Wednesday, August 31, 2011

{ Meet my roommates! }

Meet my beautiful, sweet, favorite roommates!

I LOVE my roommates. Really, I don't think we could have been better paired. The three of us get along well together and we've easily learned how to live together, work together, travel together, etc. I'm excited to spend the next 4 months with them! We have so much fun together.

Meet Ms. Sarah Patton. She is a beautiful red-haired, pale-skined model. I love her smile. She's witty and has the voice of an angel! Sarah is a pre-nursing major - hoping to get into nursing school in January! She loves life and is very optimistic! She's 21 and full of love for everyone! And the best part, I get to sleep with her. Every night. haha - don't worry about us!

Meet Ms. Katie Harding - absolutely BEAUTIFUL inside and out! Katie has a BIG heart. She is full of energy and always coming up with new ideas! Katie is always complimenting others and has nothing bad to say. She is creative and intelligent. Katie is a beautiful writer. She is a graduate student in Social Work at the U and has already changed the lives of many children.

I love them both! Cheers to a GREAT semester in India! :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

{ Delhi belly: a week to remember! }

Well, it happened.
Sarah got DELHI BELLY.

No kidding, that's what they call it here! 
We ate...chicken (we are now officially vegetarians!) in Chandni Chowk last Saturday.
Bad idea.
And we even knew better! 
It was a pretty sketchy place, and pretty dirty.
But we saw White people there (haha we're all dumb Americans!)'s okay now. 
It created a very "adventurous" week to remember!

Last Saturday evening, Sarah woke up with the chills and couldn't sleep all night.
And some serious loose bowels.

I was feeling a little sick to my stomach - nothing too big - and I had taken an ammonium Saturday evening before bed (bad idea on my part - if you have irritable bowels, just let it let loose! Don't let the bacteria sit in your body for a week!)

Sunday, Sarah was in bed all day, sick as a dog, ate nothing
Monday, it was bad enough that we went to the doctor and he gave her 6 new prescriptions (she had been on meds she brought from home before this).
Upon return home with the new meds, she immediately began to throw up any meds or liquids she took. 
Tuesday, barely able to move, having not eaten for 2.5 days,
Winnie Ma'am and the General rushed us to the hospital! 
Thanks to the connections of the Singhs, our Indian parents, 
she immediately had a bed in the ER.
I'll let the pictures tell you the rest about our week! 
But before you see them, let me say,
India is AMAZING.
There's the good and the bad to everything! 
But their hospital was impeccably clean,
(granted we weren't in a government-run hospital)
the customer service was amazing!
The food was pretty dang good,
and in Sarah's words,
"The hospital was heaven, nurses were angels, and the doctors gods."
Everyone was so pleasant and caring!
Although it all worked out better than originally expected,
thank you Fortis hospital for our one-time stay!
We hope to never be back again :)
My perceptions of India have changed in so many ways. 

So....what do you think? Would YOU eat this? A little oily yes, but we thought it was pretty harmless...NOT.

Welcome to the Fortis hospital! Our first big "Welcome to India!"
The hospital was a pleasant surprise :)

First impression - I almost feel like I'm in America again! This is nice!
Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.

Our poor, beautiful Sarah! in the ER.

Elevator - pretty nice, right?

I'll talk more about this later but we came to find out that pre-natal sex determination is illegal in India.
Some will kill the baby girls because they want boys.
Good strike for the Indian government - it should be illegal!

Good call.

Sarah made me blurb out her face (even though she looked gorgeous!) but poor girl was so sick.
haha namaste!

They finally moved us to a nice room. Thanks to Winnie's connections, we were upgraded to a suite because nothing else was available - it was SO NICE! Thank goodness because I stayed there 2 nights with her ;)

Anita-ji came to visit :) Again, pretty Sarah, eh?

FUNNY STORY - Sarah locked herself in the bathroom (hahahaha) and like 6 nurses and security guards and the manager were in the room trying to get the door open with random keys - Sarah finally figured it out. hahahahha. I couldn't stop laughing.

This restaurant became my 2nd home there - so yummy and super safe and veg!
Kwality restaurant, Chopsticks express and Bread & more.

These are the various Indian meals I ate while we were staying at the hospital. 

Needless to say, last week, we were pretty spoiled and well taken care of. A special thanks to the Singh's for all of their hospitality and love as our Indian parents. And to Sonal for her kindness and assistance in the first few days. It will certainly be an experience to remember! Sarah and I are both safe and alive now :)

A few other random "highlights"...

This is a beautiful mirror that was in our room and I was home alone and...BAM! It's down. on the ground. broken. scared me so bad! i thought Spiderman had slammed through my window (I wish!). 
This is a house lizard - we saw it just outside our apartment. They call them chipkalis here.

{ The Beautiful Bindi }

Sarah and I sporting our beautiful decorative bindis in an auto rickshaw!
Bindi, in Hindi, means "drop, small particle, or dot."

It is a common misconception that the Bindi is merely a religious symbol for Hindus as a symbol of wedlock. It can also mean other things - especially today in modern-day India. It is no longer affiliated with age, marital status, ethnicity, or class. In fact, the Bindi has generally become a symbol of culture in countries all over southeast Asia (Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, etc.) And people of all religions wear bindis - like I said, it's more a matter of culture.

In India, women that are married generally do wear a dark red bindi (of any size) on their forehead between their eyebrows. Traditionally, when women cross the threshold of marriage, the red bindi is said to usher in prosperity. They often have a vermilion line of red paint that goes from their hairline at the top of the forehead back along the part of the hair. Some married women also use mehndi (henna) and dye their hair red. 

The red represents honor, love, and prosperity. 

Religiously, the bindi is symbolic to Hindus. It can be referred to as the "third eye." The placement between the eyebrows is known as the sixth chakra, ajna, or the seat of "concealed wisdom." It is known to be the exit point of the kundalini energy, or the "awakening" energy so the bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It's location also corresponds to the pineal gland which has been regarded as the "seat of the soul."

Today, the bindi is often wore by women of all cultures, in all colors. However,they aren't as fashionable to the modern generations. In the 1990's, American celebrities popularized the bindi among American teens and some still wear them. You can buy adhesive bindis of all kinds. Some women, generally older, still use paint. Some put a small pinpoint-size dot, others a larger dot that covers merely the entire space between the eyebrows! 

Oh can wear them too (I've seen it!)! They're then usually called a tilak, kumkum, or again, a bindi. 

I have various packages of bindis, and I love them! They aren't all dots, they aren't all red, and some even have rhinestones and sparkles! Welcome to India!

{ Lessons in HINDI: Part 1 }

My first exposure to Hindi was at my UofU Orientation (2009) when I went to a mock class with a teacher that taught Hindi and Urdu. Since that time, I wanted to learn the language. But I never would have imagined that two years later, I would be in India - the perfect classroom to learn this beautiful language.

When I listen to the people speak, it all still sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Literally, it sounds like a bunch of babies saying "goo goo" & "ga ga" to me! Or rather, it sounds like this - "asfklajsdlfkjas;fkj" Something like that. But, it flows so perfectly. When the Indians speak, there are very few pauses and it sounds like a river flowing out of their mouth. I love it. However, I have found that if I listen really close, I can pick up a little bit of what others are saying because a lot of the people here speak Hinglish (Hindi + English = Hinglish). These are the co-official languages of India - English because of the British influence and power in India until 1947. Although Hindi is still the most common language in India (but I've since come to find out there are over 108 languages in India - each very heavily spoken in the varying states across the country!). 

I love the Indian Culture. It is so different from the Western world that we call home. The language itself is so respectful!

Here, we call our rickshaw drivers and any older man "bhaiya," which means "brother." We are all brothers and sisters by nature.

My favorite - When we say other's names, we add "-ji" at the end. This is prounounced as "jee" or like the letter "g". For example, we say "Sarah-ji" or "Liz-ji" or "Meli-ji" or "Eva-ji" or "Anita-ji". We add it to the name of anyone that merits respect or to strangers. This is why the different words for grandparents are dadaji, dadiji, naniji, and nanaji. Makes sense, right?

I may now be referred to as "Liz-ji" or "Lizzie-ji" 
Please and thank you.

So, here is a small list of a few words I have learned in my short time here: 

  • namaste - hello
  • namaskar - goodbye
{they don't generally use either of these greetings because they just say "allo!" now}
  • tikh hai (pronounced tea-kay} - Okay! {My favorite - this is what I learned first. You can use it to answer to just about anything}
  • bhaiya - brother
  • didi - sister
  • acha - good
  • pani - water
  • daal - lentils
  • paneer - cheese
  • aloo - potato
  • hanji or ji - yes
  • nehi - no
  • dhanyavaad - thank you
  • paghal - crazy
  • subh ratri - goodnight
  • dal - lentils
  • chalo! - let's go!

Numbers (my first words in Hindi):
  • ek - one
  • do - two
  • teen - three
  • charr - four
  • panch - five
  • cheyha - six
  • haat - seven
  • aat - eight
  • nau - nine
  • dus - ten
  • bhara - twelve (we live in sector 12 so we use this often to direct the rickshaw drivers)

{ The Church in India }

Disclaimer: I am LDS (yes, a Mormon). I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So, I will be discussing some religious observances in this post; however, I am very open-minded and I think just about anyone will enjoy my simple thoughts on religion. But I do share some of my beliefs and my love of the gospel of Christ, tikh hai? Acha! 

The Indian Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

The gospel is true - everywhere you go! I love it. 
Going to church in various places is one of my favorite things about traveling.
I went for my first time last Sunday :) Sarah was sick, so I went alone.
Our good friend, Ravi, arranged to have one of his good friends pick me up and go with me by auto to the church.
It's about 10 min away by auto in Vasant Vihar.
New Delhi II Branch.
40 Poorvi Marg
Right across from the Saint Domique Catholic Church.
Everyone was sooo incredibly kind. All of the sisters introduced themselves,
sometimes in stuttered English and thick Hindi accents,
and some of the guys smiled shyly. 
The little kids were the cutest.
I met an Elder Green from Salt Lake - refreshing!
{anyone know him???}
It is the cleanest place I have been in Delhi...yet
{except for the bathroom...}
The Branch President and his family are from Nebraska.
{but the President and his wife grew up in SLC - small world!}
They're white and very comfortable.
He is an FBI agent working at the US Embassy - sweet people.
These are the most faithful, humble people I have ever encountered.
Each member of the branch reminds me of the father (Helam) and the young women who fancies Jacob (Laneah) from The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd. 

Most of the meetings were in English, which surprised me. 
Sacrament meeting (1st hour), all of the talks were in English, and we sang very familiar hymns.
Sunday school (2nd hour) and Relief Society (3rd hour) were mostly english...part hinglish, and then part hindi. haha - it was delightful! I had to balance my attention between the english sentences and the hindi sentences (which ran together to be once sentence so my mind was easily confused!) and try to figure out what they were talking about when they spoke in hinglish (part english, part hindi). 
It was an adventure!

My first Sunday (08/21), I learned about the Holy Ghost and the law of Chastity (Indian style!). One inspiring thought from our beautiful Sunday School teacher, Caroline, she says, 
"The Holy Ghost can give you strength to conquer the world and do what you want to do." 
That was exactly what I needed to hear. Caroline shared her experience with faith vs. fear and how even though she grew up here, she is so afraid to ride the bus. But the other day she didn't have enough for an auto (as a poor college student - haha - lots of poor students here too!) and her dad couldn't take her so she had to take the bus. She talked about how she was so frightened at the thought, but she used faith to overcome fear and the spirit helped to comfort her in her journey. She's still scared but has more faith it will be tikh hai (okay) :) Our lesson on the Law of Chastity was very...interesting. The ladies were so sweet. Our Relief Society President taught the lesson and tried to carefully explain the sanctity of procreative powers in very conservative terms. My favorite part was when the sweet sister explained how to show your children inappropriate touching:

You can draw a figure and use a green color to color in where people can touch and a red color to show where people should not touch them. Then, if people touch the red parts, they need to tell their parents. 

She proceeded to explain how to encourage children to feel comfortable talking to their parents about curious questions. I loved the conservative manner in which we were taught. 

Auto ride to church! Namaste with the Book of Mormon!

This is my beautiful friend, Ms. Sarah :)

My second Sunday (08/28), I learned about keeping our bodies clean and in Relief Society, we shared our love for family in the church - we are all sisters in Zion and naturally, when you are baptized and come into the fold, you have a family and acceptance in the gospel - EVERYONE! It was the sweetest, most sincere lesson. She shared with us Ephesians 2:19-20 and this sums up well the attitude of the saints in our Church.

 19 Now therefore ye are no more astrangers and foreigners, butbfellowcitizens with the csaints, and of the dhousehold of God;
 20 And are built upon the foundation of the aapostles andbprophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief ccorner stone;

The gospel is so simple. I love relearning some of the basic principles of the gospel here in India - the lessons are so simple because many of these members are new to the church and need it to be simple. The doctrine is true. In the Book of Mormon, Alma talks about the "virtue of the word." President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (like the church in ancient times) says, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." And as I have studied and relearned these basic doctrines, my behavior has changed. I have become more selfless and charitable. India kind of does that to you, too.

Missionary work in Delhi works something like this - a young single adult or young man/young woman meets with the missionaries, chooses to be baptize, begins to attend church and activities regularly {meanwhile setting an example for their family}, they invite their family to church, their family comes for a few weeks to a few months, to sometimes a few years and decides to meet the missionaries, begin discussions, and are eventually baptized. Please note: this process can take several years. But, this is generally how missionary work proceeds here in India! It's a beautiful cycle! 

Remember my new bff and soul sista, Riya? She is famous! She played the role of the main character in the Book of Mormon Pageant last Summer 2010 here in Delhi :) Check out this article about the pageant and at the end of the article, you can see a quote from Riya. You can also read about the pageant in this article Planting a seed in India with a Book of Mormon pageant by the Deseret News. In this article, the girl on the left in the picture is Caroline and she is in our branch here in Delhi - she's my Sunday School teacher and a total sweetheart! I love the girls in our branch and all of the young single adults here in Delhi! The examples of the young members of the church help the work to move on! As Riya said, “People will think, ‘Yeah, they are Mormons. Mormons are great.’ Maybe Heavenly Father was watching, saw us working hard and feeling the spirit and had fun also.” The church is growing! A seed has been planting and there is an energy and excitement among the members here that I have not seen in many other members of the Church - I love being a part of it!

If you're interested in knowing more about what I believe, check out my profile on at :)

{ Hey soul sista! }

Last Sunday at church, in the tiny New Delhi 2nd Branch, I met my new best friend, my soul sister - we clicked like *that*! Love her.
Riya Sunny :)
She took an auto with me after to hang out at our apartment while she waited for a ride from her dad. We bonded as we chatted about our boys, life, family, the church, etc. Can't wait to spend more time with her and to go to the movies with her! 
Agra this Wednesday with her and her dad :)
We are lucky! 

She is high-spirited, optimistic, kind, loving, and passionate!

Monday, August 22, 2011

{ Chandni Chowk }

Chandni Chowk means moonlit square! It is a very large, historic market in Old Delhi. It was established in 1650 under the Mughal Emperor of the time. It is very congested and you still see many, many day laborers walking up and down the streets with large loads. Motorcycles and bike rickshaws fill the streets. 

Our goal at Chandni Chowk on Saturday was to find a saree for each of us! It was a success!

These were my two favorites. What do you think?
*I ended up with the black one* 
:) It's so pretty!

This is the Saree that Sarah bought :)

This was a designer Saree that the guy wanted me to try on...I think I liked the one I picked better :)

So begins our adventure...told by pictures.

We took an auto from our apartment to the metro at Central Secretariat and rode over to Chandni Chowk. They have a women's only compartment here in the metro :) One of the first times I felt privileged to be a woman (not really, but it was cool :))! 

Very congested.

First view of the streets in Chandni Chowk.

Riding in our first bike rickshaw.
It was really hard for Sarah and I to watch our young Indian man exert all energy to carry us a few blocks to our final destination. It was hot and humid - I can't even imagine what that would be like. And we paid him barely a dollar (50 rupees) to take us. As we rode through the streets, we watched the other laborers carrying stuff up and down the street - welcome to India. It was intense shock therapy. Very humbling.

I would encourage you to click on these photos and look at them a little closer!
Can you see the history in this beautiful market? 
Although it is very dirty and congested, there is something very remarkable about its winding, side streets and excessive amounts of shops. 

This is where our experience turned bad. We ate some chicken and Sarah and I are now both very ill. Sarah is much worse off than I (I have higher immunity because of my autoimmune disease and I recently suffered from salmonella) so we are praying for her quick recovery. Anyway, it was a very sketchy little restaurant in the heart of dirty old Delhi (we wanted to go to Karim's but it was closed for Ramadan). 

Auto parts.

This is the Jama Masjid - the most famous mosque in Delhi built in 1650 - it's beautiful! We didn't go inside.

Sarah and I.

It was at this time that we went shopping for Sarees - it was so fun...for the most part. Until we encountered the little-too-friendly salesmen. And I let both of the men get away with it - It was very inappropriate. But what an experience! I love all of the vibrant colors and the air of anticipation that fills the Saree shops. Everyone should own a Saree :)

This picture basically sums up Old Delhi/Chandni Chowk.

The town hall.

*Warning: some of the next images are of a more sensitive nature*

This is Gurudwara Sisganj - built in memorial of some Sikh martyrs and now functions as a Sikh temple.

This is a dumpster right by the road.

Right by the metro station.

The children dress up and come beg for money.
She's beautiful. 

After Chandni Chowk, we went and explored Connaugiht Place and Janpath Market before we headed home. It was a fun-filled, exhausting day with our beautiful friend, Anita-ji! 

I love INCREDIBLE India!

My heart was touched by the people, the history, and the culture. I feel so very humbled.