Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Hi everyone!

Sorry it took so long! I'm sort of a noob at posting pics, so I ended up getting left with this massive bunch of photos I hadn't posted yet, which I had to sift through and pick out the ones I wanted to post, during which time I was also taking more photos, and since there were several interspersed occasions when I used a different camera, they were also all out of order, so I was trying to put them back in order until I realized it wasn't worth the time! So here are some photos, not in chronological order, which I have laboriously picked out for you all to see! In the future, photos will come in smaller batches and obviously will then be in chronological order.

Studying Gujarati

A donkey and a few dogs chillin in a parking lot at night

Studying Hindi

Ganesh surrounded by food offerings called "prasad"

My Gujarati textbook

A big moth

This is supposed to be Vovó Bread. The taste was similar, but the consistency was totally wrong.

One of the many moortis of Lord Ganesh


This guy was painting a picture of the moorti that was in front of him.


Another moorti

Ghee - It's sort of like melted butter.

They call it "pickle" and always tell me not to take much because it causes "acidity"--their name for heartburn, or at least something similar. I don't like it too much anyway so that's fine...

Kadi - usually eaten mixed with rice after the rest of the meal is finished.

My favorite masala! It's a mix of spices--I have no idea which ones--that I like to spread on roti or khakra or any other flat bread for breakfast sometimes.

Might be difficult to see, but this is an illustration of the series of devices required in order to charge my camera: starting at the wall socket, there's a power strip that comes off of that, plugged into which is a transformer to the 220V they use here, plugged into which is a device that converts between USB and the U.S. style wall socket, plugged into which is the USB cord for the camera.

Guess what it says on the right side? ... "Hotal Satkaar"

 A candle releasing smoke--maybe incense--at the foot of a giant Ganesh moorti.

Roadside pics: a factory.

A set of five other candles in front of the same huge moorti.

Roadside pics

Yes, they do carry things on their heads! On the median of a highway! All the time!

This is a close-up of the center of one of the rotaries they have here. They're very common, and they each have a name, followed by your choice of "circle," "fountain," or "fuvara." They're called fountains because they used to have fountains in the middle, and "fuvara" is the Gujarati word for "fountain," as well as for "shower." The one near my society is called "Kasak (circle/fountain/fuvara)."

I chose to take a picture of this because I have no idea what structure involves girders arranged in a wedge shape... Maybe a ramp? But I don't see a lot of ramps here...

This one says "Hotal Relish." Yummm...

Another moorti of Lord Ganesh. Some of them were on display in series, with a walkway for everyone to walk by and take pictures.

Kind of like our new safety messages about texting and driving

Another moorti. Each one depicts a different stage in the epics that compose the background stories of Hinduism, in wihch Ganesh took various forms.

This is a tollbooth... with a second story? (Actually here they call it the first floor. What we call the first floor is the "ground floor.")

Not the greatest viewpoint but in the distance you can see some ramshackle houses people built.

Roadside pics: they're walking along some kind of track, carrying those bundles on their heads. I think it's wheat, but I'm not sure.

This is a very common sight!!

I don't know if you knew this, but there are a lot of cows in India.

Lord Ganesh moorti.

My blazer as it was when I took this pic... Currently the bottom part also has some stuff filling it.

And I've gotten started on the back, too!

Lord Ganesh moorti

Jalebi - very sweet and oily.

Donkeys on the median

Lord Ganesh moorti

Cow chillin' by the cycles

This one's pretty cool!

These little altars are sometimes in what might appear like very random places. This is the ground floor of the building where I have my Hindi class.

Another moorti

This is from inside an auto rickshaw! I think this was my second time riding in one. Now I've ridden them something like twenty or thirty times, maybe more.

Another moorti.

This was at night, as you can see, but what you're looking at is actually people smithing, right by the side of road. This was on my way to dance class.

Several statues in some kind of scene, Ganesh at the center.

There are frogs of all sizes here, including big ones like this. My shoe is in the picture for perspective. It's a size 10 1/2 shoe, I think.

I don't know what this was but one night it ws just randomly there, smoldering, as we were walking to dance class!

Hard to see but by the bottom step there's a lizard. I think it's a gecko.

This was on display in that line of moortis, but I don't know who it is. We were sort of rushed out of there because there were so many people.

The dance room


The shower IS the bathroom... Meaning there actually is no separation between the floor of the bathroom and the floor of the shower. All showers are like this here. At the bottom right is the toilet. Sorry for not being able to get a better angle that encompassed both the shower head and the toilet.

We have an altar in our house. It's right outside my room. Mruga Aunty goes in there every morning to light the incense and pray.

This and the following set of uncaptioned pics were at the birthday party of one-year-old twins in my extended host family.

Add caption

From the roof of my house.

Left: host brother Manthan; Right: host mother Mruga Aunty. This is a picture of our dining table at dinner time. I mainly wanted to illustrate the large number of different things out at the table for our meal, as well as the turn table, which I think is kinda cool, and the sink at the back corner. Pretty everywhere where you can have a meal that I've seen in India has a sink or at least one nearby, because it's very necessary.

I sleep in a mosquito net!

Chinese food is actually somewhat popular here!

Peacock right by our house!

The front of our house

The new driveway: when I arrived, this was just dirt all the way down to the end. They've been living here for only ten months, so there are always people working on it. Currently they are painting my room. 

A view down my street, which has no name because residential streets don't have names here; my address is 84 Pritam Society, Bharuch.

Some of the buildings are pretty colorful!

The cake at that birthday party

Me and my classmates after our first dance performance

Mruga Aunty putting a bindi on my forehead the day I arrived there

Roadside pics

To my host family's best knowledge, this is rice on the right and corn on the left.

Roadside pics

Not really a roadside pic, but a road pic

A roadside resturant, which they actually call hotels which is weird...

Roadside pics

There's a temple on top of this mountain! This was on the way to or from Mumbai.

This is a view from Grishma's old boarding school, which we actually weren't allowed inside.

Gujarati crossword puzzle! No, I was not the one who filled in those boxes. That would be impressive...

Pradeep Uncle's--Jayesh Uncle's brother--daughter Vishva giving us rakhis and bindis. This is Pradeep Uncle's apartment, which is in Mumbai and is where we stayed before seeing Grishma off.

And Harshiben too. (Her name is Harshi, and "ben" is short for "bahen" and is a title literally meaning "sister.")

And taking a bite of something sweet is part of the procedure, too.

Grishma ready to leave!

Proud family

A little Indian flag we got on 15 August, India's Independence Day, which was two days before Grishma's departure.

In Mumbai: bahu bahu rickshaw chhe.




The big characters at the top say "dudh" in which means "milk." At the bottom is the "Om" symbol.

Roadside pics

And it starts raining all of a sudden which is very common during monsoon season! (Notice it was monsoon season when I took this pic, and it is currently not... that's how long it took me to post this pic.)

Many rivers of India

The "Horn Please" with the "OK" in the middle is a very common thing to see on the back of a truck. It's saying that if you are trying to pass the truck, please honk to let the driver know you're there. For us it's just an odd way of phrasing it: "Horn please, OK? Got it??"

Mumbai to/from

Some kind of hut for farming or maybe a farmer's home

Roadside pics

Roadside pics

Roadside pics

This one also has written in Hindi "Mera Bharat mahan," which means "My India is great," or can be understood as "My country is great." It should actually be "Mera Bharat mahan hai"--"hai" meaning "is"--but leaving that word out is considered poetic.

Roadside pics

That thing on the dashboard is Lord Mahavir, a Jain god.

Another donkey for ya

We were stopped at a plant nursery to get some plants for the house, and a bunch of goats walked by. There were a few seconds when I could have gotten several goats in one picture, but I wasn't quick enough with my camera.

Many rivers of India

I'm actually not sure if this is a river or a pond. I want to say river. Either way, I find it cool how thick the forest is.

Cows and buffalo together

Roadside pics

Cows grazing on the median

Roadside pics

Road pics

About to cross over the Narmada River, going back to Bharuch from Mumbai

I like the bridge pictures.

Bridge pics

Bridge pics

Funky looking building at Mumbai

Mumbai skyline while on Mumbai tour

It's a boot house!--on tour at Mumbai

A garden under construction

The Gateway to India, beyond which is the Arabian Sea--on tour at Mumbai

A statue of a famous Indian warrior

Center: Old Taj Hotel; Right: New Taj Hotel; left, barely in picture: Gateway to India

Mumbai skyline from the Arabian sea--boat tour at Mumbai

The beach at Mumbai

Sarah learning to play a board game that the Shahs play... and then winning.

A long puja ceremony in Baroda

The food at the ceremony

Me participating in the ceremony

Lord Mahavir

Pouring rice

The platform laying in front of their idol, as it was at the end of the ceremony.

Inside a Jain temple, with various expensive statues.

Eating the food after the ceremony.

All the food

Deep frying papad

Cows in the traffic

People at the back of a truck

"No overtaking"

Again, people in the back of a truck

Front view of our house.


Back to that birthday party

Birthday party

The inside of the matador that takes us to school, before it gets ridiculously crowded

Eleventh standard science stream at Queen of Angels Convent Higher Secondary School. Behind the far wall is commerce stream.

Cows by one of the schools in my society. The sign says "Navjivan Vidhyalay Bharuch," in case you're curious.

Donkey in my society

Again cows in my society

Peacock on the roof of one of the houses in my society
And one last moorti to top it off

Thanks for keeping updated! Things are going well, though there is of course the expected confusion and frustration at times, which is one of the main reasons we do these exchange years. More to come!