Log in

08 October 2008 @ 02:01 pm

Tuesday we went to meet another dance teacher. She asked us what kind of dance we wanted to learn and we basically told her everything. So she's going to make us a fusion mix of the major regional folk dances (i.e. not classical) such as Bhangra (Punjab), Ghoomar (Rajasthan), Dandiya (Gujarat), Garba (Gujarat), Lavni (Maharastra) and one or two others from the East which I don't remember the names of. And about half of those are going to be done in a Bollywood style, ha!


The first three classes we worked on Bhangra. Bhangra has very high energy moves and shoulder movement is key. It’s a lot of work but very fun too. I’ve tried to Bhangra before and failed but something clicked during class and I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. Except this one move where we have to sweep our leg around and under our other leg; I can’t get the hang of that one. I’m told it’s called the coffee grinder in the West.


Friday night, our teacher had a party for all her students to celebrate Navratri and play Dandiya. We went to Tulsi Baag and bought Dandiya sticks but we didn’t know that it was a celebration with everyone dressed up so nicely so we just came in our workout clothes. I don’t quite remember how I ended up with my partner, Devika,  but all of a sudden a young girl between the ages of 9-12 was showing me the steps and looked after me for the rest of the night, making sure I got a space in the circle and knew what we was going on. It was mostly all women, young girls and their moms with a few boys here and there. At first it was just the students playing then we put the sticks down a formed a huge circle with the adults as well, the little kids in the center in their own circle, and went around slowly with different hand movements and claps. Then they sang a Marathi song while in the circle. Our teacher explained these as simple “time pass” activities. Then there was dinner with a whole bunch of desserts that I couldn’t finish. Also each class of hers performed something they learned. She made us perform our measly 1 minute Bhangra choreography. That wasn’t embarrassing or anything.


This week we started Ghoomar, a dance I’m very familiar with having choreographed it last year with a friend, and I was happy to see we did a lot of things right though our moves were on the simpler side. Also, I learned how to spin on my knees!! Go to youtube and look up rajasthani knee spin and it should come up with what I’m talking about. I can do that! It’s actually not that hard and its more about creating the illusion of spinning than actual spinning. But still, very cool. And now my knees are massively bruised.


On the less formal side of things, we’ve managed to convert the girls across the hall to bollywood and last night we found them dancing along with Mahi Ve. We’ve determined to memorize that dance and make everyone else in the program do so as well. Will keep you updated on that!

Current Location: hotel
Current Music: Khuda Jaane
02 October 2008 @ 10:52 am

I'm finding it hard to set aside time for writing. Now that school has started whenever I have free time I feel obligated to read or something. But I'll talk about the highlights of the first couple of days here.  

Saturday we went phone shopping, most people decided not to bring their phones and just get phones once we got here. The way it works in India is you buy a phone and then buy pre-paid minutes. And once you run out of minutes you go back and buy more. About 15 of us just piled into this one room phone store all wanting to buy phones and none of us really knowing how it worked. The guy acted like that happened all the time and basically just showed us three phones and asked us to raise our hand depending on which we wanted. I choose the middle-priced one for 2100 Rs (which is around $40) and I'm very happy with it although it didn't come with Bollywood ringtones like the cheapest option did. Explain to me how that's fair.

Sunday we went to a dance teacher to talk to her about giving us lessons and she was finishing up a class so they preformed a little for us. The class was comprised of little girls and they did some classical forms first then they danced to Sajanji Vari from Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd and Pappu Can't Dance from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. It was great; the kids were all very cute. And after class they all touched their teacher's feet before leaving. However our program coordinator wasn't happy with that lady or her dance space, which was very small.


After visiting the dance teacher, we took rickshaws to another part of the city across the river to a more commercial road. There we went to a big store that sold DVDs, CDs, and books of all kinds. It was pretty western though so I couldn’t find Harry Potter in Hindi but I did buy two DVDs – Johnny Gaddaar and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. From there some of us walked a couple blocks to a restaurant called the Blue Nile which served Iranian food (Indian food as well). The kababs and biriyani were really good. After that we took rickshaws back to the hotel. On the way back, one girl, Claire, asked the rickshawwala (in Hindi) which road we were on because there were a lot of stalls selling things. First he says, “oh Hindi!” and she says “haan haan (yes yes) then he tells us, “chor baazaar” (thief bazaar). We ask if we heard right, chor as in chori (robbery) and he says yes and then asks us what it is in English. We became friends, and the rest of the ride back he was our tour guide pointing out different buildings, the river, etc. He tells us it’s a dream of his to go to America. We ask him where and he says, “America!” and we say, yes but where in America? New York? Yes, he says, and Washington and Los Angeles. Claire tells him not to go to LA, it’s not that nice and too expensive. He asks, so Washington is cheap? He also tells us about his 3 year old son, Vivendra and asks Claire if she’s married. She said no because she’s a student right now and he says, you can do them both together. I’m not sure if we asked him for us name, in any case I don’t remember it now but that was a very nice ride back.

Current Mood: bouncybouncy
28 September 2008 @ 08:03 am

Got into Mumbai around 1:30am. We were scheduled to arrive at midnight but we had to sit on the plane in London while they tried to find the luggage of 8 people who checked in but never boarded the plane. Understandable security risk, but two hours? Ugh. But this was the only problem we encountered the whole trip, so I shouldn't complain. Customs took 2 seconds, the luggage came within 5 minutes of us arriving at baggage claim, ALL the luggage came and I enjoyed every movie I watched on the plane. ;-) Sadly no good Hindi movies were being shown.

Got outside the airport and found the people picking us up. We waited an hour for the car to come and then it was another hour drive to the hotel. I got to sit in the front next to the driver, so I had a nice view of Mumbai and the mostly empty streets. I'm fairly certain we drove along Marine Drive (a road featured in many bollywood movies) but didn't have the courage to ask the driver. But I'm pretty sure it was. We arrived at our hotel (YWCA!) around 4am. After surfing the TV and checking out the bathroom, etc. We took a little nap and woke up at 7:30 for breakfast. Weird thing about the showers, there's no lip to divide that area from the rest of the bathroom and keep the water in. Nope, just a curtain.

Breakfast was good, I'm having no problems adjusting to the food. I had idli sambhar and three pieces of toast. After breakfast, about five of us decided to go walking around and also find an ATM. We decided to head for the ocean. I knew we drove past it so I lead everyone back we way we came. Of course, travelling by car and walking are not the same thing and after twenty minutes we decided we better ask directions. We did and were told to go straight, then turn right, ask people for Church Gate and then from there ask for Marine Drive. This is where my compass came in handy! I noted that straight from where we were was between West and Northwest, so we retraced our steps back to the hotel to make sure we didn't get completely lost and then headed west.

Crossing the streets is an adventure because there are hardly any traffic lights and there are roundabouts instead of intersections. Also there are no lanes. Well they're there, I can see them painted on the road, but they might as well not be. So you just have to go when you see an opening. And weave around the motorbikes, though really they weave around you. We aked for directions one more time and then we passed through the oval maidan, a big oval shaped grassy area where people were playing cricket or just laying down. From there we found Church Gate, a roundabout not an actual gate, and from there a short walk to the sea. We sat on the wall for a bit and looked out over the water. Then we had to head back because we needed to check out of the hotel by noon. On the way back we passed the restaurant Jazz By the Bay, which was in the movie Rock On!!, my first filmi moment. :) That pretty much concludes my encounter with film city. Sadly no star sightings but I'll be back.
Current Location: The Oakwood Hotel
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
26 September 2008 @ 09:50 pm
I have made it safely to India! I explored Mumbai for a little bit this morning then we hoped on a bus after lunch and drove for four hours to Pune. At this point I've gone about 48 hours without sleeping for more than three hours in a row, so I'm about to crash. I'll write a more detailed account of my adventures so far later.
Current Location: Pune
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: thw sweet melody of honking horns on the road right outside my window
22 September 2008 @ 01:31 am

So I'm leaving for India soon. I still have 3 more days left in the good ol' USA and we've come up to NY because it's easier to fly out from here than Dallas. Also, this way I can fly with my friend from Vermont who's also in the program. It's always a bit sad when we come back to NY because it just reminds me how close the family used to be back when everyone lived in practically the same town and how I missed out on all that. ( Everyone was so close that family friends on my mom's side knew family friends on my dad's side and extended cousins and all that.) Now I have to settle seeing the cousins and everyone once every four years or so, when there's a wedding or ordination. As a result I don't know them all to well and I find that sad. What's the point of having a huge family if you can't take advantage of it. :P Although one cousin works on internships at the UN and gave me his card. I might pursue that for a bit and see if I like it. Maybe I'll wait till I get fluent in Hindi so I can boost up my resume, lol.

But India's getting closer and I think I'm finally starting to get nervous. I've never been out of the country for more than 9 days but I don't think that's really a problem. Now that I'm in college leaving home isn't as big a deal as it used to be. But still, different country and all that. I keep thinking, "pssh, It's just India, that's hardly a foreign country to me anymore" but then I really think and I realize I don't really know anything about it. Yeah, I watch movies, but that's not reality. I've eaten Indian food at restaurants but that's not an accurate representation of asli hindustani khana. I can understand songs and movies pretty well, but will I be able to understand the everyday guy on the street? As much as I hate people who aren't familiar with India equating it with poor people and cows in the street, there will be a lot of poverty and over-population.

The real problem is I have no idea what to expect and subsequently have no idea how to prepare myself. When I imagine where I'll be next week I just draw a blank. It's weird not knowing what's ahead for a sizeable chunk of your future, but that's the point isn't it? Get out there and experience something truly different. For as much as I get "Why India?" and "What are you gonna do with a major in South Asian Languages and Civilizations?" no one ever syas I'll regret it or I won't have a wonderful time (not that I'd listen to 'em if they did :P). But it's nice to know going abroad and seeing the world is unanimously considered completely worthwhile and praiseworthy.

And so the countdown begins.
Current Location: Long Island
Current Music: Picchle Sat Dinon Mein - Rock On!!
I had all my music on shuffle the other day and Jimmy Buffet's Wasted Away Again in Margaritaville came on. It occured to me how amusing it would be to make a vid with it using Devdas clips, and so here it is. This one has been the most challenging so far, because the song is freakin' 4 minutes long and the lyrics are too specifc but hopefully it brings others as much joy as it brings me.

18 December 2007 @ 06:01 am
I'M ADDICTED. Help. Not really 'cause I love it so much! I've put the software on my Christmas list and am actually considering bumping of the OSO, making of book to make room for it. And I still might not get it because people insist on giving me money that will go towards my India trip. Yes I know, priorities and all that, but I CAN'T HELP MYSELF, that's why they call it an addiction. Well, I still have 25 days averaging 3 days/vid so I can make about 8 more before it's good bye free software.

Vid numero dos is happier and more riduculous than the first one, and was tons of fun to make. *Warning* May prove fatal to strong SRK haters.

I present "If You Want It To Be Good Girl." 

P.S. I suspect the synching was messed up a tinsy bit in the transfer and maybe no one will notice but I do, and I swear it was spot on before and brilliant. Ah well.

Why is it so late early?
Current Location: My Room
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: If You Want it to be Good Girl
14 December 2007 @ 10:41 pm

Well the fruit of my 2 1/2 day labor is finally done...

smurphmurph made a fan vid! 

It's of Saif and SRK AKA the best jodi that never existed but was majorly hinted at! Enjoy.



Current Location: My room
Current Music: "All or Nothing"
07 December 2007 @ 01:00 am

This day I speak of was Wednesday. I was out all day and loved it! I got to tramp around in the snow in my boots (splashing everyone around me) while we shopped and ate on Devon Ave. (the Indian street). I had Masala Dosa for the first time and have now brought the list of things I can eat at an Indian restaurant up to...5. =P I'm not an adventurous eater. 

After we got lunch we went to a religious store, grocery store (they were playing Main Agar Kahoon = my new favorite grocery store). While we were there I made my friend take a picture of me next to a SRK  ad. Hopefully she will put that up soon. Then we got pulled into a clothing store that had a "really good sale", insisted the lady who all but pulled us in off the street. They did give us all free churiyaan (bangles) which I love! I've never actually worn churiyaan before because they have always been too small, but these fit and I haven't taken them off since (except when they set off the airport security)! I love the chan chan chan. =P

We also went to a book/DVD/CD shop so I could buy more "हिट फिल्मी गीत" (Hit Filmi Songs) books. They have almost all the biggest film song lyrics from a certain time period written in devanagari. Not only is it good practice, but I can finally figure out what I'm being singing all this time. =] And my friend got me Amar, Akhbar, Anthony and An Evening in Paris because I helped her with Hindi this year and it was buy one get one free. I don't think I did enough to warrant a gift but if smugly correcting someone in a language you're still learning yourself not only gives you a confidence boost but free movies as well, I'll tutor the whole class! 

Among the other free things I got on this trip was bargaining advice. Apparently speaking in Hindi and calling the ladies in the store Auntie will lower the price. I was told scornfully this will only work if one is Indian, but my friend clearly is not aware of how far a little hindi goes. Now all I have to do is work on that thing called self-confidence and just see how much I can save! 

When we got back to campus I had a sleep over in celebration of no more finals. Basically we rocked out to Guitar Hero until our bodies could take no more. Well, actually I could have taken more but my friend fell asleep. Which turned out for the best anyway because I got off to a late start as it was the next morning. But no worries, I still got to the airport in time for my flight. I broke out my हिट फिल्मी गीत on the plane and tried to catch the eye of the Indian couple sitting across the aisle but sadly they slept the whole time. Oh well, another failed attempt at Indian Baiting (TM).





Current Location: Home Sweet Home
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Baazigar O Baazigar
04 December 2007 @ 11:39 pm
I just finished with all my exams today. Yay! With four weeks of  idleness (well I will be working, but a seasonal job at Borders doesn't really count) ahead of me, I decided to start a live journal account. And by decided, I mean said yes when some friends told me to get one. 

This space will probably turn into a Bollywood journal more than anything else, because Bollywood has taken my interests and is holding them captive. I swear I used to have other hobbies! Maybe I'll get into Fantasy books again over the break. Or maybe I'll just read King of Bollywood and The Far Pavillions, which sari_mishaplent me a year ago and I still haven't touched.

Current Location: House Lounge
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Fanaa For You