Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Dasara!

One thing I love about India is that they have tons of holidays, and they go ALL OUT, for all the holidays. As soon as it is the week of the holiday, all these little temples pop up all over the place. And my personal favorite thing, they blast pop music from the temples.

Monday was the main day of the festival/holiday, Dasara, which is to worship Durga, the goddess of war. People used to worship their weapons/arms on this day, but now they worship any mechanical tools/any mechanical thing they rely on. On Monday morning, everyone on the street was worshipping their motor scooters, decorating them with paint and flowers and etc. We get a King Kong Temple in our neighborhood! Our Telugu teacher told us it is a gorilla because it protects the goddess from evil looks and the eyes of human beings. Our King Kong is also holding a blonde Barbie. Coolest temple I’ve ever seen:

A “wishing cow” also goes around the neighborhood, and people pay a tip to the man (who also plays music) who brings the cow around and wish on the cow.

Ps, the man on the scooter is one of my very favorite people in all of India - Veeraju (he's the one who took me bike shopping).

After lunch, a few of us (Kristin, Courtney, Michelle, Madeliene, and I) wanted to go to our new favorite place in Vizag, called Jack Frost. It is an ice cream place, or as they advertise, “Happiness Served Chilled.” So, we hopped on a bus, not knowing exactly which stop to get off. There was also this bookstore we wanted to find/go to, so on our way, we asked the bus attendant where it was. We had a slight misunderstanding though, and she had the bus driver take us to the part of town where the bookstore supposedly was. So, we missed all the possible Jack Frost stops, and got off the bus at this random place and tried to find this shop. First of all, we saw a dead person. I know that’s kind of morbid, but really, there was a man lying on the sidewalk. At first we thought he was sleeping, but then we realized he was dead. And no one was even doing anything about it. I don’t know the language or any numbers to call/I didn’t have a phone, so no judgments on me, please, for not doing anything.

Anyway, in the midst of looking for this bookstore, we got caught in pouring rain. Pouring. And as we were waiting under a tree at a bus stop, we saw another dead man. Seriously, this guy was just lying on the bus stop bench, with people sitting on either side of him. Slightly disturbing.

Documentation of our wetness:

I know this picture is sort of dorky, but I thought it was funny, because they were mocking me for having my camera out, for some reason.

Kristin was extra wet:

(Ps, yesterday during Telugu, I asked my teacher about it, just because I was curious if she had any cultural insights to share, or if it was anything in relation to the holiday or whatever. This was how my awkward conversation went with her after telling her what I saw:

Teacher: What? (look on her face like she doesn’t know what I am getting at)
Me: Well, I just wanted your cultural insight…
Teacher: They were inside?!
Me: (Trying not to laugh) No, I want your insight. I am wondering what this was all about.
Random girl in class: They were dead!
Teacher: Died?! (We always accidentally confuse her. Poor woman.)

Back to my story: we abandoned bookstore plans and got in an auto. We were soaked, and I was actually cold. (First time I’ve been cold in India.) We also abandoned Jack Frost because we were too cold for ice, and ended up at this precious place we’ve never been to called, “Pastry, Coffee, ‘n’ Conversation.” Total dream come true! Cutest little cafĂ© I’ve ever seen with retro Hollywood movie posters covering the wall, chic design, nicest owners ever, free drinks, and divine desserts. For real, they had brownies, chocolates, hot cocoa, chocolate mousse, chocolate coffee cream cake, etc, etc. We each ordered a dessert and would take one bite, and pass it along to the next person. Over and over, until we had eaten all of them. The cafe was so cute, and I was self-conscious going in sopping wet, wearing the same frumpy clothes I wear every single day, mingling with cute Indian hipsters. Anyway, it was delightful.

We ended up walking most of the way home, because we were waiting for a bus, but a bus never came and we didn’t want to have to argue and bargain and get ripped off by an auto driver. As we were walking, these two boys sharing a scooter (turtlers!) kept following us and driving by us. Eventually we came upon a group of auto drivers and this one guy really wanted to give us a ride. We were fairly close to home, but sick of walking in wet clothes and he was so willing to drive us home for a cheap price. So we went with him. He wanted Kristin to sit in the front seat, and he seriously let her drive the auto! Well, she at least got to steer and shift gears. It was pretty exciting. And this other random man (I think he was auto driver man’s friend), hopped in the back seat with us. As soon as he got in, he put his hand on my knee/thigh, and I totally shoved his hand off, even though I think he was mostly just trying to steady himself. When we got home, Kristin wanted a photo with the driver, (whom she told us was totally drunk – being driven in an auto by a drunk man – not a scary thing at all) which eventually turned into a huge group photo, because that's just how its done in India. But as we were taking the picture, random backseat man was giving me a tight side squeeze, with cold milk packets he was holding rubbing against my arm. That doesn’t sound funny, I know, but it was because a.) I had already shoved his hand off my leg, and b.) Indian men don’t get touchy like that (squeezing, hugging, etc) with girls, as a general rule. Unless they are being pervy. Oh, and those scooter boys totally followed us home (to the program house), but we had Dan chase them away, so all is well.

Auto driving man is in middle; also notice the cold milk packets rubbing my arm.

Later that night, we went out to dinner. Nothing too significant about that, except that we, (the girls in my house), actually wore cute clothes and put make-up on. I wore my new Hyderabad dress, which I told myself I wouldn’t wear until I got home, but have already worn it twice in the week I’ve owned it. This is documentation of us NOT looking like we’re camping:

And this was to document my new shoes, but I mostly just like Kristin's face:

Also, love group excursions here – always lots of awkward tension because people always have differing opinions and most of the people have really strong, dominant personalities. And some people intentionally like to “stir the pot,” if you know what I am saying. After dinner we went to Jack Frost (yep, I had 2 huge desserts – keep judging), and as we were walking home, a group of 3 boys on 1 scooter (triple turtling!) drove by and smacked Madeliene’s butt – hard. It was LOUD. About 10 minutes later, the same group drove by, and one of the boys yelled, “I am the dirty boy! Sorry!” And they drove off into the night. At least he has a little bit of a soul.

So, yes, it was definitely a Happy Dasara!

1 comment:

  1. just love reading about all that's happening. makes me miss you madly. but way to document everything; it's awesome. lotsa loves!