Wednesday, October 27, 2010

तैरना (Translation: To Swim!)

Hello! Happy (almost) Halloween!

Since we're entering the summer season here, four of us students rounded up to take a trip to cool off a bit: a trip to a little beach oasis called Paloelem.

Late bus connections, expensive rickshaws, and a pinch of rain made us a little dazed and frazzled upon our arrival. Minor details! After a refreshing cup of chai, we tromped along the shore towards our hotel. We approached a small river along the way, and as our good fortune continued we realized that rains had recently washed away the connecting bridge. So, wading we went! (We went to the beach expecting to get wet anyways, right?)

Casual stroll to the hotel
 Generally I try to travel in lesser-known places, but I had a good time relaxing in this tourist hot spot. The Paloloem tourist scene pleasantly surprised me. European and Australian backpackers with dreds studded the beach, talking about "the importance of savin' nature, bro". Restaurants brought out raw fish on plates to allow patrons to select their next meal. Not to mention swimming in the warm ocean water is a perfect way to spend any weekend.

Cows, it turns out, appreciate quality beach time too.
All in all, great success! Granted I look slightly like a toasted lobster by the end. However, a light sunburn was small price to pay for such a great weekend with Erik, Lauren, and Stephanie.

Hope all is well where you are!

मुंबई (Translation: Mumbai)

Earlier this month, we managed to squeeze in a weekend trip to Mumbai. Movie-goers might know the city as the main setting for"Slumdog Millionaire". The city houses 13,830,884 people. That's 22,000 people per square kilometer. PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.

It's a very happening, westernized city. A couple of us students went out one night and tried to get into a fancy restaurant. Apparently this cool restaurant wanted people other than the haggered travelers in poofy pants and Ganesh t-shirts. I thought that once they noticed my pleather shoes with velcro straps they would change their minds but no such luck. Their loss. Their. Loss.

We scoped out the sea shore along the coast that reflected the problems of a highly-densely populated city: a stagnant layer of pollution floated on the top of the water like a blanket of moss. It was still a fun entertainment area. Cotton candy, plastic swords for sale...needless to say, I thrived in that environment! We even met a boy flying a kite with his pet monkey. Erik tripped on the monkey's leash, causing the once-cute monkey to bare his teeth with a snarl. The kids jumped away and whispered in a small voice, "he bites." Back awaaaaay, slowly.
Such a grumpy monkey

 I also got into a an tense ring-toss competition with a beefy, well- trained man, which justifies why he beat me so badly. (Or a pudgy 8 year old boy. I forget the exact details...)

The competition. Followers call him "The Intimidator".
Fantastic city though. People are always hustling and bustling during the day. However, in the early morning around 5:00 am, the city awakens slowly with quiet streets and shop keepers still sleeping outside of their stores. One morning, Erik and I sleepily woke up with the city as we stumbled over to see the ships bring in their fish loads for the day. Women with big bushels on their head full of fish bumping into me: I found a couple of little fish surprises in my hair afterward. No appetite for sushi for a little while....

A boy watching the fish boats out at sea, with Mumbai in the background
 Hope all is well where you are! Take care!

Monday, October 18, 2010

ऊँट (Translation: Camel)

Well Erik and I didn't get to the movie theater far enough in advance to get tickets for the bollywood movie. So, that left us with a snorefest ride home in the rickshaw orrrrr.....



Yes. I am eating on the camel. As if I wasn't being conspicuous enough already! It's corn on the cob--a cheap roadside snack sold everywhere on the streets. (Meals on wheels...hooves?)

Hope all is well where you are!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

खाना (Translation: To Eat)

Happy October!
After a nice calm week at home, Bina (my host mom) suggested we make some American food for dinner on Saturday night. She mentioned that Kansas City was known for its barbeque. On behalf of Kansas City: Thank you, world. So, she would like me to cook a sample of Kansas City's world-renowned, sophisticated palate!

“Oh, wow! Yes! Yes, that would be great! You have a grill here?” I said, eagerly swiveling my head around, looking around for the grill I must have overlooked these past two months. I kept looking, and finding nothing, I looked back at Bina. She sat staring at me with such excitement, like she had the best secret in the whole world swelling inside almost bursting to get out.
“We will MAKE one!” she exclaimed triumphantly.

Right then. In case you’re wondering, this is a sample of homemade grill tips you can access online.

Pictures like this:

And idiots like this:  

File:Paul Wall.jpg
 How to make a Homemade Grill
 1. Gather your materials
2. Cut foil into desired shape 
3. Place in mouth and press down all over your teeth
4.Make alterations if applicable. 
5. Suck down so it has the extended teeth feeling
(Granted, I never should have clicked a link that spelled
grills as "GrILLZ")

USELESS. Slightly disheartened, I realized we were on our own. In the late afternoon the day before the grill, I slipped into panic mode. But, Erik and I somehow managed to create a [barbeque] grill out of an old dish rack and aluminum foil. The aroma of smoky chicken, vinegar mushrooms, and garlic bread soon filled the air, making the house smell like a summer day at home.

The delicious products
Bina and Ira made a lovely marinade, Erik did a fantastic job manning the grill, no one went to bed hungry, and the house was still standing when we went to bed. All in all, I think it was a great success! Now for round two: shrimp!

I hope that you are doing well, and all is well where you are! Take care!