These are some photos from our visits to our mother's brother's homes. The first two are from yesterday and the other two from a couple of weeks ago.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Yesterday we had a full day! Grace and Amanda had slept over the night before so in the morning we had breakfast with Grace and our siblings. Then Grace and I went to check out a gym to see if we want to get a membership. I decided not to get the membership because it is 800 rupees a month (which isn't bad), but the treadmills are only for walking and not running! BUMMER! But today I ran (for the second time this trip) and it wasn't so bad. People looked at me the whole time, but that happens all the time anyway, so its not a big deal. Also, Papa ji told me today at breakfast that he wants to start walking in the mornings, so I think we are going to go to a park together tomorrow for him to walk and me to run. (Reminds me of my summer walking with my USA dad while he was training for his walking marathon) We then went with our siblings and Amanda to the movies. We saw an awesome Bollywood film called "Rock On!" It was all in Hindi, but we got the gist of it-and there was a lot of good music. Right when we got back from the movie we got in another rickshaw and headed to our mommy-ji's brother's house. It was so nice. They served us delicious food, and LOTS of it, we visited a beautiful, breathtaking temple. It is all hand carved and took 4 years and 6 months to build. It was started in 2000 and finished in 2005. It is a temple for Lord Krishna. After the temple, we ate more food, and our cousins gave us sweet gifts-traditional stone painting jewelry boxes and a necklace for me and earrings for Rach. All of our family has been so hospitable and generous.
Ps. You might notice in the pictures that Rachel looks different-its true! We cut off her dreads on Friday night!!!!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Here are some photos from the weekend. The one of Grace is to show off the popcorn that is sold everywhere on the streets of Rishikesh! I thought of Dad and how this would be the perfect snack place for him! Then I thought that the restaurant called "Yes, I like it" was hilarious! It's obviously what foreigners must always say when asked if they like the food! Then there is a photo of Akshay and my host dad-Papa-ji. Lastly, there is a photo of me, Rachel, Akshay and our cousins Vatsal and Kanchi-this was taken during one of our many Guess-Who tournaments. We bought Guess Who last week and since then it has been the game of choice in our home!
This past weekend Rachel, Grace and I went to Rishikesh. We had to take an overnight bus from Jaipur to Haridwar and then another bus from Haridwar to Rishikesh. The first bus was supposed to leave Friday night at 10 pm and arrive in Haridwar on Saturday morning at 7am, but the bus didn't end up leaving until almost 11pm and then there were about 3 hours of traffic, so we didn't get into Haridwar until after 12 noon on Saturday. We were exhausted, but decided to still take the next bus 25 km to Rishikesh, and it was WELL WORTH IT!! Rishikesh is amazingly beautiful. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas along the banks of the Holy Ganges River. We found a hotel (for 300 rupees which is about $7.50) for the night and then went out exploring. We saw puja (prayers) and aarti (candle prayers/blessings) at an ashram down by the river and explored both banks of the river. On Sunday morning we got up and went for a two hour walk in the hills and then after checking out from our hotel headed down to the bank of the river. Both Haridwar and Rishikesh are considered holy places, and the Beatles' guru was from Rishikesh. They went to an ashram in Rishikesh! We then went to lunch at a restaurant right on the river with a beautiful view of the river and foothills and then headed back to the Rishikesh bus station to go to Haridwar to catch our 5:30pm bus back to Jaipur. We got into Jaipur at 5:30 am this morning, had to haggle with rickshaw drivers to take us back home and then slept for a few hours before heading to class at 9:30am! It was a long journey, but definitely worth it! Oh and the monkey photo is especially for Nate Monkeyton. LOVE!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Some photos from our drive from Delhi to Jaipur. The first photo is of the service and call centers that are being built up like crazy outside of Delhi. There are tons of buildings and apartment buildings all of which have been built in the past few years. The next two photos are trucks during the drive. The one that is across the road, really was across the road blocking up traffic for a long time. I think one of the tires fell off. As you can see in the picture of the other truck, vehicles are decorated here. Everything from the rickshaws to semis have pictures, streamers, designs, religious symbols, and lots of bright colors. The next two photos are in Jaipur-the first is the old city palace and the second inside the walled "Pink City." The women in the foreground of the old fort photo are wearing traditional saris. The old fort was built in the 10th century, the Pink City in the 17th century and we currently live in the 20th century part of Jaipur.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Some more photos. The first two were taken on a rickshaw on our way to visit family. The third is a picture of our Mommy-ji with her father. The fourth is a photo taken at a Krishna temple we visited on Saturday and the fourth photo is a picture of Rachel's and my bed at our apartment (Akshara added the teddy bears and lamp and Mommy-ji added the wedding photos of her and Papa-ji)
These are a mixture of photos. The first is our apartment building in Jaipur. Our family apartment is on the right (Akshay is on the porch in a white shirt). Then there is a picture of the cows on the street in Jaipur. Next is a photo from our field trip last Friday to a block printing factory. The man is making hand-made block prints. Fourth is a photo taken on the drive into Jaipur two Saturday's ago. You can see shops and the Old Palace up on the hill in the background. The last photo is a picture of women preparing food in a room behind the Sikh temple we visited in New Delhi.
I wrote this post a week ago, but had trouble pasting it into the blog, so now I am typing it all out again.Sunday, September 7, 2008
I'm writing this blog from my house and will publish it tomorrow when I go to school and have internet access. I wanted to write a bit about my host family and the past day that we have spent with them. Yesterday, after traveling from the hotel into Jaipur we visited the MSID office, saw our classroom and then were taken to our home stays.
Rachel and I live not far from the MSID office (about three blocks away) with a very sweet family. Our mother, Shoba (which means beauty of the house), is a yoga master, has studied natural medicine, is a wonderful cook and always has a kind smile on her face. She has made sure to tell us that this is our home and we are her daughters and to feel comfortable in our home (hamara ghar). She was the first person that we met when we arrived at the apartments where we live. She did a traditional greeting for guests by placing red dye and rice (teeka) on our foreheads and circling a diya candle (this action/prayer is called aarti) around each of us. She then fed us choorma, which is a traditional sweet she had prepared especially for our arrival. We call her Mommy-ji (pronounced gee, and is attached to names as a sign of respect). Before bed and in the morning when we wake up, she gives us a big hug and kiss.
Our brother, Akshay, is 16 years old and could not be a sweeter young man. He is helpful, quiet, patient, observant, interested in math and computers and would like to be a charter accountant. He is always the one to answer the door, serve food, bring our chia, run errands, charge the cell phones, etc. Today he got an English newspaper especially for us and our host father is going to start ordering a daily English newspaper for us to read. We call Akshay by his name or bhaiya (which means brother in Hindi). He is warm and makes me feel especially at home. He really likes music and today we were listening to music and playing cards and he was dancing a bit. He is also very good with children and all of our little cousins love to spend time with him.
Our sister, Akshara, is 14 years old and quite the talker. She is bubbling over with happiness at having two older sisters and has already asked to call us didi (which means elder sister). She showed us all of her jewelry, earrings, bangles, traditional suits, skirts, and shirts. We call her Akshara or behen (younger sister). She likes studying Hindi, Sanskrit, and takes very good care of Rachel and me. She makes sure to tell us when to do things, reminds us not to open the door to anyone except the family, and generally fills in the gaps for us whenever needed. Last night both Akshay and Akshara helped Rachel and I fill three pages in our notebooks of new Hindi words and phrases we learned throughout the day. Little by little we are learning Hindi. We sound like babies-repeating words, asking how to spell them, making LOTS of mistakes, repeated words again, and again, but we are already starting to retain some basic words and phrases.
Our father, Om Pradesh, is a business man, so we didn't meet him until he came home from work. He has a furniture showroom with furniture that is made locally and also imported from other countries. His two brothers, one of his three sisters and mother all live in the same apartment complex, so there is always lots of family around. It is very obvious how much our mother, brother and sister love their father and how much he loves them. This morning while we were having our chai, Mommy-ji said "He is my best friend and my husband. He is so good and so caring." It is wonderful to be part of such a loving, kind and helpful family. It makes me feel at home and reminds me of my own loving and kind family in Colorado.
It is now 9:42pm and we are getting ready for bed. I stopped writing earlier because Akshara came over to let us know that mamaji and mamiji (her mother's brother and mother's brother's wife) had come over to meet us. We went back over to the main apartment to meet them and have chai. Our family has two apartments, the main apartment where the kitchen and everyone lives and the second apartment that is kept for guests, where Rachel and I are living. We sleep there and keep our things there, but spend most of our time in the family apartment.
Last night after it stopped raining we visited three temples (all of which are on our same block). We visited the Ganesh temple, the Shiva temple and the White temple.
This evening we sat on the balcony (from our balcony we can hear the temple bells ringing as people come and go) watched the people come and go, played cards (our Mommy-ji is REALLY good at rummi), met some more family members, ate paav bhar ji (which Akshay translated as "fast food," but it is really a delicious homemade vegeatble mixture eaten with toasted buns. It is called "fast food" because you can buy it in the market), spent time with our papa-ji and Akshay and visited a family friend.
Now we are going to bed so we can be well rested for our first day of classes tomorrow. Alvida (Goodbye) Namaste.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Last night Rachel and I went up to the roof at midnight to see the full moon. It was beautiful and the air up on the roof was refreshing.
I had a great day yesterday. I got to talk to Mom, Nate, and Pablo. I also got messages from Kate, Courtney, Stacy and Sherah. And we went to yoga, which was wonderful and much needed after a somewhat stressful weekend. We also played Guess Who with Akshay and Akshara. They love that game! We know have Guess Who tournaments!!!
Oh, and on Sunday after the rain, there was a double rainbow!!!
Ps. Isn't our little 3 year old cousin, Aahana, so cute?