Bargaining. I learned how to bargain in India. This week some of the girls from Hubli took us to the market. This has by far been one of the most interesting experiences for me. It was beautiful in the market. Everyone is selling flowers, jewelry and clothes on the street.I absolutely love shopping. There were so many options. I don’t usually like to spend so much money but this was a must.
Although we were warned not to drink or eat anything from street vendors, I could not resist. I had sugarcane juice. It is now my favorite drink and I have no Idea how I will go back to america where this juice isn’t available.
In the market though, I did learn how to bargain. I saw a stand with so many jewelry and I knew this was the place to buy souvenirs. I started picking things I liked and putting them in a basket. When the vendor realized I was a foreigner he was determined to make me spend. He kept pulling boxes and boxes full of jewelry out making me try them on and convincing me that yes, I did need 23 pairs of earrings. I would have bought everything at the stand of “Virus” and “Swati” two of the Indian girls who taught me the importance of bargaining. I was told not to be excited about purchasing anything and pretend to walk away if he charges too much. In the end, the girls were able to bring the price down by almost 50%. I was shocked and realized I just learned negotiations outside of the classroom.
My favorite day by far has been this past Sunday. We were free to roam about since there were no classes that day. A group of us decided we wanted to go visit an orphanage. So we went to the mall and grabbed some small toys we could gift to the kids. In total the gifts might have been $100 in the United States. The money felt like nothing compared to the experience of actually going over to the orphanage and playing with these kids. It was priceless. The orphanage was all girls between 0-18 years of age who have been abused, neglected, or simply have no one who can take responsibility for them at that time. There was over 100 girls enrolled. When we arrived they performed a traditional indian dance as well as sang some kannada songs.
That night we celebrated Neha’s birthday, one of the indian students here. We went to this place called “The Hilltop” where you can see the whole city of Hubli. After the celebration, Neha took me to her house where her mom was more than welcoming. Although she did not understand english, we found a way to communicate. She forced me into a sari.
The next night, we celebrated my birthday at 12am. It was my 21st birthday. It was my first time celebrating my birthday away from my family and my twin sister. Everyone was so sweet. I received a cake although most of it ended up in my face. I also received many gifts from friends. Even though I had just met these people, it feels like i’ve known everyone for years. This has definitely been my favorite birthday regardless of being away from my family.
Its been a week since we left America and I feel like I am home. Everyone in India is so welcoming and accepting. We have been here for only a week and I have done and seen more than I have seen in my 20 years in America. This year I have spent my first New Years away from my family. I was very sad that day because I was feeling homesick. However, I feel like in a short amount of time, we have grown to form a family. On New Years we had many festivities from amazing food like Paneer, a dance party (even though I hate dancing), to paper lanterns and a bonfire. The lanterns looked absolutely beautiful as they flew far away, higher and higher in the sky, all different colors and going in different directions.
The last couple days also included a trip to a local innovative farm. It was amazing on the farm. They grow every type of fruit one could think of. The best part was picking the fruits from the trees and eating them as we walked around on a tour. What I enjoyed most about the farm was the meditation cave. It is a small underground room that is completely tranquil.
On this day, my roommate and I decided to also where a traditional indian dress called a Kurta. It was very comfortable. As I sat there on the floor in the meditation room, I started reflecting on what I thought of myself before the trip and how I felt about myself now, during the trip. I took so many little things for granted. I didn’t know it would be, but this experience has truly been life changing. Little things that used to bother me like walking around barefoot outside or ants in my room, I don’t mind them anymore. It has become a familiar experience. This place, Hubli, it feels like home.
No. I am not only typing this blog post because it is extra credit.
We stated the day off going to class in the LHC 101 building here at BVB college. I thought we were going to blistering to lectures all day, but we had chai breaks in between classes which I definitely think every school in America should implement. Then we went to an indian wedding during our lunch break. It was not only extremely random but it was an amazing experience that I can gladly say I have crossed off my bucket list. The wedding was so colorful; from red to orange to yellow to pink. It was absolutely beautiful. It was a great and joyful celebrations filled with elders to babies dressed up in traditional indian clothing. On top of that we were fed a variety of delicious indian food. After crying from how spicy the food was, I washed it down with the gulab jamun, a small and sweet donut-like pastry. I can honestly say this small little treat is my new favorite dessert.
My awesome roommate Christine and I posing with some of the bridal party.
So like I said before, thats one more thing off my bucket list for this trip!!