Even though I have not travelled outside of Hyderabad in the last two weeks, I’ve been pretty busy. I had two of my midterms, known as internals, and finished my first paper. Thursday, September 8th was Emma’s 20th birthday. Luckily, Thursday is Ladies Night here so we were able to go out and not spend any money. This is the only benefit of being a woman in India. I’m not joking, this is literally the only plus to being a girl here. We had a lot of fun. Friday morning we had to wake up early though to go to our first cooking lesson. The food was incredibly delicious. We learned about all the different spices. I did not think it would ever happen but I have become very tough when it comes to spicy food. I think I’m ready for a Man Vs. Food Challenge.

That Saturday (9/10) I went to met with one of my professors at Ananda Buddha Vihara in Secunderabad, Hyderabad’s twin city. My Indian Writing in English professor, Prof. Rao, is very interested in Buddhism and he visits this particular temple frequently. He took us into the office to meet with one of the monks. We got to sit and have tea with him. He even took us into the area where monks perform their Vipassana meditation. The temple is located on top of a hill so you can see all of Secunderabad from the window. After we sat in the temple, we went to Prof. Rao’s house to look at his collection of books. I have to say, his library was quite impressive. I want to have this kind of library some day.

Sunday (9-11) was Anant Chaturdashi, the eleventh day after Ganesh Chaturthi. On this day, all the Hindus take their Ganesh idols out of their homes and  bring them to lakes and rivers to immerse them. Emma and I went to a nearby lake to see the biggest and tallest clay Ganesha go for a swim. We got there pretty early and we were able to move up to the front. The place got crowded pretty quickly. A band started playing music and everyone began praying. I love the music. The actual immersion took a pretty long time but I’m so glad we stayed to watch it. A local reporter insisted that Emma and I join her in the VIP section so we were brought in front of the barrier and taken right up to Ganesh. Sometimes there are perks to being an obvious foreigner.

My Indian Writing internal was on the following Tuesday. My professor had already given us the topic so it was not going to be that challenging. Well, I get to the class and one of the students jokingly asked if the exam could be open book. To my utter surprise and almost disgust, the professor agreed. Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but this is a graduate level school and they are taking exams with their notes. Seems like a mockery of the education system if you ask me.

Wednesday (9/14) we went to the Park Hotel to see the Parijat Desai Dance Company perform a blend of Indian classical and Western contemporary dance. One of the dancers was actually a former study abroad student at Central so she arranged for us to have front row seats.

On Friday (9/16) the AIFS group went to see a Sufi Concert at the Qutab Shahi Tomb. It was maybe one of my favorite cultural events I have been to so far. It was a perfect night for an outdoor concert and the music was simply amazing. The lead singer and musician, Fareed Ayaz, had the best dance moves and he never stopped being entertaining. The crowd was so energetic, dancing and clapping the entire time. My only question was how did this Pakistani group get into India?!

We ended the weekend with a day trip sightseeing in Hyderabad on Sunday. We started off going to the Qutab Shahi Tomb, which is where the Sufi concert was.  This time we were able to wander around all the different tombs of sultans. I felt like Joanie Conklin, exploring a cemetery. The tombs were painted with ink from vegetables, herbs and animals. Unfortunately, the tombs have not been well perserved so you can only find this original paint in small patches. Next we headed to the New Fort. It was nice to climb to the top and enjoy the breeze. This fort is a lot less touristy so we were some of the only people in sight. We made out way to the Golconda Fort, one of Hyderabad’s most famous landmarks. It was a long walk to the top of the fort but it was worth it. The whole fort is just incredible. It’s so massive, it almost looks like a mini version of the Great Wall.

 

Half way? No way. Tomorrow marks the official half way point of my semester. I’ll be travelling to Ajanta and Ellora this weekend to see some cool Buddhist caves and temples.

 

SMC WIH, I hope you are surviving dryland. I miss you so much team.

 

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