One of my biggest fears is people screaming in public. Hearing someone scream in a crowd of people makes my chest tighten and my eyes dart. On Saturday we went to the movie theater to see Jab Harry Met Sejal, the Bollywood version of When Harry Met Sally, and I experienced this terrible screaming in public. The Indian men love to scream in movies when something juicy happens, but it’s not like a “woohoo” or “ow ow!” It’s a scream like someone would have going through a haunted house. In Barcelona, I frequently got emails from the US Embassy in Madrid warning travelers to avoid large crowds and public transportation during heightened times of terrorism. Heck, I still get them at least once a month. Being in a large theater with 25 screaming men almost made me shit my pants, but by the end of the movie, it was hilarious. Rows and rows of men had gone to a rom-com together and were hollering at the juicy scenes as if spontaneous love is something they actually practice. (Fact: Asking for selfies and not wearing deodorant does not lead to love, boys.) Overall, I found the movie to be quite riveting even though I couldn’t understand a word.
Saturday night was WILD. Okay, it was actually very mild. Super mild. I became the ring leader for our group of ladies and decided we were going to do a little dancing at Heart Cup Coffee Kondapur. Clubbing in Hyderabad is quite mild in comparison to Barcelona because women don’t drink in public and the style of dance is very cheesy Bollywood. According to our American standards, they break every dancing rule: pointing, clapping, and jumping. Even my white-as-crack self was skeptical watching this go down, but never in my life did I think I would learn how to dance from a Sikh. The guys and girls alike wanted to teach us moves like a real Indian. In India, “the guest is God” and we feel that sentiment in many different places.
When I’m not on an excursion or in class, I like planning things to do off campus. There is a small village right off of the University and a few of us went exploring to see beyond the guarded gates. The people in the village were not nearly as overwhelming as the people at tourist sites and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the small community. I stopped to gawk at a guy stripping down a goat hanging in his little butcher platform and he was so honored that I was curious to watch his way of life. His buddies gathered around and some naked children eating corn cobs also joined in to see the hoopla of American girls watching such a mundane occurrence. I’m just glad it wasn’t a chicken. I’m a big fan of the exotic chickens in Key West and that’s all I think of when I see chicken in any form.
I will say there are some recent locals that we are not so fond of. The feral pigs. At first we saw them running around the roads on campus- they minded their business, we minded ours….but then we decided to sleep with the window open. Let me tell you. There is nothing like a bunch of screaming pigs being attacked by something. My roommate had already fallen asleep but I was quaking in my bed listening to it. I woke her up (mostly because nobody would believe my dramatic self) and we both sat on our beds trembling. There are bad roommates and then there are roommates who wake you up to squealing pigs. No regrets. Our new plan is that we are waking up the girls in the room next to us at 5:00 am to listen to the pigs with us in the bathroom because there are windows on three sides and the echo is super spooky.
The nights are strange here, but our days are getting more comfortable. I think I could have done a whole semester here but the food is a little spicy to have every day in this heat and there is NO ICE. I miss ice. Think of me the next time you drop a cube. I would eat your ice cubes off of a dirt road. My standards have either dropped so low or I’m going a little nuts in this heat.
We spent Monday on another hot marbled floor outside at the Birla Temple. At the many religious sites we visit, we typically have to remove our shoes and cover our hair. Besides that we have walked through pigeon poop, feathers, probably some people poop, and other foreign particles, the ground gets blazing hot. I’m probably going to go home with 10 foot diseases, but that’s the price I’m paying to experience life and that’s okay with me! I even wore a sari to this temple, in an effort to really bask in the culture, that our new Indian mom wrapped for me. It is quite the process and I held my pee for as long as possible so I wouldn’t undo it. She didn’t have any bindi (the forehead stickers) with her so she had put lipstick between her brows, but I had got a pack at the store so we stuck some on each other. I said “do I look native now?” She said yes out of the kindness of her heart but let’s be real, I take one picture with a local and I look like an alien.
Our Indian dad, Ball State professor Srinivasan Sundurum, calls me the Maharani. On our first day in India I was really the only girl who had worn makeup and done my hair. I do it at home everyday and if anyone thinks I’m high maintenance in India, here is a list of things I did not bring that would shock anyone back home: flat iron, hair dryer, curling hair, hair rolling pins, HAIRSPRAY- okay you get it. But since I put on lipstick everyday, (LipSense. It’s the best.) Srini says I must be looking for my Maharaja, therefore I am the Maharani.
My mantra: you will regret saying no more often than you will regret saying yes. So take life as it comes and roll with it. Dance with a Sikh. Get up at 5:00am to listen to pigs. But maybe don’t ride on an Indian man’s motorcycle.
The Always Honest,