Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hey Everyone!

Sorry for the delay in blog postings. We lost our broadband internet
connection last week and just got our internet connection put back onto dial
up which is so terribly slow I can't take it for much longer. I'm actually
posting this from my email account because I can't even log on to So, until we get broadband back up and running I won't be able
to post any of my awesome pictures from my trip to Mumbai. I have them all
ready to be posted so the minute the Centre is back on broadband I will be
logging on and posting pictures. I'm glad people have been reading my blog
and are getting to experience being here with me. I'm having a really great
time. We just finished our first 12 day event. It was really long but do go
really quickly. During this last event the participants put on a children's
camp for 3 days. We had a group of 25 kids who came from Sangam's Community
Partner, Mobile Creche. We were a full house during those 3 days, 25 kids
plus 50 participants. It was really busy and needless to say, I'm glad
everyone is gone so I can enjoy some peace and quiet.

I hope that everyone is enjoying the South Dakota summer! I've been
enjoying the heat and humidity here in India. The monsoon has
disappeared and it has been sunny most days with just a little bit of
rain. My tan is back and just keeps getting darker.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

So I celebrated the 4th of July in India!!! I had a lot of fun and I got to play with sparklers, which is always a good day in my book!! I will be posting the pictures of me and the sparklers later since Mary T took those pictures with her camera. Here are some more of my 4th of July celebration!
Me in front of Lady Ratan Tata Memorial Hall and the lovely 4th of July banner I decorated with!

The banner I made all about me and my country!


So on Monday July 9, I got to experience my first big Hindu celebration, Palhki. Palhki is a huge pilgrimage that happens every year. It starts in Alandi, which is just up the road from Sangam, and goes to a little tiny town that is 300km away (that is about 187 miles). Over 200,000 people gather every year and walk this distance. So in order to take this whole experience in, us PAs took the day off and decided to go out and sit on the wall and people watch. So we gathered our coffee, cereal, blanket, umbrellas, and of course our cameras and set out for a day of Palhki.

We watched people all morning and of course, since we were a bunch of white girls sitting on a wall watching people, people were watching us. The Palhki, which is a carriage that carries the gods and goddesses, is carried along the way. It makes stops along the way at different temples. The first stop is at Datta Temple which is just right outside Sangam's door. Aruna, who is the House Manager, decided that she would take us to see when they bring the Palhki into the Temple. There were tons of people waiting in line to touch the Palhki but since we were a bunch of foreigners, we got to go right inside and sit right in front of where they were going to bring in the Palhki. When the Palhki arrived, it was pure chaos. One of the girls recorded them bringing it into the temple on her camera so hopefully I can post that. I can't even describe how crazy it was when they brought the Palhki in, it was pure madness. After we got to touch the Palhki for good luck during the next year, we headed back to Sangam to go back to work. This place always amazes me, that is for sure.


ps: The day after Palhki occurred, our night watchmen Mangesh, came back at lunch time to show us the newspaper. We were in it!!!!! There were a lot of people that were taking pictures of us but I think that the one guy that asked if he could take our picture must have been with the newspaper. I'm even above the fold!!!!! Ironically, a few weeks ago, we had to set goals for work. I decided that I wanted to be in the newspaper. So I believe that I achieved that goal in record time!!!

Julie and I enjoying our chai on the wall!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Monsoon Wedding

So a lot of awesome things have been happening lately but I haven't had the time to blog about them yet so before the next event starts, I'll take the time to do that!!! I'll divide them into several blog posts.

A few weeks ago, we got invited to a real monsoon wedding. Reikah, who is Sangam's tailor, invited us all to her little sister's wedding. Of course, we weren't going to pass this awesome opportunity up so we all took the afternoon off to go to the wedding.

It wasn't like any wedding at home. There are many little ceremonies that take place during the day. We arrived just in time for the actual marriage, which isn't the coolest part in my opinion. During the actual marriage, the man in charge of the ceremony leads the family and friends that have come in prayer and we all got to throw rice for good luck. After several prayers and throwing a bunch of rice, they were married! Then, in order to bless their life and marriage, many other smaller ceremonies are conducted. Since we couldn't stay for a long time, we went downstairs to eat lunch. The lunch was really good, I would have taken a picture but since everyone was already staring at us, I didn't see a need to add one more reason for them to stare. The lunch was basically a Maharashtrian dinner, rice, potatoes, chipatis. It was delicious, and we all managed to do a great job eating with our hands! When we finished eating lunch, we went back upstairs to see what other ceremonies were taking place. After the marriage, everyone starts chatting among themselves and the bride and groom aren't the center of attention. It becomes more of a family reunion, everyone catching up, meeting new relatives, and all of that stuff. We came upstairs just in time for the fire ceremony. The fire will bring the couple good luck and prosperity in their new life together. The wedding was so much fun. We got to meet Reikah's entire family and got to dress up in our saris. All in all, it was a great day!

The fire ceremony.

Anna, Vivi, me, Reikah, and Julie.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Do you have any questions?

Do you have any burning questions about life or things in India, Pune, Sangam, or need questions answered to finish a badge? You can email me!!! I have set up a special email account for just such questions. Feel free to email me at You can email questions or even requests for pictures! Whatever you would like!

I also realized that I have been blogging less and less. I apologize, things are becoming more normal for me here so I don't think I need to blog but I'll make sure to change that. A lot of things have been happening so I'll be putting those posts together and getting more pictures posted along with that. I have been to an Indian wedding, had 2 awesome events here at the Centre, got a new pet (a real pet, one that we have to be responsible for and feed!), and will be experiencing Palhki tomorrow. Palhki is a pilgrimage that happens right on Alandi Road, the road right in front of the Centre. So I'll be updating you all on that, keep checking back for updates!


ps: I would like to thank the Girl Scout Council for the awesome Hello Kitty card!!! Thanks, I love the stickers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Did you know?

Did you know that mosquito bites that don't itch are flea bites?

I know this because of personal experience. Yes, that's right. I have fleas.

I guess that I should start from the beginning. Sangam has 3 watch dogs, Lucky, a boy who is really old, Bunty, and Babli. Bunty, the boy, and Babli, the girl, (who are named after the Bollywood film) are puppies that were found on the property last year. Last week, Julie and I suspected that the puppies had fleas because they have been scratching and biting themselves. We told Darshana, who got the men to give them a bath thinking that that would solve the problem. Well, I'm here to inform you that it didn't work. For the last week or so, I've been getting these bites on my ankles and legs. I just thought that they were mosquito bites that weren't itchy. I didn't think anything of it because they weren't bothering me. This morning at breakfast, some ladies at my table somehow got on the topic of what flea bites look like. She was saying that fleas always bite in 3s. I realized that that was what all my bites have been looking like on my legs. I didn't say anything right away because I was around participants and didn't want to alarm anyone. This afternoon after we got back from MG Road, I asked Julie if she knew what flea bites look like. She didn't so we googled it and diagnosed me with fleas. CL confirmed my diagnosis. I have fleas. I haven't been sick in India yet and the first thing that happens to me is fleas. Only me! I've already been washing and rewashing all of my clothes. I've changed my sheets and my room was just cleaned by the ladies today. Hopefully that will get rid of it. And until the dogs get rid of their fleas, I will be staying as far away as possible. Which I think will prove hard to do since Babli likes hanging out with all of us girls! I'm working on posting the pictures of my flea bites and the cute puppies that gave me them!


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Of Mice and Monsoons

So for the last week the monsoon has really picked up. Because of that, a lot of new friends have been moving up onto the property from the back field. The snake catcher has been coming almost every other day to come and take away snakes. He came today to search the property for a larger snake since he keeps coming and catching the babies. It wouldn't be a very big deal but the snakes that we have been finding are poisonous. We also have been catching mice upstairs. We named one of the mice Houdini since he was a great escape artist. I was up late one night. I had gone into the lounge before I took my shower to get some water. I checked the trap, no mouse. I took my shower, got dressed for bed, then went back into the lounge to get a movie. I looked in the trap and low and behold, we caught the mouse. I turned around to grab the movie off the shelf, turned right back around, and the mouse was gone! I stood there for a few minutes wondering if I had in fact actually saw a mouse or if I had imagined it because it disappeared in a second. The next night, the men set the trap again. The food was in it, ready to go. All of us girls went down the CL's apartment to watch a movie and during those 2 hours, the mouse struck again. This cleaver mouse had somehow managed to eat the food out of the trap but not be caught! By this time, it had become a joke to all of us. So the next day Aruna, who is the house manager and keeps us all very well feed, decided to go and buy a new trap. The new trap was set the next night and in the morning we had a mouse! But the mouse we caught was not the black mouse that I had seen in the cage 2 nights before, so the trap was reset yet again and we caught another mouse! Unfortunately I was not the one to find the mice in the traps so I have no pictures as proof of the mouse in the trap. (None of the other girls think that it is exciting/funny to have a mouse living amongst us!!!) Since it has been wet the frogs have come out in full glory. They are so loud that it drives me nuts while I'm trying to go to sleep, and I live on the second floor! I've resorted to putting my headphones in and going to sleep to music instead of frogs.

Besides all of the animal run-ins, I have complied some inevitabilities of life during the monsoon.

1. You will get wet. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, no matter how many umbrellas you have, you will get wet.

2. Rickshaws will try to charge you ridiculous amounts of money to take you anywhere. And once you get to a certain point, you have to just pay it, there is nothing you can really do about it.

3. Rickshaws will break down. Case in point, today. Today I went down to the bus station to pick up our last group of Americans for the event. (They were supposed to arrive 2 nights ago but didn't because they missed a connecting flight in London. That meant that they had to rebook their flight to Mumbai. After all of that, when their plane got to Mumbai, it couldn't land because the runway was flooded. [4. Roads and bridges will become flooded and you will have to drive extra a long way to get anywhere.] Their flight was diverted to New Delhi. They got to New Delhi at 8 at night, got put up in a hotel for the night, had to be back at the airport by 4 in the morning, then got put on another flight into Mumbai. When they finally arrived in Mumbai, we arranged for them to ride the public bus back into Pune. (Their original private bus that was going to pick them up had already come back with the other American group that flew into Mumbai yesterday.) They finally made it to Pune, sans luggage, but they made it! You have to know the back story before I tell you the next part.) So we get rickshaws to take us to Sangam from the bus station. I hop in the first rickshaw to leave with 2 other girls. The guy knows where we need to go, we were good. Well it rained all afternoon today so the roads were not in the best condition. We came to a underpass that goes under the railroad tracks which is visibly flooded. The rickshaw driver stops, contemplates having a go at it, talks to a guy standing next to the water, and goes for it. We get to the bottom, the rickshaw stalls, water comes flooding in, and all 3 of us immediately lift up our feet. Under the bridge were a bunch of kids having a great time watching rickshaws and cars stalling in the water. Our rickshaw driver gets 2 of the kids to help him push us out of the water. We get to the other side. Then we have to wait for all of the water to rush out of the rickshaw. He waits for a little while and tries to start the rickshaw. Nothing. He tells us just a minute (and he keeps calling me Sister, assuming that since he is taking us to Sangam, I must be a nun (it's a common misconception among rickshaw drivers, that Sangam is a church, but I don't correct him since it can't hurt anything by old rickshaw drivers thinking I'm a nun)!!). He goes around the back to check the engine. Does something and tries again. Nothing. So this whole time I'm talking and joking around with the girls, trying to keep them as calm as possible because if I had been through all of that travel hassle, I'd probably break down if my first rickshaw ride was going this way. The driver keeps working on the engine and trying to start it, still nothing. Also during this whole time, tons of other cars and trucks are going through the water, some are stalling out, others are getting through just fine, and the kids are still having a grand old time. Finally our driver comes back to the front and shows us the broken spark plug that means he can't take us the rest of the way. I pay him the 10 rupees that we owed him for taking us just around the corner since most of the meter time was spent with him trying to fix the rickshaw. The 2 girls and I head out to find a new rickshaw. We walk up the street to find a new rickshaw. And you have to keep in mind, I had no idea exactly where I was but that's usually, but I do know how to get back to Sangam. We found a rickshaw that knew where he was going on the first attempt. I tried to haggle meter price but he was having none of that since he thought that Sangam was "out of town." (That is also a misconception among rickshaw drivers. Sangam used to be "out of town" but isn't anymore. It would be like calling Sioux Falls west of the interstate "out of town.") Since I wanted to get these poor girls to Sangam, I gave in and we finally got back!

5. Always take your camera with you even if you are just going to the bus station. (See above!)

6. New creepy and crawly friends come out to visit you. (Also see above.)

This is my list so far. I'm sure that it will grow as the monsoon goes on. I'll keep you posted. Despite all of that I'm having a great time. It is a lot of fun being around other girls who love Guiding/Scouting as much as I do. You'd have to like it a lot to come all the way to India! I hope I cheered up your day a little by telling my funny stories!!!!


ps: Have a GREAT 4th of July!!!!!!