Here is some stuff that I kind of wanted to write about, but wasn’t able to do on the day. These are all isolated incidents or activities; all fun, not necessarily stuck in any particular time.
So. Last week I saw my first monkey of this trip. It was just sitting by the side of the road as I was biking to class one day. I haven’t seen them, but apparently there’s a whole family of them. Other people have also seen mongooses. I’m definitely missing out on the whole animal sighting thing. That might be ok though. One guy swears that he woke up one night with a rat on his neck. Don’t get me wrong; I love rats, but I think I could do without that…
A few days ago I went into the guesthouse kitchen and watched/helped with dinner preparation. It was great. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to reproduce those recipes at home, as there was a lot of spices I’ve never even heard of, but I can try. Also, so much of it is intuitive. At one point, when adding spices, one guy put in about three spoonfuls. I asked him if it was always this way. He said no, it really just depended on the taste test (something I got to help with :o)). It’s hard for me to cook without a strict recipe, but I guess it’s a skill you learn over time. Anyway, I got to stir and taste test the aloo gobi and hariali chicken, and I also got to roll and flip the rotis (chapattis). It’s a lot harder than you would think! The dough gets stuck to the rolling pin a lot, and the rotis are so thin that it is really hard to pick them up without tearing them (before they are cooked anyway). The guy who was showing me just kind of spun them expertly with his fingers, somewhat like a frisbee. Yeah. I’m not quite there yet. We had fun though, and I’d definitely like to do it again!
I’ve written a bit about yoga here (the non credit one open to all university students, not the random fourth SIP class), but not too much. I’m really enjoying it so far. India can be pretty stressful sometimes, so it’s great to have some kind of planned relaxation time built into the day! Yoga here is very different from “yoga” in the states. When I think of yoga back home, I envision sweaty mom-type people in spandex, toting foam yoga mats blabbing about weight loss and calories. Here, it’s totally different. I first realized this when one of the American guys (an avid yoga-doer in the US) was nervous because he’d forgotten a sweatshirt (something apparently needed in bikram yoga). The head yoga instructor, a large imposing balding man said, rather grandly, “Our yoga is not for exercise. It is for relax.” Refreshing I think. What’s nice though, is that it actually is very good exercise. I’m pretty sore, and I like to think of myself as at least somewhat flexible. Something else that lets on that this kind of yoga is actually good exercise is the instructor’s narration, which I have to try hard not to laugh at sometimes. “Stretch your arms up…up…Feel the fat deposits disappear! Feel them disappear from your arms, chest, armpits…” Hmm. You don’t quite get the magic of the moment if you’re reading about it I guess. Just imagine all that said very grandly in an Indian accent by a deep-voiced, rather short, round, and balding—but very regal and dignified—Indian man. I hope that gives you a better idea. He’s pretty great. After the first class he made the announcement that “You should be wearing loose pants for yoga. Some of you wear very tight pants. That is not good.” Though there was nothing overt about it, I believe this announcement to have been a not-so subtle dig at some of the Americans in the group that day. I was amused.
Oh, and the yoga mats? They are colorful, woven mats. Each one is unique, leading me to believe that they were woven by craftspeople on looms, as opposed to by machines. Very cool.