This post will be highlights from the last few weeks that I have been back from Pondi. Also expect a lot of pics…too many pics…
So when I got back I was promptly enlisted to do hair wraps.
I brought a bunch of beads and charms from home, and now I’m really glad I did because they have been really useful. The first person to come for a wrap was Emilla (these events happen over a period of several weeks and are grouped together by their individual journeys), she picked out her beads, charms, and stones and made sure they all wanted to go with her, and then she allowed me to arrange them as I wanted. She also brought over her amethyst and broke it up so we could all put pieces in our hair as protection. I arranged it and put it in her hair, and she named it Feather and was wanting a feather type thing to be into it. I took a piece off one of my favorite leaf earrings and attached it and she fell in love. Over the next few days the charm piece fell out several times as she has very short hair. I put it back together but it still fell out two or three times. The last time I did the wrap very tightly and added wire to it to help hold the charm up. The next person was Karissa. She picked out and arranged her beads and I attached them. Like Emilla hers also fell out several times. But it fell out less frequently so every few days I would have to reattach it. I finally braided the stands into her hair and then wrapped the wrap around it. So far so good, it’s been over a week and it hasn’t fallen out. Next was Karen. Hers was particularly Karen-esque and very earthy. I just love the way it looks. She also added a arrow head that I had worn in my hair for awhile into it, but it has since fallen out and has been replaced by an Om and evil eye. Hers hasn’t had any trouble staying it since her hair is so long. She named it Ithil which means Moon in Sindarin Elvish. Elise was next, she liked hers to be symmetrical and in thirds. She put in a bullet I had found in a parking lot, as well as a piece of one of my anklets and other things. Elise’s also had a lot of trouble staying but after a few tries I gave her a smaller braid and braided the string into her hair and it has since stayed. While I pieced together her charm and added it into her hair she brought her laptop and we watched the first two extended additions of Lord of the Rings! Xandra was next, hers is very long, since her hair is very long, and it is quite adorable. The wrap itself is in Rastafarian colors which is very suitable. She named it Fairy, and she says that it matches her hair’s personality more than her own and I think that’s true.
I then redid Bear ever so lightly to include the amethyst and some more color. My old roommate Lacy came to get the one next, by this time I had run out of string so it was a week or so before I was actually able to attach it. In the mean time another girl, one of the California girls came and she had string so I put hers together and put in on her in a few days, her wrap used the last of my wire. Then my Hindi teacher, Bhavani came for one. She originally wanted one for her motorcycle, but once she got here she decided she wanted one for her hair as well. Hers was very well thought out. She had the top be with black beads representing evil, next they got slowly lighter from pink, to blue, to green, interspersed with carnelian which stabilizes one’s energy, helps protect against bad energy, purifies the blood, and increases passion. She end’s her charm with white for peace, which leads to clear for clarity, which leads to the next bead which represents God, and then a locket which represents love. She went out and bought me more wire and some charms, and I made her charm. While Bhavani was in my room, the California girl, Macaela, came to get hers attached, and Bhavani stayed to organize my beads by color and size. She is so adorable and sweet, she hopes that her charm will not be noticeable as it is not something Indians do. I put Bhavani’s charm in her hair a few days ago. She chose green string that faded to white and black string and she asked them to be wrapped together. While we were watching gossip girl I did just that. A few days later she came back and asked me to make it longer by adding pearls, which I did, she wanted the charm to go exactly to the length of her hair. Everyone’s charms are unique and very much representative of the people that wear them. They are all so beautiful and it makes me really happy see them all the time and to do them for people.
Well now we switch back to chronological order of events.
A few days after we got back from Pondi, Ayurveda took us on a field trip to a nature preserve in the area. When we got there they sat us down in a room with all the rangers and everyone introduced themselves. It’s really cute the Indian students all introduce themselves like this: *Stand up* Good Afternoon, I am…( or me….) and then listed their schooling. Afterward this goofy little man who had glasses that made his eyes look huge and who always pursed his lips when he finished talking led us around the forest and pointed out important medicinal plants and plants used for wood and other things. It was really hard keeping track of the plants because most of them look the same. This part of India doesn’t have very good soil, so the trees that grown here are generally thin and short, most of them have very similar leaves, with the exception of eucalyptus. It seems like the best way to identify them is by the bark, though a lot of the time the bark looks the same as well.
We walked through the forest and climbed two large rocks then headed back. He took us to see a pond they are making to bring more wildlife into the area. Then we had lunch. After lunch we headed to an herbal garden, we got to eat a lot of the plants that were shown to us, which was awesome. It’s surprising how many medicinal plants India has and how widely they are used in their foods. I wish our cooking was more like that so that way I could know for sure that what I am eating is also helping to prevent disease and heal me if I am sick. After the herbal garden we went to the nursery. It made me really miss working in the nursery back home, seeing all the little seedlings and the plants under the shade cloth, all the well weeded rows. Ah I miss it. Then we stopped in another garden. At this point it was getting late and we were tired, thought at the same time we didn’t want to get back in time for Hindi. We finally left and on the way back we stopped at a place to get sweets and juice courtesy of the University. We sat and ate, then headed back to school, and luckily Hindi was over by that point. Then later that night it was ladies night. We went out and a bunch of Tagore people were there too. We danced for awhile and at a certain point I realized they would not be switching back to house. I was soo upset I almost cried, I really wanted to dance to house, it’s been too long. So I went outside and sat with my friends and eventually we left.
The next day we had to go to our Kuchipudi professor’s house to learn a good portion of the rest of our dance. Most of the class didn’t show, which is worrisome since the performance is in a week and a half. She has a great studio apartment on the third level of her house. The electricity was out for the whole time so it got pretty stuffy and hot, but we did learn most of the dance and got to clarify the parts we had already learned.After we finished dancing we hung out for a bit. I learned my dance teacher and I share a birthday! She also fed us lunch and it was super tasty. After that we caught a rickshaw to the mall. I wanted to see if I could find a fabric set so I could get another salwar made. I didn’t really find one I liked so we headed home. When we got there Xandra’s friend Mit called to invite us to a new club called Aros. We went and met him there. They brought in a DJ from Bangalore to play house music. But first they had another DJ playing, he played some house and then switched to hip hop to get people on the floor. Then the other DJ came on. He was so adorable. He’s an older guy around the upper thirties, and really short and a little chubby. But he was so happy to be DJing and he kept talking to us telling us to come closer to his booth, and he would flash us this huge dimpled smile. It was just too cute and adorable, he made me really happy, and he played great music. I danced the whole night, either by myself or by the end a bunch of guys were inching closer, but they weren’t a problem. Then the night ended with a bang and the DJ played a salsa song. I was so excited and I salsaed my little heart out for that one song, it made me want to be back in Latin American so badly.
On Saturday I took Karissa to the hospital. She had had a fever of 103 for a few days and stomach issues on both ends. The doctor said it might be yellow fever and prescribed her antibiotics. Well over the next few days a bunch of people got sick, though not as severely as Karissa, rumor had it it might have been a water contamination thing. I luckily did not get sick, and after a few days everyone recovered just fine.
On Sunday we decided to go back to the mall again because I did want to get a salwar set after all. So Xandra, Elise, a new kid Derek, and I set out from Tagore.
We turned the corner and what do we see laying in the mud? The tiniest little puppy (5-7 weeks old). So I grab him up and we all love on him a while, and then I put him in the bushes off from the road so that way 1. if he has a mom she’ll come find him and 2. so he doesn’t get into trouble. It’s also probable that some one just dropped him there so they would have one less puppy to deal with. And then we set off. I glance behind me when were about 40 yards away and what do I see? The little guy is staggering out into the street in front of a motorcycle, which avoids him, and he starts walking after us. So I stop to watch and he starts running after us, and this from a puppy who can barely walk. It was too much. We went back, and I grabbed a scarf to wrap him in and went to find people who could watch him for a bit. I find Mersad and we go out and he takes him to look after for a bit. So we continue to the mall and I get my salwar set. Then we decide to eat at restaurant there called the News Cafe, a place with American food. I got pasta and everyone else got bacon cheese burgers, which looked pretty darn good. And I don’t even like burgers.
On Monday we had an extra long Kuchipudi class. She had to teach everyone who had missed what we had learned and then teach us the rest of the dance. It’s a 15 minute dance.I also got an update on the puppy. Mersad fed him last night, but then he was gone this morning. I guess he just wandered off, I’m not too worried about him.
On Wednesday for Kuchipudi the tailor was there to measure us for our costumes, and there was also a film crew there to film us so that the composer would be able to make our music. We’re slowly getting the hang of it, I seem to have it pretty well, a lot better than a bunch of the others in the class so I’m not too worried.
Thursday rolled around and we had yoga for the first time this week. It was good to be back, though we had a short practice. After yoga Xandra and I were walking back to the dorm when we see this little puppy trot out of the canteen area. Naturally we go after him. Well, he’s not the brightest pup, he goes and plops himself down under the back wheel of a parked van with people sitting in it. We grab him out from under there and low and behold, its the pup we found on Sunday, whole and healthy. We bring him back to the canteen as that’s his best option for food and were find another puppy there. He has similar marking just tan, and he’s a bit bigger.
So we leave them and go back home. There was no Ayurveda and in Hindi we had another cooking class. We made this great stuffed donut thing. What you do is you have a loaf of bread and you take a slice and cut the crust off. Then you wet the bread a bit and put raisins, cashews, almost, etc in the center and roll it up into a ball. Then you fry it in oil. Meanwhile you heat up one cup of sugar in two cups of water. Then you stick the balls in the water for bit and take them out and let them stand. I had one not in the water and one in the water. Both ways were really good. I’m not a huge fan of overly sugary and soggy things but they were still good. Can’t decide which way I like better, though I’ll probably do it fried most of the time. After Hindi Xandra tells me she found the puppy again and he’s in the Tagore perimeter. So I grab people and run and and sit by him. And what does he do? Hops up in my lap and goes to sleep. I nearly died. I even flipped him over to pick off fleas and he just fell asleep again. He’s such a sweet thing. So then I went to dinner and I brought him out some and I find him surrounded by Men being oogled over. I gave him the food and he got really energetic, running around trying to play. Though let me say he is also a big cry baby, every time Pow got within 6 feet of him he started yelping…He’s met Pow before and Pow means him no harm… Anyway we went out for ladies night again and again a lot of Tagorites were there. There was a really good DJ called DJ Kana who everyone really likes. He was pretty good, I was having a good time dancing. Then right when he is slowly transitioning to more house-like music Xandra informs me that Mit is at Ten Downing and that is where we are going. Ten Downing is a bar and also, apparently, a karaoke bar. It was kind of painful listening to people signing–this was my first karaoke bar, though it wasn’t all bad. I heard some pretty ridiculous songs, in particular one about Rasputin. We stayed until it closed (Xandra, Meghan, Karissa, Karen, and Me) and then we headed back. On the way back I noticed the Moon. It was waxing and I realized that it looks different here. Instead of waxing and waning from side to side it seems to do it up and down. The Moon I was looking at looked like the Cheshire cat’s smile, I guess the shadow of the Earth must fall differently on it than back home as we’re on a different side of the world. It was really interesting as I never thought that the Moon could look different in different parts of the world.
On Friday we decided to go to Shalparama. On the way to main gate what do we see? Puppies! yup one white and black one, another identical to the one we have up by Tagore, and two brown and black ones. They were so precious. I think maybe the one we have up by us might be from this litter as they are the same size. We continue on to Shalparama and start shopping, mostly for gifts at this point. It was pretty great all the pashmina venders hail you like crazy. By the end I just told them that I’d look at their products but I wouldn’t buy anything. They would go get me tea and they would show me things. It was nice. Five cups of tea and several shops later I realize I’m making a lot of friends. We just sit and sip tea and talk about where they’re from and India. They still show me their scarves, but we’re mostly just chatting. It was really nice. Finally I realize it’s starting to get late and I can’t find my friends. So I look around for them. Another vender hails me and I tell him I’m not going to buy anything, but I will sit and talk to him. So he goes and gets me tea and he doesn’t even unfold a single scarf. We just talk. His shop is by the gate so I keep an eye out for my friends. I finally ask him if he’s seen them and he says he saw then leave half an hour ago. So by now its dark and I decided to leave. I say good buy and catch a rickshaw. The rickshaw wallas were being ridiculous they were trying to charge me twice as much as I had paid to get there when I had rode with six other people. On my way back I see fireworks. Diwali is coming up soon so fireworks are a common sight. But I still found them very beautiful. For the first time I realized that I really like India. I felt it, as I watched the fireworks and watched women in sarees caring their groceries home on their heads I felt a real fondness for the country that I hadn’t felt up until then. When I got back to campus I had the rickshaw driver drop me near the gate. From there I walked and tried to hitch a ride. Hitching is perfectly safe and a common thing for people to do here. I have some friends who do it all the time but I hadn’t tried it yet. So I got a ride. I was still wary as it was my first time so I had my knife near by, but it was perfectly fine and really fun. Cross that off my Indian bucket list. I hope to do it a few more times before I leave. It’s a great way to get around campus and I feel I should take advantage since you can’t do it back home.
The next day Xandra and I went to Lingampali to go saree shopping. Our friend Elise had gone there earlier and gotten three sarees for about 3000 rupees total—aka ridiculously cheap. So we went and looked at the sarees. They had some beautiful South Indian style ones. I ended up getting a purple one. I wanted a South Indian one but they didn’t have the colors I wanted. We stopped in a few other shops. The last stop we stopped in they pulled out all of their sarees it seemed for us. But they were more expensive than the ones we had just seen and it seemed to me worse quality. I don’t know what makes a saree better quality since a lot of the more expensive ones I see seem poorer made than the less expensive ones. From there we went to the tailor to drop off our stuff. A bunch of our friends met us there. I ended up playing badminton in the street with the tailors daughter and then with her neighbor who was about my age but married. It was great fun. An Indian woman in a saree and me running around in the street playing badminton. I was better than I thought I would be and it was really fun. Afterward we went to the sushi bar Synn. Emilla and I split some Nagiri sushi ( the rice and raw fish kind), a California roll, and we each got our own miso soup. The soup was good but not as good as the first time we had been there. The Nagiri was not good. It was bearable but it seemed as if it had been made before and frozen. It was very dry and some of it was fishy tasting. Unimpressive. Even the California roll’s rice was over vinegary. It was quite unsatisfying. Everyone else enjoyed their meal though. I got a really delicious chocolate ice cream for dessert. Then they started playing the best house I have ever heard. Emilla and I could not sit still, it was too good, we had to go dance. Several times our group attempted to leave and we went with them and then right before we would walk out the music would become mind blowing good and we’d have to stay a bit longer. We did leave eventually and had a bad experience with our cab driver. First he wouldn’t talk or understand when we called him to pick us up, he even hung up on us. Then Emilla went and found him- he was asleep–too asleep to wake up when she opened the door. She did wake him up and he said he’d come in a few minutes- we said now. 15 minutes later he showed up. Then he proceeded to drive us home while trying to do stuff on his phone. He was swerving and we made him put it away. He also seemed to be falling asleep or something. We finally got home and he tried to charge us for an extra hour, explaining he had gotten to Tagore at 7 (we had told him to come at 7:45). We said no he didn’t have to come early and he wasted our time in coming to get us so we weren’t paying for more than three hours. It was ridiculous. And he was acting really strange–we kind of thikm he might have been drinking..He wouldn’t take our money, so we thrust it at him and walked away.
Sunday we went to Shalparama again. I was on a mission for anklets. I ran into all the venders I had talked to the other day and they all said hi to me and we chatted. I felt so popular. I sat down and talked to a couple of them for awhile. Then I got my anklets and Xandra and I went home. When we got home we saw the dog I named Mama, a little brown and black dog with a cropped tail. She’s super meek and wouldn’t even let me pet her when I first met her, but now she does. It’s really cute because when you pet her she sticks her tongue out. Anyway we noticed she was really pregnant. And we felt her belly and felt her pups kicking around. So sweet.
Skip ahead a few days to Wednesday-Diwali-the festival of lights. We had no school since Diwali is one of the biggest holidays in India. It celebrates the god Rama’s return from 14 years of exile. Its a little like Christmas as people give each other gifts. So for our day off in the afternoon, Xandra, Emilla, Karen and I went on a hike.
Pow came with us and we go to this field I’ve been to before. We sat and it started to get dark out and we’re being eaten so we try and go back by going across the field. It’s getting dark and it rained yesterday and we find that the field is wetter than we thought. Every time we get to the edge, where we know the road is there is a stream. And let me just say you don’t want to touch streams in India, they are more like sewers than anything else. So we keep trying different ways. And we can see the lights of the hostels, only 20 yards away, but we can’t get there. By now its full dark and poor Pow is trudging along behind us. Finally we find away out up to a road. We walk to the main road passing the dog with the puppies. She yells at us but we move on, and head back to Tagore. At some point Pow doesn’t follow us. And he doesn’t catch up like he normally does. I’m starting to get worried as he normally doesn’t do that. By the time we were almost back at Tagore I knew I had to go back and find him. If it had been any other night I wouldn’t have been worried but Diwali is a night that involves a lot of fire works, and I know not all Indians are kind to animals so it seemed like a bad combo.
Xandra and I headed back. Around the spot where we last saw him we noticed him scratching at one of the hostel doors. We called him and he came and we walked back. He’s an older dog and he’s got a bad leg so he was starting to slow down a lot up the hill. I carried him a bit, which was easier than I thought it would be. We finally got back home safe and sound. Then the fireworks started. The kitchen guys came out and set off a bunch of fire works and were running around them and and holding them and having a great time. I even lit a couple off. They weren’t big fire works just little fire crackers and sparkle things and stuff. Then toward the end of the fireworks we hear one of the guys Dane exclaim something, we look over and somehow the really dry grass around Tagore has caught. We all run around looking for water and sand. It wasn’t very big but it was growing fast. The kitchen guys ran out with water and it was soon taken care of. Fun stuff.
We then headed down to main campus because there was a Diwali party there. There are a ton of Indian students there dancing to music from Indian movies, and some western music too. It was fun we ended up dancing bangra in a circle with a bunch of Indian students. They set off fireworks there too. We headed back a bit later. It was interesting seeing so many Indians dancing to Indian music.
I’ve started to notice that Pow has become really attached to me. He recognizes me from really far away and runs up to me and then walks with me to where I’m going.
He doesn’t always walk with Xandra or Karissa but he always walks with me. He’s such a sweet dog. The last few days his leg has been hurting him a lot and he seemed really put out. He didn’t follow me all the way, I think it might be the colder weather aggravating it.
This past weekend we didn’t go out at all. We lounged around and watched the extended addition of the Lord of the Rings Return of the King, Dogma, and Gossip Girl. It was nice relaxing for a change. And having all my friends crowded in a bed huddling around a computer screen.
On Tuesday on the way to Yoga we ran into the pup again. Or at least I think it was the same one, the coloration was similar. He was a good bit bigger, and his fleas had gone away. His coat is changing color a bit also, a little less black in some areas, a little more light brown. After Yoga I had to hurry back and finish my Ayurveda paper due later that day. I did, just in time and then went to Ayurveda. After Ayurveda we had Kuchipudi since our performance is tomorrow. We did a few run throughs, we really have it down a lot better now! And I got permanently switched to the front, which is good because I tend to mess up more if I am following people. After Kuchipudi we had to run back and eat quickly. On the way back I saw Mama and I went to go check on her. She has had her puppies and she was happy to see me and get some loving. After I ate I went back to see if I could catch a quick glimpse of them. I didn’t see her and finally she came around a corner but it was apparent she’d rather I go no further so she walked me back to the lot. I then had to run quickly because it’s Emilla’s birthday and we’re going mini golfing. We got there and ate dinner. It was pretty good and reasonably priced. We broke into two teams and played the course. It was a lot of fun, I was not good.
Now we arrive at yesterday–the big day. We went to Kuchipudi practice and ran through it a few times. Then I went home and took a shower. As I was changing I got a knock on my door. It was Mersad, he said he had found a box with a few puppies in it by the side of the road and he didn’t know what to do.
So we went to find the box. The box was tipped over and puppies were sprawled everywhere-7 of them. They were new born puppies too, they were still blind and deaf and they were crying for milk. We collected them and put them back in the box and then headed to find a mom who would maybe take them. We knew that Mama had had puppies and maybe she would take some more. We got back to Tagore and one of the workers saw us and ran inside. The house manager Mr. Das came out and was like ” no absolutely not, those puppies cannot be in the Tagore premise, you can leave them by the construction site or something but they can not be here.” So we sulked away with our box of puppies. Mersad said he had seen a mom with pups nearby so we went and found her. She was no longer lactating but she was still really interested in the puppies. We pulled them out and she sniffed them and stood by them. Then she would go back to her own, more grown puppies.
Then she would come back and sniff them and walk away again. So we put them back in the box and walked away, but she followed us. Finally we decided to leave her two, maybe her milk would come back, while we tried to find a more suitable mother. We made our way to the back of Tagore, outside the wall, where the garbage heap was. Mersad sent me in to find Mama. She was by the front of Tagore scratching at a little cove in the ground and I could see she was extra full of milk. I called her and she came and I got her to follow me all the way out to the back of Tagore, she was reluctant a few times but in the end she followed me all the way. I guess she trusts me now, or knew I had to show her something. Either way when we got out there Mersad tipped the box to show her the pups and they cried. Her ears perked up and she ran over and jumped in the box and sat on the puppies. Well the puppies couldn’t really nurse with her sitting on them so we dumped them out. She immediately picked one up and carried it to some rocks for protection.
We picked the rest up and gave them to her. She was so happy and was licking them and nursing them like a good Mother. Mersad went to get the other two and I went to the Theater to start getting my Kuchipudi make up on. I got there and it began. (prepare for pictures) First we got our costumes on, then foundation, then our makeup. From there we got wigs put on and hear jewelry. Then we got face jewelry. And we got our hands and feet painted All this took five hours. but at the end of it we were Indian women. We got to run through the dance twice. Finally came time to perform. We did wonderfully, the best we’ve done yet I think. Afterward there were more performances. Tabla, Katak, a rendition of Seasons of Love called Monsoons of Love by Karissa. After all the performances we went back to Tagore for an outside banquet. There was really good spaghetti and meat sauce. Then I took some food with Xandra to Mama. She was still there with the pups. I’m starting to wonder if they are her pups since she does not seem to be going to her own.Then I got to my room and a package I had ordered had come. It was the SAS Survival guide. It is the most amazing thing, I got one for Emilla for her birthday, and one for Xandra and me. They are about 3×4 in and the most comprehensive survival guide out there. A must for everyone, I’m probably going to buy seven more while I’m here. So excellent. Can’t expressed how happy they made me.
On Thursday morning we went to Yoga. I was talking to a friend and he told me that they had in fact taken Mama’s pups the day before because they didn’t want them at Tagore. Then all night Mama was howling up a storm. So I guess the box of puppies were her own. It all makes sense-the swollen tits, the lack of pups, the eagerness for these pups. I can’t believe they would do that to her. We did not have yoga practice–so sad. Afterward we ran into some other puppies and played with them awhile. Then I went to check on Mama. It had been raining and she found newspaper and placed it over her pups so cute. Then I go and blog. It took me forever to get those beginning pictures up and looking right, then I save it and they are all erased. Not only that but four hours worth of blogging I had written the night before.
But I caught up. Then this afternoon I brought Mama more food. At the trash pile, Scout (Pow’s best friend who was accompanying us) ran to chase some boar away. It didn’t work and the boar charged her back (it was a mother). I then stood up to her. We had a little stand off with me taking a step forward every thirty seconds and standing my ground. Eventually she gave up and went away. Then I checked in on Mama. Shes looking skinnier now. But her pups are doing great. Here’s one last pic. Here are the videos for the dance. I am the one on the right front in the blue. :
Now I’m off to Goa. I’ll be back Monday. I hope you all will comment. On that note a special shout out to Margaret Ottley who always comments, I really appreciate that you enjoy my blog so much, I always write it with you in mind, and it makes me really happy that you comment on it. Hope you enjoyed it everyone.