There is something inherently wonderful about a day where you can sleep in. Today was my only free day of the trip so I decided to take advantage of it. I woke up around 8:30 — I went to bed early so I was well-rested — and wrote my blog post for yesterday while drinking delicious Indian chai.
**PSA: Chai means tea. When you say “chai tea” you are saying “tea tea” and Indians everywhere are laughing at you. Please stop.**
After finishing my blog post, I had a just-cooked roti with potato filling for breakfast. Yum! It was made by my host family’s cook, which is a very common thing to have here! She had been out-of-town until last night but now she’s back and will be making breakfast and dinner for us every day. Crazy! My host family also has a “servant” who comes and cleans the house every day – also typical here. I’m seriously considering moving to India. Kidding. Kind of.
At 11:15 Sonal, my host mom, and I left for our Bollywood dance class! My host sister, Gaurvi, couldn’t come because she is in the middle of huge exams. I so admire her commitment to studying, but I do wish she could have joined us! Anyway, I loved the dancing and the people were great. It was an all-comers workshop so there were people of various skill levels and the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. I’ll post a video from it on Facebook. Or on here if I can figure out how. Jimmy, the founder of the dance crew, has never been to the U.S, but loves the idea of the street dancing in New York. His dream is to create a street dance culture here in Ahmedabad. With his level of passion I have no doubt he can do it!
Dance ended around 1:45 and then we were off to lunch! We went to a popular spot called Swati Snacks for Gujarati food. India is divided into states, like the U.S, and each one has their own distinct food, language, style, etc. I’m in Gujarat which is apparently known for being obsessed with food. Since I didn’t know anything on the menu, Sonal chose my meal. She didn’t want to give me anything too spicy, so I had different type of roti with potatoes and a sweet yogurt for dessert. I also tried a bit of what she had. I don’t know the name, but it was very good! Yet another sort of fried dough with filling. As always, everything was delicious! However, despite Sonal’s best efforts, the roti and potatoes were still a bit spicy! Hopefully I’ll adjust to it soon. Not to be crude, but one of my favorite things about the restaurant was that their bathroom had toilet paper. Every bathroom here only has bidets or little hand-held hoses! It’s been an adjustment. But now that I’ve sufficiently disgusted you I’ll move on.
Full of yummy food, we headed to the mall. There is no time for shopping in our AFS schedule, so today was my only chance! I got some Indian clothes (which I may regret once I’m home, but love for now!), traditional-style earrings, a shirt, nail polish, and a Ganesha statuette for my dresser at home. He is an Indian god who resembles an elephant and is supposed to bring luck! I think it will be a good memento. All together I only spent about $45, maybe a little less. Everything is definitely cheaper here! The mall was fairly similar to ones in the U.S. but more stores had bright, lit-up signs and obviously the stores themselves and the clothes were different. One major difference I noticed shopping here is that the salespeople are incredibly attentive. For example, they hold your shopping bags for you at the counter, will remove tags if they’re preventing you from trying something on, and are always pointing out merchandise they think you might like. I realize that some of it is them trying to sell more stuff, but it’s still nice. Overall, I really liked the Indian shopping experience! I did spend an inordinate amount of time reminding myself that even if the clothes look gorgeous here, they would be out of place in the U.S. If I hadn’t stopped myself I would be coming home with an entire Indian wardrobe! The style here is just so comfortable and all of the colors are so beautiful and vibrant.
I’ve been meaning to talk about the weather here and keep not getting around to it, so here it is! It’s hot. And humid. I’ve been doing fairly well, but I’ve had to be sure to drink lots of water and take advantage of open windows and fans. Also the amount of sweating going on is absurd. India is in it’s rainy season right now so this is actually the coolest it will be all year! I’m so glad I’m here now. We’ve had rain the past two days which has been great. Not only does it cool everything down, but I’ve missed rainy days! Oregon hasn’t had rain in such a long time that it was very comforting to be avoiding puddles on the street and holding my bag over my head again. I know, I’m weird. Another plus to the rainy season is that it’s been cloudy so we’ve not had the sun beating down on us. All in all I’m feeling pretty good! But if this is cool, I don’t want to imagine hot.
It was wonderful spending a day with Sonal. She was so patient with my low-level comprehension of Indian systems and my indecisiveness when shopping. Plus she did Bollywood dance with me! I’m so grateful to have been blessed with such a fantastic host family. Also, she said that I can try on a sari and lehenga, two types of traditional clothing. I can’t wait!
Once again, I had an amazing day in India and couldn’t be happier. This trip has been everything I’ve hoped for and more. Thank you all for joining me on this adventure and being patient while I wasn’t able to post. I know my recent posts have been overly long and detailed, but there’s just so much to share! Hopefully you’re still enjoying them. There’s even more that I want to say, so I’m considering doing some extra posts on specific topics along with my daily updates. Does that sound good? Right now I’m at home in my bedroom with Gaurvi, who is still studying! Wow. Mom and Dad, please don’t expect that from me when I get home. I think I’ll leave that part of Indian culture here. Until next time, अलविदा!