I enjoy walking around cities without anywhere to go, and Hubli is no exception. The first couple of night I was here, the Indian students took us to a mall which was not unlike malls I find at home. The real fun started when we finally visited the street markets spread throughout the city.
Walking through the street markets can lead to many different items to buy from many different people to buy from. Everyone from young boys to old ladies can be found selling food, clothing, pipes, silver, and so on, and it is all for cheap money. I have not tried any of the food they sell, but it certainly smells good enough to eat. The most fun I have is when I am with a small group and we take our time to absorb the scene around us. In these streets I have found authentic gifts to bring home to my friends and family, even if these “authentic” gifts are cheap knock-offs. The markets are one of my favorite parts about being here.
Last January, I began thinking about what I wanted to do for my 19th birthday in just under 12 months. Of all the thoughts I dreampt of, I cound never have thought that I would be spending it on the otherside of the world with friends from 4 different countries.
It began on the night of January 2. Some of us went to the club at the Presidential Hotel to dance and eat. When we arrived back at the dorms at midnight on January 3, the students threw both Nayha and I a birthday party. I have to admit, I didn’t like how they celebrate the birthday right at midnight, like how we celebrate New Years, because I didn’t have any party to look forward to on the night of my actual birthday, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my day.
January 3 fell on a Sunday, so without classes, we went to a bookstore to buy toys and games for orphans, which we gave to them and taught them how to play. While at the orphanage, I performed a couple of magic tricks for the kids, and they loved it. Afterwards, we walked up a hill and got a nice view of Hubli. It was certainly a birthday to remember.
Dispite from cruises to bahamian islands, I have never been out of America until this trip to India. I knew that there would be a difference, but nothing can ever prepare one completely for what one will encounter on the otherside of the world. After a tiring 33 hour journey from the front door of my home to the front door of the Scholar House, I did not see very much of what I had expected of India. That changed on the bus ride to the schoool, and continued to evolved during my experience. The school was much less “westernized” than I had expected, especially when I saw that every bathroom had its own miniture water heater that we have to turn on in order to take a hot shower. Honestly, I was a bit taken back by this at first glance, but I grew comfortable soon enough in my temporary home. The students, many of whom I now call my friends, showed such hospitality to us and tried their hardest to make us feel at home. It was not just the Indian students that I began to become aquainted with; I had never met any of the UML students (aside from the 2 orientations) and thus I had the opportunity to get to know them as well. By the time we arrived at the school we had all become well aquainted, and I am very happy to know them and the Indian students as well.