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Posts Tagged ‘Anthony DiBiase’

Well, it’s been a week since I returned to the U.S. and what a week it’s been. One of the things I loved about India was how busy I was at all times. If I didn’t have anything to do, I could simply take a walk and absorb some more Indian culture, or catch a rickshaw to any part of the city. Since I’ve been home, I have felt completely useless.

The last week in India, we were all talking about what we missed about the U.S., mainly food. The first day back I had cheeseburgers for dinner, which was amazing. I still haven’t had the Big Mac that I said would be my first meal back. I had spaghetti and meatballs the other day. And yes, I had a BLT my second day back. I missed beef…a lot.

My friends and family are already starting to get annoyed with how much I talk about India. There were just so many experiences that I can connect to so many topics. I think the biggest thing I miss was the chaos and discomfort. Since I have been home, I haven’t really had to go out of my way to do anything. Everything is so neat and outlined.

Horn OK Please sticker on the back of trucks, so rickshaws know to honk their horn continuously and obnoxiously when you pass any and every thing

Another thing I miss is the rickshaws. I know that may come as a shock to anyone who has read my blogs, because of the amount I complain about them. Every rickshaw ride was a new adventure. I actually came close to getting hit in a rickshaw a few times, and had countless bad experiences with hijras and beggars. Going from that to driving within the lines in my parent’s car with A/C is a drastic change. I think that is a good metaphor for India: Where America is driving within the designated lines, India is driving wherever you please as long as you get to your destination in one piece. Chaotic, yet efficient.

Feeling small on the side of the Taj.

I also really miss the group. Going on the trip, I knew everyone through class, but didn’t really know anyone’s true personality. There were a few people on the trip that I actually went in with negative views towards. I loved our group though. Everyone was so different and brought something new to the table. Needless to say, I left India with completely changed viewpoints of every single person on the trip. I am actually pretty upset that since I am going abroad in the Spring, and a few people are going abroad in the Fall, I’ll have to wait a full year to see them.

Roommate Picture: Gautam and I at the Taj

I am so glad I did this trip. Not only was it great work experience (I got to see two major TV shows in production and post) but also it was great life experience. I talked, in my first post, about never before leaving the country. This was an insane trip to have as your first time outside the U.S. I want to see what I’ve been missing out on now. I want to start traveling to exotic places and experiencing different cultures.

I can’t believe it’s over. This trip went by so fast, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve talked about it so much already, and I know I will continue to talk about it for the rest of my life. I also have decided that I am not done with Mumbai. I will return later, be it a few years or a few decades. So for now, namaste India.

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The title of my post is a quotation from one of my favorite movies, Up. I think this pretty well defines my last few days in India. Everything was so new, everything was an adventure.

After getting off the plane in New Delhi, we boarded a bus to Agra. Even the 5-hour bus ride was full of new experiences. We saw countless monkeys running on rooftops, peacocks chilling on pipes, and cows, goats, and dogs lounging on the side of the road. 

The bus made one pit stop. During the 20 minutes we were off the bus, I experienced what might have been a minor sand storm and had a cobra held about a foot away from my face.

After arriving in Agra, we cleaned up a bit and then toured the Agra Fort, which was beautiful, massive, and really interesting. The attention to the smallest details amazed me. From a high point in the fort, we looked across the river at the Taj Mahal, getting a sneak peak of what we would see the next day. On the way into the fort we saw another exotic animal: parrots.

That night, we explored the hotel. Danielle found this crazy field with marble horse statues, which we of course mounted and took pictures on. We then toured the inner facility, finding all it’s ins-and-outs. After that we went on the roof and looked over the entire massive complex filled with fountains, gardens, and a pool.

The next day we awoke incredibly early to see the Taj in the morning light. The Taj Mahal was breathtaking. Even though I was tired, hungry, and already sweating, I was amazed at how beautiful the Taj and surrounding gardens were. I can’t even believe the amount of work that went into building it. Our tour guide said it took 22 years and 20,000 workers. I now understand why it is considered a wonder of the world. Every tiny detail was thought of, and it was entirely symmetrical.

After the Taj, we saw how exactly the fine stones are shaped and put into the marble. I actually got to try the stonecutter. It really made me appreciate the incredible effort that went into making the Taj. The emperor that had it built wanted it to represent a heaven on earth, and it truly resembles that.

Of course, getting home was an adventure of it’s own. The bus had some trouble, so we were stranded on the side of the road for a while. We also didn’t quite make it back with everyone’s luggage.

I can’t believe the trip is over already. Its still so surreal being home. I want to give myself a few days before I post my final blog post about the differences and what I miss most about the trip. Until then, Namaste.

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With only a few days left, I have started to compile my favorite memories from the trip. I would never have experienced all these events, met all these people, and been to all these places without the rickshaw. Rickshaws have to be the most dangerous, insane method of transportation. Below, I’ve analyzed the main steps to surviving a rickshaw ride:

A random rickshaw. Taken from Google Images.

1. Hailing

Depending on the time, rickshaws can be very hard to come by. That’s not       saying there aren’t plenty of them around, but for some reason at certain  times none of them will stop. Once you get a rickshaw to stop, you say where you want to go, with about a 50% chance that the rickshaw will actually take you there. The other 50% is that the driver just shakes his head and drives off, almost hitting you on his way out.

2. Directions

When you finally get a rickshaw, you tell them where you want to go and they do the typical head bobble, which is the Indian equivalent of nodding your head in agreement. Even if someone agrees to take you to your destination, there is little chance that the driver actually knows where he is going.

3. The Journey

Once you’ve finally secured an auto, it’s time to get to your destination. The same ride from one place to another can range from a simple, straightforward 20 minutes to a traffic-filled, convoluted hour and a half. The rickshaw is entirely open, with no doors, and is supposed to be able to fit 3 people. Actually riding with 3 people is extremely uncomfortable and claustrophobic. Because there are very few traffic laws in Mumbai, the rickshaw squeezes in and out of traffic, so, often you find yourself in the already ridiculously hot sun, squeezed in between two buses with the exhausts straight in your face.

4. The Destination

As previously stated, most drivers have no idea where you want to go, but get close enough that after pulling over a few times to ask for directions, you finally arrive at your destination.

5. The Payment

Rickshaw meters are not at all like taxis. You have no idea how much you owe until you arrive at your destination. Then you check the converter sheet to see how much you actually owe. Often the rickshaw drivers aren’t satisfied with this payment, even though it is correct and will try to ask you for more. At this point you simply get out and walk away. Also, sometimes meters run fast because they have been tampered with. If you call the driver out he usually backs down.

A few more tips:

-Because there are no doors, beggars, hijras, and salesmen will approach you and get very up close and personal. There is nothing to do besides say maaf karna (forgive me in Hindi) and look away. I started to bring little packaged candies for the kids who come up begging for money or food. This way you know they eat it and don’t just give the money to a third party.

-Never get in a rickshaw with a random guy who says he’s a Mumbai tour guide. Story to come in my next blog. Until then, namaste.

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I never realized until coming to India how fruit deprived I have been. When eating fruit, I stick to the basics: apples, bananas, strawberries, etc. In the past few weeks I have eaten some fruits that I didn’t even know existed, and a few I had only tasted in Snapple drinks.

The best thing about fruit in India is it is all fresh from the source, unprocessed, and sold to you for really cheap by street vendors.  Luckily, TG was there to photograph my entire fruity venture.

My first “exotic” fruit and all time favorite was a coconut. I’m not talking about the brown, hairy, dried-out kind, but the green fresh coconuts. The street vendors use their giant machetes to cut a little hole in the top and stick a straw through. After drinking the delicious, extremely hydrating water, you return the coconut to the vendor and he cuts the actual coconut flesh out. So, you get the awesome water, and the actual fruit for a total of 25 rupees (50 cents).

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Next fruit I tried was a lychee. To me, lychee’s taste exactly like grapes, but are much more complicated to eat because you have to remove the outer skin and pick the fruit around the massive pit.

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I’m not sure if I have ever had an actual mango. I probably have. I have definitely had mango candy, juice, and sorbet. The mangos here are great, super fresh and juicy.

Despite having plenty of pomegranate juice, I have never had a pomegranate. The pomegranates we bought both times were very disappointing. They were dry and had a few bruises. Despite that, I really enjoyed pomegranate, which shows that when I eventually have a good one, I am going to really enjoy it.

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The weirdest fruit I tried was the jackfruit. Jackfruit can be cooked raw to make a curry, or when ripe, you can eat the outer seeds. The seeds were complicated to take apart, but I really enjoyed the taste of the fruit. I can’t think of any other flavor to compare it to. It was very unique.

The only fruit that I have had here that I didn’t really like was the papaya. I didn’t really like the taste and thought it tasted less fruity and more like a melon than I expected.

That’s all the fruits I can think of. I still want to try a guava; maybe I’ll update this post later if I try one. Till then, Namaste.

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One thing I have learned on this trip is that there is a major difference between a tourist and a foreigner. For the first two weeks, I felt like a tourist. I wasn’t at all self-conscious of the way I acted, dressed, or spoke. I was in India to see the sights, not to assimilate.

It wasn’t until I started interning that I started feeling like a foreigner. For a few days, I assisted the floor director at Coke Studio@MTV, a program by Red Chillies Idiotbox. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. I met a bunch of great people and was actually pretty upset that the shoot ended so briefly after I had just begun to work there.

I have had plenty of jobs in many different industries. I worked at a grocery store, announced baseball games, interned at a radio show, and much more. However, none of my work experience helped me with the extreme difficulty I had with this job.

I can count the amount of words I can speak in Hindi on two hands. That being said, every task I had to do, even things as simple as grabbing an extra bar stool for a guitarist to sit on took much more work than normal. I was extremely grateful to the floor director for putting up with my inability to communicate and using excess English.

This experience was really eye opening to me. At a few of the jobs I have worked, I have been with people who speak very little English. After a few failed attempts, I usually just gave up on communicating with them and got annoyed with them for not understanding. Having this situation flipped so that I was the one unable to comprehend was incredible. It truly gave me a whole different outlook.

In the few days I was there, I could tell the major shifts from people eyeing me like I had no place there on day one, to making small talk and a few even thanking me for the work I was putting in.

As much as the three days on set were all major struggles and journeys in communicating, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Can’t wait to see what’s next. Namaste.

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It’s officially been two weeks. I hit the point a few days ago where I started getting a little homesick. I’m not homesick in the traditional sense. I’m more just craving America in every way, shape, and form.

At first it was an adventure experimenting with Hindi, but its starting to get tougher and tougher to understand people and for people to understand me. Communicating with auto drivers is nearly impossible. I do know a few select directional phrases, but they often don’t help because I have no idea where I’m going.  About 25% of my meals here consist of food I didn’t order. I usually just suck it up and eat the mistaken order because of how hard it is to switch.

The other day a group of us sat in a circle discussing the first foods we were going to have when we got back. I love Indian food, but there are certain foods that I need in order to maintain sanity. The thing I miss the most is meat.

In America, my diet consists of mainly beef and chicken. There is an abundance of chicken here, but beef is lacking. The only place I have seen some form of beef was at Chili’s, but even then you had to specify that you wanted beef in your burger and the people that ordered it said it didn’t taste like beef at all. As I sit here typing this all I want is a BLT sandwich. I tried ordering one from Subway the first week we were here, but they swapped the bacon with either ham or Canadian bacon. Regardless, it didn’t quench my desire for that crunchy, greasy, fat-riddled meat.

Everything I eat, even things as simple as a PB&J sandwich have a distinct Indian taste. It could be an extra spice or something. But then, a few nights ago, someone had the great idea of heading to Papa John’s in Hiranandani. I ordered a large cheese pizza, and have been chomping on the leftovers for pretty much every meal since. I finally found something in this crazy, amazing city that stops my desire for the comfort and ease of communication that getting back to the U.S. will give me.

I feel like I should clarify something. This post isn’t saying I am ready to go home, or even want to. All I am saying in this post is that I got over the hump that I knew from the start I would hit. Now to get back to reality. Namaste.

 

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Most people choose which sports team to support based on proximity, tradition, or players. After arriving in India, where cricket is treated like a religion, I knew exactly which team to support: The Kolkata Knight Riders.

My support for this team was solely due to my obsession with their owner, the great Shah Rukh Khan . SRK is probably the most famous man in India, acting in a crazy amount of Bollywood films. According to T.G., he is the equivalent of Tom Cruise in fame and people’s wavering opinions about him. Almost every clip we saw in class had him in it and I slowly became a borderline-creepy fan. I find it amazing that very few Americans know who he is, when he is absurdly famous here. I had no idea who he was before taking this course.

As I said before SRK owns the Knight Riders, so obviously I chose them as the team I would support. I knew they were doing well and advancing through the playoffs, but how no idea how far they had gotten. Yesterday, I was thrown off guard when I heard they were playing in the finals against the Chennai Super Kings only about 20 minutes after I had bought a knockoff Knight Riders jersey and my “King Khan: A Collection of SRK’s 8 Greatest Films” set.

So, I raced down to Chilies, where the rest of our group was and, after Gautam and I had changed into our new jerseys, took our seats to watch the game. I’m pretty sure every person in Chilies was making fun of us 10 Americans attempted to cheer for a team when we didn’t even know the rules. I kept asking people, “is that good,” or “why is he doing that?”

After finishing our food, we waited for halftime and then caught a rickshaw to bring us back to the hotel. Once we got back, a few of us huddled around the TV and watched the rest of the match.

Here’s where our ignorance of the rules has a major effect. Imagine how hard it is to see the team you are supporting lose, and how exciting it is to see that team win. Now picture the emotional rollercoaster we were on as we thought we saw our team lose twice until they finally won. We had not the slightest idea of the rules.

Me and Gautam posing after the win with our new jerseys on

After a quick celebration and twitter update, I stayed by the TV a little longer to watch them interview SRK. All in all, after watching all of my favorite teams lose in the playoffs this year (except the Celtics, knock on wood), it was nice to finally have a win, even if I didn’t know the team existed two weeks ago and only supported them for a period of three hours.

Now I’m more excited than ever to start my internship Wednesday, because SRK also owns Red Chilies.  Until then I have some downtime, and 8 new movies to watch. Namaste.

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