Thursday, August 18, 2011

{ First day, Riots, Indian Gate, and my favorites }

My favorite.

I know I have posted so many times already. And I certainly did not expect to write this much so soon but I’m sure my writings will taper off as time passes. I just have to share a little about my day here. It was very eventful!

Today was such a crazy day - our first day at the office (we didn't do much) but we met Winnie Ma'am and the General and Sonal (their daughter) and discussed what we want to be doing here and our purpose. It was good. We were so tired mid-day - we didn't realize just how jet lagged we still are! We got through the afternoon, spent some time with the doctor from the Delhi Women's Association for the weekly health clinic, and then met the slum children that we will be tutoring every afternoon from 3-5 pm. We also met the other interns that are here for two more weeks – Marta and Veronique. Marta is from Poland and Veronique is from the Netherlands. They are beautiful, intelligent, vibrant girls! We chatted away about our education, our countries and cultures, etc.

At 4:30, we left to go visit the demonstrations by the Delhi Gate - what an experience!!! It was me and Sarah (my awesome roomie!); Anita, our new best friend from the office :) She is always checking up on us!; Marta (from Poland) and Veronique (from the Netherlands); and Mr. Jolley, one of our bosses of Maitri and the sweetest Indian man you will ever meet – he said that Sarah and I could join him at the end of the month to travel parts of India!

On Monday, August 16, Anna Hazarre, an Indian politician, began an indefinite hunger strike after the anti-corruption Lokpal bill (to create an ombudsman in their government) was not passed in the Indian government by his August 15 deadline. Anna Hazarre is considered a Ghandian and he has proclaimed intentions for a second war for independence (since the war for independence in 1947). He is currently in jail, arrested for not agreeing to a permit that was issued to him by the police, but the people are still taking a stand against corruption (check out an article here at India Live). Check out this article from the New York Times about what is going on here in Delhi with the riots. The protests started yesterday morning but the group is slowly getting a bigger group and tonight at 7:00, everyone officially gathered after their work was finished for the day - for the evening candlelight ceremony and the protests. They will continue all through the night - there is so many people! They're comparing it to what has been happening in the Middle East but it's not violent (yet?)

This is one of my FAVORITE photos. We asked a guy to borrow his flag for a picture and before we knew it, someone handed us this large cloth flag and we had a MASSIVE group of demonstrators surrounded us as a random Indian guy took millions of pictures of us. Famous.

It's incredible to see the power of the people. Mr. Jolley Sir took us in his car to see everything - history in the making!!! It was so fascinating. People were chanting "Vande Mataram" (meaning one day mother country!). So powerful. We moved with the crowd as people held up signs of "Long live Anna" and "Combat corruption! Save India!" Anna Hazarre is their hero. The people were so passionate! And we all stood out there in the sweltering, humid, nasty heat. We spent all night there. But, at about 6:30, we took a quick break and went to a restaurant called the "Bikaner House" - they weren't serving dinner anymore (can't figure out why) but Mr. Jolly Sir bought us drinks (cold coffee for some, mango juice for me!) and some chicken and vegetable sandwiches and vegetable pokara to share. It was all pretty yummy but...I definitely won't be trying any meat again (talk about a massive stomachache!) 

Anita and I at the Bikaner House :) My new BFF <3 

Sandwiches and Pokora.

This is their breath freshener - a little sugar and a kind of leaf - tastes like licorice! Pretty yummy!

After a quick dinner, we headed back to the gate - it was so pretty at night! The Indian Gate is a lot like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, built as a memorial to the Indian soldiers that died in WWII. It is heavily guarded by the police and military and you can't go anywhere near it. It's beautiful, though! We met Mr. Jolly's wife, took lots of beautiful pictures in front of the shimmering, nighttime gate, walked in a circle around the gate gardens and headed home! Mr. Jolley, as a convenience, dropped us off on the side of the road with our next best friend Anita and we took a rickshaw home. Anita is soooo sweet and absolutely gorgeous. She didn't go all the way to our apartment with us but she called us within minutes of our arrival home to make sure we were safe - love her! We are so well taken care of at Maitri - everyone looks after us! Especially at the riots, Mr. Jolley treated us like his children and held us close and Anita always held our hand or had her arm around us.

My bff roomie :) the oh-so-FABULOUS and GORGEOUS Sarah Patton.

Interviewed by a local paper

Candlelight ceremony.

Our lovely Mr. Jolley

This morning, I completed my first run in India - just around the complex. It was about 8am. I was very safe, got lots of weird stares, but lets just say I came home DRENCHED - soaked in my sweat! And I only ran 3 miles. It's so humid but my skin is loving it :) I have almost 0 motivation to run here - but I love doing yoga :) Maybe it's just the jet lag still? We'll have to see how this works itself out over the next couple of weeks!

See all the sweat!

And I tried lassi today - a sort of flavored yogurt/milk drink. It's yummy but gave me the worst tummy ache (I didn't really want to try it but Mr. Jolley Sir made me because I had mentioned it can't refuse anything here!)

Okay, I forgot one more thing...I've never felt so famous in my life!!! Seriously, everyone wants pictures with us (especially at the riot - it was insane! We would have one Indian man come up to us and ask for a picture and then a huge group of Indian men would run and jump in the picture) I also interviewed with about 5 different Indian television stations :) And out of our group, I was the one to do most of the talking. I shared my thoughts about demonstrations and their role in the democratic process. Are they important? What are your thoughts about Anna Hazarre? What does this mean to you? After seeing the passion in their eyes, their desire for change, and their motivation to do whatever it takes to carry it out, I am more motivated to get more involved in the political process and stand for what I feel is important. In America, we certainly take our freedoms and our government (no matter how corrupt or dishonest we think it to be) for granted. America is such a wonderful place to live. As we began to interview with each station, HUGE groups of people would begin to surround us and we had to fight our way out. So I am now famous – I like to think one of the most famous Americans here in Delhi - it was pretty awesome for the time being :) But let’s just say, that was enough limelight for my entire political career! I don’t ever want to be famous.

I have now been a part of my first demonstration against the government, seen the beautiful and very majestic Indian gate, and met my new best friends, Anita and Mr. Jolley Sir.

Vande Mataram!!!

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