"We're all Hussein"- Barack Obama

Seriously? Click on the title to link to an article I just read which discusses how ridiculous some Obama fanatics are.

Actually Barack, my middle name is Martin, thank God.



is where I will be July 9-17, drink in hand. Now if only I could find a swimsuit for sale in Jodhpur, the Mumbai airport, or the conservative Muslim island of Zanzibar. I'm pretty excited to cross another continent off my map, even if I have to swim in a sari.

In other news:

Casey's going-away party is tonight. I'm going to miss her BIG TIME. She's off to travel North India (visiting Dharamsala...I'm jealous!) and then headed down to South India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu.) Hopefully I'll get to play with her again down at the beach.

Speaking of South India, I had South Indian food for 2 meals yesterday- divine. It's my favorite...I didn't even know about dosas and iddli and all the fun chutneys (especially cocunut and garlic) until this trip. Indian restaurants in the US generally just have North Indian dishes...which are very heavy.

I have footage of Dadi feeding Rangoo, but it won't upload. Also, the cat's name is Rangoo, not the ex-capital of Myanmar. Evidently Rangoo means "colorful," which is fitting for this anorexic pussycat for many reasons. Oh, and Rangoo broke a laughing buddha figurine while we were eating dinner and singing karaoke last night. I was called on to sing for the first time. I said I need practice. I would never sing in front of good singers at home, but I figure the language barrier will prevent them from realizing how awful I am. I'm thinking Janis Joplin...so I don't have to hit any high notes. I'd appreciate suggestions for songs (that can be sung without background music.) I think the last time I sang karaoke was at the Cat's Meow and my song choice of "When I think about you I touch myself" probably won't fly here. But it could be interesting.

So, it's 4pm here at the Gravis office. Everyone but Jasdeep, Shailendra, some other person I don't know, and I have been in a meeting all day. So, I decided, what better time to break out my ipod and speakers to play some fun American music? Playlist so far:

1. Crossroads by Bone Thugs
2. Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
3. Closing Time by Semisonic
4. All Star by Smashmouth (now Jasdeep is just changing the songs every few seconds so I'm stopping.)

Pictures of my "colleagues" will be posted soon...but my computer is locked up in the library right now, so that will have to wait.

Sorry for such a lame post.

Also, I'm extending the deadline for responses to my poll since everyone is slacking. Get on that please, thanks.


That's what she said: my date with the palm reader

If Allie is reading this she is rebuking me. I'm judging this on the fact that when I had my fortune told on my 21st birthday in New Orleans, she ran away saying "I rebuke that!" Turns out that Ms. Jackson Square psychic was no good. She told me I would meet my soulmate in December of 2006 and his name would start with an "M." So, naturally, every boy I met whose name started with an M was fat or heinous or both. I denied fate.

SO, after our adventures at the Fort, Casey's host family had us over for Sunday lunch. After our feast and some lounging around, I asked Ms. Tanwar, Casey's host mom, to read my palm. Casey had told me that she's very good...although she told Casey that she would have a "very hard life."

"Do you believe in this stuff?" someone asked me.
"It depends on what she says," I replied, "I'll decide later."

And so, after much studying of both my skinny, ogre hands- and some poking around and bending of my fingers and thumbs- these are the results of my most thorough palm reading to date:

One of my biggest faults is that I'm indecisive. My other major flaw is that I think with my heart and not my head and make most of my decisions based on emotions as opposed to rational thought. Because I'm so indecisive, I should trust the opinion of an older, wiser person that I'm close to. (Mom has already claimed this role as she somehow knows everything I do and has all the right answers.)

Being indecisive can lead me to miss opportunities. When I see a chance, I should take it instead of thinking that I'll have many more chances.

I have a great luck line and will have lots of luck and fame in life. (Get excited!) Also, I will have "an easy life" with "two incomes." I hope this means my husband will have 2 jobs because I don't plan on working. My life is supposed to be long, although there are breaks in my lifeline. This means that I will have lots of mental distress. "Do you get depressed easily?" she asked. I just laughed. And I got kinda scared.

Also, she told me that I get angry too easily- but I mean well and I have a good heart. Many people think they know me, but only people who have lived with me or been around me for a long time truly know me. (Does this mean I'm mysterious??? Ha.) And (I thought this was interesting, actually) I am a different person on the inside than the outside. Kind of like when Ms. Sims said "She looks like an angel but there's a tiger inside." Maybe.

"You will have love marriage, not arranged marriage," she informed me. Whew, good to know...
And I'm supposed to meet this love marriage person sometime between this December and next December. This period is called my "engagement chance." I will probably miss this chance...nothing good can happen in December (except Christmas) it's too cold and depressing.

Oh, and in India, a girl's left hand shows her own fate and her right hand shows her husband's fate. The lines on my left hand are a lot more shallow and messy, which supposedly means that I'm more emotional and "messed up" than my future husband. Makes sense.

And here's the kicker-

"You will have own house," Ms. Tanwar said in a happy voice.
"That's good," I thought.
"when you are 35," she continued.
"What do I do until then?" I asked.
"Live with parents. Your parents or his parents."

WHAT?! She might not know that we don't really do the extended-family-living-arrangement-thing in the USA. I chose to disregard this part of the palm reading.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on all this. Are her predictions so broad that they could be applied to lots of people?

The picture is of Cynthia and Ms. Tanwar after she read her palm.

AND, speaking of "that's what she said," a special thanks to mom for THE OFFICE DVDS!!! And books and The Economist. I read both issues front to back in one day. Glorious.

Us gals at the Fort

More Fort

OK, so this picture doesn't look that exciting, but it's kinda cool because:

1. I just really like whitewashed walls.
2. I don't think that alcove is the right word...but each little alcove used to have a candle lit inside. Pretty.
3. The big alcove at the top just looks like a random hole, but that little screen at the top connects to a secret walkway on the other side. The screens allowed the women to listen in to what the men were discussing in meetings, without being seen.

Speaking of not being seen, purdah was enforced within the Fort, which influenced much of the architecture. There is very intricate lattice work on many of the upper floors. From the ground, you can't see inside the Fort; however, the women could see down at what was going on in the courtyards. I'm starting to understand why some women might actually enjoy purdah...the men are a little out of control here.

Hookah at the Fort

"Smoking the hookah prior to battle helped them endure pain and mental anguish," said the audio tour guide.



One view from Mehrangarh Fort. Cynthia, Casey, and I visited there Sunday. I believe this has been my favorite historical site/fort to visit in India. It's enormous, the architecture is stunning, and the history of the Rathore rulers is fascinating. Plus, the audio tour was really first-rate and included interviews with the current Maharaja and others who were around during partition.

In 1459 Rao Jodha moved the capital of Jodhpur from Mandore (where my monkey pics were taken) to the top of this mountain, 400 feet above the city. Since then the Rathore rulers have never lost a battle.

There are 7 gates that lead into the fort and plenty of right-angle turns meant to slow the momentum of invaders. After the last gate there are the handprints of the 15 royal wives who committed sati on their husband's funeral pyre. Sati is the act of widows throwing themselves on their husband's funeral pyre-and although it is outlawed now, 40 cases have been reported since independence...mostly in Rajasthan. When Maharaja Ajit Singh died in 1731, 58 concubines committed sati. Women considered it an honor and a show of loyalty to sacrifice their lives for their husbands; instead of wearing mourning clothes, they often wore wedding attire to symbolize their eternal marriage. Discrimination against widows persists- they are seen as bad luck and given little family support. Even girls who are married as children and become child widows generally never remarry. Evidently the women just walked into the fire holding the Bhagavad Gita and didn't let out a sound as they burned.

do I make you proud?

So, there is an Indian Idol. And this is one of the contestants. I don't know if he's good or not or what he sang...but I do know that he was wearing a crushed purple velvet blazer a la Taylor Hicks. Presumably for good luck. So I took quite a few pictures of the television, which confused my host family a bit.

PS- has anyone seen ole Taylor lately around Lakeview?!?


PSS- How did he ever win American Idol?

PSSS- I think the dude that won this year is the best yet. Thoughts?


The two best pictures on mom's computer/ ever

Female foeticide in NW India

Click on the title to link to today's article.

Maybe if girls become really rare, Indian men will start having to pay a reverse dowry in order to get wives...

Here's another report from March that's specific to Rajasthan:


Here's a hopeful story of one village in Punjab that is going against the state's trend. It's interesting that Punjab has the lowest ratio of girls to boys b/c much of the state is pretty well-off. Most Indians I know in America are from Punjab (or Gujarat). It seems that more prosperous families would be less worried about the monetary burden of having girl children...but then again, they have easier access to doctors who perform the illegal ultrasounds.


In other news, India's inflation rate just reached an 13-year high of 11%.

I love the BBC!


a triumph

All of my belongings fit in this closet!!

duh, mr. autowallah

If you're going to stop the rickshaw in the middle of a highway to pee, I'm going to take picha!!!

"And she painted my eyes and lips"

Sooooo...I took my first Indian art lesson! First I learned how to draw eyes, and then lips. Teacher says I'm better at lips. Probably because they are easier.

Drawing, or creating any kind of art, is something I've always considered myself worthless at. I can't even paint my own toenails. Since Ms. Thomason's "Eagle Eye Art" in kindergarten, I haven't given any time or thought to art- except art history, appreciation, and purchase. I feel like I can become decent at most anything I try, but art has always been out of my reach. And not only that. It intimidates me and pisses me off that I can't even draw stick figures. So I decided that I'm going to conquer the art world. Or at least become a better artist than Jackson Pollack.

The best part about this whole endeavor is that it's free! I don't think it is for everyone, but the teacher (whose work is amazing, btw) said that he "makes enough money selling art and art is his hobby so why charge?" He has exhibitions all over the world. Maybe there is hope for me after all!

It's crazy. In the past 2 months I think I may have learned more than I did in 4.5 years of college. (That's not a knock on Bama- it's an acknowledgment of me and my laziness. Roll Tide.) I've read about 7 books front to back, which is almost certainly more than I EVER read off of any teacher's reading list. India is my continuing education. We'll see if the reading continues once the internet connection is fixed at my host fam's house...


The Food Crisis in India


The Food Crisis in India


Jodhpur is a हप्पेनिंग place

Elizabeth Hurley got married here last year on an auspicious day (see my first post.) What this BBC article doesn't say is that many local Indians were really pissed about the wedding, as they felt it made a mockery out of their traditions. Ajit Bhawan is where I got my sunburn. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6433311.stm

And Jimmy Choo based its new collection on the handicrafts and colors here. I'm not quite sure how a sand-covered city in India inspired $500 shoes, but OK.

Other things that are happening:

Last weekend a rickshaw had a wreck with a taxi outside the train station. A yelling match ensued between the two parties after personal information was exchaned. The rickshaw driver, angry that the taxi driver and passengers had called him an awful driver, got a bunch of his buddies together and hunted down the men who had been in the taxi. And stabbed two of them to death. And while this was an isolated incident, the rickshaw driver and other murderers happened to be Muslim, while those killed were Rajput (the high, ruling caste here.) So, like many events of this sort, the killing has turned into a religious battle of sorts. Not to mention that this is an election year and tension is already high.

A tribal group called the Gujjars are protesting and staging riots in an effort to gain ST (scheduled tribe) status. This is a designation that would give this nomadic, agriculturalist society government reservations...and more help from the government in general. It's like India's affirmative action. The Gujjars have blocked the railroads on the Rajasthan border with Uttar Pradesh, which caused trains to be canceled and lots of travel disruption between here and Delhi. Here's the latest...http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Gujjar-agitation-over--to-get-5---quota/324505/

Living on the Edge (of Pakistan)/ Lessons in Low-Maintenance

So much for getting excited. Now blogger won't let me add ANY pictures.

The previous two pics are from last week's field visit to Gagadi. It was only for 2 days, but I really lived dangerously. First of all, I rode on Uncle's malfunctioning motorcycle to work. It kept cutting out on the highway and whenever we hit a speed bump. And, no, I don't wear a helmet. "Only the driver needs a helmet...it's unnecessary for the passenger," my host brother told me. So I ride side-saddle like a real Indian woman, purse and laptop in my lap. Unlike a real Indian woman, I don't have a calm face and a great balance...I feel like I'm going to fall off at every turn. The good thing is that mom got extra travel insurance for dangerous activities such as this. So, if I fall and crack my skull open in a puddle of cow mess, we're covered. All thanks to an extra 20 cents a day!

I also forgot to bring any water with me. We're advised to drink 4 liters a day- I'm pretty sure I sweat about 3 of those liters out. So, I drank unfiltered Indian water during the entire trip. It's been 6 days and my stomach is feeling great! I was really proud of myself until a colleague informed me that water-borne illnesses don't set in for about a week. Tomorrow could be a doozy.

Another thing I forgot was toilet paper. And napkins. I forgot to bring ANY paper products besides my notebook. Thank God for the notebook (because I had a cold) and a special thanks to the god of bowel movements (I'm sure there is one.) I survived. I'm going to try to post my makeshift "trashcan" of notebook paper. As you may know, waste disposal as we know it in the USA is not really popular here. Just as the world is your toilet, the whole of India is your trashcan as well. I still can't bring myself to throw my trash on the ground, so I do my best. I really don't like carrying my trash around with me, though.

In all of the field center, I could not find one trashcan or one paper napkin or square of toilet paper. There was also no kleenex in the Gravis hospital. I must give credit to Indians, though. They don't waste like we do. Even though all of their trash is on the street (or burned)- it would be a heck of a lot more trash if it was Americans throwing out all of their waste. When I do see a trashcan here, it is rarely full. The typical American family has trashbags full of stuff each day. There is a lot of reuse and recycling of household products and a lot less use of paper and plastic bags.

Other ways in which I took chances:

I let the girls put more of that black eye stuff on me. And this time...no sty!! I also let the girls paint my nails. It wasn't the best idea. There is a reason that the best nail salons are run by Vietnamese and Chinese...not Indians. (See pictures below.)

I ate tons of garlic chutney.

I packed no clothes...just the sari on my back!

I washed my dishes with sand. This is the traditional method of dishwashing in India. I don't know how effectively it sanitizes, but it does cut the grease. And it makes me understand why Indians don't touch glasses or cups to their mouths when they drink.

Sweet. This is the first time blogger has allowed me to post more than one picture.

A family near Gagadi

This is Tippu Bai Ram and her husband, Peera Ram. Tippu Bai (65) is a fascinating lady who I got to interview last Friday. She has been a Village Health Worker with Gravis for the past 20 years and in that time has educated hundreds of people in her village, provided health care and referrals to Gravis' Tinwari Hospital, and seen changes in people's attitudes toward women, medicine, and children.

She was integral in the construction of a school for girls and has insured that all of her daughters and granddaughters receive good educations. Additionally, she advises the women of the village to get sterilized after having a few children. Her progressive views have upset more than a few people in her village (esp. men). Her husband, however, says that he has always supported her work. Hearing her speak reminded me of how intertwined all of the issues Gravis works with really are- health is related to education is related to women's rights is related to water security.

Pecola Breedlove

Girls in the village playing with their dolls. Evidently all dolls here are white.

Lots and lots of peacocks in the desert. I can't seem to take a picture that does them justice.

इंडिया इन थे फ्रंट, बम इन थे बेक.

This wins the award for most original rattail in India (so far.)

My attempt at an artsy picture. The colors of dusk in the desert are just wonderful. I can't take a non-blurry picture on automatic, unfortunately.

This is Shashiji and one of Gravis' field worker's kids last Thursday night in Gagadi.


There were lots of Buffalo on Mt. Abu. There are a good many in Milk Man Colony, too. "Bains" is the Hindi word for Buffalo.

Group picture after climbing up to Toad Rock on Mt. Abu, where we took our 6-week retreat.

The lady in the sari is a local...the white lady is a social work professor at Columbia who did a Fulbright in Mumbai last year and is now visiting Mt. Abu on vacation. She made friends with the locals on this mtn. last year when she was here...and now she is taking their son to visit NYC for a month. When she introduced herself, I immediately noticed her unmistakable old-south accent. She grew up in Chattanooga, and even after 17 years in NYC she still has this glorious, sing-songy voice. So, on this obscure little mountain in India, 3 SEC states were represented- Bama, Florida, and TN.

Speaking of Southern connections, lots of Indians I've met have an Alabama connection. My boss, Prakashji, just told me yesterday that his best childhood friend is a nephrologist at UAB. And a man in our accounting department informed me on Monday that his sister and brother-in-law live in Birmingham. (Actually, their anniversary is coming up and he wants to give me 1,000 Rs and have mom pick out a present and deliver it to them...as opposed to spending hundreds of dollars to ship it across the ocean like we frugal Americans do. Smart Idea...mom I'll discuss this with you later...) He told me that they were thinking about moving to Milwaukee and I told him to tell his brother that that would be a very poor decision.

AND, best of all, I met a man who was vacationing with his family in Mt. Abu who got really excited to meet an American...and got really, really excited to hear that I was from Alabama. "I used to live in America," he said. "What part?" I asked. "New Jersey. My son was born in New Jersey. And I lived in Detroit and lived for some time in North Carolina." I figured he was probably a doctor, engineer, or some kind of IT professional. "I was a manager of Dunkin Donuts, and my wife worked behind the counter!!" he informed me. So much for my racial profiling of Indians.

"You don't have many Dunkin Donuts in Alabama. I bet you miss their coffee," he said.

"I do miss American food," I answered. "Do you miss America?"
"I miss America so much," he replied, "I miss McDonald's and the roads in America are so good. And I miss Dunkin Donuts. You did not eat Dunkin Donuts in Alabama?" he asked.
"No, sorry. But, I used to eat a lot of Krispy Kreme my freshman year of college. It made me fat," I said.
"I have a very good friend in Alabama. He owns a Shell gas station," he said.
"Oh, really? Where?" I said.
"South Alabama. I don't remember his name," he said.

They don't call it Milk Man Colony for nothing. This is where I wizork.

A symbiotic relationship in Milk Man Colony.

The best part of my day.

The first few weeks at my host family's house I was unaware that Dadi has a pet cat. Rangoo(n) is her name and she is the child of a stray cat who Dadi used to feed. "One day the cat found a lover and had kittens in Dadi's bathroom," Uncle told me. Uncle didn't want the cats in the house, so Dadi kept them on the roof. Evidently wild cats don't like to eat, and this anorexia led three of the four cats to die. Rangoo(n) was the sole survivor.

I don't know if it's visible from this pic (because Rangoo(n) is in a straw sack) but she looks really young. She is a year old. And, like her late siblings, she doesn't like to eat. So every night Dadi puts her in a sack, ties her to the kitchen door, and force feeds her. Next time I will get a video because this is the funniest sight EVER.

Uncle just shakes his head, "It's a damn cat."
"Every day is Fathers' Day in India."

I answered my own question after having asked my host father if the holiday was celebrated here. Stupid question. Not only is every day Fathers' Day in India, but every day is "Man Day" as well.

I've never considered myself a feminist- partly because I think women ARE equal to men where I come from and partly because I associate it with hairy armpits and crunchy granola and women like Nancy Pelosi. But Jodhpur is making me a feminist.

Monday night I was invited over for dinner at Cynthia's host family's house. She lives with a Rajput family (Rajputs were the ruling caste of this area back in the day and have a pretty high social standing...they are part of the Kshatriya (warrior) caste) that includes a mom, dad, two sons and their wives and children...and one daughter who is married but lives at home because her hubby is MIA.

At some point during our huge meal the topic of conversation became women and how they are treated here. Jaia, the 26-year-old host sister (and only woman in the house who speaks English), related some information to us about what happens when a woman is pregnant, the discrimination against having girl children, and what a woman can and can't do during "that time of the month."

Here's what I learned:

When a woman is 7 months pregnant she goes back to her parents home (which is usually in a different city/ village) to prepare for the birth. After the baby is born she stays there for another couple months. "The scientific reason for this is to keep the wife away from her husband so he doesn't try to have sex with her." Direct quote. Also, baby showers are held after the baby is born. One is held pretty soon after the birth and the other is held a month or more after that. I'm not quite sure why, but the mother can't wash her hair until the second baby shower. I'm pretty sure the husband isn't involved in any of this. I also get the impression that the men stay totally out of the whole pregnancy process (except conception) and have no idea what the woman goes through. I suppose that the mother stays at her parents for a few months after the baby is born for the same "scientific reason" that she goes there in the first place.

There are also some interesting things that take place during the actual pregnancy. As you may know, female infanticide is common in India (and especially in the states of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana.) Honestly, when you hear about the crazy debt some people acquire in marrying their daughters, the insane dowry requests made of families, the lack of education for girls, the prevalence of child marriages, and the fact that around 50% of women here are victims of domestic abuse, it becomes more understandable why a mother wouldn't want to put her child through what she's been through.

Having an ultrasound to find the sex of a baby is illegal here, but according to Jaia, many women do it. If it's a woman's first child, she may keep the girl. But if it's her second or third, the baby girl is often aborted. It's something that isn't usually talked about openly, but is widespread. Certain superstitions also surround a woman's pregnancy. Jaia told us that when she was pregnant with her first child she did everything she could to ensure that she would have a boy. She had good reason considering that her mother-in-law told her, "don't even come back to my home if you have a girl. Just stay away." So she held a coconut over her belly. (I'm not sure, but it's believed that this will make the baby a boy.) And when she was taken to her parents' house at 7 months, only men came to fetch her, because it is believed that being around only men will ensure that the baby is a boy. I'd heard before that baby boys born here are welcomed into the world with rejoicing, while girls are welcomed with silence.

Speaking of superstitions and lack of education, Jaia also told us that until she was 17 she thought that one could get pregnant by kissing. Evidently many women are totally left in the dark about anything sex-ed. I've heard quite a few stories about arranged marriages (yes, most marriages are still arranged) where the husband and wife met for the first time on their wedding day...and the wife had absolutely no idea what to expect, and was essentially raped on her wedding night.

And for women who aren't pregnant, there is a whole different set of rules, which I find even more odd. For 3 days during "that" time every month, a woman cannot enter the kitchen, cannot touch the water basin, and cannot enter the temple or approach the family's temple. She is unclean. Additionally, she sleeps on the floor so as not to contaminate the bed her husband sleeps in with herself. And, for some reason or another, she doesn't wash her hair during these three days, only her body. I just read a book called The Red Tent that tells the story of Dinah from the Bible and gives a vivid picture of what a woman's life was like during Biblical times. Interestingly, the same rules applied back then. Since the women can't enter the kitchen and are pretty much isolated, they either prepare the food the day before or the men get to cook.

It's hard for me to comprehend all of this...and I don't think that I should accept something as a "cultural difference" when I think it is an absolute wrong. I can accept having no TP, cows being worshipped, women dressing modestly, and the idea of the world being your personal toilet...but women being treated as objects and 2nd class citizens is unacceptable to me. I want to be immersed in this culture and abide by cultural standards, but there is a fine line. I find myself a little less open-minded and a lot more opinionated this time around in India. It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm in a very conservative area...and something to do with the fact that I'm a little older and more comfortable with my own opinions on things, even though my opinions generally aren't politically correct or popular.

But there is light at the end of this tunnel. Women are slowly becoming more and more empowered, as a story in the Fathers' Day edition of The Times of India illustrated. I can't find the link...but here it is in my words, short form:

Laxshmi Kumar, a long-time resident of a poor Rajasthani village, was sick of her alcoholic husband coming home drunk and angry. She was sick of cooking dinner for his lazy ass only to be beaten up and thrown out of her hut. So this Saturday night when he arrived with liquor on his breath she said, "ENOUGH!"
But Sunil, her husband, wanted some chopati, subji, and daal. He was drunk and hungry. When she refused to cook his dinner he grabbed her and proceeded to beat her. But not for long. Laxshmi had said "enough," and she meant it. Within seconds she had found her kitchen knife and cut him, LORENA BOBBIT STYLE.
The next day, when questioned by the local authorities, Sunil quietly replied, "I deserved it."

I thought this story was so great I retold it to my eldest supervisor, Shashiji. Despite the uncouthness of the story (and the fact that she is a good Gandhian) she agreed that Laxshmi had done the right thing. More women should follow Laxshmi's lead. It would not only cut down on women being raped, but it would also help stop the spread of AIDS since many of these poor village men are the same men who migrate for work and bring home AIDS. (1 in 5 people in Jaisalmer, the neighboring district of Jodhpur, has AIDS. This is where most of the migratory labor is done.)

These are just some of my many thoughts on gender relations in India and why I would be the worst Indian wife ever. Mom don't worry, it's not going to happen.



My host family had some neighbors over the other night when I got home from work (around like 7 or 8...not for dinner b/c we don't eat dinner until 11:30...). Anyway, so one of them asked me, "Do you find India different from the US?"

In my head I was thinking, "Is this really a question that came out of his mouth?!"

So, I've compiled a list of differences and other nuances that I've noticed in the past month-ish. Enjoy.

1. The word "only" is added to sentences for absolutely no reason, all the time. It's not used as a command. I can't explain it, but it's annoying.
Me: I'm on my way home. I'm in a rickshaw.
Whoever I'm talking to: You are coming home only?

Whoever I'm talking to: You go to the store only, and then you go
to work only.
Me: I'll go wherev I want.

2. Bryl Creem is still advertised.

3. Bishnoi women (an OBC caste) breastfeed gazelles. I've said it before but it bears repeating, right?

4. No hunting is allowed in India.

5. Belching isn't gross. Actually it shows that you really enjoyed your food. I admit that I'm pretty gross and have the occasional fart/burp...but I've met some people who burp in one day more than I burp all year. Or at least more than I burp in 2 months- I'M NOT EXAGGERATING!! Oh, and it's always in public.

6. KFC is here. (Maybe everyone already knew this but me...)

7. Babies wear kohlish eyeliner. They say it's healthy. It gave me a sty. Whatev.

8. My backside (tailbone, to be exact) hurts really bad from sitting "indian-style" all the time. Like, it wakes me up in the middle of the night bad.

9. No toilet paper. Everyone knows this. But have you really, really thought about it?

10. Oh, and we don't eat dinner until after 10pm...sometimes approaching midnight. I'm going to have to start pulling a Gandhi and fasting because my metabolism is not cut out for this.

11. There's an "American" restaurant here called Uncle Sam's. In it are 2 posters. One of JLo circa Bennifer. The other of Brit-Brit circa when she was hot. Oh, and I had heard said restaurant had "good salad." Turns out salad is the word for pasta or anything else that isn't Indian/cooked in ghee/bread and borders on healthy. I'd kill for some romaine.

I'll think of more later. My autowallah (rickshaw driver) is here. I like saying "my driver" because who knows if I'll ever get to say that again in my life.


One of many emails from mom referencing the "nose ring"...
the brackets indicate where the email has been altered because Pam realized it wasn't exactly PC or kind (or I wanted to correct her grammar) ;)



1. It's one of the travel doctors top don't[s] --- but if AID[s] or Hepatitis doesn't scare you...then [then what?]

2. They are ugly -- you are beautiful and need no adornment

3. You could grow a keloid....then you will have a wide nose for real (as opposed to imagined)

4. [Someone you know] has one and I bet a good many of [her/his] friends do too..there is an upside, you can do all of your shopping at Walmart's blue light specials....where you can save a lot of money on more nose rings.

5. People will be talking to your nose because that is all that they will notice

Oh wait there are six: Your mother will kill you before the AIDS can

Love you,



I hope everyone is enjoying my blog because I just spent a whole day adding pictures!! Also, whoever posts the most (quality and quantity) gets the best/ only souvenir I'm bringing home.

Sorry that the pics are a little out of sequence.

Roll Tide!!

If you're super interested in the Thar Desert and/or GRAVIS by all means check out my co-worker, Rajendraji's blog entitled http://talesofthar.blogspot.com/.

Nose ring. I'm really becoming an Indian!!!!

More monkeys. Don't worry, I have videos, too.

Temple at Mandore Gardens.

Mandore Gardens. Just like the Jungle Book.

I love these monkeys!!! This is at Mandore Gardens (outside of Jodhpur.) It's a nice green area that used to be the capital of the area about 600 years ago.

Dinner. Always too much food.

Shourab has short arms...I should have taken this pic.

Auntie and I. This is my favorite sari so far.

Dadi and her daughter-in-law.

Dadi (my house grandmother) with her grandson, Nikhil and his wife. We had a family dinner at their house.

Uncle and Nikhil, his nephew.

Lordy. I took pictures of these saris instead of buying them. (Mom, aren't you proud?!) They are khadi (handmade) silk and GORGEOUS, but too fancy to wear to work...which is the only place I go. But if any of my viewers want me to buy one for you, I'll do it fosho. They are typical Rajasthani design (the tie-dyed dots) and serious fabulous...they'd make nice cocktail dresses...or curtains...etc. For here they're expensive (like $30-$60 USD, I believe), but that's pretty good considering how much people spend on a Trina Turk cocktail dress to wear to Gallette's...

Everyone's fave GRAVIS emplyee, Rajendraji. Whenever I say "Rajendraji, I have a question" his automatic response is "yes, please." Actually, this is his response to everything!

Bathroom after the sandstorm. I will never complain about portapotties again.

कलि लाल है.

Stephanie and I had a Sunday Funday at Ajit Bhawan (a pretty nice Westernized hotel with a swimming pool.) In this lovely photo I'm wearing Stephanie's "swimsuit" and our waiter's turban. Sundays are the only days we have free; therefore, we have been making the most of them...

Oh, and this would be the day that I received lovely 3rd degree burns that are currently scabs on my chest. It was funny at the time to say "Kali lal hai," meaning, Kali is red. A few hours later when I couldn't move my legs and I was crying with a bottle of aloe lotion...it wasn't funny anymore. Lesson learned. For real this time.

Me in a sandstorm.


These gals wanted to pose in front of their new bathroom facility. It has a girls' potty and 6 urinals for the boys.

Getting fresh water from a berie renovated by GRAVIS.

I just love billy goats. There are 4 things I want to do upon arriving back in Bama-

1. Eat tons of steak at Flemings
2. Buy a goat
3. Buy an awesome antique motorcycle
4. Buy a monkey.

Lady at SHG meeting in Baap district.

The kids love me. Here they are crowding around the jeep as we drive away.

More village planning.