Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

I finally figured out how to post pictures again. Hope you enjoy!

Looking up Alandi Road towards Sangam.

Proof that not only 1 donkey exists, but 2!

My room.

The monsoon outside my window.

Nice weather outside my room.

Sunset at Sangam.

Me in front of the Sangam stone.

And for all of you "The Office" fans, the Dwight Bobblehead at Sangam.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It has to be official!

And it is, the monsoon has started. It got a weak start early in the week but is in full force now. It storms every afternoon, and it is actually storming right now. We have been without power on and off for the last few days. Luckily, we have a generator here so we have power even if the neighborhood doesn't. And even better for me, the computers and the internet are run on a uninterrupted power supply which means they never lose power. It's great. The girls and I went out to dinner tonight and a huge storm came up. It started to lightening and then all of a sudden, it started to downpour. When it storms, the power also goes out. Julie and I decided that we should start carrying our flashlights with us when we go out at night. It may sound weird but they are going to come in very handy. Then we were going to wait for the rain to stop so we could leave the restaurant but decided that we would be there until October so we ventured out into the rain. It wasn't so bad and we even found a rickshaw very quickly to take us back home.

So I've had a lot of run ins with animals lately. The other day I was walking out to the linen closet to get some sheets and I had my tea cup in my hand. As I turned around to go back to the building, this huge bird almost attacked me right in the head. I totally ducked and almost dropped my tea. Mary T, who is career staff, was right behind me and starting laughing at me. It was very funny, just not as it was happening. Then the same night, I was upstairs walking back down to my room to go to bed and almost got hit in the head by a bat. I was carrying my computer this time and almost dropped it on the marble floor (which would not have been a good situation at all)! I had to walk the rest of the way to my room up against the wall because 2 bats kept swooping up and down the hall. Ever since I moved up to my room, I keep hearing a donkey from somewhere out my window. I keep hearing it at all hours of the day and night but I haven't been able to see where it is. I thought I was going crazy until I asked Julie, whose room is right next to mine, if she had heard it. She said no, but quickly came back to me the next day and said that she did hear it. So just yesterday we were going out and saw the donkey! It is tied to a light pole right outside the Sangam wall. I'm just glad that I know where the noise is coming from now. And if that wasn't enough, we have mice upstairs so the men put out a trap to try and catch it. And if all of that wasn't enough, the mosquitoes have discovered that I'm here and I'm very tasty. It has been so bad that I have had to start sleeping in my mosquito net. Good thing I remember to take my malaria tablets.

All this afternoon, the power keeps going on and off. I keep trying to charge my computer battery and both my ipods so at night when the power gets shut off, I still have something to do. I'm beginning to think that I should have bought that second computer battery. Luckily we had enough power throughout the day to charge it up completely.

I have 3 days off. Today was my first day off and I slept in, ate lunch, the power went out and it was pouring rain so I decided to read a book, which then lead to a nap. Tonight Darshana, who is the World Centre Deputy Manager but used to be a Programme Assistant, invited us to her apartment to eat dinner. It was a great evening and Julie and I decided that we will be having lots of sleep overs there on our nights off. It is a very nice place and within walking distance of Sangam. You can even see Sangam from her apartment.

Well, the power is going to go off in 20 minutes and I need to go and find my flashlight. I'm still working on posting pictures. As soon as I get it working, I'll be posting lots!


ps: I wrote this post over the course of 2 days!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm in Love!!

with Bollywood movies! I went and saw my very first Bollywood film with our first group of participants. I'm totally in love and can't stop watching them! Since we went to the movies on Sunday night, I have already watched 3 more films that have been collected in the volunteer lounge over the last few years. It is a whole new movie experience and I loved every minute of it! I can't even fully describe the experience. You have to experience it for yourself to fully understand. The movies are in Hindi but there is enough English to understand the basic plot of the story. My friend Kelsey says that the Sioux Falls Library has them so you should check them out!

I'm in the middle of my first event. Things have been really hectic but have been really fun. Participating in this event, we have groups from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada and range in ages from 17 to 78. They are a really fun bunch even though most of them have been sick at some point in their trip so far.

The monsoon still hasn't started. It keeps raining during the afternoon but stops. It rains just enough to make the humidity even worse although it has been nice during the night sleeping. (Or I'm just getting used to the weather, I'm not sure!) Everyone expected the monsoon to be here days ago so we are all enjoying the sunshine while it lasts. Because once its gone, it will be gone for a while.

I've had a request of pictures of Sangam. I keep trying to post those but Blogger seems to be having issues with uploading pictures. I'll keep trying to get those up for you all to see.

Please let me know if you have any questions about events or anything else about my stay. I'd be glad to answer!


Friday, June 15, 2007

Bats, Bats, and more Bats

So last night we had our first official welcome ceremony with other guests. There is a group of independent guests staying here from Taiwan and we held a ceremony for them (and it was also a way for us to practice our parts before the events begin). During the ceremony we had a few un-welcomed guests of bats. The bats live in the flags that are displayed in the hall. They also fly up and down the hallway upstairs. Julie thought they were birds until I told her at breakfast that they weren't birds but bats. I don't care about the bats because they eat mosquitos and anything that eats mosquitos is all right in my book.

Our first event starts tomorrow. All of the participants will be here by dinner tonight. I've been super busy getting the event books ready and helping the other girls with their duties. We are all a little nervous that we won't get everything ready in time but CL, the programme manager, seems to think that we will be ok. I'm sure that this first event will seem really crazy and chaotic but I think that it will be really fun.

I've been getting a lot of questions about clothes. For me during work, I have to wear a polo shirt, navy blue pants, and a scarf. I also have a navy blue punjabi suit that I can wear during work. When we don't have events, I can wear my official WAGGGS t-shirts that they supply to us. We also have an official WAGGGS sari that we wear during the welcome ceremonies. The centre supplies our uniform. During off work, we can wear anything that we would like, although we have to take into consideration that we live in a very conservative part of town so the centre suggests that we keep everything between shoulders and knees covered. Participants have to have everything between shoulders and knees covered as well. We also take participants shopping for saris and punjabi suits that they can wear during the Maharastrian dinner. The centre has a tailor that comes in and makes the sari blouses and petticoats and alters punjabi suits if necessary. The clothes here are extremely cheap and even getting something tailored is very inexpensive.

The monsoon still hasn't started and it keeps getting hotter and hotter. It rained some last night and it cooled things off considerably but it sure has heated up very fast today.

Our first event starts tomorrow so I'm not sure if I'll have a lot of time to blog in the next week but I'll try my hardest to keep you updated on the event!


Monday, June 11, 2007

An Indian Afternoon!

So training is officially over and our first event starts next week. This week is going to be very busy because we are going to start getting ready for the event. Everyone keeps asking what I'll be doing during events. I will be getting materials ready for the programme, getting and greeting participants when they get here in Pune (whether that is here at the centre, the train station, or the airport, and at any time of the day), showing participants around the centre and Pune, and helping with activities during the programme. I'm sure that there is way more things that I will be helping with and I'll fill you in on more of that later.

Before we ended training we participated in the Indian afternoon that participants partake in during their programme. We got mehendi patterns on our hands, practiced rangoli, which is sand drawings, and sari tying. It was a lot of fun that ended with the Maharashtrian dinner, which is a typical dinner in this state of India. Julie and I had a lot of fun, even though the other 2 girls were sick. I'm really looking forward to sharing that night with participants.

CL, the programme manager, Julie, and me in our saris.

My and Julie's mehendi.

We have had 2 days off since we are done with training and Julie and I have been exploring the city. We went to Koregaon Park, Pune Central, which is a department store, and we even went to the movie theater (although we didn't get to go to the movie since it was 3 hours later than when the paper said that it was going to be!). I have discovered another coffee place called Cafe Coffee Day, which is also very good and they have one closer to me than Barista does, at least that I have found so far. I've had a lot of fun exploring the city and tomorrow I will be going on a little adventure of my own. We have all been assigned a place to go and explore by ourselves. I was supposed to go today but it was way too hot and I didn't feel like going out in the heat. I'll keep you posted on that adventure after I go.

Well, everyone is placing their bets as to when the monsoon will start. It has been so hot here for the last few days and there hasn't been any rain at all. The first few days that I got here, it would rain every late afternoon or evening just enough to break the heat, and it hasn't even done that. Everyone has been guessing that it will start sometime at the the end of this week. My guess is Wednesday.

Last night we got to go out and go meet with an Indian family for dinner. It was a lot of fun. We all got dressed up and went. We went down the road to the Jahveri family's home. They were all really nice. They showed us around their house and showed us all of the great gifts that they have received over the years from groups that have come to dinner. They were very accommodating and invited us back any time we need to get away from the centre.

Vivi, me, and Julie in our punjabi suits.

I hope that you have been enjoying the pictures. I'll post again once the monsoon starts, or in a few days, whichever comes first!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chalo Pune Challenge

So I know that it has been a few days since I have last blogged but I have been very tired and it has been very, very hot here. It has been in the high 90s for the last 2 days so when we have had any free time, we all just sit around because it is too hot to do anything else. We can't even go in the pool because it has turned green.

A few days ago, we went on the Pune Challenge. This is an activity that participants do during the later stages of an event. They have to navigate themselves around Pune and visit common tourist spots while answering questions on a piece of paper and taking pictures of themselves at the spots that they visit. They usually have 4 places that they have to go and visit and each group has different places that they go and explore. Everyone ends up at the Empress Gardens where we will be in charge of bringing their sack lunch to them.

We started our Challenge by visiting the Kirkee War Cemetery. It is a very beautifully kept cemetery honoring those who lost their lives in World War II.

Our next stop was the Handmade Paper Factory. The tour that we took there was amazing. The head of the factory gave us the tour and explained how they make the paper and how everything is eco-friendly. They use cotton scraps to make the paper. They even reuse the edges of the paper that they cut off.

The third stop was the Chaturshringi Temple, one of the many temples here in Pune. It is very quite and serene when you walk up to the top. We spent a while there resting and enjoying the quite.

The fourth stop was Koregaon Park. This is a nicer part of town. The Osho Ashram is located here, which is an internationally known ashram which brings in a very large foreign population. We ate at Subway and then walked around. We also stopped at the German Bakery and I bought some great croissants to eat for breakfast.

me at Subway.

Anna, Vivi, and me at the Osho Ashram.

After we were finished in Koregaon Park, we decided to go down to MG Road to have a snack at Barista. Barista is like a Starbucks but is way cheaper so I won't feel so guilty for going there everyday. It was very delicious and it was a great refresher during the hot afternoon.

Vivi and me enjoying our Grande Iced Mocha Frappes.

The Pune Challenge was a very long day but was really fun. The version that the participants do is shorter than what we did. But we have to get out and go exploring so we now at least how to get around to the major places when we are showing participants around Pune.


ps: chalo means "let's go" in Hindi.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Laxmi Road

Today we went down to Laxmi Road and toured around. Laxmi Road is in
the Old City of Pune. It has a lot of cool stores where participants
can buy saris and punjabi suits, bindis and bangles, and everything
in between. It was a lot of fun exploring. We didn't have too much
time because we had an appointment at St. Mary's Orphanage to take a
tour and play with the children there. St. Mary's is one of Sangam's
community outreach programs. We went there today because they were
holding a week long camp for children at their orphanage and from an
orphanage in Mumbai. A lot of the children didn't speak a lot of
English so it was a little hard to communicate and teach them games
but I still had a lot of fun. I have learned my Hindi numbers 1
through 6 and have been using them throughout the day. I have also
been learning a few other helpful phrases but I'm still not
comfortable using them yet. I'm sure that I'll get there.

I'm in the progress of organizing the photos that I have already
taken and will be posting more and more pictures to share with you
all. Hopefully you all have been enjoying your summer so far. I've
been really hot and sweaty but the pool here is very nice every


Sunday, June 3, 2007

MG Road

So I've been having a really great time so far here in Pune. We have all been busy all day with trainings and it has been a lot of information in a very short amount of time but we are all sure that once the events start, it will all come very easily. Tonight we went down to MG Road here in Pune, we went out to eat and along the way we came across camels!!!! This is a picture of Anna from the UK, Julie from Canada, me, and Virginia from Brazil with the camels! Then we went out to eat at a great Chinese restaurant that had the best chocolate brownie! Julie and I decided that we are going back for sure, and very very soon! I'll blog more when I have a larger amount of time but I thought that I would share my picture of us Programme Assistants and Programme Manager Assistant with the camels!!!! It is well after midnight now and I should get to bed!

ps: if you have any questions, leave a comment. You don't have to be a registered blogger to leave a comment!