Sunday, August 30, 2009

G'bye, America!

Just lit some incense with my mom; leaving for the airport in a few minutes.
When you hear from me next I'll be in Indiaaa! Finally fulfilling the title of this blog. =P

Friday, August 28, 2009


This looks pretty grim...
at least it will be hot. What is this weather, Chicago?!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reading Materials

Books I am packing:
Maharanis by Lucy Moore (thanks Mom!) - nonfiction, this book has a lot about the late Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur in it
Siddhartha von Herman Hesse
Upanisads - Patrick Olivelle translation (read much of this for my Indian Philosophies class)
La Vagabonde
par Colette (thanks Dad!)
- Oxford English-Hindi and Hindi-English dictionaries
- Berlitz French pocket dictionary
- Lilliput German-English dictionary
(Whenever I live in a place for an extended period of time I need to take some dictionaries. I feel like I'm missing an appendage if I don't. Especially when I'm studying a new language and learning new vocab, I find myself thinking, "do I know how to say that in German? French? Spanish?" And if I don't, I like being able to look it up.)
I'll probably also bring my U of M Hindi textbook, and if I can find it, my P. Lal translation of the Bhagavad Gita.
I'm also packing some American magazines in case my internship involves girls who might be interested in them.
This list will most likely be added to later =)

Edit: Also bringing Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's August 24th, so

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!!!!!!! =D

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicago, IL, USA Goodbyes

Frivolous things I want to do before leaving:

-eat a Chicago style hot dog (I'm thinking Wiener's Circle)
-eat a hamburger (I'm thinking either a cheeseburger or one of Blackie's olive burgers)
-listen to the local hip hop radio station
-go to the beach
-see Kaminey (Bollywood film, came out on the 14th and is being hailed by some critics as the best film of the year so far) so I can have something current and pop-culture-y to discuss
-have funnel cake

I will probably edit this entry to add more later...I haven't had dinner yet so mostly I'm thinking about food!

Edit: I have changed up the HindiTunes playlist a bit, removing some and adding some songs. The playlist now includes some Rajasthani, English and Punjabi music as well.


I have much good news to report!

1. I have finished reading the MSID packet
2. I have procured a pair of wide-leg khakis, and a cute collared tunic in summer cotton
and most excitingly.................

3. I got an email from MSID telling me with whom and where I will live! (For the first half of the program anyway.) A senior from the U of M and I will have the same host mother and father, who live in an apartment near the temple to Ganesha on Moti Doongri (Hill of Pearls). In this video you can start to see the hill/temple around 0:12. Anyway I'm taking this as an excellent sign; Ganesha is always prayed to first, especially when beginning a journey. He is known as the Lord of Obstacles (removing them or placing them in people's paths when they need to slow down) as well as the god of intelligence and wisdom. If starting my study abroad experience near one of his temples isn't an auspicious sign, I don't know what is ^-^.

I have begun packing; now I have only to finish that, pick up gifts for my host parents, and depart...
(well, and intensively study Hindi...that's the one goal I'm really lagging behind on. If only I could find all my old notes!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Success! सफलता !

Just returned from many many hours in the center of the city, and am pleased to report that I have procured:

1 gray-khaki linen pleated skirt (over the knee o' course)
1 black cotton skirt -- quite voluminous and with white embroidery that vaguely evokes lotuses on the hem
1 pair of slightly platform flip flops, as the ones I have are worn down and hard. They feel like walking on pillows, ahh.
1 luggage tag which has "Upgrade Me!" embroidered on it...we'll see if it works :P
1 copy of Hesse's Siddhartha in the original German, so I can keep in touch with the language while remaining topically on task

and best of all:
1 adorable little children's book--the kind with hard pages--called "Goodnight Chicago," which is basically a tour of the city given by the happiest, most diverse group of people ever. Hopefully my host family will have a small child...or have relatives who have a small child...or my internship will involve small children...

Sadly no good pants were to be found, but I'm considering bringing my favorite old pair of jeans. They don't have that much life left in them anyway, and I can wear long shirts over them to make up for them being form-fitting. 3 bottoms should be enough for a week, riight..?

Since I last wrote I have finished Narayan's Mahabharata and Paro, Dreams of Passion. New goal: finish MSID packet by the end of the week. Also must locate The Little Book of Hindu Deities...finished reading it ages ago but it's been hiding somewhere in the apartment for most of the summer, and cannot be renewed any longer.

P.S. I have now been on malaria-prevention pills for a week, and I think I have had too many vivid dream recollections during it for this to be a coincidence. However, none of them have really been disturbing or nightmarish, so I think it will be fine. (I had to begin the pills extra early to make sure that I am not one of the people who experiences the rare side effect of really intense, terrible dreams.) It is still pretty strange to always start the day coming out of a dream.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just a quick note

Re: my new lil gadget which I have christened "HindiTunes"--there are currently 7 songs on it and it's set on shuffle, so if you don't like what's playing or it has played really recently you can click the forward button. Hope you enjoy it! =)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eek! (or, I Have A Lot To Do)

As I was sitting in church this morning listening to the priest say something about the passage of time, I realized: today being the sixteenth, there are exactly two weeks left before I leave.
I am trying not to feel panicky about this, but there just seems to be so much to do.
1. I want to power through the Beginner's Hindi book & companion CD I've been working with, to get back up to the level of familiarity I had with the language at the end of last fall semester. Yesterday I watched Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge with my mother, and I was able to understand things in that sort of "oh yeah, I see that word in the subtitles and I totally heard them say it" kind of way. Mostly the speech was too fast for me to pick up whole sentences, especially in regards to tenses and conjugation. I had to concentrate really hard and there would be a major delay in my comprehension. This must change!
2. I need to procure clothing that is conservative but works in hot weather, and which I will not mind parting with at the end of my time abroad. I plan on wearing locally purchased cotton salwar kameez for the majority of my time in Jaipur (in order to be a less conspicuous foreigner, and because I will enjoy it) but a) I foolishly donated the one I had to Macalester's Habitat for Humanity rummage sale at the end of the semester b) Once I arrive, there will be a period of one to two weeks before I am able to go shopping. We are being whisked off to some hotel outside of Delhi for orientation before being taken to our host families, and I have gotten the impression that we will not be given time to explore during this time.
Past participants in MSID (Minnesota Studies in International Development) have told me that most of the clothing they brought with them was rendered not worth taking home at the end of the semester, due to how hard the process of handwashing was on the materials. I am always cutting down and refreshing my wardrobe via shops that buy, sell and trade, so there is not really anything I feel that I am willing to part with. At the very least I am hoping to find some decent linen cargo pants before departure.
3. I need to find gifts for my host family. I usually enjoy looking for gifts, but this feels like such a shot in the dark. I know nothing about my family. I requested that there be someone my age in the family, but I don't know whether this will be fulfilled, whether it will be a boy or a girl or both...Some host families are even just single older women, apparently. My first idea, to bring a local food product (Frango chocolates specifically) seems a poor choice given that I will be in the country for a week before seeing my family. They would surely melt. MSID suggested hand lotion, as it is supposedly expensive in India, but I am not convinced that that would be such an exciting gift, and besides I don't know what scents my hosts would prefer. Not to mention that I doubt any males in the family would get much use out of that. My remaining ideas seem sort of lame as well; a White Sox baseball cap, a tote bag or some sort of memorabilia from the University of Chicago bookstore, a framed photo of the skyline...argh. Any suggestions would be much appreciated, dear readers!
4. I need to finish the mega packet of readings MSID assigned me. I am about halfway through. Happily I just have a few more pages in an article about development theory and an excerpt from a microeconomics textbook before getting to more humanities-esque readings (first-person stories from study abroad students & articles on Indian history and culture), so it will begin to go much quicker.
5. Finish reading R.K. Narayan's prose version of the Mahabharata, finish Namita Gokhale's Paro, Dreams of Passion and become familiar with particularly Rajasthani folktales and religious traditions.
6. Prepare my old laptop for the trip--delete things I don't need on it, put photos and documents I do want to have with me on it.
7. Finish roll of film on my SLR and get it developed so I can take some photos with me.
8. PACK.

My goal is to get the majority of things done this coming week, so that I can enjoy my last few days at home with a minimum of stress. I have started a Ta-da list to keep from forgetting things. I think I will figure out which suitcase(s) I am going to bring tomorrow, and start putting things I know I want to pack in them, so I can easily add things as I think of them.
I think I can check off the first element of #5 tonight, I just have a couple chapters left. I also need to find Paro tonight, as I have mislaid it and it needs to be returned and re-checked out ASAP.
Since tomorrow is free mocha day at McDonald's (and taking advantage of free things is my specialty) maybe I'll take the Blue Line to Jackson and read my MSID packet at that really nice glass-walled one. It's quiet, beautiful and a very good place to concentrate. The only sad part is that they don't have mochas for some reason, but they give you a bigger coffee to make up for it.
Starting tomorrow I resolve to go through a chapter of Beginner's Hindi per day. It shouldn't be too bad, as I have learnt most of it before. I will set aside an hour or two on the weekend for reviewing and writing practice.
Tuesday I will try to hit up summer sales to find linen pants, and maybe some below-the-knee skirts.
Wednesday I am going to a sleepover at one of my best friend's homes in Hyde Park, so I will try to check out one of the U of C's bookstores then, for potential host family gifts.

Whew! That's all for now, I'm off to start attacking these tasks...

Good night! <3

Friday, August 14, 2009

नमस्ते !

Hello friends, family, acquaintances and strangers! =)
This marks the beginning of my web documentation of my study abroad experience in India. Although I will not depart until the thirtieth of this month, mental, emotional and quotidian preparations are kicking into high gear. As I withdraw somewhat from regular social interaction, trying to prepare as best I can, I feel it is appropriate to begin writing about the journey now.
I shall try to update as regularly as my schedule and internet access allows. I look forward to sharing things with you, and hearing back from you as well!