Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Picnic!


Adam & I went with our friends Jonathan & Kelley to the park for a picnic the other day! It was fun :) We ate sandwitches, threw the frisbee around and Adam even got to throw his new football!! It was fun!

Adam has a new blog post up too.... http://www.SouthAsiaRolls.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 28, 2006

We've MOVED!!

Well, we've moved to the capital!! It was a pretty crazy last couple of days... We got a chance to say goodbye to everyone and to see all our friends before we left, but it was pretty sad...
One thing that was really funny though is that we had to go to the mall to eat the day before we left because we didn't have any food or anything to cook with... so we decided to go to McDonald's.... well, it wasn't really the best day or idea to go to the mall that day... it was the day after Eid... and for some reason... there were thousands of students (high school and middle school age) were at the mall... I mean, literally thousands of kids!!! Well, McDonalds was PACKED!! and there was only two seats available... they were at the bar looking out of the front of it facing the rest of the mall... I saved the seats while Adam ordered the food... well, I was surrounded by people (these people at the mall were from the other side of town and most have never seen a white person before)... they were poking at me, touching my hair... it was pretty funny... the other people on the other side of the glass were tapping on the glass - I felt like an animal at the zoo!!
ANyway, when we left, everyone followed us out of the mall some guys were bear-hugging onto Adam and wouldn't let go... it was hilarious!!! When we finally got on a rickshaw, I took a picture (above)... it was really funny!!

We got up bright and early on moving day so that we could say bye to the kids that we lived with. They were so cute in their school uniforms :)

We had our stuff all packed up and waited for the moving truck and guys :)

They came and really did all the work!! They were awesome!! It was the easiest move I've had in the last four years!! (and this was the 5th move in the last 4 years!!) (but it wasn't as fun as our Slidell-NewOrleans move - thanks Lance, Judie & Perry!!) We finally got to our new house and got everything moved in... I was exausted and fell alseep inside of the bed :) haha :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Boogers & Moving

Well, tomorrow we "Shift" to the capital (and for those of you that don't understand that, it means: we're moving tomorrow :) ... Ok, I guess it's pretty easy to figuure out... hahaha oh well :) If you tell someone here that you are moving, they get really confused, but if you tell them you are shifting, then they understand... ANYWAY...
I just thought I'd leave M-town by showing another booger-picking picture :) Somehow I always end up catching people picking their nose :) Enjoy :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Diwali

Diwali is celebrated different ways at different people's houses, but with the family we live with, the morning begins with making a Rangoli... it's a colorful design that is made with either colored sawdust, rice or rice powder.

The design was really neat looking this year:
At night, the family will light diyas all around the rangoli (little clay pots with oil and a wick inside). The photo below is of the family that we live with.


They love to take pictures :)

Shakshi below:

One of the things that the kids (and grown-ups) LOVE about Diwali is lighting firecrackers!! The firecrackers are CRAZY here! You just can't imagine!! There is no such thing as an "illegal firework" here! You know those big HUGE ones that you go to a park to see on the 4th of July in America? Well, everyone in our neighborhood had those... it was crazy!

The thing that really confused me about the fireworks was the packaging... all of the firecrackers in the picture below are illegeal in Florida... they are crazy ones... one of them is a box of these huge exploding bomb fireworks... they are not my favorite... but the thing I found amusing is that the picture on all of the covers of the fireworks boxes had small children on the front...
Here's a close-up of one of them... this is of those bomb things... hmmm... who's in charge of marketing for these companies?....

Adam has a new blog up: http://www.SouthAsiaRolls.blogspot.com

Friday, October 20, 2006

Choti Diwali

Sweets, Sweets and more Sweets!! That's the name of the day! Today we went out and bought sweets for our friends... (you can see the shop we bought from below)... So, we went out to our friends houses and delivered sweets, drank chai and ate sweets (that their other friends had given them)... it was fun, but I am soooo sick of those sweets!! Don't get me wrong, I like them, but I can only handle so many... they're not really sweet like American sweets... they're milk-based... so if you're lactose intollerant... this will be a bad day for you :) Sometimes, the sweets have nuts in them... and somtimes you get the shell of the nuts in your sweets (actually about every other one you eat has something hard and unidentifiable in it... at least in our city :)) So you have to eat carefully so as to keep from chipping your tooth :)

The sweets in the pic above have silver on them - I've heard (but have no idea if it's true) that it's real silver on them... hmmm... dunno!

Now, I have no idea whose idea this was, but along with this super busy holiday, it's also election time in our city... now, think of the presidental elections in America and multiply the craziness and volume... yeah it's that plus more ---- and it's just a city election!! So daily at least once every 30 minutes, we have bicycle rickshaws or other vehicles with LOUD speakers attached to them going by my house yelling someting about voting for someone... add that to the same vehicles with the same LOUD speakers driving by our house ever 30 minutes with advertisements for shops and stores that have great Diwali sales and offers... yes, it's quite crazy! And that is just in our neighborhood.... you should see the market!!!

In the pic below, you can see one of the market roads... The traffic is backed up because 1. It rained... and when you're in an area of the country that is not made for rain, you know that when it rains, it takes away about half the road with mud and holes.... and 2. all of the shops have extened themselves at least 10 feet from their doors for the holidays... so, the traffic is backed up... now, on the road ahead, you can see one of those political election cars I was talking about with the speakers... hahaha - keeps life interesting :) Tomorrow is Diwali... I'll keep ya posted :)

Fun Things and Holidays!

What do you do when you have a can of pineapple that you really want to get into ... but you don't have a can opener?? I wanted to make a smoothie with pineapple and since it's not in season I decided I would use the can of pineapple we had... the only problem is, we don't own a can opener... we have tried buying one... we haven't seen them in any stores and nobody we talk to has any idea what we're talking about... So we went down stairs and asked our neighbor if they had a can opener... they didn't - but she said to open the can, we should use this tool... and she gave us their toe-nail clippers (Yuck!) that had some sort of bottle-opener tool on it... So, we ripped into the can! And believe it or not, nobody got hurt in the process :)
Everybody is gearing up for the holidays... Today is Choti Diwali (Small Diwali)... We visit friends and bring sweets to everyone - It's pretty fun. I'll post some pictures from it tomorrow :)
This is a picture from the market... everyone has their shops all fixed up for Diwali and the streets are all decorated with lights and metalic stuff :)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Holiday Season!

Well, it's holiday season here, which means that there are a lot of sweets!! What's interesting is that pretty much all of the sweets are made from some kind of vegetable!! In the picture below, some guys are making a sweet that is special to this area of the country. It's a sweet made almost entirely of pumpkin!!!! It is this weird green/white pumpkin that's cooked in sugar... Adam LOVES it...

Adam and I were out doing some stuff the other day and a guy was making the every popular "toffees". He was really beating this toffee like crazy!

This guy below is making these cake donught-type things (that aren't as sweet) - it's cool to watch! We can get anything fixed here!! If something is broken, then take it to the guy that fixes that thing... for example... Adam's video camera bag's clip broke and it wouldn't clip anymore... soo... we went to the bag repair guy... They sell and repair bags on the side of the road! We had a duffel bag with a huge rip in it not too long ago, and took it to these guys. They fixed it for about 20 cents. So, they sewed a new clip on Adam's bag for about 50 cents. NICE!

As always, when the foreigners (Adam & I) go outside... we always have people watching us trying to figure out what we're doing :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Karva Chauth

We're still in holiday season!! Last night was Karva Chauth or women's holiday. It usually takes place about 9 days before Diwali (the BIG holiday). With this holiday, married Hindu women will fast, seeking the longevity, well-being and prosperity of their husbands. The term 'Chauth' means the 'fourth day' and 'Karwa' is an earthen pot with a spout - a symbol of peace and prosperity - that is a part of the rituals.

Every part of the country celebrates in a different way, but in our area of the country, it is celebrated this way: During the day (beginning before sunrise around 4 am), the married women will keep a strict fast. The woman won't even drink a drop of water until the day is over. Women like this holiday because it is the one day that they really get pampered by their husbands. Their husband will buy them new clothes, jewlery, makeup, and get henna put on their hands and sometimes feet. Before the woman gets dressed up in her new Saree, her husband will paint red dye on her feet. This shows that she is married (see below).

After this, the woman will begin to get ready. She will put on her new makeup, jewlery and saree. Then the puja time begins.

The family will gather around the idol shelf and tell the story of their gods: Shiva, Parvati and their son Kartikeya. They will then give offerings to all of the gods (who all have new clothes). They will give them pooris, sweets, water and rice.
Then they all will go up to the roof (once the moon has risen) to continue the puja. The woman will then continue the w'ship time by offering h0ly water to the moon and w'shipping the moon.

The woman ends the puja by looking through a strainer-type dish at her husband and the moon at the same time (as seen below).

The night is finished with the woman prying to the moon.

After all of that is finished and after water is offered to the moon, then the woman can drink water again and the fast is broken. At this point, the woman and her friends that are there, eat together.

Here is a picture of me and Mona:

Here is a pic of Adam and Mr. Kumar:

Here is a picture of the Kumar family (our landlords and the family that we live with).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Drive through M-town

In a couple of weeks, we'll be leaving M-town, the city that we've been living in for the last year. The other day, we jumped on a rickshaw and went through town. M-town is famous for making sports equipment... cricket bats, ping-pong tables, etc... and we've been thinking about getting a ping-pong table or a foosball table. So we took a rickshaw to one of the shops that makes them...
I had fun taking pics along the way :) After much deliberation, we decided to get a fooseball table (or Football table as they call it here)... We wanted a ping-pong table, but they are too big for our house :) Oh well :) The football table will be fun :) We'll get it in about a month, so I'll be sure to post a picture when we get it :)

We alway see lots of interesting things as we drive across town :) This guy (below) was so fun to watch! He was on a cart that was stacked REALLY high with these brown bags... it was a cart pulled by an ox and it was really wiggling all around - yet somehow, the man on top was able to sleep soundly!! hahaha I thought it was awesome!!

This guy below was walking down the busy street selling ruffled potato chips!! It was a HUGE pile! I don't know how he was going to sell those before they become stale (or maybe that's not really an issue... I don't know :))

This guy below was out fixing bicycle tires... I just thought he was cool :)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dusshera

The last 10 days it has been a holiday here. It's called Navratri. Many different things and celebrations happen during this time. Lots of sweets, loud music and parties going on everywhere!
Today was Dusshera. It occurs on the tenth day following the Navratri. It is a festival to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and marks the defeat and death of the demon king Ravana in the epic Ramayana. So, to celebrate this, they have a big festival and burn huge effigies of Ravana. It's pretty crazy!

We stopped by the park earlier today to get a picture of Ravana (the demon king) in the daylight. This one actually didn't look so scary:
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he has 10 heads... I'm going to have to read about that part of the story again - I can't exactly remember why he has 10 heads... Last year's Ravarna was a whole lot scarier looking than this year's (see below)...

They were setting up all day to sell weapons and masks for the kids to celebrate the holiday...

We got there and there were THOUSANDS of people there... this is amazing because there were many statues that were going to burn all over the city... there were at least 2 in our neighborhood alone! Anyway - we finally found a good viewing point, and found a seat on the fence (yeah, just as comfortable as it sounds)... Finally, at 9:40 pm... after telling the story of Ravarna and a crazy and dangerous fireworks display... they finly set fire to Ravarna!It was pretty crazy to watch! It was crazy how close people were getting to it too!!
Once it burned/crashed to the ground, everyone stormed it!!! (I definitely wasn't expecting people to run towards the fire... especially since there were fireworks in it still that were still going off!!!) Everyone was trying to get a piece of it too! Crazy! Only in South Asia...

New Place

Well, Adam & I have a new place :) We move to the capital at the end of October... It will definitely be a HUGE change... I have a feeling I am going to experience some "reverse culture shock"... Oh well... We will finish this holiday season here in our city before moving... it will be a great way to end things here and transition to the capital :) Here's our new place :) We're the 1st floor (in America we would say the 2nd floor) :) It's the first balcony from the bottom :) That's us... right in the middle :) It's great to be in the middle because the top floor is reallllly hot (like our place now) and the bottom floor has more bug/rodent problems :) So it's fun :)
There's a lot of holidays coming up :) Be ready for some pics ;)