Thanksgiving- It was a blast. Every roommate made at least one dish and it was a legitimate feast- veggies and tofu, fried rice, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken for the main course (no tukey to be found), and a Brazilian chocolate dish for dessert. I think India has been tapping into my inner chef because Abby and I embarked on making two fancy dishes- stuffing and pumpkin curry soup- both of which were hits! We invited out country director, Venkat, along with his family. They are absolutely adorable but very traditional in a few ways. His children were weirded out by our strange looking bland food and only ate some chocolate we gave them. I knew I did my job of passing on the traditions of Thanksgiving when Nurit, my Israeli roommate, immediately went to lie down on the couch after the meal.
Vizag- The seven of us took a weekend trip to Visakhapatanam (otherwise known as Vizag) for the weekend. It is the second biggest city in Andhra Pradesh and know for its’ beaches. After faring a 17 hour bus ride and coming off a little tired and a lot disheveled, we hopped right onto a crowded city bus (literally people hang out of the doors) out to Rushikonda beach. The beach is a little further away from the city center and known to be a little more secluded. After searching for some deals, Alex, Nurit, and I stayed in this little rustic hut a 5 minute walk to the beach.
Coastal Andhra is absolutely beautiful and the beach itself, while crowded, is nice. The water is a perfect temperature although we didn’t get much of an opportunity to swim seeing as we were a major attraction for the Indian tourists. Hoards of people, mostly young boys in tiny bathing suits, kept stopping us, asking to take photos with them.—we could barely make it to the other side of the beach before sundown. Then back to our hut for cold beers, dinner at a restaurant with a view, and off to bed to early to wake up for our city tour in the morning. We hired a private driver the next day to take us to all of the sites Vizag had to offer- a mountain with a view, a park with some strange statues, and my personal favorite, the fish market. Although none of these sights gathered nearly as much attention as a group of four white people walking around together. It is not uncommon for me to be stopped on the street and asked to take a photo with someone’s daughter, wife, or entire 6th grade class. Overall the trip was refreshing but lesson learned about traveling via bus: 17 hours sitting in one place is never fun.
|Hut sweet Hut|
|Fish until the eye can see (note: this is not the fish market)|
Hanukah Party- By Hanukkah party I really mean we threw a party, put gelt (the chocolate coins) on the table, and called it a Hanukkah party. We invited all of our friends (a total of about 5 people) plus some others we had met at a conference that day. Abby and I called upon our inner Jewish mothers and made potato latkes. I have never been more impressed with myself- they were dee-lish. Anyways, debauchery ensued and we all had a great time. Beyond the shattered dining room table and the fight that almost took place- the night was a great success!
Tollywood Film- I am now going to be a famous Tollywood star. Just kidding (well sort of). Tollywood is just like its neighbor Bollywood but in Telegu instead of Hindi. There is big movie making industry in Hyderabad and they are always looking for talent (ie white people) to star in their films. We met with an agent who picked us up in the morning and took us to the set of “Ayare,” a movie about a swami but the plot of which, I still have no idea. All I know is that on the set there were a whole bunch of people dressed in orange and a giant poster of the swami looking over us on a rock above. A few people were sent to costume to put on the orange saris and matching red bindis while some of us stayed dressed in our western wear. I ended up spending the majority of my day napping in a shaded area but after a few scenes as an extra and then chatting with the director, Abby and I were given our big break. We acted as the swami’s followers, and had to follow the actor down the center of a parting crowd (her in her sari and me in my jeans and t-shirt). There were a few takes and at one point the famous actor, Rajendra Prasad, was even asked to move over so we could be seen. We ended up joking with the actors and the director, taking photos with them that we claimed would be used as publicity, and even made some money while we were at it.
Well that’s it for me in terms of the most recent happenings worth sharing. I’ve got some lists brewing so stay tuned for more soon…I hope all is well at home and enjoy the cool weather for me!