Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Earning My Bells

So last Saturday at my Kathak class, my Guru-ji (Teacher) asked me if I would mind getting the foot bells that are traditionally worn while dancing. Whoo Hoo. I've earned my bells :)Now if I can just get the new rythm that she gave me last week.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Random and Difficult

So the randomness of my yesterday was around 11pm when some friends and I were walking from the British Club to the Park St. Hotel to head to Roxy (a proper club/lounge) I saw a pony walking down the street. A beautiful white pony, not a donkey, not a horse. The crew I was walking with wasn't surprised apparently, but I still think a pony walking down a pretty posh area in Cal at 11pm is pretty random.

So Berkeley doesn't let you know about financial aid or assistanceships until after you've told them you're going there. So I may have to decide between going to a school that will more than likely fund me and one that has a better program but funding is questionable. I will get to hear about fellowship possiblitities either way at Berkeley by mid March. They don't make this easy do they.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Clitoris

And other things that are missing from CINI’s Family Life Education Manual. To add on to my normal load of writing up documents, I am also working with the resource team to edit and bring up to snuff their training manuals. Which I have to say is a nice break from just writing up youth friendly stuff (especially since my things are a bit delayed because my field visits and focus group discussions keep being delayed by one thing or another).

Originally I was expecting just a little bit of clean up work, I was not prepared for the gross misinformation and missing information that I found. It’s amazing how preference of males has even trickled down to their training manuals. All of the male parts were present and plenty of time was given to explaining that wet dreams were normal. All of the external female reproductive parts were missing (vulva, clitoris, major and minor labia), and though there are great taboos on menstruation here (people believe that girls on their period are unclean and shouldn't be allowed to pray, eat, etc with the rest of the family) there was only two small notes stating that it was natural. While there was extensive information on male arousal and ejaculation the female section only included reproductive functions.

Masturbation was of course mainly discussed from the male point of view. Though I did give them points for saying “his or her genitals.” And the whole thing is written that excludes anything that is not male and female reproductive sex. Even the section on gender only talked about gender discrimination towards females.

So I’ve been spending the last couple of days editing these sections, and it has been good fun if not equally frustrating (especially to someone who gave a class on foreplay to my 10th grade learners in Namibia). There have been some gross errors “STDs can be completely cured with treatment,” “HIV is passed from mother to child through the uterus,” and “Girls should not bathe in lakes during their menses because the uterus is more open and susceptible to infection” Plus I find out interesting things while finding double checking info. Like that semen apparently is only 15 calories.

I do have to say that it’s really tempting to include the really shocking things like g-spots and female ejaculation, but I do want them to actually use my suggestions.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Silly Blog Things

Okay I don't usually do these, but the first line was so perfectly phrased that I had to-

You scored as Moya (Farscape). You are surrounded by muppets. But that is okay because they are your friends and have shown many times that they can be trusted. Now if only you could stop being bothered about wormholes.

Moya (Farscape)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Serenity (Firefly)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

Back Blog- Adventure to Poilan

So I’ve been holding off on writing this because I know a certain number of people will begin to fear for my safety, while certain others may feel the desire to assault the man in the story. Before people get huffy I ask two things.
1-Remember this happened back in October so there is no reason to get upset now
2-Read the whole thing before you pass judgment.

When I arrived here and was still staying at the field office/campus I placed my extra USD, Passport and Plane tickets home in the safe at the safe there. Around Mid-October I had run out of my stipend and needed to cash my travelers checks and since the CINI office people take their jobs very seriously and wouldn’t allow anyone else who was going between the two offices to bring my things, I was forced to make a mid day journey out and back.

To get to Poilan (where the CINI I campus is) One generally has to walk up to the main intersection of Gariahat (about a 5-7 min walk), take an auto-rickshaw to the Behala bus stand (about a 20-30 min ride) then take a bus to Poilan (another 30 min ride or so) and finally walk down the block to the CINI I campus. Or at least this the way I tend to go in the mornings, there are several other stops and buses one could take, but I prefer a minimal amount of changes. There are also 2 buses that run the whole way (76 and GL-3), but their running times are difficult to predict.

So I jump into an auto and (as always) turn on my shuffle and settle myself for the long ride. The back seat of the auto is about the size of a small loveseat and three people generally sit there. I generally wear Salwar Suits or a Kurta and trousers to the office, but when I’m going toward the field I definitely make an effort to dress more traditionally. I get less attention that way. But I hadn’t really planned to be at Poilan I was dressed fairly western, a full-length flare skirt and a t-shirt.

So I’m sitting in this auto and there’s some guy next to me who I’m pretty much ignoring. Then I realize that there is a hand on my breast that is not mine. As the auto is pretty cramped I give him the benefit of the doubt and re-cross my arms so that my hand serves as a barrier. At which point he re-adjusts so that he is again touching my chest and starts caressing me. I, not trying to make a scene, re adjust so that my hand is between his and my chest. So he decides to hold my hand. Just as I’m about to be loud and call this guy out. The auto arrives at Behala and we get out. I take out my wallet hand the driver a 20-rupee bill and wait for my change a bit agitated and still kinda pissed at the audacity of the guy next to me.

As I’m waiting for my change I see the bus that I need starting to leave. So I grab my change and my skirt and bolt after the bus. I do the characteristic Kolkata leap onto the bus while it’s still rolling and find a place to stand inside. At that point I look down at my wallet and realize my license, my other Ids and anything that was in the outside two sections of my tri-fold are gone. Because my wallet was open everything fell out while I was running to the bus. Someone handed the conductor two of the things from my missing pockets and they turned out to be my CINI-ARC card and a card from one of the food courts here.

Slightly upset but counting my blessings (My ATM cards were in the middle section and survived the run), I began to try to figure out how to go about getting new Ids. Suddenly the bus stopped and the creepy guy who was next to me in the auto gets on the bus and hands me all of my Id’s and cards that I dropped. He saw them fall, collected them and then ran to the next stop so that he could give them back to me. He gave a sort of wave and got off the bus again. So I proceeded to CINI I got my things out of the safe and got back to CINI-ARC with no further adventure.

I’m still not sure what the moral of that story is.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sari Wearing/ Don't Fake the Funk

I am amazed that people are constantly amazed that I can wear a sari and put one on myself. (Though I blame my proficiency with 6 meters of cloth from having to wrap so many togas back in my JCL Latin costuming days) Oh yeah I also have learned that people stare at me more when I wear a sari, especially if I have my 'fro out.

The humor of the morning was watching people watch me as I bopped down the street wearing a sari (Indian Culture) listening to Latin Music (Latin culture) with my 'fro out (Black American culture) :)

I'm pretty sure my rocking my way down the street (however conservatively I attempt to do it) doesn't help me be inconspicuous.

So my day has pretty much been made by taking an extended (really extended) lunch with one of my favorite people here Anerut. Hey I had to do something to celebrate. I also felt pretty bad by talking about all the foreigners (especially white foreigners) who show up in India and don flowy clothes, bendis (the dot or decoration in between your eyes) etc. "Go Native" as Anerut put it. Granted I was wearing a Sari while I said this (I don't have any other formal clothes here really). But it really irks me the people who come to another country and "Fake the Funk" so to speak. Especially if they are only here on holiday. (and you can always tell those who are on holiday, they don't haggle at the market and they tend to be scruffier). Granted I definitely plan to wear a sari off the plane and look like I lived in India when I get home on July 2nd. But I figure learning Bengali, Taking Kathak and living here for so long (not to mention the garbas and holidays I spent with Anju and the rest of the Joshi's and all of the Emory Indian Cultural Exchange stuff) does entitle me to a bit of funkiness. (Non-Faked)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Okay for real

So I know these posts are comming across really calm, but I'm actually estatic. Several times a day I have to stop myself from turning around and telling anyone around me that I got into Berkeley. Now this whole nomination from OSU for a full fellowship. It's just crazy, and by crazy I mean incredible. So I'm now going to put up happy pictures because it makes me happy, and I'm a bit giddy. :)

Me in the Atlantic Ocean in Senegal last March right before I came home. Not at all a really good picture of me, but being there made me really happy

Happy Opus, who is by far one of my favorite characters and one of the most clever strip. Courtsey of the Berkely Breathed Website.

This is Luther (pronounced Ruthere in Oshiwambo, Dove and thier cousin who were Kids on my second home in Namibia, Kate's House. They are holding two of my dog Nando's puppies, Max and Kwen.

A bunch of us dancing at Neela's house last October, during the Halloween party

Okay I know the picture is kinda grainy, for some reason it doesn't like being a Jpg. But I really like this picture. This is Me and Dev at our Non-Denominational Celebration of Good Will Party. Doing what i do so often (and much better with company)

Ruracana, Namibia. The whole country is a dessert save this small oasis. You'v got to love water and green.


Better and Better (or 3 for 3)

So Yesterday I got a letter from Case Western of course thanking me for my application, but regretting to give me an interview which is due "to the high number of qualified applicants. Good luck in seeking you medical career." Why do schools always do that. Although I do like the letter much better than the way OSU Med did it which was to send me an email saying that there is a change in my application status. When you go to the web page it said. FILE CLOSED.

Today I got an emai from OSU School of Public Health that not only stated my admission but the possiblitiy of a fellowship for full tuition and a monthly stipend of 1000 USD (not Rupees !!!)

So now I really have a decision to make.

Happy Birthday Marya and Jordan

So my sister Marya's Birthday is on Feb 15th and my nephew Jordan's Birthday is on the 14th. But I think this is a pretty good picture of both.

Monday, February 13, 2006

February’s Question of the Month

Alright you have until March 14thish. . . GO! :)

If you could create a Holiday,
-What would it be?
-When would we celebrate it?
-What would “proper” celebration of your holiday require?

Jan Question Answered

Good answers to everyone who did. I have to say the Mary Janes did intrigue me, as did Paule’s description of his closet, Brandon’s brilliant elaboration,Markela's examination of her self actualizing shoes, and Julia’s passionate running shoes. But I just hadn't thought about many different possiblities in one shoe type. For details

My Answer
I would also have to be a mismatched pair. One would be a Chaco. They are adaptable and go just about anywhere. You can dress them up or dress them down, wear them while trekking through rainforests or deserts, while teaching, or even to a gala (in a pinch). They are best suited to warmer climates, but throw on a pair of socks and you can also roll in cooler weather. Adaptable and comfortable. The other shoe would have to be my hiking boots. I got them as a gift from a friend on a whim and they’ve come in handy more times than I could have imagined. They are always there when I needed them and constantly surprise me with how much wear and tear they can go through and still come out standing. Though they are heavy and can be a pain to deal with from time to time, but I’m always glad that I did. They are good shoes. They also clean up well. (as do I ;)

2 for 2

So on the same day that I received a letter from U Mich School of Med telling me that I was not invited to interview etc. I get an email from the GRADS service at UC Berkeley saying that I have been recommended for admission !! . . . .

Can you believe it BERKELEY :)

PS> I know you aren't at all surprised Nate and would say something really ironic/falsely surprised.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

12 + 30 = 42 hours by train

So I finally got out of Cal for the America India Foundation Midpoint, which was held in Kerela. Unfortunately it was held in one of the dullest places in the entire beautiful state. Kerela is known to be one of the big vacation spots in the south but AIF found lodging in Kottayam. Which is only known for its bird sanctuary (we visited and found many bats, but only a few birds. At least the bats were huge) and Back-water tours (the entire area is filled with canals much like Venice and some just live on house boats it was really nice).

Thanks to one of the board members Sridar, (who by the end of the weekend we were referring to as Uncle Sridar or Uncle-ji) the week ended up being both semi-useful and enjoyable. (His family is also the same family who made sure that Andy and I got to see Durga Puja this year and helped us find our flat).

The highlights were:
Getting an Ayuretic oil massage: Full body oil massage (head-toe) with sweet smelling oil. A steam bath and then a nice shower to clean off excess oil. The auntie really enjoyed my hair, though she was slightly surprised with how much oil my hair can soak up. Did I mention we were at the Taj (really nice hotel chain) for this and we had just come off of a 36 hr train ride.

Impromptu boat ride and dinner at the Windsor Castle resort: After a field visit to see a goat breading projects (goats are cute, but not as cute as the pygmy goats in Ghana). Uncle Sridar Ji asked if we would want to go on a boat ride that evening. A bunch of us said yes, so we headed down to the dock and rode around for about an hour. We passed the Windsoor (which was actually where Sridar was supposed to be staying, but he humbled himself to stay with us at the Amos Center [essentially dormitory style rooms with 2 to 8 beds, very orphanage-eque]). On a whim we boated up to the resort restaurant and asked if they had room for 20. It rocked.

Meeting an RPCV from the third Peace Corps Group EVER. Azad Oomen’s (the NY director of the fellowship) parents live in Kerela and his mother was a PCV in 64 in Egypt. It was great meeting another person in the PC family and talking to her about friendships made and connections. The funny thing was when I said one of the acronyms COS (Completion of Service) and she didn’t know it. She was around before the acronyms. And like most PCVs I have met an amazing and wonderful person.

Dinner with a bunch of the fellows in Ernakulum the day before we all parted way: ½ of the fellows went to the beach in the south and the other ½ headed up north to where most of us would catch our planes and trains. We had a great dinner, which wasn’t too expensive at a restaurant that was just opening in a hotel. The best thing is that with all of our varied orders they somehow all came out great. Then we went to the coffee shop downstairs for dessert. Though we were all exhausted it was a great evening.

My last day I went into Cochin with my friend Aditi and Catherine intending to see the palace and the Jewish synagogue, but unfortunately everything is closed on Friday due to the Sabbath and we ended up walking around town and doing a little bit of shopping and some really shrewd bargaining.

All in all it was a good day, and I started my long train ride alone to Kolkata. I was with my friend Shalu up to Chennai(a 12 hour ride), which was her home town so she helped me find some breakfast and got me set for my next ride at 9 am Saturday back to Kolkata. I arrived at our station around 4pm Sunday, which makes my longest train ride yet. But I don’t think it truly beat my 36 hours-ish ride from Mali to Senegal.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Naima!!!!!
Last year we celebrated by actually eating at a resturant in Ghana (instead of off the street). But this was a few weeks later in Djene :) Hmm Fun Mosques and piercings on small children

Okay though I like this one i've had a request to put up this instead.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Off to Kerela

It's that time again. It's Midpoint. Yep, I'm over 1/2 done and on the down-slope of the hill. I'm closer to coming home than just being here, for all of you who are wondering. So the America India Fellows are meeting up to "share our experiences" I think it may be more like a glorified VAC meeting without Wingo's amazing facilitation. Either way I'm getting out of Kolkata (for once :). So if I don't get to update for the next 10 days (and I may) take this as a final chance to answer the Question of the Month for Jan You have until the 13th-ish

So Cheers and let's hope I survive the 3 day train ride it takes to get there and the same ride by myself (sans Andy) on the way back

Missed Manners

Yesterday was CINI’s Foundation day. And we all hauled out to 24 South Parganas Poilan head office. There were a lot of people: CINI staff, workers from the field, some local people as well. All of CINI’s board was there as well as a representative from the CINI UK office and the Governor (who once again showed up late and made all of us wait for at least a good hour. I suppose . . . it’s good to be the governor : )
During this very formal occasion, I was amazed by how many cell phones went off. I am constantly amazed by what most Americans would term “lack of Cell Phone etiquette.” At any given CINI-ARC meeting everyone will have their cell phone out on the table, usually with the ringer on. If a call comes they generally take it, even if they are conducting the meeting. (At which point we all sit around going over notes or trying to figurelout if the call will last long enough to start a conversation) Imagine how quickly one's career would end in the states if in the middle of a business meeting someone's phone rang and they answered it!!Last night as a cell phone rang at the CINI benefit concert was the first time I heard one of my co-workers say. “We should put our phones on silence,” and saw several others doing the same. I guess the line is drawn at Classical Indian Vocal Concerts.

Another surprising element to the customs here in India is the allowance/prevalence of females burping. And I’m not talking about a little urp. I talking belches that would but Barney at Mo’s to shame, that reverberate off of walls and leave a ringing in your ears. I’m always shocked to around after the reverb dies and see a cute, stately looking auntie in a sari going about her business as if nothing happened. Females also spit just as men do, though not as much.

I got used to nose picking in Namibia. I really don’t notice it though Andy occasionally does