So can I just start by saying that I have been living in India for a little over 2 1/2 months already!? HOLY CRAP. Time flies. Sorry to any of my friends, teachers, or family who have been eagerly awaiting a new blog post from me for the past month and a half. The silence must at least be a good sign that I am having the time of my life over here, right? Because I am.
Every single day here always seems so busy, and I think that it is probably because India is obviously a busy country, and so you can’t help but feel like there is always something going on. I think that is one characteristic I like a lot about living here. It doesn’t give me time to be homesick, and it really allows me to be in the moment. I can tell that I have completely adjusted to living here now because whenever I video chat my mom, I don’t always have new things to talk about like I did upon first arriving. And while many concepts about living here are still foreign to her, they are completely normal to me now and so I don’t always realize that I should still talk about them with people at home because they might still find them new and intriguing.
Many people from home see all of the pictures I am posting on Facebook and ask me “Are you even learning anything over there? Or are you just having fun all the time?” My answer is yes. To both. Don’t worry Mom and Clark, I am enrolled in school. I do go to a classroom (almost) everyday that has other students in it and a professor (though they may not always show up and/or may cancel class for 2 weeks). I am receiving credit for my classes. I am learning from my classes. But I am also learning every time I walk outside. I am learning and gaining new perspectives through my encounters with the local rickshaw drivers, the little kids playing cricket, the chaiwalla down the street from my house, from my daily encounters with my family’s cook and maid, and all of the Indian friends I’ve made on campus. I am learning about things that you can’t find in a book in a classroom. I won’t get credit for these things I’ve learned, they won’t show up on any transcript, and they won’t put a degree in my hand, but I think by the time I leave India, the experiences that I’ve had here will be the more invaluable than anything I could have learned in a classroom. And I’m having fun 😉
[Insert cliche quote now]
“The world is my classroom, each day is a new lesson, and every person I meet is my teacher.” – Craig Harper
With all that being said, here is the list of the classes I am enrolled in this semester:
– Basic Hindi
– Kuchipudi (Indian Classical Dance)
– Play Analysis
– History, Theory, and Text (Indian Classical Theatre)
I am really enjoying learning Hindi, but it is proving to be quite the challenge! As I’m sure any new language is, but still. The vast majority of people in India are able to speak a minimum of 3 languages (mother tongue, hindi, english) and here I am, with only one measly language under my belt. I hope to continue taking Hindi classes when I return home so I can keep up with it and maybe eventually add a second language to my belt. I now have my go to handful of phrases and questions that I often use, and I am able to speak enough broken Hindi that I can remember to get me by when communicating with rickshaw drivers and such. And when I fail terribly, english is always the next alternative. The locals always get a kick out of watching me struggle though. Haha.
Kuchipudi dance is a class that I have a love-hate relationship with. If you know me more personally, you know that I am an absolutely terrible dancer, but I always like to try anyways. And since I am required to take a dance class for my degree, I figured why not take Indian classical dance? THIS CLASS IS SO HARD. It requires my knees, legs, arms, and fingers to bend in ways I didn’t know they could, hold positions until you feel the burn, and I always leave class glistening with sweat. The professor is very intense and she definitely means business, but we always have a lot of fun, and its a great work out with unending amounts of squats. Even though its a struggle, I am learning a lot and definitely improving. I am really excited for our final performance–the dance we are learning is epic!
I am taking two theatre classes that are really interesting and I am learning a lot about ancient Sanskrit theatre and important role it has played in theatre development in India. These classes have been put on a pause for the past two weeks because of the student play production was going on, so they will start again this week. They required all hands on deck to help with the play, so all other theatre classes in the department were canceled. I am taking two theatre classes because I recently added a minor in theatre and since the university doesn’t offer music classes for credit, I decided to work on my minor while here.
I unfortunately decided to not take Sitar lessons while here because at first in conflicted with one of my classes, but also because in order to take the extracurricular class, I had to actually purchase the Sitar and then I was responsible for taking it home. Since I will be doing a lot of traveling once school is over, I decided it would be a really big and expensive hassle to have to deal with when trying to get it home. Sorry Professor Solis! I was really hoping to play some Sitar for you when I returned home, but my host dad is a very accomplished singer and I have been sitting with him in the afternoons and he has been giving me mini singing lessons in Carnatic music. Everything you taught me about Indian ragas and the Tala in Music is Culture is really being put to good use now Professor Solis–thanks for that!
Now that I have covered my classes, I’ll give you a brief run down and share some pictures of some things that have happened in my life since my last post!
– I was interviewed on a radio show a few weeks ago called Bol Hyderabad 90.4, all thanks to my friend Ben Poor who told me about the opportunity. The show was titled “Becoming Indian” and so the interview was all about my life here, how I’ve adjusted, comparisons and contrasts between India and home, etc. And when they found out I was a music major, they forced me to sing on the radio. Awkward.
– When in India, get a piercing! My roommates and I decided to go to a well known piercer and get a piercing. Since I already have my nose and ears pierced, I decided to try out a belly button piercing. It was surprisingly a lot more painful than I had anticipated, but it healed nicely and I am happy with it. Debbie had the inspiration to finally get her ears pierced, and Jamie went with the traditional Indian nose piercing, though it fell out a week later. It was quite the exciting and slightly stressful day!
– I ran a half marathon! Yes, an entire 13.1 miles or if your using Indian measurements, 21 kilometers. It was totally last minute, and I had had no prior training before running it, but I thought “Why not!?” It was in recognition of International Women’s Day, it cost me a total of 200 rupees (≈ $3.00), and the whole route was on my university’s campus anyway (gives you a rough estimate of how large our campus is). I completed the entire thing, and much to my surprise, I ran the entire thing without stopping either. And my time was only ten minutes slower than the time I got for the previous half marathon I ran, so I guess I in better shape than I thought I was. I am really happy that I did it, because who knows then next time I’ll get to run a half marathon on the other side of the world? Worth it. Shout out to my awesome aunt and uncle, Julie and Steve Coons who inspire me to run these damn’d things in the first place. Love you!
– I have been doing some rock climbing since being in India, but sadly, not enough. Hyderabad has great rocks all over the place, there are even climbing spots all over my campus, but the majority of it is bouldering. I have done a little bit of rope climbing, but when I have climbed here, it has been primarily bouldering which I have small aversion to, only because I suck at it and I’m too lazy to work on improving my skills. But when I have climbed, it has been good fun and there is a great climbing community here with a lot of extremely strong climbers.
– Jai Telangana! The bill has officially been approved for the separation of state. When coming to India, Hyderabad was apart of Andra Pradesh but since the bill has passed, Andra Pradesh has split into two states and Hyderabad is now apart of the Telangana state. It was quite the celebration on campus, and so we decided to take part in the festivities.
– Before I left the states, everyone kept telling me, “I hope you like spicy food, because you’re in for a whole new level of spicy food.” Prior to my coming to India, I had absolutely no tolerance for spicy foods thus Indian food had never been at the top of my list, but that quickly changed. I have since fallen in love with all of the varieties of food, spices, and textures, and my spicy tolerance has increased ten-fold. I have tried more foods than I can count on all of my fingers and toes, and out of all them there have maybe been two items that I haven’t liked. I love eating with my right hand too! It gives a whole to meaning to playing with your food, and as many of the locals would say, “It makes the food taste better.” No reason to argue with that. India has introduced a whole new world of flavors to my taste buds, and I love every minute of it. Fitting into my jeans may be a challenge when I get home, however. I recently attended a cooking class where we learned how to cook Fish Fry, Hara Chicken, Double Kamita (dessert), and of course, chai. The food turned out great! I definitely have a lot more that I need to learn how to cook before returning home though. Also, I think I have an unhealthy addiction to chai. I’m okay with it.
– It finally caught me. Unfortunately, and with much sadness I have to say that I caught the well known stomach sickness that most foreigners get when they come to India. I tried so hard to dodge the bullet, but I guess I couldn’t hide forever. It found me. And at the worst of timings too. I think a few days ago I must have accidentally drank the tap water at a restaurant I was eating out at, and I paid dearly for it the two days following. I was stuck in bed on Sunday with a severe headache, a minor cold, and a constant battle between the need to sleep forever and racing to the toilet. I’ll keep it PG, and leave it at that. I think you can infer how the rest of the day and night played out. I was really upset because this all happened the day before Holi (Festival of Colors), which is a holiday I have been waiting all semester for. I was going to be so bummed if I had to spend the entire day on the toilet. Luckily though, the intestinal storm cleared by the late morning and I was able to go out and play Holi with all of my friends on campus. It was such a crazy, wild, and colorful experience and it really was the perfect day. Everyone was just so happy and nothing else mattered. It was as if everything else going on in the world was put on pause for a day, and the only thing that mattered was sharing in this colorful experience with your friends, family, and whoever. It was refreshing to say the least, and we made quite the mess 🙂
That’s it for tonight. I pinky promise that my next post will not take a month for me to get to. Hugs and love!