This entry has been reposted, by permission, from Samantha Grosser ’12′s blog “a redhead in India”. Click here to see the original entry.
After two weeks and two days in India, the best way I can describe this experience is in one word: crazy. When I arrived in Mumbai, I was struck by the heat and the vivid colors. I was also shocked that the first thing I saw was an ElAl plane. It was as if India knew I was coming and had a special sign waiting for me, letting me know that everything would be alright.
We spent the first week at orientation in Durshet, a forest lodge. We learned about what to expect and how to overcome some of the challenges we might face.
1. The Food. This has definitely been a challenge for me. The spices here are incredible, and can be a bit overwhelming at times. I am working hard to adjust to the new burst of flavors. At Durshet we tried many different types of Indian food and were taught the names of common dishes. There are so many new things that I’d like to try, I hope my stomach cooperates.
2. Manners. We sit with our legs crossed. Pointing your legs at someone is a sign of disrespect. We address elders with proper titles, they appreciate this and you will become friends. We eat what we are given and do not waste food. When you are surrounded by so much poverty, it would be inconsiderate not to finish what is on your plate. When you are full, be assertive so that you do not get more food on your plate. Say “maza pot bharla” (my stomach is stuffed). Always listen to your host family. No matter what. Alcohol is not socially acceptable. When you enter someone’s home, take your shoes off. It is better to put your hands together and say Namaskar rather than shake someone’s hand.
3. Dress. We do our best to wear clothes that look like Indian clothes. A traditional Salwar Kameez, Sari, or Kurta is appropriate. Western clothes are OK too as long as you do not show your chest or legs. It is OK to bear your midriff if wearing a Sari. Scarves are always beneficial.
4. Speech. In Pune the native tongue is Marathi, not Hindi. Some commonly used phrases are:
- Namaskar (hello/goodbye)
- Maza nav __________ aahe (my name is ____________)
- Mala chaha hava aahe (I want tea)
- Mala coffee havi aahe (I want coffee)
- Tu Kashi aahes?/ Tu kasa aahes?/ Tumhi kashya aahat?/ Tumhi kase aahat? (how are you? for—woman/man/elder woman/elder man)
- Me damle (I am tired)
More to come on games, transportation, tea, bollywood, and life in Pune!