Monday, Feb 16

Monday, February 16, 2009

I am currently sitting inside the walls of Sangam! It is actually quite nice here at the moment – about 25°C at nine-thirty in the morning. I haven’t been out of the site yet, so I don’t really know what is going on in the real world, but it is pleasant in here.
Actually, we arrived in Mumbai around 1am this morning. All of our bags arrived – which was quite excellent because as we were standing there waiting for them, I realized I had thrown out my baggage claim ticket! Not really the place that I needed to be doing that! The airport was pretty standard with nothing too exciting or different to be worrisome at all. I think that Caroline was a little bit out of her element, but we all did well, overall!
We found our bus driver without any problems, another relief. I actually found the meeting place to be a lot less overwhelming than when I was in Guatemala. They were quite calm this morning at 1am! It was a rather uneventful drive to Pune, as well. I don’t really know how long it took because I slept here and there throughout the ride…but I was hungry. The food on the plane (in first class) was not good….it sounds like the food back in the normal seats was a lot better….I don’t think I can really complain, however – the flight was awesome!
We arrived at Sangam at 4:30am and had to fill out some paperwork before we could go to bed. Apparently, the police have to know we are here and we have to be registered within 24 hours of arrival. That was all fine….and the rooms are good too . I didn’t find the extra blanket until this morning when I woke up, so I was a little cold. I seem to always forget that it gets cold in these hot places at night.
I only managed to sleep until 7ish because of being cold, primarily, as well as all of the random noises happening all around me. There is an ammunition factory, a mosque, and an army training centre all nearby – all of which are quite loud! I sat there this morning listening to the random bird noises along with the “left, right, left, right” of either the factory workers or the soldiers, and the air horn that indicates shift change at the factory. I think ear plugs will be a must tonight! I wonder why I never did that to deal with the annoying roosters in Guatemala?! Apparently, I do learn a bit as I go!
I am slightly annoyed with myself! I seem to have left my little travel bottle of face-soap in Toronto! I never lose anything, so I don’t really know how I managed to leave it there. I figure, however, that it is a good thing that is all I left there because I was so cold when I was re-packing to leave the hotel that I couldn’t even think straight…better soap than my passport or computer or something! I guess it gives me a mission today in Pune – to go locate something that resembles some kind of face soap thing!
Breakfast is served at 8:30am…which is pretty late for me! I woke up soooo hungry that I decided it was better to be tired at this point! I think I ate a grand total of 2 tea biscuits and 3 shrimp yesterday in the plane! It was a normal/English breakfast. It is going to be all about the bananas here again! No wonder I can never stomach them at home…I have to save up for when survival matters!
The other two are still sleeping and want to sleep until noon. I sat with a bunch of people from the UK at breakfast, and tried to see what they were going to be doing this morning….and actually…one of them just invited me to go on a ride around Pune with them now! So, off I go!!
Alrighty…so I went walking around the nearby streets with some of the UK ladies this morning after breakfast. It was already getting hotter, but not as bad as it got later on today! We went and saw the ‘mall’…we were a little confused by it, because there didn’t really seem to be any entry into the building. There were only little shops around the perimeter. There wasn’t really too much to see in the shopping area, it is the people that are the most interesting. The girls are all dressed so beautifully and elegantly. The little kids didn’t harass us too badly at all. One little girl that I took a picture of asked to see it afterwards, but she didn’t ask for money or anything. I am still finding that the most challenging part of being a tourist at the moment – figuring out when it is okay to take pictures and when to not take pictures. For the most part, the people seem pretty excited to have pictures taken of them!
We got back to Sangam and I had an hour nap before lunch because it was past my Canadian bed time and the fatigue was starting to kick in!! Lunch was interesting, but pretty good. It was chapattis, rice, potatoes, and some other random Indian veggies. Lunches are always served Indian, here and dinners are Western. I have a feeling I am definitely going to OD on bananas!!
We walked around the field behind the dorms that overlook the river. It is mostly dry with large trees lining the walking area. In the back of the field there is a campfire pit. The session actually starts tomorrow at noon, so things will get more interesting then, and I am sure we’ll be having campfires and all that good stuff!!
At 2pm about 12 of us took a few auto-rickshaws or tuc-tucs and went on this very long, hot, and exhausting tour of Pune. Three of us fit into the back of one of them (it was quite snug!), but Sangam negociated a rate of 350Rs for the entire tour!! That ends up being about 10$ total! ***the exchange rate for Cdn dollars to Indian Rupees is much better here than what I got at the bank at home!*** We went and saw a lot of the sites, however the exhaust from the traffic and the heat was a little overwhelming. The people here are wonderful. Apparently, Pune is kind of an ‘up and coming’ city, so there aren’t beggars, street people, or venders in your face at all, which is nice!
We saw the Pune university, the Ghandi museum and Aga Khan Palace, a fort called Shaniwarwada, a military cemetery, the Chaturshringi Temple, and a park called Sarasbaug. The university was neat. They were working on refurbishing a building that had been built by the English and was used as the Governer’s house. It is on campus and was supposed to be used for the administration building on campus…not going to lie, it looks as though they have a ways to go!
We visited the Aga Khan palace last and only briefly stopped because we think we get to visit it later on this week. It was very stunning and clean feeling, when compared to everything else we’d seen today. I think that the three of us will go back to visit it, even if we don’t go with Sangam because there is weaving and a craft teaching program for women and seems to be kind of interesting.
The fort was a hot stop, and we were there for about 2 seconds because another group told us it wasn’t worth the 100 Rs to get into the monument. It looked cool from the outside, however!
The Chaturshringi Temple was cool because it was my first temple visit! We all took off our shoes and hiked up a bunch of steps in order to look at an elephant goddess. She is the one people go to ask for special prayers like having a child (apparently).
The park was nice as well…it used to be a lake and was then filled in to make it a park. In the middle, however, there is a temple surrounded by a moat. It was really, really, really, hot at this point, so I didn’t really appreciate this stop! It was nice, but a little too warm to enjoy!
And now, I am killing time in order to go to bed at a more normal hour. It seems like this time change has been easier than just going to Europe because it is the complete opposite hours and not only a shift in the time. Beats me, really – but so far so good!
Tomorrow morning we have a yoga class and then a free morning before the session starts.

Night!
-AJ

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