our days regularly until right before dinner time when several of us attempted to throw together some costumes. I put on a green romper, green socks, and an earthy mask, labeled myself Mother Earth and called it a day.

Thanvi dressed up as a carrot...a girl after my own heart obviously

We had people dress up as cats, warrior princesses, 80’s girls, and flamenco dancers to name a few. Since there aren’t any Halloween costumes to be purchased here, we all had to do the best we could with what we had, but, all things considered, I thought everyone’s costumes turned out wonderfully. The kids of some of the program directors and professors here came by our hostel, and we made them go from door to door of our rooms to trick-or-treat. I don’t think they were quite as enthused about it as most American kids, but we handed out candy and cookies, so I think they enjoyed themselves.

our bunch of trick-or-treaters

Emma dressed up as Dane, another boy who studies here, and she looked uncannily like him! Best costume by far! 🙂

After the kids went back home, the whole hostel popped popcorn and watched I Know What You Did Last Summer…obviously I didn’t stay for much of that, but all in all, it was a fun night!

Another big event here recently was our Study in India Program Cultural Evening.  The Cultural Evening is basically a talent show, and it is also the night for the final performances of the students who enrolled in dance or music classes while here.  The show consisted of performances of traditional Indian dances like Kuchipudi, Kathak, and Bharatanatyam.

Kuchipudi performance

Hindi prayer

Rachel singing Norah Jones

One group recited a prayer in Hindi, another performed a song on the tabla (Indian drum), and several students just performed American songs.  My favorite part of the night was the Kuchipudi and Kathak dances…they were extremely impressive and they looked like so much fun!  They also took a lot of dedication, and I know the girls worked really hard this entire semester to learn their dances.  Everyone also dressed up in sarees and kurtas and everyone looked beautiful!  I’m so glad I bought my saree, and I can’t wait to wear it again!

sweet, sweet Melissa and me!

After the Cultural Evening, we headed back to our hostel where we had a beautiful and fun catered dinner outside!  It was a great night with good friends, and fun was had by all! 🙂

so much fun! and so many lights!

Happy Diwali!!

Hey all!  We had a huge holiday here last week, and it was tons of fun, and it is a holiday that I will be celebrating every year from now on.  Diwali is known as the festival of lights, and it is basically the combination of the 4th of July and Christmas.  I can’t really think of a good way to describe it, other than that it is a very big deal, and it is both religious and family oriented.  Here’s what Wikipedia says about it specifically in Andhra Pradesh, the state in which I live:

“In Andhra Pradesh, the festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night. Most people make a trip to the local temple along with their families to seek the blessings of their respective Gods. The night sky is lit up with a scintillating array of noisy fireworks.

Diwali is one of the seven most important festivals of Andhra Pradesh. It is very popular with children who celebrate Diwali because of the excitement of bursting firecrackers. Special shops to sell firecrackers are set up in all towns, cities and bigger villages. There are some traditional customs followed such as buying new clothes for this festival. Buying new home or vehicles is considered auspicious. Special sweets are made too. Some eateries in Hyderabad make some delicious sweets during Diwali which will not be available at any other time. Meat and alcohol are generally not consumed. Tradition has it that Andhraites gift sweets during Diwali. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha. Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with firecrackers. This will be burst by a person dressed as Lord Krishna or, more accurately, a costume of Satyabhama, the consort of Lord Krishna, who actually killed the demon Narakasura; an event that is celebrated as Diwali for generations. The evening sky of Diwali is a colourful sight to watch.

People clean/white-wash or paint/decorate their homes as it is a very auspicious day; to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity i.e. Lakshmi devi to their homes. Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colourful Diwali Rangolis (link) adorn the doorways. After all this preparation all the members of the family perform the Lakshmi pooja. Another custom involves decorating homes with paper figures.

Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from the small villages to the big towns, often beginning almost a month before Diwali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewellery, ornaments, and household goods increase. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in the largest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared or purchased from shops. The festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships, and ancient traditions.”

So that’s that!  My Diwali was extremely calm and low-key because I had been sick the whole week leading up to it, but I still had a blast.  We went out to a nice dinner in the city, and we drove through a bunch of neighborhoods to see all the kids playing and lighting sparklers.  All the homes were decorated with red, green, and white lights, and just about every single family had its own private fireworks show.  It was so fun to watch.  We also caught a huge public fireworks show out in town.  So much fun!  Our hostel also set off fireworks and decorated with lights and flowers.  It was such a fun holiday, and it sort of made up for the fact that Indians don’t celebrate Halloween. 🙂

this is Thanvi, the daughter of our house mother all dressed up 🙂

this is Bhavani, Thanvi's mom, and my Hindi teacher

this is made out of flower petals!! so pretty

my hostel all prettied up

my friend Karissa who also goes to MTSU

Anyway, that’s that and Happy Diwali! 🙂

Stinks for You!

After our incident in the Hanging Gardens, we walked around a bit more before heading to Kamala Nehru Park, which is named after the wife of the Prime Minister.  It is a favorite of the local and visiting schoolchildren, and they were all over the place, but with good reason!

It's the shoe from the nursery rhyme!!!! I don't know why this family didn't walk up and take their picture inside the shoe...

This park also had a gorgeous view of Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach where we had been the night before.

water, I missed you so

We then headed to the Towers of Parsi, which was one part of the trip that we were very excited about.  Basically, the Towers in Mumbai are the burial sites of a certain sect of Iranian Indians who believe that the dead body is unclean, and should be disposed of in such a way as to not pollute a body or earth that is still living.  After someone dies, they put the body on the top of the tower and leave it to decompose and for the birds of prey to…well, prey upon.    The towers are separated from urban life by gardens because it’s not sacred for anyone other than a Parsi to be around the decomposing bodies.  All people are supposed to be allowed in to see the gardens and the outside of the towers, though, but when we went to the gate, the security guard wouldn’t let us in.  I tried in Hindi and English, but after repeatedly telling us “no,” he eventually went and got reinforcements for the gate.  We walked across the street and glowered for a while before a sweet woman stopped to talk to us.  She explained that we were basically out of luck.  They let her in to a certain point, she said, because she has dark skin, but she’s definitely not a Parsi.  Basically, the farongis were out of luck again.

these are some of the crows that circle the Towers

Since we still had some time before it got dark, we went to a temple in a nearby neighborhood.  It was a really pretty temple, and we saw a guru with some seriously long hair.  We also made friends with a little kid whose parents were making offerings, and we played hide-and-seek a little while.  I don’t have any pictures because it’s RUDE to take pictures of the temples.  At this point, we decided to go back to Gateway of India and just walk around the ocean for a bit.  We ate a late dinner at Leopold’s Cafe, again, and hung out there for a long time before heading back to our hostel.  We made friends with some people, and we decided to meet them for breakfast the next morning at another nearby cafe.

Breakfast was uneventful (but free!) so we headed to the Mahalakshmi Temple, an enormous and extremely famous temple in Mumbai.  No pictures because it is, again, against the rules, but this temple was just stunning, and probably the most beautiful temple I’ve seen while here.  Since it is such a popular temple, there are vendors lined up on both sides of the street for hundreds and hundreds of feet prior to entering the temple where the preferred offerings of the gods can be bought.  I always love seeing this rush to get the most beautiful flower, the sweetest desert, the freshest fruit, etc. to offer for puja.  However, one thing that I don’t think I will ever get used to is the shoving at temples.  Oh.My.Goodness.  I know it comes from the fact that they are so excited to make their offerings, but I don’t quite understand why their love for their deities doesn’t extend to fellow devotees.  People will shove you, knock you down, tell their kids to run in front of you, or anything else that they can think of to break the line, and I look forward to church services where I can just file in and take a seat at a pew without fearing for my life.  That being said, the energy at the temple is so much fun to experience and be a part of.

After leaving the temple, we stopped and took pictures of a famous mosque in town.  This is one of my favorite aspects of India: being able to experience SO MUCH religious diversity is so beautiful to me, and I adore the fact that the churches, temples, mosques, and monasteries here have been coexisting for so long.  The mosque is the tomb of, and named after, Haji Ali, a Muslim man who traveled to Mecca and changed his life when he returned to India after his pilgrimage.

Haji Ali is on located on a gorgeous peninsula

We headed next to a famous attraction in town, the likes of which I’ve definitely not seen before.  The Dhobi Ghat washings are basically an enormous outdoor laundromat in the city.  Here’s what a website says about it:  “This massive open air laundry provides an unforgettable glimpse into the inside of the city. Dirty laundry from all over Mumbai is brought here and painstakingly hand washed by the dhobis (washermen) in the seemingly endless rows of concrete troughs. The profession, handed down from generation to generation, requires incredible strength and determination. The thousands of dhobis spend hours every day standing up to their knees in water filled with chemicals, manually scrubbing and beating the dirt out of each item of laundry. This earns them 100 rupees ($2.40) per day each.

and you thought you had lots of laundry to do...

only men can do the laundry here because it's such physically demanding work

sweet baby Anjali

This sweet mom was a hawker outside of the Dhobi Ghat, and she and her baby were absolutely precious.  She told us all about the laundry and about the city in general.  Her English was impeccable, and she was just fun to talk with.  She also talked to our taxi driver for us, as he was confused about where we wanted to go and he spoke basically no English.  After seeing the washings, we headed to the Dharavi slum, which I believe is the largest slum in the world.  It was a good experience, and one that I am definitely glad that I had, but it was, as expected, heart-wrenching to see.  The poverty in India is more overwhelming to me than anything that I’ve ever experienced simply because there is SO MUCH of it.  There are so many people who have little to nothing that it is mind-boggling, and I have no idea what can be done about it.  There are more people than there are jobs, and the situation breaks my heart and baffles me.

there are piles of trash like this all around the slum

lots of people live in tiny spaces

I didn’t take very many pictures of the slums because I felt like I was making a spectacle of others’ poverty, but I am glad that I saw it.  We ended our trip on a bit of a somber note, but after seeing the slums, we headed to our bus stop to return to school.  We proceeded to have one of the most wretched experiences of all my time in India, as our fellow bus riders were gawkers, our bus driver was surely under the influence of some illicit substance, and the volume on the Bollywood movie playing was at decibels unhealthy for human ears.  Suffice it to say it was a miserable night for all four of us, but we made it back to Hyderabad in one piece and still extremely happy about our trip. 🙂

Which Country?

Our next day in Mumbai started off nice and early with a free breakfast at the Salvation Army!  For some reason, they served us three pieces of (extremely chewy) white bread, a (completely green) banana, and baked beans…um, I’ll just have some chai, thanks!  We got our day started after a stop at Cafe Coffee Day, and headed to the Jehangir Art Gallery, which was such a good decision!!  Not a single one of us has any artistic ability, and I’m not normally a big art snob, but this museum was incredible.  Most of the art centered around political and social points of contention in India, and there were a lot of really powerful pieces.  Plus, we got to meet one of the artists with a featured display, and he sent each of us home with a sketch to keep!  SO fun!

my photog skills are obviously lacking 🙂

LOVE this. it's so important

bindi love

for some reason, these reminded me of Princess and the Frog. miss you, Callie Marie!

terrible glare, but I love the pic too much not to post it. Indian girls are the cutest!

Anyhow, if you’re still awake, that’s just a little taste of the gallery.  I probably took 100 pictures in there.  Next we started walking to our next destination, but along the way, we happened across this little gem.  I’m fairly certain this was just an office building, but we went inside and helped ourselves to their displays and literature anyhow.  Good find!  There was a ton of information about budding movements of environmentalism in India, which is great.  There are SO many people here that it is really crucial that they get in the game and green some stuff up, and I’m so excited that movement is really gaining momentum here!

I felt like such a champ reading the Hindi signs, then checking myself with the English!

And just because Mumbai is so stinkin’ gorgeous, here are some pics of buildings we just walked past and liked.

check out the dudes and their omnipresent Indian 'staches....seriously, if you're a man, you MUST have one

IDK what this is, but it's pretty!

this is Mumbai University...we might have been a little jealous

more of their gorgeous University...we want to live in Mumbai so badly!!

Prince of Wales Historical Museum, which looks gorgeous, but sounded disastrously boring on the web. The locals kept referring to it as "THE Museum"

Next up on our list of things to see was St. Thomas Cathedral.  It was the first Anglican church built in the early 1700s when the British occupied Bombay.  It sounded amazing and gorgeous, but after wandering around looking for it for approximately two hours (maybe longer?), and asking every single person in Mumbai and getting a different response from every.single.one. of them, we just called it quits.  We decided that we all love Jesus, but we didn’t want to lose our religion over finding his church. 🙂  If it hadn’t been such a gorgeous day in such an amazing city, we probably would have been frustrated, but as it was, we just enjoyed walking the city.  We took a taxi then to Crawford Market, which is one of the biggest markets in Mumbai, and definitely the largest market of imported goods I’ve seen here!  They had a ton of American and European stuff, as well lots of fresh fruits and veggies.  My favorite part was definitely the spice stores though.  They have enormous vats of different spices and when you tell them how much you need, they just weigh it out and charge accordingly.  They do it with dried fruits and nuts, as well.  We also saw our first Hijras since we’ve been in India.  Just go google Hijra because Wikipedia will explain it more accurately than I, but basically they are  the third gender in India.  Not a chick, and not a dude!  We headed next to the Hanging Gardens, which were gorgeous, but it was an interesting overall experience.  When we got there, one of the hawkers was trying to sell me something, so I started prattling off in Spanish, which sometimes gets them to go away because they think you don’t speak English and they’re wasting their time.  Well, out of nowhere, dude starts rattling back at me in Spanish!!  It was probably the most surprised I have ever been.  My jaw dropped and I asked him where he’d learned that, and he told me he had been selling peacock fans in the gardens for long enough that he had learned from the tourists that came there.  So we probably talked for about 15 minutes, and he told me some fun facts about the gardens and about the city.  It made me so happy!

pretty, pretty!

Mumbai, I'm obsessed with you

This is where our trip started to sour.  One creepy looking guy had started hanging around me as I was talking to the guy selling peacock fans.  He kind of hovered awkwardly, but this happens ALL THE TIME, so I thought nothing of it.  When I met back up with Emma, Melissa, and Maggie, though, he followed.  Again, happens all the time.  We then walked the perimeter of the gardens with him trailing us the entire time, and at this point we’re starting to notice that he’s been following us longer than is normal.  So then, we all sit down to take a little breather and just take in the scenery.  Creeper stays with us, and just lurks by a nearby bush and watches us.  We give him a few looks to let him know we know he’s there, but carry on our conversation.  After a while, another man comes over and starts taking our picture with his phone.  This happens at least ten times a day, so we just told him in Hindi we didn’t want our picture taken, thank you.  Well, he and creeper #1 join forces and creep on us and sneak pictures of us for a while before we finally confront them.  Of course, we just receive blank stairs.  This continues for another ten minutes, with us asking them repeatedly to please leave and not take our picture.  After a while, I had just ever-loving had it, and I literally jumped off the bench and started running toward them hollering in a lovely mix of Hindi and English.  They ran off like little girls, as clearly, I could have snapped the both of them in half.  The average Indian man makes me look like the Incredible Hulk, and these were skinny as they come!  Anyhow, no more trouble after that!  🙂  This post is getting too long and I still have lots more to recap, but I’ll do it in a separate post!  So that’s Mumbai, day two, part 1 for you!

Can Someone Please Tell Me What This City Is Called?

Hey all!  This past weekend, 3 friends and I headed to Mumbai for some traveling.  We left Hyderabad Wednesday afternoon and took an overnight bus to Mumbai, arriving in time to start sightseeing on Thursday morning!  Our bus trip was uneventful and we watched some cool Bollywood movies.  First stop on our trip was Elephanta Island, an island about an hour boat ride from Mumbai where there the Elephanta Caves are located.  These caves were apparently carved by Buddhist monks back in the day, and their monastery was located amongst the 5 main caves on the island.

this is the view of Mumbai from the boat

view of the bridge to travel to the caves

I absolutely adored the boat ride.  I have missed the water, and we chose a beautiful day to go.  We paid fewer than 150 rupees to go there and back, so our two hours of boat riding cost around $3!  So worth it!   Once we arrived at the islands, though, we got into a little tussle with the man selling tickets to the caves because he kept trying to charge us the foreigner price, as opposed to the price for Indian tourists.  Most places will let us pay Indian prices if we can prove that we reside in India, which we can!  The man selling tickets told us that we had to have Indian passports for him to believe that we lived there, and we proceeded to perhaps raise our voices a bit and ask him why he didn’t ask the people in front of us for their passports?!  I believe at one point someone even threw in that he should be censured for discrimination and stereotyping (love ya, Mags!), but we eventually just gave up and paid the firangi price.  Boo.  It was still worth it, though!  The caves were so intricate: it never ceases to amaze me the carving and handiwork these people completed without any of our modern tools and conveniences.  So impressive.

I think this is a Shiva puja...the offerings were made inside this room

this shows how the statues and figures were carved into the rocks...so impressive

The island also had a really nice bazaar located on it, and we were all able to do some really good shopping!  The trip to Elephanta Island was such a good one, and I’m so glad we went!  When we finally finished touring the caves and shopping, it was around 2:30 in the afternoon, and we had somehow managed to forget about eating up until that point.  We made the hour long boat ride back to Mumbai, and were about to vote on which one of us to sacrifice for food when we found an adorable little restaurant called Cafe Moshé in the city.  It was perfect!  Among us, we had hummus and lavash, falafels, vegetable crostini, spicy corn, tofu and tomato sandwich, and I had a deeelicious wrap with bok choy, tofu, and mushrooms.  We were all so happy with our choices!

yum!

After our weird breakfast/ lunch/ early dinner, we went over to the Gateway of India and the Taj Hotel.  The Gateway was fun to see, and once again, incredibly beautiful.  It was built to honor the visit of King Henry V and Queen Mary, and the architecture was stunning.

obviously, it's a popular place

the inscription at the top of the gateway

Our next stop was the Taj Hotel, where we walked in the lobby and pretended to be wealthy enough to stay there. 🙂  The Taj is a gorgeous hotel that has like eight niiice restaurants in it, bathrooms with personal attendants, an indoor waterfall, etc.  We looked at the menus of the restaurants, and there was one menu that had a tasting plate for one person that cost 7,000 rupees…that’s roughly equivalent to $170…ridiculous.  Unfortunately, the Taj was also one location of terrorist attacks a few years ago in Mumbai.  It’s very sad, and there are some places in the hotel where bullet holes are still visible, and to get in the hotel, you have to walk through a metal detector, as well as send your bags and purses through an x-ray thingy (don’t know what they’re really called).

this is one view of the Taj from the outside

It was weird to see wealth like that in India, though, after all these months of seeing only living situations ranging from modest to impoverished.  The Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores in the lobby were a bit of a culture shock, and it also makes me wonder how I am going to adjust when I come back to the States.  We shall see!  Anyhow, we definitely enjoyed quite a few giggles at how out of place we were in that environment, and after acting silly for a while, we headed out to Marine Drive and Chowpatti Beach, where there was some kind of festival being held.  I tried my hardest to figure out what the festival was for, but my limited and rudimentary Hindi skills didn’t get us very far.  I thiiink the gist of the ceremony was a thank-you to the police in Mumbai for keeping the beach safe, clean, and beautiful, but I could be wrong.  It didn’t really matter to us what was being celebrated though, because we were super entertained by the fireworks, dancing, music, and gorgeous beach!  It was so much fun!

everyone gathered around this stage to watch a traditional dance

After hanging out at the festival and walking around the beach for a bit, we decided to head to Leopold’s Cafe for dinner because we had heard it was fabulous from some other kids that live in our hostel.  It was also a sight of the terrorist attacks a few years ago, and the bullet holes are still visible in the mirror and the walls.  It was so packed and busy, and they’ve obviously been able to put things back together very well.  It was a very fun environment, and we had a great time just hanging out.  After dinner, we headed back to our hostel to get some sleep and prep for the next day of sightseeing!  SUCH a fun first day in such a beautiful city!

Leopold's Cafe for snacks!

Three Cheers for Chocolate!

Hey all! Back to my cheery self again with a few updates! Life has just been trucking along as usual. We’ve all really gotten into the groove of things, and it’s smooth sailing all around! Today, I was supposed to go out of town with a friend to an orphanage outside of the city. I got up, went to class, got all my goods packed up, and got ready to leave when I found out that there was a serious bandh in the city today, and that the roads were blocked, making it impossible for our ride to get into the University and pick us up.

your fight for social justice is seriously inhibiting my social schedule, dude

So, I was seriously bummed because our goal for the weekend was to paint some murals on the walls at the orphanage to liven things up a little.  I know I’ll get to go soon, if not later this weekend, but it was still a bummer.  It turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise though, because this girl took the day to study Hindi like it was going out of style (umm…not that it’s ever been in style) in preparation for the “surprise exam” that could be given any day in the month of October.  It took me a while, but I think I finally got the hang of those pesky post positions: पर, को, से, में, के, के लिए, के पास.  One cheer for productivity!

Because we were planning on leaving campus right after classes were over, I thought I wouldn’t get the opportunity to work out today, but because of the bandh, I got to go to the gym this afternoon.  I ended up seeing several friends from my Psycholinguistics class, and my favorite cardio machine was free, so overall it was a great trip.  I also saw Sharon, the infamous creeper/ stalker extraordinaire who must think it his personal mission in life to harass all white girls on campus, and was able to give him quite the dirty look.  Two cheers for getting my fitness on and discouraging creepiness!

love these girls! 🙂

To top off a stellar day, my neighbors and roomie and I took a little trip to a place in Hyderabad known as The Chocolate Room.  I probably don’t have to give much of an introduction based on the name, but I will say that it is fabulous.  I can’t eat about 99% of the menu items, but I can certainly eat their brownie made with oil, not butter, and chocolate sauce made with HFCS and cocoa powder, not real milk chocolate!  Hey, I’m easy to please! 🙂  The other girls got brownies with ice cream, chocolate cake, and shakes!  Maggie had a Toblerone shake, Annie had a Snickers shake, and Katie had an Oreo shake!  Whaaat?  Anyway, this place has a Taj Mahal made out of chocolate, as well as various chocolate pancakes, chocolate waffles, chocolate pizzas, chocolate sundaes, “choctails,” flavored hot chocolates (orange and cinnamon looked awesome!), and chocolate fondue selections.  Three cheers for chocolate!!!

Magsters had the knees AND the shoulders showing! jk, she put on a cardigan before we left our hostel 🙂

this is to prove that we don't all have matching zits; we were wearing our bindis...

And just because I forgot to post about it, I got henna not too long ago!  I love it so much!  I’m going to get a ton of it before I come home.  It’s just so beautiful, and I love how they all just free hand these beautiful designs out of nowhere.  So fun.  LOVE Indian culture.

henna!

this girl got hers done right before me and I loved her design

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got for now.  I leave for Mumbai this Wednesday though, so I should have some fun pictures and stories from that trip coming soon!