Adjusting to Mumbai Life

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August 21st 2012
Published: August 21st 2012
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Happy (belated) Independence Day everyone! (Indian Independence Day) You probably would have thought that I would be out enjoying some parade or some activities to celebrate, but actually the government has put out a high warning alert for the country! Pretty sad that this day is marked by potential danger, but what to do. Anyways, it feels like a lifetime since I've written on this blog, so if you're reading here, prepare yourself for a lllooooonnnngggg one. I actually don't have internet right now (seems to be a regular occurrence), so this might be posted a little later (ok so it's almost a week later). I'm currently sitting in my living room, watching Indian MTV, which I've discovered is quite entertaining! I have barely watched any live tv since being here, but I think I like this more than just watching my shows on the internet (which I do too much of by the way… ugh, need to stop)!

Anyways, I think the last time I wrote (I'm just guessing here, because I can't check since I don't have internet) I talked about our trip to Khandala where I met a lot of great people from the Social Service League. Just as a recap it was a 'team building workshop' at the St. Xavier's villa in Khandala, where I met a lot of my friends and got to take a little break from the city. It was in a beautiful hill station that was cool and green, a great getaway and beautiful during the monsoon season if you ever get a chance to go! I've been keeping track of events and thoughts on my 'notes' app on my phone as much as possible, so I remember to talk about them here, so hopefully that will help. The first note I wrote since my last blog post was something like this: It's really easy to ignore the poverty here. That's what everyone else does. How are you supposed to live your life and enjoy it when faced with such problems everyday? People have minimal acknowledgement of these large issues that face their society because it's so draining for regular people to care so much everyday (of course there are amazing people around, such as the great students I've met in the SSL who dedicate their time and energy to making a difference, but I'm just talking about the general population.) Also you have to keep in mind that most of the population is affected by these large scale issues, with little resources to do anything about it, so they may be too distracted to take action (I think I read somewhere that around 55% of the population in Mumbai lives in the slums…) We are not faced with as many issues in the western world (but I wonder if we were, would we react the same?) If we could open people's eyes here and create a realization or implement the viewpoint of the rest of the world here, I wonder if that would make a difference. So that got really serious really fast, but it was just on my mind…

Anyways, to lighten the mood, there was a naked french man dancing around my living room last weekend. Hahaha I guess I'll have to explain that one. I decided to have people over on the fourth, and some of the french exchange students at my school came as well. We were playing beer pong when suddenly I hear a bunch of french guys singing and Guillaume, who was our opponent, starting stripping! He even did a dance, and that was
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Boy hanging out the side of the ladies first class compartment, a usual sight.
probably one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. Everyone except me and the other french guys just happened to find something really interesting the kitchen and ran away there, maybe I should have too but… nahhhh! Anyways that song they were singing apparently is sung a lot in french universities, and whichever guy the song is sung to, they have to strip! Just one more reason for me to love the French haha. I've been out (or stayed in) with friends quite a bit since the last time I wrote, for example, we've been to Ladies Night at Lagerbay a couple of times, which serves free drinks for ladies from 8-11 on Tuesdays. These nights obviously have been pretty awesome, even just to hang with the girls (though the boys will often crash). There's also been hilarious karaoke nights, but I think it just comes down to the company you're with, so cheers to all my Indian friends!

I've also had some daytime adventures, including a trip to the Elephanta Caves on Elephanta island, which is about a 1hour ferry ride away from the Gateway of India. I went with my friend Arnaud, a french exchange student in one of my classes. Even as the trip started out, we were facing obstacles haha. I had a few train mishaps (which never happens to me just going to college!), where there were SO many people that I couldn't even get on the train! Then apparently I took a weird train and had to take another one, which I couldn't get onto the first time either (on the ladies first class compartment too, which normally is pretty empty compared to the other compartments.) Then we got on the ferry and it seemed to be a nice day, but weather is really unpredictable here so of course it started raining. No problem, we moved below deck. We got to the island, hired a nice tour man named Nitin and saw the lovely caves. I was a little skeptical about getting a tour guide at first, because I've read reviews saying that you don't need one, but I'm glad we had one to explain the different meanings of different sculptures, poses, etc. Since I'm taking a couple of courses in ancient indian culture, it was easier to relate to and quite interesting. There were also really cute monkeys, and our tour guide showed us his home on the island, which was quite a nice experience. I'm pretty sure he ripped us off a little but I think that's to be expected. So we left thinking we'd had a nice experience, but that was hardly the end. On the ferry back, it started POURING. It was raining harder than I'd ever seen it rain since getting here, of course it happened the one time we happened to be on a boat! We were soaked all the way through, the boat was bouncing up and down like a amusement park ride, people were puking all over the place, and then finally they couldn't drop us off at the same place we left, so we got off at some random dock in the middle of nowhere. We couldn't find any taxi's so we ended up trekking to the closest train station in the rain, hoping we were going in the right direction. By the time I got home all I wanted to do was sleeeep, it was exhausting. Of course when I told my nana this story he told me that I was making very bad choices and I should stay in my apartment at all times, but no regrets!

On a less fun note, we had mid-term exams a few weeks ago, which was just brutal. They were 50 minutes each where we had to write as much as possible, and in the cases of my ancient indian culture exams, I really had no idea what was going on. We still haven't received our marks, but unfortunately I don't have really high hopes, I guess we'll just see. I really, really do not like the education here. I don't know if it's the atmosphere, but even the academics seem simpler and uninteresting, though the professors seem quite involved in the learning process. Everything about it is just so high school.

Anyways, as for other random experiences, I listened to the song 'Chaiyya Chaiyya' on the train (bollywood song from the 90's) which I thought was pretty cool, I had to refrain from breaking out in dance ahaha. Have I mentioned that in some compartments men will sit and sing songs or do pujas? Kind of cool but pretty annoying if you're sitting in the next compartment for half an hour (my train time to college.)

Okay, I'm going to end this post here, and continue on in the next post. I still have lots to write so hopefully it will be soon! Cheers everyone.


21st August 2012

Just decided to check out your blog, i've been too busy lately! Of course nana would say that, and don't go near the water! (Hopefully you didn't tell him about the naked french guy) Haha this is awesome, sounds like you're having a lot of fun, and hopefully we can skype soon, i'm missing your dumb comments and singing around the house, surprisingly. P.s. New job starts tomorrow!

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