Thursday, May 27, 2010


"India is in some ways like a fun hall of mirrors where I can see both sides of each contradiction sharply and there's no easy escape to understanding.

What's more, India's extremes are endlessly confronting."

- Sarah MacDonald, "Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure"

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- Today we arrived in Mahabalipuram for the "beach holiday" portion of our trip. We are in a lovely resort on the water and enjoying some relaxation before jetting off to Kolkata tomorrow.
- It is so humid here. I've been out of the pool for over an hour and I'm still wet. ...probably some of it is sweat now. Lovely.
- Beaches here include lots of dead sealife, fishing boats and cows. The fishermen find it very amusing when I take pictures of those things.
- 21 is still not legal to drink in India. But also no one ever checks IDs.
- Someone set this computer to be in Polish (I think) and it is confusing me.
- I just finished reading "Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure" by Sarah Macdonald. It was lovely. Most of the pages fell out because it was a bootleg copy that I paid $.50 for in Mumbai.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

48° celsius

- We are in Chennai and it is definitely the hottest it's been so far. Also humid. I drank 5 liters of water yesterday. Luckily they cost $.30 each.
- Right now it is 4:30 pm on my 21st birthday. So far I have been to the zoo and the "snake park." ....I am a 7 year old boy.
- I have the greatest farmer's tan.
- I have shaved my legs once in the past two weeks. Gross.
- I think I found the cheapest phone in the world - I just called home for 40 minutes and it cost $2.
- I haven't mentioned this but long distance phones in India are called STDs. Also there are a lot of them so every 10 meters or so you see a large sign that says "STD" on the street. Since I'm really mature I always giggle.
- When I went back to look at my hostel reservation for Paris it had me down for June 6, July 6, August 6 and September 6....instead of June 7-11. Hmm.
- I have the weirdest dreams here. Last night I dreamt that I killed Hitler. And my guy friends from Orange City helped me bury him in the middle of the night.
- I left my ipod in my bag in Delhi and every single day I kick myself for that.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Indian pharmacies

- Yesterday I was pretty sick. I told Chacha my symptoms and he told me to take antibiotics. Unfortunately, I forgot to fill my prescription at home, so he took me down the street to a pharmacy where they gave me a 5-day antibiotic and anti-diarrhea meds for 60rs. No prescription. Awesome.
- Today we went to a temple on a mountain and took a "holy bath" in a miraculous spring from the Ganges. Basically, there is a natural spring on the mountain and a guy filled a bucket from it and dumped it on our heads. It was refreshing and kind of fun.
- There is a small, old temple in Madurai. During the day, a bunch of tailors work in it. I've had 3 pairs of pants and an apron made. I also bought a few cool bags. It's making me wish I had my own tailor.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Today we are in Madurai. There was an optional hike this morning but I needed a break - physically and emotionally.
- Mango tictacs are the best. Don't worry, they are 10rs. so I'm going to bring home so many.
- In India, lines don't mean anything.
- The punjabis we bought are really cheap and really small, so I am getting pretty good at mending stuff. I had to let out the sleeves and the sides of one of them.
- Yesterday while we were driving to Madurai we stopped at a Murugan temple. Murugan's vahana (animal helper/ride) is a peacock. There were peacocks everywhere around the temple, many with their tails up. Of course it was the first time I didn't have my camera.
- Monkeys in India are not cute. At that temple one attacked Sarah and stole her water bottle.
- Once you have gone to a public bathroom in India can do anything.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

10rs. an hour

Today we are in Trichy (Tirucchirappali but no one says that). We found an internet place by the hotel that is 10rs ($.25). for one hour. At least nine of us are in here, spread out through the different rooms. A couple minutes ago Dirksen yelled "We're on knowhope!" (it's our Times of India article) and everyone scrambled to check it. Here are some more random thoughts:
- If you ever want to know what it's like to have paparazzi, come to India. Today we were just sitting on this rock resting and I think fifty pictures were taken.
- If you ever make it to Bangalore, India, do not take an autorickshaw. All of the drivers are nuts.
- In Tamil (the language of the state we are in now), 'goodbye' is 'tata.' So apparently Tigger can speak Tamil.
- Today at the restaurant they put butter and cheese powder on our rice and it tasted like spicy macaroni. Yum.
- This 9 hour time difference is annoying.
- My mom sends the best, most random letters. Today's included pictures of a sculpture she saw in Des Moines recently.
- My little sister is running at the state track meet today and graduating on Sunday!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Times of India!

They printed our story really fast! Haha the guys in our hotel were so excited to show us this morning!

Also only two of us are staying after to volunteer...they made us look like such philanthropists!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Today marks one week that I have been in India. It feels like months. We have already been in four cities (Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Bangladore) and so much has happened! Here are some highlights. Random order as they occur to me.

- American summer clothes are slutty, hot, and uncomfortable. I love punjabis and saris!
- I keep picking the craziest clothes - they all have at least three patterns. Love it.
- Saris are impossible to tie and we are so bad at it. Luckily the Indian women are gung-ho about fixing us. Yesterday when we were flying to Bangalore the lady at security wouldn't let me go through until she unwrapped and re-wrapped me.
- Modesty here is different. The saris show your stomach, which I absolutely hate. But if your sari slips and shows the front part of your sari blouse that is way slutty. Or if your petticoat shows on the bottom.
- In India you can buy a candy bar called Maria.
- We rode elephants in Jaipur. Definitely the most touristy thing we've done but so fun. A boy took our picture and printed it out. I waited until right before we left and then bought it for 10rs. (about a quarter)
- Jaipur is in the desert state of Rajasthan and it's so much like Arizona! I loved the dry heat and I recognized a bunch of plants.
- My peacock obsession is being nurtured nicely. One of my saris has peacocks. Also I saw one fly for the first time!
- Someone asked us to be in a Bollywood movie in Mumbai. We had to say no because the timing didn't work...shoot. We did get in the newspaper though. Apparently Americans wearing saris is big news.
- Corn on the cob with spices on the street in India is the best.
- Coffee in India is so bad. Think one tablespoon of instant coffee in a mug of hot cream. With more sugar than coffee powder.
- Today Kallie and I bought designer saris. Like while the shop people were pulling them out they were telling us the names of the famous designers who made them. Also it only cost $12. $16 with the matching sari blouse that the tailor is making for me overnight.
- The food is absolutely fantastic and I'm going to be so sad when I'm back to cooking for myself. Also every restaurant has delicious vegetarian food. I'll miss that too.