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Posts Tagged ‘Iris Park’

As I mentioned in my previous post, India is turning out to be a land of contradictions.

I like to think that I have a broad, accepting palate that’s on its way to being fit to take traveling and befitting of someone who’s Korean-American and lives in North Jersey (these two traits would help make for a more adventurous eater then say, someone from small-town Vermont). Indian food in the US isn’t strange to me and I’m not adverse to diverse spices.

Despite all that though, I am having trouble adjusting to my diet here. The SUBollywood group and I have spoken countless times about what we’re looking forward to indulging in once we get home. Korean food, shellfish, summer berries, bacon, and raw veggies top my list. I get hit with cravings for simple but really unattainable things that I wouldn’t think twice about at home. I don’t eat much beef, but I want a steak just because I can’t have it.

Deciding what I want to eat and if it’ll upset my stomach is a daily dilemma that I really didn’t foresee being such a issue on this trip. India is a good lesson in gratitude.

India is also the most outside my comfort zone I’ve ever been, but I still can’t ignore that I’m living a lot more comfortably than the vast majority of the people who live in this country. The income gap is unbelievable and either the rich are very rich or the poor are very poor (by Western standards). Every time I feel uncomfortable about something, I feel chastised by the poverty that is constantly unavoidable. I crave an iced tea, but then I see street children begging for water. I feel tired at work, but then I think about how lucky I am to have a corporate internship. I think about how hard the hotel bed is, but I can’t help but enjoy the air-conditioning and think of all the people outside sweltering in the heat who don’t have beds.

Not to say that I’m not enjoying this experience and learning from it, but I will be a very thankful girl when I go home.

Iris

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I have no idea what’s going on at home in the States.

I don’t know which summer hurricanes are going to hit where, when the next Apple product comes out, why a major character died on Mad Men (thanks for the spoiler Diplo), or even what the weather’s like in my hometown.

Things that have permeated the international bubble of SU Bollywood, as pointed out by Anthony:

  1. The Zombie Apocalypse is coming. See: Floridian man who ate someone’s face while on “bath salts”, college student who ate his roommate’s organs, and cannibalistic porn actor sending dismembered body parts through the mail.
  2. The Dutch artist who taxidermied his beloved cat Orville, and then turned him into a helicopter. (Possibly my future husband.)

Wisconsin’s governor didn’t get recalled. New Jersey had primaries. The Queen’s Jubilee party was awesome. That about sums up the entirety of my current events knowledge. Can you tell that I shouldn’t have been a broadcast journalism major?

Despite my ignorance, life goes on. In fact, I don’t feel any more ignorant for not knowing how my county voted, what the latest on the JPMorgan scandal is (good job making friends SU, seriously), or what new dotcom start-up is trendy for the week. It’s actually pretty nice shuffling along in my own sphere of influence and not having to pretend that things matter when they really don’t. I tend to compartmentalize, and “out of sight, out of mind” never rang truer.

I get up and shower/eat breakfast/talk to people in the US. The first big event of the day is trying to get a reliable ride to work. I do my working girl thing at the Disney UTV office. I desperately hope for a good driver and less traffic on the commute home. Once I’m home I’ll shower/eat/socialize and maybe watch a DVD or read a book. It’s a pretty routine life interning with SU Bollywood, but TG has shown us some amazing things during our free time and insists that everyone has weekends off.

More and more, I feel like people are telling and not showing the importance of things. I’m pretty sick of having simultaneous helpings of social-media-is-the-new-black and you-kids-need-to-get-off-your-computers shoved down my throat. In a country where people don’t have clean drinking water, let alone Internet access, I’ve found that neither is really as vital or pernicious as people insist.

Of course I miss home comforts but India is turning out to be paradoxical and contradictory for me. I’m really enjoying being away but I also know how good we’ve got it back home. I love having fresh mangoes and coconuts but I’d sell my soul for a homecooked meal. I worship the sun but I’m looking forward to experiencing it a lot less intensely from my deck.

I think I’ll do my next blog on all the things I miss at home and how guilty it makes me feel because I’m in India.

Iris

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I’m blogging from my desk at Disney UTV here in Mumbai, India. (JB Nagar if I’m really specific.)

My office building is shiny glass and chrome from the outside. Inside, central air-conditioning reminds me to dress conservatively for work and Indian sensibilities, and all of my coworkers speak English.

My commute can be really easy or extremely irritating, based on my auto-rickshaw driver for the trip and the traffic on his selected route. The morning commute takes less than half an hour and the evening one is always exemplary of Mumbai traffic–long, hot, and loud (no horn, ok please?).

Once I get to the office I check in with my boss and spend the rest of the day researching over 300 film festivals, potential markets to distribute to. I’m getting pretty familiar with Excel, withoutabox.com, and Google Calendar. I have a good overview of the international film festival circuit too.

Right now my colleagues are promoting Rowdy Rathore. SU Bollywood enjoys its tagline “Don’t Angry Me,” as well as its titular mustachioed hero.

I have to get back to working for the Mouse now.

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So today the bharat bandh is going on. It’s this massive protest/strike/riot that was organized by the main political opposition party in India against rising gas prices. The hotel staff didn’t want us vulnerable Americans walking beyond the DMart at the end of the road, which isn’t even open because no one can get to work.

Incarceration begets incapacitation. Feeling hemmed in, I had breakfast (a puri, some chickpea curry, and lots of mango juice) with my roommate Mina and TG while watching news reports on the bharat bandh. The on-scene reporters on Indian CNN speak way too quickly, which was funny because people trying to sound like journalists in the U.S. always do the slow and deep Walter Cronkite thing (which is equally funny–NPR is notorious for this, really).

I had a shower and did a bunch of hand laundry. I’ve spent most of my day reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green which I borrowed from Mina. I thought it would make me sad, but I was most touched by the author’s descriptions of Amsterdam. I like places more than I like people (really like) in general.

I know that people are expecting lots of introspection and American-girl-in-India and whatnot from this blog but that kind of stuff is pretty trite to me.

I wish the fruit-wallas were around. I’ve been told to have pink guava by my friend Betsy and I could really go for some fresh coconut water.

That’s it.

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The auto-rickshaw is definitely my new favorite mode of transportation. Traffic in Mumbai is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and doing it in an auto-rickshaw lends it a whole other dimension.

Auto-rickshaws are three-wheeled motorized vehicles with room for the driver in the front and up to three passengers in the back (some people take that only as a suggestion). They’re open on the sides so you get the full experience of what it’s like to whiz through the streets of a slum or sit in traffic as the dust swirls around you and the sun beats down.

Traffic lights and signs are a rarity and there is organized chaos instead of orderly lanes. People make u-turns how and wherever they want; basically anything goes. Despite all this, any of us have yet to see an accident. People are constantly honking and all the trucks have “HORN OK PLEASE” painted on their backs. The honking is a way of letting people know you’re there because Mumbai drivers go and do whatever they want.

Someone earlier on this trip said drivers here are simultaneously the rudest and most polite ever. I’ll agree with that. I plan on videotaping an auto ride and posting it here; this post doesn’t do it justice.

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I’m from a very small suburban town in New Jersey. Okay, it is ten minutes from the George Washington Bridge and New York City, but it’s also a mile square and filled with people I’ve known since I learned how to write in full sentences and had braces on my teeth. Why is this relevant? The most common response my mom has gotten to the announcement that I’m going to India/in India is, “But why?”

Leonia has its fair share of people with Big Fish Little Pond syndrome. It’s much easier to rack up accomplishments and feel a sense of importance in a small community that’s basically the epitome of a comfort zone. Some people think a four hour drive to Syracuse University is crazy far, despite all the students who have to fly from places like California and China. However, I do understand that bubble mentalities are hard to escape from and even be aware of.

Why am I in Mumbai? Well, I needed more credits towards my degree (which I’ll hopefully finish this December, because I took a year off school after I studied in London). I wanted something killer for my resume (I’ll be interviewing with Disney India, fingers crossed). Most importantly I really, really like traveling and the personal growth that stems from it. I get it that traveling can be a time-consuming and expensive luxury. I don’t get it when people can’t see beyond the parameters of their own confines and refuse to accept that there are other mindsets and other ways of living.

Today TG took the class to Trace VFX, a visual effects company founded by two Class of 2006 SU alumni. Jon (Doc Mason’s son) and Matt (a former HillTV GM) are still in their twenties. They have offices in New York and Mumbai. They have clients there and in London and Singapore. They have work featured in a Super Bowl spot. Do I need to continue?

I’m fairly easy-going but difficult to satisfy. A disclaimer, I think it’s wonderful if people are fulfilled easily; I’m envious of that trait. I personally just don’t envision the Tudor home, the two kids, the dog, and the mini-van for myself. Maybe I’ll end up wanting it someday, but for now I can’t escape the images of a daunting mortgage, petty PTA squabbles, animals that live better than humans, and a waste of money and gas.

As TG referred to him, “Music Maestro D Wood” of Whistling Woods International, told the class today that a consumption-driven society is crap. Measuring wealth in social status and material goods is embarrassing when it’s compared to the happiness that some of the poorest people in the world still feel despite living in what Western society considers unlivable conditions. He told us to do what makes us happy and forget about pleasing obscure relatives and proving ourselves to pseudo-authority figures.

India represents the unknown in a lot of ways. The unknown is hard and scary and challenging and can completely mess you up for life, in good ways and bad ones. It’s easy to eat at the Chili’s in Hiranandani. It’s easy to go to school close to mom. It’s easy to send your resume to small organizations. It’s easy to forget that there isn’t always one correct way of doing things.

I sincerely apologize if this post comes off as peevish and patronizing, but I feel that I had to get it off my chest. When middle-aged people can’t understand why I want more, I get very frustrated. People give me flack for doing what I want and feel, but I don’t want to live any other way if I can help it. It’s common to hear that one should see India before one dies. Maybe I can best explain it to the town ladies this way: I just got here earlier, but we can compare notes on the flip side.

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I’m sitting on the floor in my bedroom on my last night ever in my apartment in Syracuse. It’s empty except for a bed frame, a suitcase, a duffel bag, and pictures on the wall of Downton Abbey, Jon Hamm, Harry Potter, Rooney Mara, and the like. My roommate Amrita has moved out. My other roommate Genevieve is in her room. My roommate Kat is in the living room with our friend Ali.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be on a train to New York City. I plan on watching the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to keep myself occupied, and to keep people away from me because who wants to share a seat with someone watching a movie about a journalist and a near sociopath hunting a sadistic murderer? I’ll spend two nights in North Jersey with my family and friends. And on Friday, I’ll take the second-longest flight of my life from Newark to Mumbai. (Should I call it Mumbai or is that a misguided PC thing? Is Bombay better?)

I haven’t traveled outside the US since I spent fall semester 2010 in London with SU Abroad. It was undoubtedly the best thing I ever did. So far I’ve been to England, South Korea, Ireland, Italy, France, Holland, and Greece. India is radically different from any place I’ve ever visited. I don’t know what to expect, except that I’ll be really, really hot. I’ve added the Mumbai weather data to my iPhone and it seems to be constantly 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

An alum who made a big impression on me gave me some advice as a college senior (super senior now I guess, I have another semester to deal with the fallout of violently rejecting broadcast journalism). Melissa Rich (former General Manager at CitrusTV and one of the people who made Papa John’s a national name) said her best advice to the class of 2012 is to travel. She told us to see as much of the world as possible while we’re young and healthy and not tied down to careers and families and other responsibilities that typically exist for life.

It was good advice, especially since there’s so much to see and so little that I know.

Also, I’m really excited to be traveling with my classmates and TG! TG, you know how to keep it real. Ok, sorry for the long post. I have a lot of words.

Iris

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