Monday, October 27, 2008

Back at home with the family

I moved back in with the family yesterday and because there are other students from a different organization staying in Rach's and my apartment for 5 days (leaving tonight) I slept in the main family apartment.  Mommy-ji, Akshara and I slept in one bed together and Akshara held my hand until we were both asleep.  It was so sweet!  In the morning at 6am Mommy-ji woke me up so sweetly and then Papa-ji, Akshay and I went to Central Park for our morning walk/run! 

Ever since I told Mommy-ji that she makes the best chai of all the chai I've had in India, she has served me chai in this large heart mug!  (Everyone else still has their chai in small mugs about 1/3 the size of the love mug.)  Mommy-ji is sooo sweet and its so nice being back and drinking out of my love mug! 

Diwali and Diya

Yesterday was the first day of Diwali.  Our family lit 5 diya candles and placed one by the pictures of the gods and goddesses, one outside the front door, one at the temple shiva, one by the holy tulsi plant on the balcony and one by the front gate to the apartment complex.  tonight we will light 11 candles.  Wednesday is the biggest day for Diwali.  Everyone has been getting ready by cleaning house, preparing sweets, and buying new clothes and gifts.  People also light up their homes and shops with lights.  The Old City is supposed to be absolutely beautiful.  We are going to go there either tonight or tomorrow night to see the lights!  The diya are made of little terra cotta dishes filled with mustard oil and then a small wick.

More Delicious Food Photos

Mommy-ji was hungry from fasting all day yesterday, so she ate first last night and Akshara and I made chapati for her!  She gave all the food a thumbs up! 

Especially for Nate! Palak Paneer! (and Shimla Merch)

Upon my brother, Nate's request, Mommy-ji taught me how to make palak paneer last night.  I also learned how to make shimla merch (which are spicy mashed potato stuffed green bell peppers!)  Both dishes were AMAZINGLY delicious!  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Birthday Party

Photo 1: My Papa-ji's elder brother Photos 2: Paternal Aunts and Dadi-ji (paternal grandmother) Photo 3: Chowing down at the b-day partay Photo 4: Kanchi and me Photo 5: Happy Birthday Aahana! 

Aahana's Birthday

Aahana, our little cousin, turned 3 yesterday, October 25th!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY AAHANA! 

Friday, October 24, 2008


Photos: Photo 1: Corner store owner who is very nice and always speaks to us slowly in Hindi so we can understand.  He also gave me a free ice cream the other day!  Photo 2: the street right outside of my apartment Photo 3: saying goodbye to Grace the morning of our departure :( Photo 4: Akshay and Rachel transporting Rach's heavy bag to school!  Photo 5: Auntie-ji and her son Udit

Goodbye Family

Here are some pics from our last night with our host family!!!!  I am truly going to miss them, but now that I'm back in Jaipur, I'll get to visit for a bit!!  And, I know they are my family forever now!  I got calls from them this week while I was in Chittor telling me they miss me soooo much! I miss them too! 

Photos 1 and 2: the morning of the departure! Photo 3: Papa-ji and Akshay! Photo 4: Mere parivar! Photo 5: Rachel and I with our Mommy-ji and Amanda and Allison with their Mommy-ij (our Mommy-ji's best friend.  We call her Auntie-ji)


It is Friday afternoon and I am sitting in an internet coffee shop in Jaipur.  Some of you might be wondering why I'm back in Jaipur.  Well, I will explain.  This past week has been a whirlwind of events.  On Monday, everyone took off for their internships.  Erik and I, along with 8 other students traveled to the south of Rajasthan.  We all met at school at 7:30 am, and by 2:30pm, Erik and I had arrived in Chittorgarh, at the office of Prayas.  We dropped out things off at the guesthouse, had chai, rested, and then went back to the office hoping to meet with the director.  However, the director was out of the office that day, so we were told we'd meet him the next day.  On Tuesday, we rested some more, ate food, went on a little walk to visit the caretaker's mother and children (which was the highlight of the day), and then finally around 9pm, the director arrived and we talked to him about what we would like to do for the internship period of our semester.  He decided to send us to one of Prayas' sites in Chottisagri, about 2 hours away by bus.  On Wednesday morning we were taken by motorbike to the bus stand, put on a bus and told that someone would meet us at the bus stand in Chottisagri.  We got to Chottisagri, although the bus ride was pretty hectic, and I somehow ended up getting mud all over the front of my shirts and pants?, and were taken to meet the site director.  He seemed less than enthusiastic about us being there, and told us to walk to the bus stand for food, and also didn't really ahve any plan for work for us, and wouldn't until after the holiday of Diwali (which ends the first week of November).  We were told to rest (some more) and we did.  Then in the afternoon Erik and I took a long walk.  The country side was beautiful and the people were very friendly, waving, saying hello, and welcome.  They also pointed out the temples we should go into, and it was a nice afternoon.  But, when we got back to the guesthouse, the director told us he would show us where the food was and take us on his motorbike.  He took us about 10 minutes away by motorbike, and then told us to eat and walk back.  I asked him to wait, but he made up some excuse about a low back tire on his bike and took off.  Erik and I had no choice but to eat the food there (not knowing if we had to pay for this food, or if it would get us sick, since it was just a road side stand). We ate, and then walked home in the dark (having to remember the way that we'd just seen once).  It took us 35 minutes!  And, the director expected us to do this three times a day for each meal, walking there and back.  So, we called up our MSID director and said that this internship placement wasn't going to work.  Erik and I both had put our best foot forward, trying at each stage thus far to make the most of the situation, but it just wasn't working out.  So, on Thursday morning we got up, found our way back to the bus stop, found a bus back to Chittor, and arribed in Chittor around noon.  We got back to the Prayas office, and they felt really bad about our experience and wanted a second chance, but both Erik and I were just so exhausted by the experience, that we decided to come back to Jaipur and try to start fresh with a different organization.  We are sure that Prayas is a wonderful organization, doing amazing and important work in the field, but we just don't think that the site we were placed at was ready for interns.  The staff at the office in Chittor was really nice, and we made good friends with them, but we didn't think that that friendship was enough to spend the next six weeks not working or observing the fields we hoped to study and work in.  Thursday we spent waiting for a taxi from Jaipur to arrive, but the driver didn't arrive until 7pm last night, so we decided to sleep in Chittor again and leave early Friday morning.  On Thursday afternoon, the Prayas caretaker, Shyamji, took us for snacks and played badmitton (sp) with us!  This morning we got up at 5:50am, and headed for Jaipur.  We are now staying at Erik's host family's house, because my host family is housing students for these 5 days.  But, on Oct 28, I will move back to my house for a couple of days to celebrate Diwali.  Then, on either Oct 29 or Oct 30 we will take a train to Jaisalmir and start with a new organization there.  We are hoping for the best!!  

Photos: Prayas Chittorgarh friends and bus station on way from Chottisagri back to Chittorgarh

Friday, October 17, 2008


Hi everyone!

I wanted to write to let you all know that on Monday I will be moving to my internship placement in southern Rajasthan.  I am not yet sure where I will be living, how often I will have internet access, or any other details like that.  I will try to stay in touch as much as possible, but I am not yet sure what that will look like.  

I wish everyone happy falls and I'll be in touch as soon as possible.

Much love,

Rachel Gives Guitar Lessons!

Rachel Didi kindly gave Akshay and I guitar lessons last night!  She bought this guitar in Rishikesh.  Its a Givson (?). Even Papa-ji joined in after he got home from work!  Maybe I should start practicing guitar again...

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This is the final week of our classroom stage of MSID.  On Monday, we will be moving to our internship (field placement) sites.  I have decided to intern with Prayas, an NGO in southern Rajasthan.  I am sad to be moving away from my host family and the familiar surrounding of Jaipur.  It feels like we just finally have gotten used to everything, and now we are starting all over again.  But, there is also new beauty, challenge, learning opportunities, and excitement that will accompany this next phase of the semester.  

If you want to check out the organization, their website is:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dal Makhani and Paan

Last night Mommy-ji taught me how to make dal makhani (this is two types of lentils with ginger, tomato, green chili, tumeric powder, mustard seeds, onions, red chili powder, and cilantro powder).  It was DELICIOUS!  

Everynight after dinner we go on a short family walk and stop for paan.  Paan is a leaf that has been soaked in water full of gels, spreads, coconut, nuts, etc and is a breath-freshener.  The first time we ate it, it tasted like eating tooth-paste inside of a leaf, but now I love it and look forward to it each night.  It is also amazing to see the man make the paan in his road-side stand.