Sunday, Feb 22

Today was a packed day! We ended up getting up super early so that we could take a bus to hike up Pavroti hill. A large number of people went, so we had a bigger bus, but thankfully, they had resolved the issue of the bus size and we had one that could actually go on the majority of the roads! However, the driver didn’t really know where we were going and we took a little longer getting there than anticipated – including a couple of turns the wrong way on one-way streets! We did get there, however, and it was a nice, short hike up to the top. There were some really nice temples at the top of the park area…and it was kind of cool because we were above the smog, so the air was great! Makes me wonder what I am breathing when I am here the rest of the time!
We got back about half an hour late for breakfast, but because there was such a large group of us, we were still able to eat! Soon afterwards, we started our sessions of ‘teach and learn’. Honestly, they were not the highlight of the trip thus far! I did learn how to make these really cool 3D snowflakes, though…I think they may be too hard for Sparks to do, but they look awesome!
The three of us bailed on the second half of the morning in order to go to Pune Central – a department store with a grocery store at the top. It was a great trip, and I am really happy that we decided to go. There are sales on right now, so we all did a little damage! Caroline managed to buy 5 tunics for the price of 2 – and she wears things like that at home, so it is worth it! Allison bought some coloured bangles that she had been looking for. I bought two gold plated bangles – they were 50% off…and were less than 20$, so I couldn’t resist! My hands are exceptionally fat here, however, so I have to use a plastic bag to get them on and off, but I am happy with my purchase! More useful than another Punjabi suit or tunics for me, I think.
We went to the supermarket in the shopping centre and looked around for various things. It was good to see what is available in terms of ‘survival’ food! We bought a few cookies and a pop-like drink that were on sale. We also bought these interesting chips. They are Lay’s Chips – India’s Mint Mischief. They taste like India!! They are mint, peppers, and cilantro. It is definitely a surprise for the taste buds!
We made it back for 2pm and the tailor’s arrival. He brought back all of our suits, so we ran around camp for the remainder of the day in them. They are pretty amazing, actually. There are none that are the same. The tailor made all of the neck lines different as well! I have a simple blue and teal suit with a v-neck. I like it because it isn’t too blingy at all – although this is definitely the place to get away with excessive sparkles and such! They are pretty much the most comfortable things ever! I think I’ll be able to wear the pants as PJ pants when I get home.
Some locals came and taught us how to do Rangoli – the artistic drawings made by sprinkling chalk in various designs that are found outside their homes normally. It was amazing to watch because they are done so quickly and are so detailed. We got to practice a bit, but my flower design that I made was nothing like the example! I guess she’s probably been doing it for many years!
The locals also did mendi or hena for us! I think this was my favourite part because it looks sooooo cool once it is done! It is like my sun tattoos – more than temporary tattoos, but not permanent! I have two on my left hand at the moment. Hopefully they will last a while. I’ve heard anywhere from 3-6 weeks, but I guess it depends on how often you wash your hands. We shall see.
Dinner was awesome. It was a typical Maharastian (sp) dinner – the area where we are located at the moment. We all dressed in either our saris or Punjabi suits and sat on the floor to eat. There were no utensils and we got to eat with our hand – right hand! Apparently, no one in the city tends to eat like this any more…it is more of a rural event, or if there are many people for a wedding or something. It was pretty fun, in any case!
After dinner was our Thinking Day celebrations. We listened to a couple of interesting quotes, and then walked around the grounds to read different quotes by candlelight. It was nice. Considering how we don’t really do too much for thinking day at home (I guess it would typically fall on a week day, which inhibits huge celebrations), I think this one will be the most memorable!!
Tomorrow is only a ½ day before packing and traveling starts again! Most of my clothes are at the Dhobi man, so I can’t pack this evening! As well, after the session ends tomorrow, we are going over to the store with Aruna to find out what she puts in the chai tea and the mesala tea. I figure it could be good presents and things – and her recipe is quite good.

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