A University in Kakinada invited us to visit their university and spend some time in Kakinada with them. They were extremely generous to us. For example, they provided air-conditioned cars to drive us from Visak to Kakinada, which takes about 3 hours. They put us up in the campus guest-house, which was also air-conditioned.
Our first day there, we went to a little town called Yaman, which is a French colony, but nothing about it is really French anymore, minus the humble Catholic church we visited. It is about an hour from Kakinada. The drive there was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen in my life. We drove through the countryside part of India, with expanses of rice paddy fields and tons of palm trees. Definitely the most clean and pristine part of India I have seen thus far. When we reached Yaman, we walked along the Godavri river shore, watching fishermen pulling their boats in at dusk and went on a little boat ride along the river. It was a fun, touristy thing to do.
(This is my "companion," Kristin and I. More on that later.)
(I always drink soda here...Not my fave. This is my friend, Dan.)
The next day, we were herded around to several classrooms to meet the students there. The students freaked out whenever they saw us. When Professor Nuckolls would say one word in Telugu, the students broke out in uproarious applause. We counted to ten in Telugu with them (can you say, I felt like I was in first grade??), and sang the one Telugu song we know called “Chanda Mama.” Also embarrassing. That evening, they had this big celebration/lecture thing in order to celebrate “Internationalization Day.” Luckily, each one of us were invited mere hours before the lecture to give a one-minute speech in front of the university staff, hundreds of students, and even 2 professors from Texas A&M and MIT. Our topic was the importance of the internationalization of education. Good thing I don’t even know what internationalization is. It sounds like globalization to me, but Chuckles gave his talk on the difference between internationalization and globalization. Anyway… I gave a tiny talk on how my father has always taught me the importance of communicating and associating with other cultures and implementing the things I learn from those cultures into my own life. (Shout out to the Faj Mahal.) Veeeeery impressive, I know. Afterwards, we sang that Telugu song for everyone and maybe we were forced by certain students to do the macarena, as well as other “American” dances, in front of the everybody, as well. Embarrassing. I felt like the world’s biggest idiot. Sorry for the poor representation, America. At least everybody really liked it. Then some Indian girl joined us on the stage and was totally breaking it down and dancing so well, which made us look even better. Then some students did a skit that involved pelvic thrusting. Just saying. It was a good experience though, and like I said, everyone was so kind and so generous to us.
On the third day, we went to a temple called, Anavarum, which is one of the most important temples in this region of India. It was really cool. We went through the same routine we always do at temples here. You walk through part of the temple to the deity, and one of the priests there brings fire to you. You fan the flames into your face three times, then you put a red bindi on your forehead. Then the priest cups your head with this huge, heavy, ornate metal cup. At this temple, they gave you a fresh flower after that. I thought it was so delightful that they hand out flowers. Normally at temples, they put some water in your hand, and you touch some to your mouth and then rub the rest over your head. Anyway, we go to lots of temples here and it’s always a cool experience.
On our way driving to this temple, we were driving in between the ocean and rice paddies. It was divinely beautiful. We stopped because our professor wanted to show us a little temple on the side of the road. India has temples everywhere. This one was cool because it was really rural and not fancy at all. (Usually they are really colorful and fancy.)
(This is a picture of the roadside temple.)
Also, my new favorite Indian food: “dosa”, which I ate twice on this trip. it is often eaten for breakfast. It’s like a fried pancake thing, and it’s stuffed with a potato curry, and you eat is with cocoanut chutney, which is one of the most delicious thing in the world.
I also tried this certain kind of cocoanut milk, which is drunk straight from these green cocoanuts they sell on the side of the road. It is surprisingly the nastiest things I’ve tried thus far. Actually the only nasty thing I've tried thus far.
Another delicious thing here is called “barfee.” I know it sounds like vomit, but it is really this smooth, rich slab of cashew paste, coated with real silver. I don’t know how else to describe it, but it is divine..
Also, speaking of food, we drove home from Kakinada in the same car as Prof. Nuckolls. A professor in Kakinada gave us a bunch of sweets to take back with us. You better believe that as soon as Nuckolls left the car, we opened those sweets right up. And then ate more of them when he offered them to us a couple hours later.
It was nice to return to Visak, because it’s finally starting to feel like home, which is a good feeling.
Also, I finally bought saree material. One of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. There are billions of fabric choices, and our translators criticize me for liking fashions “the elderly wear.” (The younger girls wear such bedazzling things.) The translators are great, but they give me serious anxiety sometimes, because they tend to hover. I almost choose a royal blue saree, but couldn’t quite bring myself to buy it, because it looks almost identical to the one my 60-year-old Telugu teacher wears. I still need to get it made into a saree, and I cannot even wait. All the women here were traditional Indian dress, which is either this pant and shirt outfit, or a saree. All the men here wear Western style clothing.