Roti, Ashram, and Wifi, Oh My!

Wifi is a beautiful thing.

Hello lovely people! I am thrilled to say that I now have internet access at my house here! This means daily updates and no more sporadic posting. Yay! However I did write this post the morning of July 26th even though it’s for the 25th. I tried to write last night but was very tired so my words weren’t making much sense. I figured you all would prefer a coherent post over a timely one!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my room has air-conditioning. Normally that is a blessing, but last night I was freezing cold! That plus a slightly upset stomach from all of the spicy new food resulted in a minimal amount of sleep. I woke up yesterday morning feeling less than my best, but determined to push through and have a great day! I arrived at school around 7:40 and went with Tanmae, one of our student mentors and the school’s Head Boy, to his first class until the other Americans arrived. While we were all waiting for the last member of our group I started to feel sick again so I went and laid down in the nurse’s office. Like everyone else here she was so nice and helpful! I took about a 10-minute rest and then I was good to go! When I rejoined the group we were doing mehendi! Or “henna” as we Americans call it. I already thought mehendi artists were incredible, but now I know that they’re also crazy strong! All of us got hand cramps trying to do it. Our results were pretty good though!

After mehendi, we had another Hindi lesson. Our teacher basically only speaks Hindi to us which can be challenging but also so fun! I love figuring out what she’s saying when I don’t actually know what she’s saying. Yesterday was especially great because she brought in a group of Indian students to be our teachers! We were paired up and then practiced a simple conversation where we greeted each other, introduced ourselves, said where we were from, and told them what we like to do and what we like to eat. Then we all had to get up and perform it for the group. Some of us were excited about this, others were not. I got two stars from the teacher for my presentation which made me happier than it probably should have. My student-teacher was really enthusiastic which definitely helped me learn quickly. He repeated everything about three times to make sure I understood! I so appreciated his patience when I replied “I’m from the United States,” the first 10 times he asked, “How are you?” I’m still a beginner after all!

One of yesterday’s highlights was getting to make Indian roti – a tortilla-like bread! The school has a group called Little Chefs and they let us join their lesson! We helped roll out the dough and then got to cook it on the stove. Mine may have caught on fire a little bit, but it’s all good. After roti, one of the teachers showed Abby (another American), Salisa (the Thai student) and I how to make parantha! It’s similar to roti, but thicker and with cumin seeds in it. Both were delicious! Tanmae got very impatient while she was showing us — he had to take us to our next activity and he had a test at 11:15! But she wasn’t hearing it. Whether he liked it or not, she was finishing the parantha!

Cooking class!
Cooking class!

The next activity was Bollywood dance. So. Much. Fun. First, we had a short private class with a lovely woman teaching us. She didn’t speak English which just proves dance is a universal language! Then a group of students came in for their class and we watched them for a bit and then got to join in! Only Salisa and I did, but we had a lot of fun! Eventually Salisa stopped too, so it was just me! The teacher, Jimmy, is super nice and really encouraging. I’m going to his workshop today, I can’t wait! I have a video from yesterday’s class but I’m not sure how to upload it here. I’ll post it on Facebook for anyone who’s interested!

After dance we did some yoga (which included eye exercises — who knew?) and then had lunch. All of the Indian students keep telling us how bad their school food is, but it’s been good so far! I guess Friday and Saturday they have better food than the rest of the week. I’ll let you know on Monday.

IMG_9437
The view from the bottom of the Stepwell

After school, it was time for more exploring! Our first stop was Adalaj Stepwell — which used to be where people would go to get water and wash their clothes. It’s an amazing old stone structure that goes far down into the ground. The detail in the stone-work is incredibly intricate and beautiful. We kept talking about how long is must have taken! We also went up to the top of the Stepwell and walked around.

We left the Stepwell and drove to the Gandhi Ashram. Mahatma Gandi lived there from 1918-1930 and it was the center of his non-violent protest movement. It was there that many important events were planned and countless people visited to learn from him. It was fascinating to see where he lived and how simple his life truly was.

Gandi's room. He wanted his house to be open to the world so there are no doors or glass on the windows.
Gandi’s room. He wanted his house to be open to the world so there are no doors or glass on the windows.

After leaving the ashram, we went to two more temples — a Jain temple and another one that no one explained to me so I don’t know what religion it was. Both were breathtakingly beautiful but out of respect we couldn’t take any pictures.

We then headed back to the school. We were tired, thirsty, and sweaty but still happy. Then Sonal picked me up and made me even happier! She told me that because my laptop had been having problems and they had been thinking about it anyway, they had decided to get wifi! I definitely got an amazing host family. We headed home and watched part of a Hindi movie and Indian Idol Junior before Gaurvi and I took Bella for a walk around the society. I love talking to her about life in India vs the U.S, travel, and just life in general! She’s applied to spend a year in Germany for 2016-17 which seems just perfect since my family hosted Mona from Germany last year! Full circle! We came back upstairs and I put up last night’s blog before having a delicious dinner, taking a shower, and heading to bed.

I’m about to leave for my dance workshop — yay! I’m looking forward to a great day with my host mom and I’ll be sure to post tonight! Until next time, अलविदा!

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