Sunday, June 5, 2011

What a new blog post?!

Finally back to blogging. I originally stopped when I got exceptionally sick and couldn't keep food down for four days or so. After I recovered from the fun incident, I visited a friend in her research spot, traveled to meet up with other friends, and then spent the next week writing my 30 page paper about my research. Once that was finished, I spent the next two weeks traveling around India with family and friends, so I had pretty much no internet access.
However, now that my family is back in Amrika and my friends are again scattered throughout the country and world, AND I'm living in 114 degree heat everyday, I have reason to take refuge in my room with my computer. Yes, today the high was 112 and yes, I was walking around in the height of it. I haven't seen a cloud in over 24 hours. However, in four days I get a nice little break with a high of 107 and partly cloudy! Anyway, I'm in Jodhpur, the second biggest city in Rajasthan. It's also known as the Blue City since many of its buildings are painted blue, and when viewed from the historic fort, the city looks like a desert speckled blue. This is my second time visiting this city; the first was with my school and oh how manageable the temperature was then. I arrived yesterday by train and am staying in a great little guest house outside the old city that is also home to a very small, grassroots women's empowerment organization. How perfect for the work I'm doing, especially since Gravis, the organization I am supposed to work with, has yet to give me much information or help me find a translator. We'll see how all that pans out.
It wasn't until I had dinner with some of the other guests last night that I realized how long I've been here. One of the girls has been here a grand total of three days now and the other couple has been here for a week. It was so strange to talk with them, as they were just freshly experiencing things that I had become desensitized to. Not that I'm any sort of veteran or connoisseur of India; I've just somehow just stopped baffling at all the cows lying in the streets. It wasn't until then that I realized how long I've actually been here. It's been almost half a year that I've been gallivanting--not really--around this sub-continent. Until two days ago, I didn't even have a flight home yet. Technically, I'm not legally allowed to stay in India until that day, July 19th, but that's another feat with which I'm still wrestling. The employees of the various Foreigner's Registration Offices I've visited are amazingly good as passing me along to the next city and office without giving me any definite answers except that the next office will definitely figure it out for me. I suspect I'll need to start throwing down rupees in order to get real results. We'll see how that one pans out too.
So back to what I've been doing in my cyberspace absence. Here's a map of where I've visited:

Took a flight from Jaipur to Trivamdrum in Kerala, the southern most state. Traveled up the coast of Kerala, visiting beautiful red clay beaches, canoeing through the canals of backwaters in tropical village areas and biking through Portuguese influenced capital city. From there, took a train to Goa, the teeny-tiny state below Maharashtra. It was the off season for this state which is crawling with foreigners, so we got to have the usually chaotic beaches for ourselves. Because this state is so small, we decide to rent a motorbike and take it to explore for ourselves. Bad idea considering it was made for two people at the most and we stuffed three on. None of us knew how to drive either and the streets here are insane. It was terrifying but fun, or at least I had fun. My friends took a cab back to our hotel. I had a terrific time doing it by myself then on the back roads. From there, took another train to Mumbai. Mumbai was insane, but not in the chaotic, over-crowded way we were expecting. It looked like London with tropical plants growing everywhere. There were black and yellow ambassador car cabs, gothic architecture everywhere and Indian food was actually quite difficult to scope out. We spent two days eating great western food, drinking real coffee and being total tourists. Mumbai did have its crazy crowded bazaars and an unimaginably large slum area, but nothing like we expected.
From there, I flew to Sikkim, the small state in the North East above Bihar. I meet my parents and brother there and we spent four days hiking and doing eco-touristic stuff. We woke up in the clouds every morning and watched them consume Mt. Kanchenjunga, 3rd tallest mountain in the world. Then we traveled back to Jaipur and despite all my warnings about not eating meat, my brother ate mainly chicken only to end up violently ill on our travel day from Sikkim to Jaipur. The day started at 5 am and ended at 9 pm; he had an awful time. Oh the perks of vegetarianism. So now I'm in Jodhpur, sitting in a tooth-paste green room without air-conditioning in this crazy heat. I do however this wind-tunnel sounding machine that cools water and then blows the evaporating cool water into my room; it's mildly pleasant and obnoxiously loud. Tomorrow I officially start my research. I arrive at the office at 9:30 and that's all I know. Here goes the last leg of my India adventure

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