"Ganesh gives us the strength to do our work."
I've been up for the last three hours, trying to catch up on my reading. I'm half-way there, but I'm nowhere close to being caught up. I guess it's like it's always been.
The Gannpati festival was incredibly amazingly weird and ... it's hard to explain. So, a bunch of the other students and I walked down J.M. Road, to go see Ganesh being submerged into one of the rivers. We stop at this dance party in an alleyway/backroad, and it's amazing. Everyone wanted to dance with the white guy, and so I was boogying with them for like five songs. I took pictures (but my batteries were low, so they're all blurry), and talked and introduced myself to like 20 people (all in English, I don't know any useful Hindi quite yet, and I definitely don't know Marathi, the language that people actually speak here). And some guy gave Sara a coconut. After we left, a bunch of kids followed us for a mile or so, every so often calling out my name 'Jeremy!'.
Anyway, we couldn't actually see Ganesh being submerged --- because there were five or six thousand people in the intersection. It's amazing; we're in this giant crowd, and there's pushing and shoving and toppling, and the guards/police smush us further to make way for the parade floats. Eventually, we get let out of the crowd area and go dance in front of a parade float (I think we got preferential treatment cuz we're stupid gaijin). We're dancing in this all girls/women's area, because my five companions were all girls. I'm dancing and walking and meeting people left and right. I met this guy, and his sister, and his sister-in-law, and some other guy who owns a hotel, and another guy who's a science student at a college, and all these other people. Eventually, I'm getting kinda sick, so me and another student make a mad dash out of the parade dancing area, and we get home via walking and autorickshaw. A very tiring evening, but eye-opening and enjoyable at times.
In soc, I studied group violence (riots) in South Asia, which is predominantly caused by disagreements between ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups. I could never quite imagine what would make perfectly nice people go on rampages of death and destruction. Now that I've been in a giant group at a festival, feeling everyone step on me and with the pushing and shoving and nowhere to go, I have a much better understanding of how riots can happen. I'm not saying that this festival was violent --- there was nobody hurt, and everyone seemed to be having fun on the whole; I'm just saying that my understanding of the riot mentality is much more real and concrete.
These are the types of experiences you can't have studying the sub-continent in Chicago. I wish I could hop back to the States every now and again, especially to see friends and family [especially especially to see Cat].
By the way, Ganesh is supposed to get pissed off at us for submerging him into the river. In four or five days, we are supposed to have some pretty bad rains in this region (but not too bad in Pune). Last night it rained a bit, and I just smiled. I guess Ganesh was getting anxious in his payback.