Bands Galore

Well I figure it’s time for an update but this week I’m going to focus less on what has happened, though not much less, and more on what I have been thinking about this past week.

Well to start off Wednesday was a much more productive day than the week had been so far. I took an adderall substitute in the morning and proceeded to learn all the vocab I didn’t know (all of it) for my test later in the day. Well I did, I got it all perfectly memorized down to the exact spelling in script, needless to say I felt great being so productive and I think I did really well on my test. After my test and after dinner I started and completed my entire Ayurveda paper which was due in class the following day, which did not end up happening. My poor kuchipudi professor’s daughter has been having the worst luck these past two months. First she came down with yellow fever which has taken over a month for her to recover from. Then right when she goes back to school, my teacher is called that she is sick and needs to be picked up from school. She goes and picks her up but on the way home they get hit by a car, on the side her daughter is sitting and she is the one to get injured. Not badly luckily but enough to really bring her spirits low. Being kept inside the past two months, getting behind in her school work, and not being able to see her friends has gotten her a bit depressed, naturally. Though today in class there was no mention of her so I assume she is getting better.

I also want to mention how great it is having dog friends. It’s something I haven’t experienced before: a human-dog relationship that is equal. I mean I don’t have to worry about it getting food, shelter, obedience, it just does its own thing. It doesn’t rely on me for anything. When we see each other we greet each other happily, play for a bit, talk, they sometimes walk with me part of the way or all of the way to where I’m going. Sometimes I see them,  rub their belly and go on my merry way. They aren’t obliged to do anything for or with me and the same is true for me. I don’t care where they go or what they do or if they want to leave me and go off and do their own thing, and they don’t care what I do. It is a totally platonic, uncommitted relationship and I think its really beautiful. We greet each other, hang out for a bit, say good bye and have our separate lives.

This weekend we hung out with a new group of people we’ve met. Xandra met an Indian guy who works at Google, they got a group of friends together to hang out last week, so they invited us to hang out again this week. We were under the impression that we would go to their apartment, hang out for a bit then go clubbing. So we went to their apartment, about five of us girls, and there were five of them. All of them worked for Google and they were all really cool. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really what I had in mind. You see, because of class, I normally spend all day during the week laying in my bed on the computer, reading, napping, and sleeping, except for the up to four hours of class I have ever day and the subsequent 40 minutes of walking (total) to those classes. So on the weekend I really look forward to getting out and getting my rage on on the dance floor. When I go out to dance it involves 3-4 hours of nonstop, high energy dancing normally with a lot of jumping around, and I really enjoy it. So I went over to the apartment thinking that that was what was going to happen. It didn’t. They started out playing some house music, but not loud enough to move me all the way, so I stood in a corner and did my little dancing, a tamer version of what I do at the club. I refused to sit down, that’s what I do all week, I was going to make the best out of getting out of Tagore. Anyway soon the music switched to pop: John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5, all soft, singer/songwriter stuff. Stuff I can’t dance to. Though it was funny because it was a group of 10 people, half of them Indian men all sitting around a room belting out songs like “Hey, soul sister” and “She will be loved”…quite memorable. Well needless to say I was soon forced to sit down. When I’m at the club I can dance for hours on end, the more high energy I dance the more energy I get, and I won’t tire out. But when I do half-assed dances, with little movements, I get tired really quickly, I think part of it is boredom too, though the strange thing was the next day I was sore, and I had hardly been moving. I think when I don’t release my body all the way when I dance it stiffens and that’s part of the reason I get tired and sore. Anyway I sat down and took up a conversation with the guy next to me, he was the oldest of the group and we had a really nice, stimulating, intellectual conversation about religion and culture throughout India. Everyone was having great conversations: from their views on life, death, poverty, globalization, to how to properly answer questions in an job interview. Actually, a little shout out to my mom, one of the guys had a job interview the following day and one of my friends (also an Aries) actually made the guy practice. She was like okay, lets try this, I’ll ask you questions they would ask, and you answer seriously. Made me think of you Mom…. anyway that got them going and they took over the interview process. One of the guys, a Capricorn had a formula for it. He knew exactly how to answer the question, without making himself look bad, promoting his skills, and not giving them anything they could use against him. It was flawless. Well finally around 2 am we dragged Xandra out of there (she is the slowest at everything from eating to apparently leaving)-it was about a half hour process. But not a problem as there was nothing we had to do the next day. Who can blame her, the guy she met and has been hanging out with is more than she could have ever imagined he could be. They are both amazed at how much they have in common and how well they get along.

Friday we tried to redeem the previous night. But first let me talk about Google. Xandra and Karissa went to the Google offices for lunch to visit our new super cool friends.  The Google offices are apparently the coolest things ever, everyone should strive to work at Google. They have free food all over on every floor, an amazing cafeteria, a state of the art gym that puts our gyms to shame, game rooms, nap rooms and masseuses on every floor, and they are really laid back. You can show up when you want, leave when you want, nap, they don’t care as long as you get your work done. And apparently the Google offices in the states are even cooler. Everyone that has met the Google guys loves them so far. They say they are cute, really nice, not creepy, and really smart. More intellectually stimulating conversations have taken place with them than in India thus far. I’m not sure how I feel about these guys yet. They are certainty very nice and smart and such, I’m just not as taken as everyone else. Maybe its because they took away from my dance time, and one of them was standing a little too close (something most Indians do, it’s a cultural thing).

Friday night we went to a new club-Liquids- to dance. Everything started out fine, we were the first ones on the dance floor, having a good old time. Then it got crowded. The dance floor at Liquids is huge, but that means that everyone dances on it, and there is no place to go where people are not dancing. This might not seem like a bad thing, but we were like sardines. I need a lot of space to dance, but there wasn’t any there. Our Google friends joined us, and that was nice, and luckily (for the space) they are not big dancers. But it makes me sad when people can’t let go and dance. Anyway, I kept moving around to places that were less crowded, eventually leaving the group to find my own spot on the dance floor. Without fail everyplace I moved to became everyone else’s 1. pathway to the door or to the bar and 2. favorite new dance spot. It was bad. I was getting really angry; its bad to not have space but its worse to always have to move out of the way because people are constantly going by you and therefore constantly interrupting your dancing. That and the music was not really getting to me. They would switch from house to hip-hop to poppy house from song to song. That’s okay in blocks but if they are switching every other song you can’t get a rhythm going. But it wasn’t terrible, well that terrible, it just wasn’t fulfilling. Around 12:30 we headed back to the Google guy’s apartment, talked for a bit and then left.

Then for the rest of the weekend bands were happening. Bands are strikes, and they were doing them for Telangana. They had stated on Thursday, with buses and other public transportation being shut down, but by Friday rickshaws had stopped. So there was no going anywhere. And periodically every day the power would go out for several hours-the electrical company was striking as well. According to Indians this is the worst it’s been in all 10 years of the Telangana issue.

Me and a Katakali dancer

On Saturday Emila and I went to the art workshop. It wasn’t as bad this time, and it wasn’t as long. Two good things. I got two paintings done that I’m very happy with. Afterwards we went to a festival we had just found out about called Onam. Onam is the harvest festival in Kerala and the school was having a celebration of it featuring many traditional Kerala dances and traditions. There were Hindi, Muslim, and Christian dances represented. My favorite Hindi one was one where Hindu women dance a round a lit camphor lamp in a circle. It was very interesting to me because it seems so tribal in a sense- women in a circle dancing around a fire to celebrate a good harvest- but they were dressed in nice sarees and adorned with gold. You could defiantly imagine how the dance progressed through the ages. Indian dances in general are very grounded, and this one was particularly grounded and earthy.

Another cool dance was one they did holding two little flames in each of their hands.

One of the Muslim dances was done by men. I found this one particularly moving and touching for several reasons. One is I am a definite champion of Islam, I feel like that religion and its people as a whole are vastly misunderstood, and unjustly disliked and feared, and I really appreciate seeing their culture and having others appreciate their culture.

This is made entirely of flower petals

Another thing that touched me was that the tambourines they used had little orange, white, and green ribbons coming off of them-the colors of the Indian flag. The reason I find this significant is because of a movement in India that started with partition called Hindutva or Hinduness. People that follow Hindutva are extremest Hindus that believe that Muslims (in particular), Jews, and Christians are not true Indians and should convert or leave the country. Muslims came to this country in the 13th to 15th century and converted many people here. They have been living here for hundreds of years, Christians have been here since about 70 C.E, and Jews have been here for thousands of years as well. The religions came at those times but the people that practiced them had been here as long as any other Indian. The reason these people cannot be considered true Indians according to the Nationalist Hindus is because, although their motherland is India, their spiritual homeland is in another country: like Saudi Arabia and Israel/Palestine. Hindutvas consider Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs to be Hindus because their spiritual homeland is India as well. Since partition Hindu Nationalist have attacked Muslims and their holy places in India in everything form massacres to terrorist attacks. There has been some retaliation by Muslims but many of the alleged retaliations have been accidents that were blamed on Muslims or acts by Hindu Nationalist meant to frame Muslims. Though most places in India Hindus and Muslims get along peacefully, and I’m sure most people at the performance didn’t even notice, I was still touched by that little display of Indian pride, and claiming their Indianness shown by the Muslim dancers.

The Christian dance was much like the Hindu dance-a group of women dancing around a camphor flame. The difference was the dress and that they were much louder and more lively. It is a dance meant to celebrate the life and teachings of St. Thomas who came to India in the 1st century. It was really interesting seeing the different dress displayed by the three religions as you will see in the videos.There was another dance done by Muslim women. It’s a traditional marriage dance called Oppana, I won’t upload a video because the sound isn’t good, but feel free to look it up if you are interested.

A large group of us stayed up Saturday night talking until 1-2 am about some really interesting things like animals, children, and sexuality among other things.

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful because of the bands which continued onto Monday. Although on Monday some rickshaws ran, but we stilled didn’t get out. Our Kuchipudi class was held outside because no one came into the office so we couldn’t unlock the classroom door. We were informed that this weekend will be another band, so I guess we’ll be stranded again. Also in the building next door we could hear the drums of the Telangana protesters going to the classrooms getting people out of class. They didn’t come to SIP though which was good. Apparently today and tomorrow all classes on the main part of campus are cancelled as well as our Yoga and Hindi class. Its kind of funny how laid back everything is here. Our kuchipudi professor always comes a half hour late, no classes go the entire time, and they get cancelled all the time. This week its because of the band, we’ll see how many classes we end up having this week, normally SIP isn’t effected though, so that’s good. Also next week we definitely have Thursday off, and rumor has it we might have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off as they are unofficial holidays… So much for school. Today we tried again to go to the tailors to finally pick up our clothes that have been sitting there for a month. I have five outfits I need to pick up, I only have two good Indian outfits right now because all the other ones are at the tailor. Well low and behold, once again, my clothes are not done, everyone else’s are done, just not mine. I have the worst tailor luck ever, they all hate me I swear. On a brighter note my daddy just bought his tickets to come see me! And I changed my ticket to go home, all by myself! Tomorrow I have to go to the Jet Airway offices to confirm and pay! Hurray!

Today I also got to watch two documentaries. One was America before Columbus, which I was really excited to watch because there is nothing I love better than learning about how Native Americans lived. After reading the book 1491 (a book everyone should read) I have been really into learning more about them. Mostly because everything that they teach in schools, and everything we have been told is not what happened. The Americas were densely populated with people that managed and shaped the landscape they were in and created amazing civilizations and works without the use of the wheel or domesticated animals. Well the documentary was a little disappointing. For the first half hour or so it did talk about what I just mentioned and I would recommend people watch it if just for that. But about half of that talked about Europe and Europeans and the other hour just talked about how Europeans changed the landscape after they got here. So much for before Columbus. But it was incredible hearing about how rich America was of resources and how well they were managed by Native Americans. I just want everyone to go back to living like that, it would be so much better for our world and the things in it.

The second documentary I watched rocked my world. It’s called: Did Jesus Die?. I had heard about that theory before, and it did make sense to me but it wasn’t explained nearly as well as in this documentary. It goes into how the heads of the church don’t take the bible for it’s word, they take it as a lose interpretation of what happened, but they don’t tell they lay people that because they are afraid they will lose people. The details of the different gospels actually suggest that he did not really die for many reasons. And one of the parts I found most interesting had to do with the Dali Lama. Basically the Dali Lama died right before Jesus was born, and when that happens wise men consult the stars and set out to find the next Dali Lama. Well around 1 CE, according to Buddhist texts, they set out and find him in Jerusalem, born to poor parents. When he is 14 they take him back to India with them to learn the ways of Buddhism until he is 29, when he returns to Jerusalem. They call him Issa. Then this documentary claims they think, if Jesus didn’t die he went back there. I really want you guys to watch it and see what you think. I thought it was really interesting.

Now onto something that has been on my mind all week and even the last month. I’ve been aware of it for years, but it’s been really bothering me this week: how self absorbed people are. Well I suppose I should clarify that, because there is more to it. What I am referring to is how people talk about themselves and don’t pay attention when others are talking. I normally refrain from talking about myself for this reason: because I really believe no one really cares about what I have to say and I don’t want to sound like an ass bragging about myself or my ideas. I just don’t like talking about myself. When people talk about themselves it always seems to turn into a competition. One person says something than another is like “well where I live…” or “well my family does this…” “I believe this…” “Well I always do this…” etc. And they are just playing themselves up talking about how great their situation is and not really caring that they are not the only ones that have that experience or think that way or whatever. I mean certainty there are discussions going on but it is just people going back and forth talking about themselves.

Lately its been really starting to get to me. They talk like they are the only ones that experience what they experience when I’m sure most people, my self included, have situations like theirs, we just don’t feel like showing off about it. I’m not a competitive person so I usually don’t say anything, and rarely do people ask me about it. But at the same time I feel bad that they really don’t know anything about me or how I live; and I feel bad not talking about the people I love and sharing to others what I love about them. I feel like I am misrepresenting and not appreciating those that are important in my life. Then it turns out half the time they ask me about my experiences or whatever, before I get to say anything they interject a side note and a whole other conversation gets started and no one even remembers that they asked me to share. Its really not a huge deal, it just annoys me and makes me feel bad.

And its not only talking about themselves, really any discussion seems to turn out like this. Like Saturday night when we stayed up late. There were about six of us in the room having discussions. Well with that many people everyone is competing at every break to get their ideas in. That’s fine, like I said I don’t like to compete and I don’t like sharing my ideas; partly because they are not well formed, and partly because I don’t always feel informed enough to talk about them. If I have interesting facts I like to share them but with that many people jumping to say what they want to say, I can’t. It was really bothering me that night, I could not get a single word in, every time I tried to speak another person would be trying to speak and I wouldn’t be heard. I finally couldn’t take it any more and just left and as I was leaving I said good bye and made a comment about what I had been trying to say, they asked me to elaborate so I did. It was the only way I could get anyone’s attention.

Another related thing that has been happening is I will say something, when people are around to hear or quiet or whatever, and it will be something that I really want to share, and no one will acknowledge that I spoke. I don’t know if its because they didn’t hear me, or didn’t understand me, or just don’t know what to say, but it feels terrible. Like my ideas don’t matter. I just feel like a jackass and it reinforces my belief that I am a horrible communicator and that its better if I just don’t speak.

So let me just recap on what I’ve been experiencing just to make sure I’m not missing anything: not being heard or acknowledged; being about to share, or in the process of sharing when some one interrupts and changes the subject and everyone forgets about me; and feeling I have ideas and experiences that are just like everyone else’s, or that could contribute to theirs but not being able to get a word in and just feeling isolated because of it. Part of this is that I have studied abroad in a developing country before, and this is most of their first times. I feel I can offer valuable insight, but at the same time they should be able to process it themselves if they need to. A lot of the time I also have very different views on the situations they bring up, I really don’t see a problem with them, but I would probably sound really insensitive if I voiced these opinions. Anyway it’s no ones fault, I’m sure no one is consciously leaving me out or even aware this is happening. It’s my fault for not speaking up if I really want to. I’m not worried about it


One thought on “Bands Galore

  1. Wow – Nicole – so many amazing experiences you are having and the way you capture videos and pictures is awesome – it makes everything real.
    By the way, I know exactly what you are talking about in relation to not being heard or feel like others are self-absorbed – I felt the same feelings for a long time. We can talk about this when we see each other in 6 weeks! I’m glad you’re learning about yourself and others and I’m sure it’ll all come together over time and you’ll develop the confidence and understanding of yourself to feel more secure and less upset. Continue to enjoy and explore. Love you,


    P.S. Glad to hear you see some value in my advice 🙂

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