Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Traveling in South India

OK, so this entry is going to be really freakin' long, so I suggest you read about only one location at a time. Sorry to throw a whole batch at the same time, but internet connections and free time have been at a premium lately. As I get more free time this December, I will post more pictures, backtracking through all my entries and finding good pictures to relate my travels.

The first place we went to was Goa. Goa is the smallest state of India, a former colony of the Portuguese. In face, Goa was not part of independent India until 1961, when Nehru had the Indian army invade Goa and take it forcibly from the Portuguese!

So, on Friday we took a train from Pune to Margao, Goa. Same thing as always--long train ride, reading and sleeping. We got to our hotel, Nanu Resort, and it's pretty fabulous. This is like 8 in the morning, and our rooms won't be available until noon. So, we have some breakfast and head out to the beach, which is right outside the hotel. The beach is amazing, and I don't even like beaches. The ocean is SO warm, the sand is soft, and it's warm and sunny all day long. I spent that day swimming, reading, eating (room service and meals were all paid for by the program), and napping.

Elephant on the beach:

Now, the hotel's clientele have... what I would call 'character'. The majority of them are senior citizen Russians. There was Russian on a lot of the signs, next to the English. So, we're the youngest people in this hotel, but we were OK with that--we made our own fun.

The next day (Saturday), we actually went out. Ugh, leaving at 8 am sucks big time, and we leave at this time every day. Anyway, we go to the old city of Goa, and we check out a bunch of churches. It brought back lots of memories from high school humanities class--church after church after church. They were different enough, though, and some of them incorporated Indian decorative motifs, which was pretty cool. We also went to a museum and a temple complex, too, which were also decently interesting.

Cool old gate that was of an old temple, but then became the Portuguese viceroy's palace:

An altar in a pretty cool church, of the Theotine order of monks:

Sunday we also had free time, which was very nice. I got to read and swim and eat and hang out and all sorts of good stuff. My weirdest experience--getting my ears cleaned. There's this 'ear cleaner' that walks up and down the beach and cleans your ears for a (very high) fee. At the time it seemed like a great idea--my ears are always bothering me, maybe cleaning them thoroughly would make me feel better. In retrospect, it was a really stupid idea. It cost a ton of money, and it wasn't very pleasant, and doctors always say you shouldn't put anything in your ears... I guess you live and learn.

I also got to check out the nearby town, Colva Beach. Did some shopping and intarwebbing, which was a nice change of pace. All in all, Goa was nice. I didn't go to any crazy parties or hang out with crazy foreigners, but it was relaxing and interesting.

So, Monday we took a bus to our new destination--Hospet. So, this bus ride turned out to be 13 hours long... oy vay, it was a pain. And I got a little motion sickness, but then I learned that cough drops settled my stomach! I slept a good chunk of the way, and I daydreamed and stared out the window for the rest.

Hospet's a pretty cool town, with lots of internet cafes and shoe stores and other crazy things. Our hotel was pretty neat--it had an open-air courtyard that all the rooms led into, with six stories and a glass elevator overlooking the courtyard and rooms. The restaurant at the hotel was actually pretty good, but the hotel in general was weird. The rooms were big, with marble floors and lots of chairs and sofas. But at the same time, the sheets and pillows were yucky, and there were bugs in a lot of the rooms.

Anyway, I didn't spend a lot of waking time in the hotel--most of our time was spent on the field. Tuesday, we headed out to the 15th century city of Vijayanagra to see some temples and ruins (it's pronounced something like Vij-a-na-gra). We went and saw the 'sacred center' of the city and a few of the suburbs. For those of you interested in Vijayanagaran temples--I'm sorry, I just don't want to talk about them. I'll put up pictures later, but suffice it to say that I saw a LOT of things that all looked the same to me. Big and small temples in crazy walled temple complexes, with lots of statues and friezes. Sometimes all we could see were the foundations of 15th century buildings, and other times we could see whole temples, seemingly untouched for centuries.

This is all of us, getting lectures at a Vijayanagaran temple:

A big giant Ganesha:

Wednesday was definitely different from the rest of the trip. We went mountain climbing. We had to get to the top of this big hill made out of boulders, and there was no definite trail. Therefore, Mark (our professor) led us up different animal trails, up and over boulders and rocks and trees. The most treacherous part of the journey were the big boulders on the way down. The most annoying and painful part of the journey were these crazy thorn plants, thorns that can get into your shoes, socks, pants, and underwear with very little effort. Apparently these plants evolved to resist the goats, which can eat anything. Damn evolution!

So we get to the top of this crazy mountain, and we see these megaliths. Megaliths are big flat rocks that are arranged in special ways. These megaliths looked like huts from the Flintstones. In fact, I was singing the Flintstones theme song while walking around the megalith field. These megaliths were probably made 2000 years ago, and they were burial grounds. The traditions of temple Hinduism never quite subsumed these megaliths--the explanation of the locals is that they are "the houses of the ancients" or "the houses of the characters in the Mahabharata (an ancient epic)". So, we walked around the megaliths, took some notes and headed back the mountain (carefully).


That afternoon we headed to a site that Mark actually found. We went up another big hill (but this one had an actual trail!) and at the top of this mountain we had a great view. We also were walking on tons of Iron Age pottery fragments, countless pieces all over the place. Mark said they'll excavate it starting this coming year, with a team of U of C, University of Michigan, and the Karnataka State Archeology group.

Me, with hat hair, and a beautiful view:

Thursday was a lot like Tuesday, except we were looking at the 'royal center' instead of the 'sacred center'. Just to give you a feeling for the names of these places, one of the suburbs of Vijayanagara is called Viradadeviamanatapatma (try saying that ten times fast). We saw a temple complex there, along with other places and other temple complexes. We did go to a museum, which had an amazing miniature version of the city as a map on the floor. It was about 10 x 10 yards, and it had matchbox cars and toy cows along with accurate miniatures of the temples and the landscape. Amusingly, the cows were bigger than many of the temples (ushi-zilla), and a lizard was also terrorizing the city, climbing over fortification walls as if they weren't there (Godzilla).

Many, many more temples. Thursday night, the program bought us relatively decent wine for our Thanksgiving celebration. Dinner was good, as was the wine. I wish I could have spent Thanksgiving with family, but I will see my family soon!

Thursday's moon, while waiting for the sun to set:

BADAMI (rhymes with Salami)

Friday morning we drove to Badami (~ 4 hours), which has pretty much the best hotel we've stayed at. It's clean, it doesn't smell too weird, and the food at this hotel is really really good. We had lunch, then headed out to the old part of Badami village. We saw some sixth century cave temples (like the ones at Ellora). We saw some other, free-standing temples too. All this stuff was built by the Early Chalukyan empire (I like their name). Nothing really amazing--a little slower paced than Vijayanagara, and we even did some walking through the old village, children yelling at us.


This is me in front of a statue in Badami. One of us isn't wearing any clothes...

So, everywhere we've gone all across Karnataka (this would include Vij and Badami), little kids follow us everywhere. There are some hawkers trying to sell postcards, but they usually give up after ten minutes, when they realize that we're getting lectures. The kids, though, some of them will follow you everywhere, asking for "school pen" or "ten rupees". It's crazy. Sometimes they sing songs or ask questions ("What is your name?" "Which country are you from?"), but most of the time they just say "Hi" and "Bye".

Saturday was pretty unremarkable--excellent box lunch provided by the hotel. The lunches we usually have on the field suck--white bread and cheese, potato chips, oranges, and cookies. One day we had peanut butter and honey, and it made my day. Saturday, though, the box lunch was even better, with chicken and prakora (breaded fried vegies) and samosa and finger chips (french fries) and other stuff! Dinner was also great. Everything before, after, and in between lunch and dinner was just sorta meh. Lots of... you guessed it, temples! They were old and temple-y.

Here's one example:

On a slightly more spiritual note, I experienced something that Mark said has never happened to him in his 15 years of temple-exploring. We were at an old Shiva temple that is still in worship, and we were blessed by the priest there and given prasad (food-substance that was placed on the god). He was talking about the daily puja (prayer), in very broken English, and then he showed us his own personal manifestation of Shiva. He let me hold it, along with Mark and Andrea, who were also present. It was a small stone, a linga (one of the representations of Shiva), which is the shape of a cylinder with a sperical ending on one side. It wasn't moving at the time, but when Mark said that that rarely happens, letting someone hold your representation of God, I was quite touched and honored.

Bijapur was pretty cool, relatively speaking. The hotel was so-so, the food really sucked, but the monuments were different that the other zillions of things we've seen. We saw a tomb/mosque complex, which was like the Taj Mahal only not as well maintained and not made of marble. We saw a really awesome mosque that was actually built out of destroyed Hindu temples (the buzz words of the class: appropriation and incorporation). We also saw the second largest free-standing dome in the world (44 meters diameter) in another tomb. I climbed up the eight flights of stairs to see the the dome closer up, which was really friggin' scary for me. We spent the night there and at 7:30 AM we headed back to Pune.

Cool mosque/tomb complex:

Here, the dome isn't actually connected to the building you see; the building is actually just a frame for the (much) larger dome building/tomb.

In the close-up, you can see a good chunk of the dome. Those red and purple blurs--they're people. This is a really big dome!

Well, that's my field trip. More pictures will come later, if I can bring myself to post them.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Back to Pune

Sand art created just outside of our school-house bungalow.

So, I've been in Pune for the last couple of weeks. I haven't really been doing a whole lot, so I haven't really blogged anything. I've got a paper due in six days, so I'm kinda scared about that. It's about linguistics and how people mix Hindi/Marathi and English, so it should be really cool. The thing that worries me — I have to interview people. I'm scared of people. They're, you know, people I don't know, and I'm, you know, shy. I'll get over it, though, hopefully.

Class has been kinda crappy. Discussion is only somewhat productive, and very disorganized. The discussion has absolutely nothing to do with my paper. It's like I'm taking an independent study for a socio-linguistics paper with a teacher that doesn't do linguistics.

Enough griping. I am well. I went to the zoo the other day, and the animals actually looked relatively well-off. They had monkeys, and snakes, and turtles, and spotted dear, and some crazy blue water buffalo animal thing (pictured below).

Here's a funny sign I saw there:

I also went to an old fort, which was kinda cool. We got to walk around the old foundation, and see where different rooms were (the highlight — seeing the remains of the bathrooms!).

There's so much old stuff here in India. I think that's a serious downfall to the States — there isn't anything really old. The people who lived in the northern US before the 1600s didn't build anything big that lasted. I like old stuff.

Another activity: a big ole' hill. It provides an amazing view of the city, absolutely gorgeous. And there are some temples and stuff on the top of this hill. The climb was interesting, and the 'steps' were actually slabs of stone at 30° angles, meaning you were climbing up slabs of stone, and then going up a step to another slab that was also at a 30° angle.

The view:

Finally: a more cultural activity that me and two other guys on the trip did was to play cricket in the street with a bunch of kids in the old part of town. Although I am not athletic, I tried at bat a couple times and talked to the kids and took their picture:

Monday, October 25, 2004

My Jaipur Vacation

The train ride to Jaipur was kinda long -- seven or eight hours long, which was bearable. Our hotel was really cool, with lots of plants in the outdoor terrace that connected all the rooms. It had A/C, television, and private bathrooms -- not much else you can ask for. The staff was really friendly (it was family run, so it was mostly staffed by these two brothers, nice guys). The first night, we had dinner at one of the ten restaurants the Lonely Planet recommended. Now, when we go into these restaurants, there are mostly other tourists there, each with their own Lonely Planet (in their native language, too, lots of French and Germans). So, the Lonely Planet cult sort of did the same things, ate at the same restaurants, etc. I suppose this is unavoidable, seeing as we're all tourists, and we want to eat at the nicer places and visit the tourist sites.

After dinner (chicken korma) we head over to this really amazingly beautiful theatre, where we go to see Dhoom. It was just as good the second time as the first. It was cool explaining this group of kids that, even though we didn't know Hindi, we can still enjoy the Hindi films, especially action movies like Dhoom.

The next day, Anna and I go to a bunch of museums. The Museum of Indology is like this old time museum -- just a bunch of old crap in a building. Lots of old pottery and tools, manuscripts, astrology instruments, etc. There were these really weird currencies -- misprint Rupees, really old Rupees (like an old ten Rupee note that was about 7" x 5"), and some crazy stuff, like money printed by "The Japanese Government", in denominations such as the Yen, the US Dollar, and the Deutchmark. Very... different.

Then we headed to an art museum, and then to Central Museum, which was pretty cool.

Lots of paintings, textiles, and other stuff. We also went to City Palace, which was really pretty, and had lots of cool stuff. A Hall of Arms, where guns and knives were arranged to spell out things, and some of the guns were longer than I am tall. More paintings and old textiles, and some really neat manuscripts which were written really really tiny so that the Moguls couldn't find them when they were sometimes anti-Hindu. We also saw monkeys! A whole big troop, maybe 60 or 70 of them, including lots of baby monkeys! Anna and I went wild.

When we headed back, we heard about Andrea's day, where she bought a bunch of stuff and met some crazy store-owner who she hung out with for part of the day. She was figuring out some stuff over this break, about how we're supposed to interact with people and stuff, so there was lots to talk about during meals and tea and stuff.

In the evening, we drank cheap Indian beer and watched American cartoons (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, number one in the hood, G).

The next day, we went to Amber Fort, which was really amazing. In the mountains outside the city, there are tons of forts and walls and stuff. We went to this main one, where there was a big beautiful room of mirrors and glass and stuff. In this room, there was a 70 year old lady toking up, and a bunch of European tourists. We didn't want a guide, which was good, because we got to roam around the fort, taking pictures and looking at old decrepit walls and stuff. It was really neat, just to wander (and get a little lost) in the tunnels and maze of this old fort.

After the fort part, we went shopping in this semi-government store, where I got some cool souvenirs and stuff. I did some shopping later that day and Friday at this other semi-government store, both of which seemed a lot more easy-going and enjoyable than the bazaars. We called it an early night Thursday.

Friday was spent mostly shopping. Now, I'm not a big shopper, so I shopped a little with Anna and Andrea, and then we split ways. I saw an electronics shop, and knew my calling. I got a power multiplug/adapter, some headphones (my old ones broke), and a video game system. It is so sketch -- the system comes with a pirated Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt / Track and Field / Soccer / Fake Columns Tetris game cartridge. It's the sketchiest NES ripoff I've ever seen, but it did come with two controllers and a light gun, all for Rs. 300 (6 bucks). It's no Gamecube with Mario Kart Double Dash, but it'll do for the time being. I also purchased a VCD with the songs to Dhoom, and some other stuff.

After dinner (pasta! how much I miss pasta, and how great it is to get it!), Andrea and I went to see a horror Hindi movie, Vaastu Shastra. It was really great, and by really great I mean incredibly bad. I mean, it was a frightening movie -- I jumped in my seat many times, and screamed like a little schoolgirl more than once. On the other hand, it used every trick in the book -- scary looking kid who sees dead people, girl being killed while having sex with her boyfriend, scary sharp sounds between takes and whenever anything happens.

Oh, and the other highlight of our day: Drag Queens!

A 24-hour train ride to Mumbai, followed by a 2 1/2 hour car ride to our hotel in Pune. 'Nuf said.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Northen India, land of crappy internet access

Hey everyone, I'm alive and well in Jaipur. Agra was amazing, and there are some really great places in Jaipur too. Internet connectivity has been incredibly crappy, to say the least, so that's why no one's heard from me. I will update on all my travels when I get back to Pune, which will be in a couple of days.

Take care, all.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Taj Mahal and other prettiness

Well, I've done Agra. It was actually quite nice. We got up around 10, had some breakfast, and headed out to the Taj Mahal. It's only a block away, yet we were propositioned by 5 rickshaw drivers (manual and auto) and 25 people selling goods. We get to the gates, and purchase our 'foreigner tickets'. See, for Indian people, the Taj is Rs. 20. For foreign tourists, it is Rs. 750. How fair is that, a gaijin tax. So, we paid our gaijin tax and hopped in.

Man this place is beautiful. It's grand and huge and magnificent, and big. There's a big opening courtyard, so you can get in through three different gates (West, South, East), and then you go through this big arch into the main courtyard. There's a long pool, surrounded by trees, with fountains and grass and paths. And then there's a big pool of marble, which gives a good view of the main attraction. If you go further down the path, you come to the main area. After removing our shoes, we went onto the big marble courtyard, and then into the tomb area, where the Mogul emperor and his wife are buried. It's absolutely beautiful, with all this intricate marble carving and gems inlaid into the wall. Some guide dude shined a flashlight, and parts of the wall are translucent, with the light entering the stone and gems.

Me in front of the Taj. Pretty.

Cool looking mosque on one side of the Taj. There are two, just so the symmetry isn't broken. The two Indian women (guess which ones they are!) were just random people who wanted their picture taken with us.

Most of the time, we just sat around the outside, enjoying the shade and sitting on the cool marble. Lots of Indians wanted our picture, apparently because we're three blonde college kids. I shook a lot of people's hands, listened to people talk in many languages, and just sort of roamed around. It was quite pleasant, and I got some good pictures.

The back of the Taj, where everyone was chilling out.

So, we bailed from the Taj about 2:00 or 2:30, and headed out to get some grub. We went to 'Yash Cafe', which was actually quite good. I had some chicken curry, and ate some of Anna's pineapple and pepper pizza.

A note about Indian food: it is not homogenous. There are two big types: north and south. Because most of the immigrants to the States are from the north, northern cuisine is typically what Americans think of when they think 'Indian'. Pune and Mumbai are sorta in the middle, so they get both types of cuisine, but southern seems to be more indigenous to Pune. Curries and butter chicken and things of this nature are northern, while southern food is more like dosa (big savory crepe type things) and uttapa (potato pancake or something like that) and sambhar (like spicy tomato soup) to dip them in. Of course, in this modern age, most restaurants as a rule serve southern, northern, chinese, and pizza. Go Fig.

For dinner, we ate at this restaurant on a roof, but it was pretty crappy. My butter chicken used all the bad parts of the chicken, and the chinese food Anna and Andrea got wasn't very chinesy or good, even by Indian standards. So, after buying some last-minute souvenirs, we headed back to our hotel, and my companions got banana pancakes while I drank some chai (Rs. 4 for a small glass, this country is insanely cheap).

Our train for Jaipur leaves at half past too-friggin-early, so we called it an early night. I feel almost at home, typing on my computer and listening to music. At the same time, this country is still so foreign to me, even after living here for three weeks. I've built up some cultural unity with India, insomuch as I can read Devnagari script and I know the songs to the movie 'Dhoom'. I think as long as you enjoy Bollywood movies, you can get along in this country.

Oh, and for completeness, here's "pigging out in Agra":

Trip to Agra

So, I have made my journey from Pune to Agra. It has been... long, to say the least.

5:00 pm
I'm in our hotel in Pune, trying to check out. It takes a long-ass time for me to check out, let alone my traveling companions. We eventually get out of the hotel at 5:30.

6:00 pm
Our train leaves, with us just getting on it four minutes prior. We sit around and chat, eating bread and chocolate we bought earlier that day in Koreagon Park. When we think we should get out, a friendly fellow passenger told us that it actually wasn't the right station; Dadar station was another two stops. This is all confused by the fact that NO ONE MAKES ANNOUNCEMENTS.

My traveling companions: Anna (left) and Andrea (bread). Not the most flattering picture, but it fits the mood.

We get out at Dadar, Mumbai at around 9, and we are accosted by taxi drivers wanting to take us to God-knows-where. We get past them, and head down the road a wee bit till we arrive at a nice all-veg cafe. We get seated in the way way back, and we order tons of snacks for very little money. Notable was the 'Dynamite Pizza', which had jalapenos! The cheese dosa was quite good as well.

11:30 pm
We hop onto our train to Agra, the 'Amritsar Express'. Don't let the name fool you, folks, this was no express. It was a 26 hour train ride. We were served a meal ('lunch', as the meal guy who spoke little English described it), eschewing the other two meals ('omelette' and 'dinner'). I slept a lot, I read a lot, and I did very little else. In some ways it was relaxing, but in others it was unnerving, because we didn't know if the conductor or train personnel would inform us of our stop. We did meet some people: a banker from the south (who spoke Telegu), and a German guy on a whirlwind trip of the world. He was really cool, actually, and had been to places in the States that I have never been to. His favorite place on the trip: New Orleans.

This was our home for 26 hours.

1:30 am, the next day
We stumble out of the train into the station, greeted by many porters ("Porter service?" "No thank you." "Porter service?" "NO!"), and some guy offered to drive us to our hotel for Rs. 200, a service we took him up on. We drove really fast through a bunch of empty streets, till we reached the hotel, which had a locked gate. I rang the doorbell, and eventually a dude with a raspy voice showed us to a room, and then showed me to my room. The guy in the car had bought an Aquafina bottle's worth of gas (or 'petrol') on the way, and his car wasn't working after we got out. At least we got to the hotel safe.

I'm gonna go sleep some more, even though it's been most of what I've been doing on this 33 hour trek. The hotel's kinda shitty, but then again it's pretty amazing for the five bucks it costs (private bath! yeah! no toilet paper, boo)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Paper is done

So, I wrote my ten page paper for Civ. It's over. It doesn't quite feel like it's over, but it is.

Last weekend was relatively uneventful. On Saturday night, a whole bunch of us went to a club called 'Ola', which was OK. Drinks were reasonable, and there were a ton of people, so I guess that makes it a good place. I didn't really feel like dancing, as it made me miss Catherine. I wanted badly to dance with her, not with the fellow UofC peeps or with the random Indian guys that I met. So, I just hung out, talked to people, danced a little, and went home. I met some guys from London who were doing computer work, and some other guys who were in the army, in an armored tank division. All in all, an OK night, although I don't think clubs are worth all the trouble it is to get there. I mean, the auto-rickshaw rides are like half an hour each way to and from the hotel, and, when going home, the rickshaw drivers always charge a much higher fee than the fee they charge going there (in Indian English, a 'fee' is called a 'tariff').

Sunday was much calmer. I watched a lot of movies on TV (on HBO, Z English, and Star World), and I had lunch at Vaishali, which was good. Got a little planning for my essay done.

Monday was the same-old, but with more naps and dinner at this fabulous restaurant in the Hotel, called Puran da Dhaba. It was really good Indian buffet, with people who grilled swordfish and eggplant right in front of you. Fresh bread, lots of wonderful sauces, and veggies and meats made it a perfect meal.

Tuesday, we saw this film from 1935 about some great Poet-Saint of the area, a Sant Tukaram. The movie was OK, especially for being 70 years old. We had some lady talk, a scholar on film and especially this movie, but that too was only so-so.

Wednesday, we went to Sant Tukaram's home-town, Dehu. We saw a bunch of temples dedicated to him, and we saw some caves and huts were he composed a lot of his poetry. We had class with this guy, Dilip Chitre, who translated much of Tukaram's poetry. It was pretty nice, and I got to do a bit of hiking on a mountain.

Here's a pic of the one of the shrines in the side of the mountain, and also a photo of some bhakta guys, people who devote their lives to worshiping a god (in this case, Pandarang/Sant Tukaram).

Thursday and Friday were spent worrying about my essay, and then eventually writing it. I think it's good, but I haven't really looked back at all. I'm a little worried, but I'll save my real worrying for right before I get my grade back. One course down, two to go (and the ever-present Hindi).

I leave Pune later this evening. Anna, Andrea and I are taking a train to Mumbai, which will be 3 hours with a 3 or 4 hour layover, and then we go to Agra. The train to Agra will take 21 hours... I've got my sci-fi books that Jono picked out for me, and I have a bunch of Civ reading that I didn't complete, so I think I'll be good. Also, I love sleeping, and we have beds and air conditioning on the train, so I think I'll be a relatively happy camper. We spend a day and a half in Agra, and then we head to Jaipur (only an 8 hour train ride!), where we'll be most of the week. I'll update in Jaipur when I can.

Here is a picture of a cow outside of the German Bakery, some hippie/new-age/ashrum restaurant in Koreagon Park.

Take care, all!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Just a normal week at the U of C

OK, so I was in Pune all week, and there isn't a whole lot to talk about. I've been going to class every day, practicing my Hindi and trying to keep up with my massive Civ readings. I have an idea of what I'm going to write my paper on --- memetics in Hindu mythology, why stories want to perpetuate themselves within society. It's going to be really cool, but it's going to take a lot of work, and I wanna go out and play!!!

Highlights of my week:
1) Got my tickets and hotel reservations for next week's vacation. I'm going to Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur (in Rajastan, in the north, popular tourist destination). We're taking the train (and it's going to be ~ 23 hours to get to the north from Mumbai). Everything is cool. I'm going with Anna and Andrea, and they promised that we could go to tons of cool restaurants, so I am satisfied.

2) Wednesday night I went to a Pub/Club called '10 Downing Street'. It was kinda fun; the big group of us Americans really got the place going though, as we were the first to get up and dance. I like dancing, but I was tired, so I only stayed a couple hours.

3) We went to the National Film Archives, and saw this famous art movie called 'Samskara'. It's a so-so movie (everyone liked the book more), but it was relatively enjoyable, plus the chairs were really comfy. We later met the actor who played the main character, who also wrote the script and was the de-facto director (the director that is listed in the credits didn't actually speak Kannada, the language the film was made in). His name is Girish Karnad, and he's kind of a legend. It's funny -- we got taught by this famous guy, but because we're not Indian, his fame doesn't mean a lot to us. Either way, he is a cool guy, and he taught us some interesting stuff.

4) I saw my first Bollywood film last night, 'Dhoom'. It was amazing. The tickets were only Rs. 100 (like two bucks), the pop and popcorn were cheap, and the seats were really comfy. And, the theater complex is huge, with stores and restaurants, and many things of goodness. The movie itself -- amazing. It was in Hindi, but there was enough English phrases and words that everyone got the basic plot. Dhoom is like a mixture of The Fast and the Furious, The Matrix, a police chase movie and a musical. It was awesome -- the music was great, it was loud, it was huge, and there were great motorcycle chases through Mumbai.

Today, I'm going to research memetics on the internet, try to chill out, and get some more reading done. Wish me luck!