Day 4 (Tuesday, May 6): Mingling with the Locals

IMG_5254Breakfast was really good. Tasted like Asian cuisine with what I would call mei fun (the noodles pictured above in Cantonese). There were also curried potatoes, omelets, toast and jam. I also tried the coffee for the first time. It’s similar to the milk chai tea so it was tasty.

We received a lot of cultural and societal stories from Dr. Raj in class today:

1. If a pedestrian is hit in traffic, the person who hit them most likely runs away, especially if they’re not from the same town. A witness would help you and call the ambulance. If the person in the vehicle stays, other people will hit them.

2. From Dubai to India, you see a lot of boxes serving as suitcases. A lot of people make money from the middle east and are penny-pinchers so they will use boxes. If you are with this crowd, you will experience a lot of questions at customs.

3. Traditionally, babies are not named upon birth. They are named within 6 months. Most names are religious or relate to nature.

4.The template for a name is town born in, family name, and first name. To use our resident director as an example, his name is H.N. Nagaraja. The H (Haikady) is the town. N is the first letter of the family name. Nagaraja is his first name, which means king cobra.

5. Growing up in an extended family (uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents) is very normal. This parallels to Asian culture because we place emphasis on the family unit and taking care of your elders.

After class, I walked with Sesen to the wifi tree. Wifi really does work there!

Lunch: yellow rice, barley rice, spicy chick pea curry, another curry that was less dense and delicious, beans and a dish of tomato and onion in white sauce – this one didn’t settle for my taste buds. I went back and tried a coconut milk-like jelly dessert. It was served warm and reminded me of a dessert we have in Vietnamese culture. In fact, they taste almost identical so I enjoyed that. Food is such a fascinating topic to look at from culture to culture.

IMG_5256I also had a chance to talk to a student at lunch! His name is Raushen. He knew that we were OSU public health students studying abroad. He said he befriended some people from last year’s trip and knew we had a group that consistently visits. He asked me if I knew 2 students by name and I didn’t. I told him that there are 60,000 students at OSU so it’s difficult to know everyone. Later, I was sitting with Sesen in the rock garden using the wifi and she was looking at a graduation picture of the girl he mentioned. She graduate with a degree in public health so she does exist. Another crazy world connection. He is a 3rd year pharmacy student from the north and said it’s a different environment down here. I told him how people have said all cities in India are very different from one another. I didn’t know that Manipal U is like the ivy leagues of the US. Manipal U is a private college and costs a substantial amount for the common Indian student, but the education from this place is so sought after because of the brand/name. He asked how many students were with us. He told me that the long table our group normally sits at is called the fresher table because they reserve it for freshmen students during August/September. He asked if Sahanna was Indian and where her parents are from. I only knew her dad was from Gujarati. He said she looks like one and that every trip has one Indian. I said yeah it’s nice because she can tell us more about the food we eat and other cultural information. He questioned “it’s spicy huh?” I said “yep”. He asked what field trips we go on. I only knew Mysore. He told me about a beautiful place south of here that was influenced by the French. I admitted I didn’t know much of where we’re going, but he said enjoy it. He talked about beaches and I said we just went to one a couple days ago. I then commented that it’s interesting this university is very international and attracts a lot of students from different countries. He mentioned it started out as a medical college, so that’s why there’s so many med students on campus. They have a superior medical program. I mentioned Dr. Raj pointing out a Malaysian medical school here. I asked why that’s so. He said he didn’t really understand it either and maybe it’s cheaper here than in Malaysia and it might have started out as a 2 year in Malaysia and 2 year in India program but he was like why not just do it all here. Extremely friendly guy.

We walked over to the Manipal library to sit in the rock garden on the first floor. The wifi works beautifully there also. I was able to check emails, fix blog posts, facebook and instagram an O-H-I-O picture with a caption telling people to follow my journey in India. It feels kind of scary showing people your personal blog and letting them read into your thoughts, “aha” moments and other sentimental musings about life, but in the end I hope to positively impact others from the information I write about. And it may serve as a way for people to get to know me better because of my reserved nature.

I also vlogged with Sesen & other people in the rock garden! Yee I’m so excited to compile these videos. It was a good one because I got to capture other people on the trip. Sesen helped narrate. Kelsey, Sahanna and Rachel said hi.

2pm society and culture class with Dr. Bhat: he talked about castes a lot.

Quick fact: Doctors are not allowed to tell the gender of the child before the child is born due to the bias against females.

IMG_5258Tea time: lentil samosas and milk chai tea.

Our plan was to go shopping at 5pm but the sky let down a steady downpour of rain for 10 minutes. We watched from the cafeteria porch and eventually, the rain slowed down. Typically, rain is not seen until June, which is monsoon season but because of global warming or another reason, the pre-monsoon season is starting sooner which could have adverse effects on farmers and crops because the rain is not coming at the right time.

We walked to the outskirts of Manipal and caught a citibus for 8 rupees per person. We arrived in Udupi 10 minutes later. We walked through a town full of small shops, which reminded me of Chinatown. We went to a Krishna temple. Each Hindu temple has a bath where people wash themselves. We saw an elephant, which we weren’t allowed to take pictures of. Then, we went to a department store to buy kurtis or tunics. Finding the perfect one was so difficult because they laid out piles for everyone according to size, but then it all got messed up. It was hard because every piece of clothing was unique in the store not like in the US where they have multiple of each item stacked. The clearance section in the back had really good prices though. I found 5 to try in the dressing room and bought 2. I bought a silky blue-green swirl designed short sleeved kurti and a red long sleeve with a flower body design. The blue one is a bit large in the shoulder/arm region but I am planning to use it as PJ’s back in the states because the silky material is very cool feeling on the skin. The red one fits perfectly, and I am excited to wear it. In total it cost 1260 rupees ($21). The store was on the fancier side so I would like to find more casual modern wear clothing, such as lightweight quarter-sleeved Indian style blouses. We then went back to the temple to watch a ceremony. They put a holy statue at the top of the chariot, live music was played and the elephant led the parade down the street. A line of people pulled the chariot, people lit a path with small sections of fire and they burned a white cloth. They also launched sparklers from the ground. Later, we find out that this ceremony serves as an offering to the God.

IMG_0385

Then we walked to a restaurant near the bus station where we would eat dinner. Near the restaurant, we also got to see a mosque. The restaurant was separated into a meat and vegetarian side. We all decided to choose vegetarian and stick together. I sat at a table with Lindsey, Kelsey F. and Dr. Raj. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I asked for advice about what to get for a small non-fried meal (not a big fan of fried foods). I ended up getting the Dal Kitche. It was long rice cooked in a non-spicy sort of sweet curry. It had the consistency of a porridge, and I really liked it. It came with a large black pepper chip with yogurt but the pepper was very spicy so I let Kelsey eat it (also not a big fan of too spicy food). For dessert, Kelsey got mango ice cream with a fruit salad (apples, candy cherry, grapes) and Lindsey got a green pista (pistachio) slab of ice cream. My meal cost 75 rupees. In India, 5% tip is pretty generous. At the front of the restaurant, a man stood there greeting people and he asked if we wanted a group picture in front of the restaurant, and we said sure. Sahanna gave him her phone. The picture turned out really nicely despite it being a upward looking angle (normally makes people fat), but the lighting seemed like we were in a greenhouse so it was a good composition. Sesen and Sahanna were comparing hand sizes and Sahanna’s looked baby compared to Sesen and I’m like “hold up, let’s compare Sahanna”. Our hands were exactly the same size. I haven’t many people with the same hand size haha. So we decided we needed to name ourselves. Small hand twins was the first option, and then I said shawties. And Sahanna added Asian to it so now we’re known as Asian shawties. Bahaha. We then boarded the bus back to Manipal U.

10169342_10202837736917972_1235140705099697861_nIt was around 10pm when we got back and most of us felt very exhausted. Went back to the hostel, showered and hand washed my clothes. It was hard work. I have some heavy material such as t shirts and jean-like so that was harder to wash than light clothes, socks and undergarments. It took me about an hour. I might use the linen service next time because I was creating puddles of water in the room by hanging the clothes everywhere. The fan really helps in drying, but I get so cold during the night. I need to buy a warmer blanket… I wear a sweater, t-shirt, pants, scarf and socks to bed. I have a theory that bugs are attracted to humid weather so I am trying to keep my room as cold as possible. So far I’ve only seen several small bugs.

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