Thursday, August 26, 2010

हौशी (Translation: Amateur)

The first week of school flew by! Hindi for Beginner's class is already proving to be pretty entertaining, as all of us Americans stumble through the almost indiscernible difference between sounds like "tuh" and "teh" or "pu" and "puh": I'm not exactly a shining star in that course, but with some studying and lots of practice I might be able to efficiently order off an Indian restaurant menu some day. One can only dream. 
Our second day of school was probably the most exciting, when three local students entered our classroom during lecture, stating simply but firmly, "Hello, friends. Today students are on strike. You leave now." Apparently, the students were protesting against the rising costs and unfairness related to the 'commercialization' of education. But don't worry, our program was diligent enough to find us another building to use that was off-campus. (Snore.)

I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to stay with a family. Feels like home away from home! The company is wonderful, and they are ever-patient with my endeavors to learn. Ira, the 10 year-old girl, is getting me acquainted to everything India: from the language to the fashion. In fact, one morning Ira came into the kitchen, jumped back- startled and with a repulsed face- saying, "EW. NO HANNAH! You mustn't wear your hair like that!" It turns out my bad fashion translates across cultures. At least I'm consistent...

Hope all is well where you are!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Namaste! (Goodbye/Hello)

Hello! India is fabulous! We arrived on Monday, and went through orientation in Durchet: perhaps the only secluded area that exists in India. They were kind enough to ease us into the spicy-ness of Indian food. By the end of the week I was feeling pretty good about myself since no meal throughout the week had been to hot for me, but was quickly grounded when one of the advisors said the food was, at best, "mild'. But everything is still delicious. (On a related note: I'm also becoming a huge fan of tea time.)

All the students in the program our great. There are 30 of us, most of whom live with host families. My host family is wonderful. Everyone speaks english, but they are very willing to help me learn Marathi, the local version of Hindi. I've also discovered that the words "table" and "cup" and "petroleum" are all the same in Marathi as English. So, as long as we keep our conversations limited to kitchenware and the prices of gas...I guess you could say I'm fluent!

My host family has both the parents, a grandfather, a ten-year-old daughter, and a 16 year-old-son. The son is starting at Ferguenson College (the same college I am attending) this week, so we will be new students together! I'm within walking distance of school, which is nice because I don't have to haggle with richshaw drivers everyday. Rickshaws are what appears to be scooter with a shell around it, as well as two wheels in the back instead of one. The drivers constantly try to trick passengers to pay more through fast-paced fare monitors, going off route to make the drive longer, and altered fare cards...rascals!

I'll have to get used to the stares: my fair skin and red hair make it impossible to try and blend in. Despite this little fact, I will still be purchasing the beautiful indian clothing in bulk under the justification of "just trying to fit in with the locals!".

Hope all is well where you are! I miss you and take care.