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Posts Tagged ‘SU Abroad’

Over the course of my time in India, I’ve had so many unique experiences that I will remember for months and years to come. One such experience occurred yesterday on a rickshaw ride back to our apartment. Initially, rickshaw rides were novel forms of transportation; before this trip, I had only seen them in the movies, and grew excited by the possibility of riding around in them. As the days passed, rickshaw rides became a routine exercise, like a catching a cab in New York City.

Yesterday, however, presented a deviation in the typical ride in the rickshaw that I had grown accustomed to.

At this point in the year in India, the monsoon season is just about starting. Monsoons are long bursts of torrential rains that last for long amounts of time. Fortunately, we have not been caught in rainstorms that have lasted for really long amounts of time, but we have been out and about in rains that fairly powerful.

One such hard rainfall happened yesterday. On our way back from the Infiniti Mall, Danielle and I rode back in a rickshaw to our apartment, and, of course, it started to rain extremely hard for almost the entire ride back. Riding back, we saw how the rains flooded the once dry streets, and also seeing cars and other vehicles rendered useless by large lakes of water filling the streets.

It seemed as if the entire character of the city changed because of the rains. Things slowed down tremendously; the rains made everything move at a snail’s pace, grinding the hustle and bustle of Mumbai to a halt.

Seeing how the monsoons are yearly occurrence, I observed how much needs to be done in regards to proper flood control in the streets. It would alleviate many of the problems that ensue because of the rains. I’m not sure how much progress has been made, but much more needs to be done.

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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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Mumbai is a city replete with treasures wherever you may look. One such treasure is Linking Road, a road that is well renowned because of the plethora of shops that dot the entirety of the road. I had a chance to go to Linking Road earlier this week, which reminded me greatly of the little hole in the wall shops that I had encountered when I went to China four years ago.

In fact, some of the best things that I was able to pick up from China came from those little shops. Mumbai has not been exception to that rule. On a deeper level, I think I really got more a glimpse of the real shopping culture that constitutes Mumbai, rather than the ersatz edifices that are the malls in this city. In a lot of ways, those malls remind me of home, rather than representing something that is truly Indian in nature.

On my excursion to the shops on Linking Road, I was able to obtain a nice shirt and really comfortable shoes for myself, and nice shoes for my mom. All in all, I really enjoyed my time perusing the various vendors up and down Linking Road. I think I gained a greater sense of what really makes up Mumbai.

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Over the course of two weeks in India, I have seen immeasurable sights, ranging from the incredibly grandiose to sights that exemplify the exact opposite. I have written before about the dichotomy of the rich and poor that exists here in Mumbai, but in this post, I wanted to pay particular attention to a certain issue that is rampant in Mumbai: a large stray dog population.

According to “The Welfare of Stray Dogs,” an organization in Mumbai which has dedicated itself to reducing the stray dog population, exposed garbage and slums are the two primary sources for the reason why the stray dog population is so large.

I was actually quite heartened when I did a cursory glance on the Internet for organizations that are dedicated towards helping improve the stray dog population. As an avid animal lover, and dog owner, it breaks my heart to see random dogs walking around the streets with no home, and no indication of help coming to them. I hope something tangible will be reached in order to solve this problem.

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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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