Sunday, October 25, 2009

Flapjack Friday & Seaside Saturday

My dear friend, Meghan McGrath, does this thing called Flapjack Friday. She makes divine pancakes, wears lumberjack-esque flannel, and listens to folk songs from Appalachia. Luckily for us, she extended the tradition to India. She made 2 kinds: oatmeal-almond-rose pancakes and orange with dark chocolate shavings. So good.

{Meghan aka Domestic Goddess}

And, we finally went to the beach - to swim. I'm embarrassed that I live on the coast and haven't gone sooner. But, in my defense, all the beaches close to us are crowded and dirty, and anytime we ask people about beaches we could swim at, people just tell us not to swim and that all the beaches are "very inhospitable."

Saturday morning, Kristin, our new and awesome translator, Anita, (who constantly tells me I am "voluptuous and funny"), and I went on a 3-to-a-person scooter ride (total turtle style) along the coast. After that, Kristin and I were determined to go to the beach. We went home, ate lunch, and then took an auto out far enough to a beach where there were hardly any people and no trash! We spent the most delightful afternoon swimming, reading, and looking for seashells. It was so divine, minus my 2 wardrobe malfunctions (super panicky! I would love to ask me later - I don't want to record the stories on my blog...) and the rocky ocean floor. Next time, I'll just wear my chacos, nbd. {Ps: rocky ocean floor + wardrobe malfunctions = extra funny.}

{I like these pictures because we are all bright white and we look naked.}

{Walking back on Beach Road.}

*All photos courtesy of Meghan McGrath's camera.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

News Casters and Hoverers

A few humorous things have happened lately.

1. So, yesterday evening Kristin and I ran into our Telugu teacher, Mallayavasini, and she informed us that the next morning at Telugu, there would be a news crew there to film and interview us during our Telugu class. She assured us it was for an English channel, and that we wouldn’t have to speak in Telugu or sing. (Because we always have to sing for people here.) Nope, none of that was true. She definitely threw us to the lions, as Meghan said.

Here’s what transpired:

- News crew wanted us to sing a song for them. Mallayavasini wanted us to sing this song that we don’t have memorized – aka whenever we sing this particular song in class, she sings a line and then we repeat after her. So after bumbling awkwardness, we asked if we could sing this other song (oh, just Telugu devotional sung poetry) we knew better. So we sing this one song we all know well. Then the news crew wanted us to each sing a line or two by ourselves! So embarrassing. Seriously, few things make me as uncomfortable as when I have to sing in front of other people. Oh, and remember how I barely even know Telugu? And maybe I just ended up giggling uncontrollably and nervously every time I opened my mouth to sing, so I totally got off the hook for my “shyness.” But still one of my most embarrassing moments, for sure. Oh, and then when I was unable to sing, they told me to conjugate a verb and I was like, “No! I’ll sing; I’ll sing!” Which was a pointless plea, because we all had to conjugate a verb in a million different forms anyway. Stressful.
- The news crew asked to see Meghan’s Telugu notebook, and she frantically tried to find a page that didn’t have little pictures drawn or English notes all over it. {Like that one time Mallayavasini was checking my homework, and she accidentally flipped to the page where I had taken the whole page to write, “I AM SO ITCHY*!!!” *from mosquito bites. Yep, that’s what I concentrate on during Telugu – just kidding, guys/Father.} Then the newscaster made Meghan read a page out of her notebook.
- Had to write our names and a word or sentence on the board.
- Had to go around the room and tell them what we ate for breakfast.
- Interviewed Suzanne in Telugu. Maybe she accidentally slipped into French, and then just switched to English.
- The news crew asked Madeleine what she is studying, so she tells them, “My project is art and the evolution of Andhra art.” Then Mallayavasini calls out, “Telugu, chapundi!” (Which means tell me in Telugu!) So Madeleine says, “Na {“na” means “my” Telugu} project … is art… and the evolution of Andhra art.” Thank you, Madeleine, for changing one word into Telugu. So rich.
- All in all, the news casters were so aggressive and it was embarrassing.

2. Yesterday some friends and I went shopping at this one store downtown to get presents for friends. The salespeople there are so over-bearing and huge hoverers (and anyone who knows me knows how anxious hoverers make me – they are almost as bad as back-huggers). So this one girl who works there is probably 17 years old or so, and she always remembers my name which makes me feel kind of bad because I feel like its harder to get her off me. Well, she kept following Courtney and I around and it was so irritating because she kept trying to show us things while we were looking at stuff. As we were looking through pillowcases, she kept trying to point out different pillowcases or just stick her arm in and “show” us the ones we were already looking at. We kept saying “uh-huh” and “it’s okay; we can do it ourselves” and Courtney even tried to kind of block her out of the way. Then when we got her off us, she just stood by saying the pillowcase colors as we rifled through them, “blue ….red….green.” I started laughing and could not stop because it was so ridiculous and I was so irritated. The kicker though was that she kept calling Courtney “cute baby.” And Courtney even told her that her name was Courtney, and she just said, “No, cute baby is better.” And then when Courtney and Madeleine were looking at scarves, the sales women kept telling them that the scarves were, ”tasty” and that they had made a “tasty selection.”

3. One last little funny story: the other day, I was getting ready to leave my house and right as I was going to leave, the door started to open and I assumed it was Kristin getting home, and so I waited right by the door like a 4-year-old and yelled, “Raa!” when she walked in. Except, nope, it wasn’t Kristin, it was our little old cleaning lady – gave her a heart attack. Thankfully she was laughing, but she also kept clutching her heart and tsk-ing me. And she speaks zero English so she probably hates me now. I felt like such an idiot.

It has become increasingly apparent to me that I abnormally laugh/giggle about everything. Anytime I get nervous, frustrated, irritated, embarrassed, etc, all I can do is giggle uncontrollably. It’s so 11-years-old and immature. I do not know what my problem is.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I went to this rad festival/parade a while ago, and still haven't blogged about it.

We went Vizianagaram for the fisherman's festival. Here are the important parts:

- Everyone gathers to watch the parade. Everyone = 400,000 people in a 10-block radius. So crowded. As in scary crowded.
- The parade doesn't last that long, and the same few things go by 3 times.
- The highlight: a temple priest comes by, attached to a 60-or-so-foot pole, held up in the air by the weight of the men holding him up. Then EVERYONE throws BANANAS at him. (They throw bananas, because they are a substitute for fish, and bananas are cheaper than fish.)

So funny and I would be so terrified to be that guy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

So Much Hot

So, I was in Rajahmundry for a few days. It’s a city that’s about a 4 hour train ride from Vizag. How’s that for a geography lesson? I really liked Rajahmundry – I think it is a really good representation of how I pictured India to be – really crowded, spice and pigments sold on the streets, lots of cows in the street, smelled divine like spices and flowers, etc.

This is what I did:

a. We went to a sweet shop that sold sweets as big as my head called "kaja." And got to see how they make the sweets. The process included men rolling out dough with their flour-dusted legs (and probably sweat) in extremely close proximity to the dough.

b. Went to the Artos (a soda company) factory. The original Artos tastes like a mix of bubble gum and cream soda. Krishnayya is from Rajahmundry and he loved showing us his “local hangouts.” At one point a glass bottle exploded, and the worker calmly said, "No problem," which is what Indians say to anything problematic or worrisome.

c. Ate at sketchy restaurants. They were all really dark, and we went to this one roadside restaurant – they took us upstairs to a completely concrete and dark room, with one big table and laundry hanging up all over the room. Also ate delish street food. I had to take this picture, because the man making our food took a break to hike his shirt up:

d. Drove like 2 hours (totally beautiful drive past rice paddies, but hot and squishy in the car) to the Bay of Bengal (which we live on anyway). Arrived there when it was dark, piled out of the car and couldn’t see any water. We started walking across the sand towards where we thought the ocean was, but Krishnayya got a little nervous and started yelling, “Don’t walk over there! There are foxes and snakes!!” Then we piled back in the car, drove 3 more minutes and made it to the ocean. Pitch black. So, basically, pointless. But, the drive was worth it.

e. Saw stone sculptures being made.

f. Precious children playing in the gutter. After taking their picture, they crowded around us and started following us. I think Daniel might have been a little chapped, since prior to this, a beggar practically chased us, clutched on his leg, and didn’t let go for like 5 minutes.

g. Went to some random doctor’s house. Krishnayya encouraged us to ask questions, and so Courtney asked, “What does the medicine look like?” Krishnayya responded, “Ohhh, that is a very bad question. You cannot ask that.”

h. Krishnayya telling us about some random author – “I hate him from my guts!”

i. Celebrated Lova’s 16th Birthday!

j. Went to temples, per usual.

k. Saw this dreamboat, who reminded me of my cousins Kayla and Kjirsten, for some reason:

ps, i might post more photos to this blog, because they are loading so slow right now. On second thought, I probably won't, because I will probably never feel like it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Godavari Part II

As promised - more on my LONG boat trip.

Lova (one of our precious cooks) came with us! She torments John to no end and it kills me!

Do you see her yanking his hair? Do you see baby John clutching onto Veerraju (who is one of my favorite people in India, by the way.):

And sometimes Lova pretends to be Yogi and I try to make her laugh. She was pretty good though.

We made 3 10 to 15 minute stops in the 15 hours we were on the boat. At each stop was a temple. And don't worry, we all took naps on this stained red mat on top of corrugated steel. Oh, and after eating breakfast and lunch on the boat, Veerraju informed me that he had inspected the kitchen, and asked what water they were using. They said, "Oh, our water has been through a sophisticated filter." After further inspection, they told Veerraju that the water from the Godavari River (aka the river that doubles as a bathroom) flows to the engine, cools the engine, which makes the water boil, and then is put into our food. I might die while I'm here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Augustus Gloop

I went on a all day (5:30 am to 8:30 pm) boat ride along the Godavari River. It was really long. But also really beautiful. I spent a little bit of time sleeping on the corrugated steel flooring (super comfortable), a lot of time looking at beautiful scenery, and most of my time enjoying the company (from a distance) of the Indian version of Augustus Gloop! He was a boy who was about 12 or 13 years old, I'd say, and he was wearing a cream-colored, iridescent paisley design, three-piece suit, with subtle sparkles on the lapels. But if that wasn't enough - he was wearing the vest as his shirt, and it was slightly too small for him. So, his cute, chunst little belly was hanging out between the gaping buttons. Seriously guys, I started giggling every time I looked at him! Thank you zoom lens!

Oh, just sucking/gnawing on the bar. Like I said, it was a long ride - he had to do something for his boredom.

So I may have become a little bit obsessed, but it was a really long ride.

I'll post more soon on the actual scenery of the boat ride, but I promise it's not as good as Augustus.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Aren't these sweets beautiful?

And isn't Meghan adorable when she's holding Indian sweets in the dark?

And sometimes Pizza Hut is delicious.