The days and weeks after our weekend in the North was not filled with as much excitement as in Mumbai but rather had smaller, more spontaneous moments of happiness. So the next couple paragraphs will be a collection of random activities. The first week I attended a Swaraswati Puja festival on campus. Swaraswati is the Hindu goddess of music and education, and in her honor, students are “supposed” to avoid studying for that day. I didn’t get to attend the puja itself but did make it to the afternoon social gathering. It was my first puja away from home!! And actually very similar to the pujas that I’ve attended back in California. I had a lovely time meeting new students and locals, sitting down with lunch, watching others socialize. There were different canopies separating two groups (Hindu organizations) from each other but we were all in the same field so it didn’t feel like a competition of pujas. Lunch consisted of a mixed-rice-and-daal dish (what Bengalis call “khichuri”), veggie curry, mango chutney, and a crunchy tortilla kinda thing. Dessert was a variation of rice pudding and a white “misti” (sweets).
The next day, some of my classmates invited me to join them for a day in the city. The place of excitement was in Lingampally, called The Exhibition, a temporary flea market that starts in January and ends in mid February. Vendors from all over India coalesce in this marketplace every year for 45 days. Taking public transportation cost us very few rupees and three times as much in time, but it was my first time on the MT train so all is good!! We sat by the windows, watching the landscape change from busy streets to grave-filled courtyards and back to train stations. We talked about various films, both Indian and American, about family back home, and trips we all wanted to go to. About two and a half hours later, we reached Lingampally and made our way through to the crowded marketplace. Stalls were set up right next to each other, flashing customers with their specialty. Here were the simpler, crisper saris of Calcutta, there were Rajasthan-style bangles and sandals. Over here were Kashmir textiles. It was overwhelming(ly fantastic). Several stalls displayed rows upon rows of jeans or tops on their roofs, creating a whole new background in the air. I took a break from bargaining today and gave the reigns to my friends. And they struck hella good deals too. I bought two pairs of earrings and a pair of Rajasthani sandals.
Two Saturdays ago, we had a group excursion to the Qutb Shahi Tombs–mausoleums dedicated to seven Qutb Shahi rulers and their families. I’m not poetic enough to describe the architectural details and grandeur of the tombs, so here are picsssss.
For a couple days last week, the school’s wifi disappeared, putting all of us in a sense of panic (lol). Sad how much we rely on internet connection, but it was a real struggle to be without it. So a couple of us went to a nearby café called the Chocolate Room. It was that day that I was persuaded into trying momos from a street vendor. And had KFC. And had an ice cream bar. And yes, I suffered. That is when my bouts of food poisoning and explosive diarrhea began, consecutively. (I am better now after two weeks.) Street. Food. Never. Again.
Last Friday, Ishmeet (one of our program coordinators) took us to Puttapaka—the weavers’ village. I’ve been meaning to a similar village in Pochampally and had been aware of the great distance but was unprepared for the three hour long ride one way. But the trip was memorable. The entire village worked the craft of weaving. The dying of the fabric, the design, the weaving was all done by hand or by man-powered machines. Amazing to see how meticulously these craftsmen worked and with so much respect to detail. They graciously allowed us into their homes to see them at work and to let us feel the different silks. We had brought our lunch with us—thanks to the chefs at Tagore House—and ate together. Ok here’s a good laugh: we were told to hold on to all our trash because there were no public trashcans around and we wanted to be respectful of their space. But as we were ready to board back on to our bus, the local worker that had shown us around the place dumped our plastic bag of trash on the dirt hill next to the sidewalk. LOL. WHAT HAPPENED TO NO LITTERING??
The last story for this blog post: my trekking adventure with the Sunday Climbers. Remember me going on that hike that very first week in India? I finally had time to go again. It was more of a long walk with bits of climbing involved. Our “warm-up” was climbing up this rock near the school’s main campus. Let me tell you: this was NOT a warm up. Okay. There were no hand or footholds AT ALL. Just small dents in the rock that you were somehow expected to balance yourself with. I was pressured into trying to go up, and with some help I did make it halfway up the rock. But then I got stuck and there was nothing I could hold or step on to go up, so I was literally holding on with the tips of my fingers for a minute, yelling that I’m gonna fall before they helped me down. Apparently I was almost to the top but when you’re as short as me you have a different perspective.
So we began our trek towards Temple Rocks and Genesis Rocks. Temple Rocks was named for having a shape like a temple. Genesis Rocks, on the other hand, got its name because it was surrounded by big rocks that resembled human genitalia hhahahahaha. The path to this rock was a feat. We had to climb through a dark passage that looked like something like a crack in the ground if it ever split into two. On my way down, I had my body position parallel to the walls—my feet and my back both pushed outwards, and I moved sideways until someone taller helped me land on another rock below me. I was sweating when I finally extricated myself from my possible death. There were some great climbers though. Little daredevils they were. There was no beleit or safety ropes. I’ll be enjoying the view and look up to see three or four of them working their way up like ants up the rocks. We even had a monkey with us (aka: guy that really liked climbing trees.)
Here were the past two weeks in Hyderabad. Currently finishing this blog post in Delhi. Stay tuned for more diarrhea stories and how Dartmouth scammed us!!