Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The summer is over. I can't believe it - we spent up all the time in villages, on road trips, hanging out...I have no idea where the time went. Here are some random updates of the summer:

We did a few school programs, clinic outreaches, and things like that. One day we even had a sports day at the school nearest to us - it was fantastic. Best day ever.

The roads this year have been some of the worst I have ever seen. Last week we had to drive the long way round from Mbale - up past Moroto, a trip that took the better part of eight hours. At least we had tunes.

I've been able to spend a decent amount of time on my artwork, which has been great. Recently I've been doing studies in human proportions and things - just brushing up on basic skills.

Basically things here are back to their quiet, rhythmic usual ways.

(In some ways, India feels like a far-off dream that never really happened. Just about every day I'll remember something random from my trip and smile - I can't believe I was there. )

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It seems that I've come home at the very beginning of rainy season - we're having occasional, short bursts of rain around 4pm just about every day. The grass is green. The dirt is dark. Puddles abound.

In the mornings, it's hot. By dinner, we're all in long sleeves and drinking hot coffee. All is beautiful and the weather's great.

We've done some pretty random things since I've been back. My first day was in Kampala we ran around the mall and were generally pretty weird. We sang on the roof and screamed "KA-KAAW!!!" at some cute children, who screamed back. We got indian food on the roof and I talked about my various exciting experiences of the past six months for hours. Then we got ice cream, pretended to model, tried to run eachother over with a suitcase, and were generally really strange. Quite a few people were watching us and laughing.

And that was just the first afternoon - I only got in at 1:30 pm. Amazing.

Since then, it's been hilarity and fun. Random movie nights. Making up exciting games involving food such as Onion Catch and Goldfish. In general, randomness. I'm enjoying acting like a strange and deranged five-year-old.

Go forth and be weird.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In ten days I'm going to get on a plane and fly away. Yes, I'm going back - back to being a present member of the Wright clan, mandazis, lesos, pikis, hilarious road trips in our crowded land cruiser, braided hair, mudding houses, in-your-face chicken, eating white ants and saying sindiyo all the time. 

But away from salwar khameezes, dhal chawal, autos, dupattas, long afternoon trips to the bazaar, getting late-night domino's with my roommate, and saying, "अच्छा" all the time. 

While I'm happy to go home, I'm sad to leave.

However, I just found out that I can write in Hindi on my blog, so that is fantastic.

शान्ति ,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Twas the night before Holi,
 And all through the streets
All the people were dancing
 To hot Bollywood beats.

Colored powder they threw,
 Making clouds in the air
That settled and stuck
In everyone’s hair.

A pale foreigner came,
Her camera in hand,
Not used to the dances
Of this India land.

They eagerly showed her
How to shrug to the beat.
How to wave her arms skyward,
How to kick with her feet.

She joined in the throwing
Of the colors so bright
Each neon shade flying
Lighting up the dark night.

Finally, off to bed
After hours of fun
Still excited, still eager
Of more color to come.


As of late, I have been watching a lot more Bollywood films than I usually would at home (And that’s saying something).  In my viewings, a few patterns have started to emerge - film techniques and plot lines that come up in just about every movie. Not to say that I don’t love Bollywood – I totally do. But for all of my fellow die-hard Bollywood fans, I decided to compile a list of them, along with their frequency ratings. Let me know what you think.

The Zoom-In: This common Bollywood film technique is usually used to heighten the tension and bring the viewers a much closer shot of the pained expression on the actress/actors face. This CAN be a good thing, if used tastefully, but more than often, in your stereotypical Bollywood, it is NOT. I've seen zoom-ins so close you could see the mascara flaking off the heroine's over-made-up eyes.
Frequency rating: EVERY. SINGLE. MOVIE.  (Guaranteed.)

The Instant Replay: This particularly painful effect is more of an emphatic one. I have seen it used to emphasize all kinds of scenes, such as a phone call, a house exploding, an intense conversation, a girl flipping her hair over her shoulder, a guy walking into a restaurant, three guys running through a gate, and many others.
Frequency rating: Just about every Bollywood I've ever seen.

The Mysterious Indoor Wind: It’s the climax of some deep and moving scene. They’re staring into each other’s eyes fervently, finally admitting their love. It’s all very deep and moving, but unfortunately, this is all interrupted when you realize that, although their hair is whipping dramatically, they are, in fact, inside.
Frequency rating: Depending on the genre of the movie and the length of the heroine/hero’s hair, it will most likely be present.

The Slow-Mo Spin : Inevitably, at some point in the movie, the female lead will, without a doubt, spin around in slow motion – usually while wearing some long flowing sari or skirt. Because that’s what love is all about.
Frequency rating: As I said, inevitable.

The Violent Hug:  This fairly spontaneous embrace can occur between any members of the cast – two estranged lovers, the mother and daughter, two brothers, anyone. Usually it’ll happen right after some strange and semi-shocking plot point is discovered, or just because one of them is sad for some unspecific reason. The two characters will body slam together at such an incredible speed the audience will, most likely, totally not see it coming.
Frequency rating: Not as common as you’d think…depending on the genre of movie you’re watching. Be on the lookout for this awesome happening.

The Slow-Mo Staredown: What do you do when it’s love at first sight? (or second or third sight?) You gawk at them to the point of being totally creepy! Naturally, so important an event can only take place in slow motion. The one (usually the guy) stares at the girl while she giggles and flips her hair around, accompanied by a slow romantic soundtrack.
Frequency rating: Hilariously regular.

The Psych-Out Kiss: As Bollywood is famed for its lack of lip-to-lip kissing, the couples have to make do with hugging. More than often, they’ll look like they’re about to actually kiss….and then psych out with a peck on the cheek.
Frequency rating: If there’s a strong romance plot, it should be there.

The Dream Dance Sequence: This is the part of the movie where one half (or all) of the romantic couple is fantasizing about their soul mate. Usually some very strange things take place, with the two of them dancing around in some weird, unbelievable scenario – the rain, the 50’s, a train station, or whatever pertains to their particular fantasy. These are pretty entertaining, as sometimes you’re not really sure if what’s happening is part of the plot or not.
Frequency rating: Fairly common, in an awesome and exciting way.

There are so many more of these classic techniques - The Barely There Sari, The Spontaneous Dance Sequence, The Gorgeous Girl, and the unforgettable Cheezy Fight Scene – but they all kind of speak for themselves. So the next time you pick up a Bollywood, be on the lookout. Happy watching!

Monday, March 7, 2011

So I started off here:

And had a layover here:

Visited a cathedral, drank GREAT coffee, and I was off again, to here:

Visited some great friends, went to some cool ruins, took our first auto, and celebrated Diwali!!!

Then got on a 9-hour train to Jaipur, where we saw more cool stuff.

Snake charmers, light shows, more ruins and temples. Fun times!

Back on the train.....

To Agra. 

And we found some Engrish, naturally.

Spent some time in Delhi -
Went to a really cool park.

Made it up north, where I spent a while at the Children's Home.
The kids at dinner
Cooking at a friend's house
The view off the back of the hill
Then took a trip to Goa....

Met some amazing people, had some amazing memories, and headed back up to the cold and windy north, where I have now settled for the remainder of my time.
A view of one of the neighborhoods

Main Street
the kite flying festival, Pasan Panchpi

All is well.

                About two years ago, I bought a pair of shoes. I was at an Old Navy somewhere in New Jersey, where they had a two-pairs-for-a-dollar deal on flip flops. I got one black pair and one white. Naturally, I wore through the black ones within two months of buying them. The white ones, however, lay in my "town shoes" drawer along with my various Converse, while I wandered about the villages of Karamoja in sturdy leather slippers.
The flip flops did get some good memories in, though. All the times I’d spent sauntering up and down Mbale streets, laughing and talking with my sisters. Our many walks through the mall, all dressed up in our Kampala best. Not to mention the countless hikes they spent tied to my shoulder while I was ankle-deep in mud - Sipi, Namorupus, and Fort Portal. There are still melted welts all across the instep and heel from a time when they got too close to a campfire on a hiking trip. The soles are riddled with pockmarks from various thorns I picked up. For a while, I made it my personal goal to keep them white and scrubbed them clean after every adventure.
I arrived in India, where my shoes were no longer called slippers or flip flops, but instead, chappals. They got a nasty burn on the left heel my first week here from when I stepped on the smoldering remains of a Diwali cracker in Indore. Another time I had to take them off and leave them by the steps of the Taj Mahal among the many loafers and leather sandals of the other tourists, where I knew they wouldn't get stolen. When I was at the Children’s Home, they sustained further injury from the many games of tag and badminton we played in the gravel courtyard. I carried them for kilometers down the sands of Goa, relishing the fact that I didn’t have to wear shoes. One time they got washed away by the tide, and I had to run through the waves to bring them back. I wore them to a couple markets in Delhi, and around the town I’m living in as well.
I've long since given up trying to keep them white, so they've now assumed a kind of patchy light brown color. Now I wear them every day - to work, around the house, out shopping, and so on. The soles are now paper thin, so that I can feel every contour of whatever road I am walking on. Sometimes it's like wearing no shoes at all.
I really like those shoes. They’ve been pretty much everywhere I’ve been. They’re no longer my “town” shoes, because they aren’t exactly smart anymore. – they’ve become serious jua kali. Instead of on pikis, I now wear them in autos. Instead of with a tshirt and plaid shorts, I wear them with my salwar khameez and dupata.
And the stories just keep piling up.

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