Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Traveling Through the South

The past week had been a world wind of travel. Flying from Bombay to Trivandrum was fun. There we (my parents, their friend Lenny, and I) visited the famous Shiva temple and the palace there, while trying to brave the heat of the south. From there it was a fun trip by car to the backwaters of Kerala for a houseboat experience. We were greeted at the boat with coconuts (filled with wonderful coconut water) and took off for the smaller canals in our slightly smaller boat (two bedrooms only and no pool or rooftop seating area- yes some of these boats have pools on top which is crazy). The food on the boat, cooked by the three man crew, was incredible and contained fresh local vegetables, fish and prawns. Although we were hit by some hard rain for about an hour of our trip, we had a great time being wined and dined while watching the beautiful scenery, villages and people go by.

After the houseboat it was off to Cochin were we ate more great fish and prawns, watched the Chinese fishing nets, visited the Synagogue, palace, spice market, and beautiful old buildings of Fort Cochin (old Cochin). We also ate at the highly recommended Dal Roti restaurant, which I highly recommend to anyone heading that way.

Then it was time for a 7 hour drive to Ooty, in the mountains. We traded the crazy hot weather of Kerala for the cool weather of the mountains and the views of palm trees and ocean side for mountains, tea gardens and windy roads. Which were fun to walk around, but made me a bit sick.

Now we are in Mysore for some more palace viewing, market walking and temple viewing before its back to Bombay.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back in Bombay but... with the parents

After finally beginning to get somewhere with my work here in Bombay, my gains have been cut short by a visit from parents, who came all the way from New York City to visit me.
Although I am soooo excited to have them here, I am bummed about not being able to get work done, I just don't want to be away for so long and have everyone at my fieldwork site forget me.
Hopefully they wont.

On to the fun stuff: I have been introducing my parents to Bombay. We did the standard Colaba tour, I showed them around Bandra (where I live), took them to my field site to visit, went to Elephanta Island, and saw a bollywood movie (Billu Barber) which was not as bad as I thought it would be and which my parents liked a lot probably because they could not understand the script. We have also been doing a lot of eating at some great restaurants my friends recommended. It has been wonderful to introduce my parents to coastal Indian food, as oppose to the north Indian food that is more easily found in the USA. All in all, its been nice to explore Bombay with them, especially since I have not had time to explore it myself.
Next stop: Kerala

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bombay and Kolkata

As I begin to get settled in Bombay. I have had to learn a lot about my new city. I have gotten a seasonal train pass for the Bombay computer train/metro which will enable me to get around the city for only 340 rupees until May 15th. Although the train is very cheap it is also very crowded so I have also been learning about which trains I need to take when. For example some trains begin and end at my station, Bandra station, these trains are less crowded because they do not travel farther out and therefore less people can take them. But in general I find that the ladies train car (yes there is a separate car for women) is crowded and there is a lot of pushing but it is manageable and not as crazy as the men's car, where during rush hour you can often find men riding on top of the car instead of inside the train.

I have also been wandering around my new neighborhood and I have found a jogger's park where it costs 2 rupees to get in and use the nice dirt track. This has been great for my morning runs. I have also found a good and cheap restaurant near my house that delivers if I ever get hungry. Speaking of food there is also a place called The Bagel Shop, which sells... bagels! Although they are no where as good as the bagels in NYC, they are boiled and do resemble a bagel. I have also started carrying out my research with advertising agencies and have made inroads into new products and their ads.

But of course as just as I am get settled, I had to leave for 5 days to go to Kolkata for the annual South Asian Fulbright Conference, where Fulbrighters, alumni, and those who run the program from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan all get together for a conference. I have been able to listen and see other Fulbrighters present about their work and I was able to present mine as well. It was generally very well received which was so exciting for me. I have also been able to explore Kolkata a bit and even try some famous Bengali sweets! Its been a good trip but its back to Bombay early morning tomorrow for some frantic work before my parents are come for a visit! This means more travel. Get ready for some more commentary on Bombay as I explore it like a tourist, as well as a trip south!