Thursday, October 14, 2010


If you guys were worried that I was turning into one of those negative people who doesn't like anything, I'm pleased to say that you are mistaken.  I loooove Thailand.  We haven't even been out of Bangkok yet, and I'm just in effing love with this place.  Mostly it's due to the people being so fabulously nice, but the clean streets and lack of cows in trash piles doesn't hurt either.  For example: yesterday we were walking around the city and these two Thai ladies walked up behind us and said "Ohhh, sexy ladies!"  Of course I thought they were trying to sell us something at first, but no, they were just friendly chatty ladies!  Amazing!  I feel like I've never met friendly people before.  Oh, then later in the day I got cash out of the ATM and walked off, and then this lady ran up to me and gave me my debit card and receipt that I had apparently left in the machine!  Impressive.  Anyway, I'm not blogging a full account of our time so far, but if you'd like to read what we did on our first day, please refer to Mary's blog: .  Please enjoy it. ExTRA rules!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's no Turkey Trot...

Yesterday we went paintballing.  In India.  It was surprisingly kind of awesome.
I stole this from Facebook. If you squint, you can see me in my paintball gear.  
Matt was still sick with a fever, so he couldn't come, which was a bummer.  We'll definitely go again, though, so he'll get his chance.

Last night we went to one of the Navratri festival parties in Baroda.  I don't really understand what Navratri is, but it's a huge deal in Gujarat, and each city has multiple parties to celebrate... whatever it is they're celebrating.  We showed up at the "United Way" party (it was the most popular one, so naturally, that's where we needed to be) at 11.30, not knowing that it ended at midnight.  We decided to go anyway, but then were detained for at least 10 minutes because we had cameras.  Never mind that tons of other people inside had cameras.  Ours were big and noticeable and expensive, so of course they wanted us to leave them outside unattended.  We said no, and a small scuffle ensued, and then some random employee showed up, talked to Alex (who is Indian) briefly, and then let us all go on through with our cameras.  Ahhh, the price you pay for being a foreigner, I guess.  Anyway, by the time we made it in there was probably only 15 to 20 minutes left, so we tried to take as many pictures as possible.  it was dark, so they are blurry.

I love those lights.  The people are dancing, but you can't really tell.  

After we got inside, we watched all the people inside participating in the garba.  There were at least a couple thousand people inside the arena dancing in giant circles, with each circle moving the opposite way of the one outside it - if that makes sense.  I wish I could've seen it from the top because I bet it would have been even more amazing with a bird's eye view.  Navratri attire is a really big deal, especially for the women.  Men will usually wear just a long kurta (like a tunic), but some of the men wear traditional Gujarati costumes, which are really impressive.  The women wear long skirts and short tops, both covered with mirror-work and embroidery.  I didn't get very many good pictures of outfits, but I tried my best.  

The guy on the left (in white) is in traditional Gujarati garb.  His lady friend looks pretty nice, too.

I thought this girl was really beautiful.  So did all the boys... it's going to be rough being the only girl here for the rest of the time.

This one's blurry, but I thought this girl was such a doll.  Also, I've already bought Bella an outfit like this.  
After Navratri, we went back to the hotel, where a real live Bollywood star was currently getting a room!  I would never have recognized him, (I guess he's not famous enough to be on commercials yet... only the really famous ones get the commercials, which is strange) but Shriram pointed him out.  His name is Dino Morea, and he has done several Bollywood movies, none of which I've seen.  This makes him the third celebrity I've seen in the past six months, and that ain't bad.  Of course I took his picture... from behind so as not to arouse suspicion.  
That's him on the far left.  Yeah, I'm a fabulous photographer. And yeah, our hotel lobby has a weird lighted mural behind the front desk.  

I got this off Google.  He's so Bollywood. 

As you can see, I had a pretty busy weekend.  I'm off to Thailand tomorrow, where I'm sure to have the time of my life.  No lie.  I'm trying really hard to not get sick from whatever Matt has... doesn't matter.  Thailand cures all ills.  Anyway, I'll try to update some from vacation, but I make no promises.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Campaign Trail

Yesterday, I walked to the market via my shortcut to see if there had been any changes in the way of trash and/or potholes.  There had been, but not in quite the way I expected.  It was even more trashy than usual, but with decidedly less potholes, which is a plus.  In a tremendous wave of foresight, I had decided to bring my camera in case I saw just such a trashy occasion as this:
I think I should start a series: Cows Eating Trash.  

That cow looks pissed, but what can you do?  I needed that picture.  Also, I recently learned that the cows aren't "free" as I had previously thought.  Farmers own them, and they let them out to roam free during the days, and then at night, they either come back on their own, or someone goes out and collects them.  Some of them are even branded.  So.  That clears that up.  

Trash and potholes road.  This picture really doesn't do it justice.  It's much dirtier and smellier than it looks.
On my way back from the store, I ran into a parade.  Apparently it was some sort of political parade where members of the various parties ride around to drum up support.  A campaign trail, if you will.  I didn't know this at the time, of course.  I just thought it was a bunch of random people getting all fired up for Navrati (another Hindu festival that starts today... I guess it's a really big deal).  Anyway, all the people in the parade were very excited to see me, probably because I had a camera.  They all kept waving to me and smiling really big, which was nice.   I think it makes for better pictures when people aren't staring at you, all pissed off like (e.g. "Cows Eating Trash").  

I think this was the candidate, but who can know for sure?
Perhaps it was this guy, who, incidentally, bears a strong resemblance to Rajinikanth.  
Not everyone was sitting atop a flatbed truck.  There must be at least eight in that auto.  

In other news, I don't know how it happened, but Matt is sick again.  He came home early today with a fever of 102, and is sleeping it off at this very moment.  I feel really bad for him, especially because this will be the second time in a row he's been sick on a weekend!  Can't even get sick during the week to miss work!  Poor guy can't catch a break.  I hope he's feeling much better by Monday, or I will feel really guilty leaving him for Thailand.  Not that I'm very helpful here, but moral support is always nice when you're sick.  


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rajinikanth is My Homeboy

So there's this movie that just came out in India called "Robot", starring a man named Rajnikanth.  Actually, I guess he is more of a god than a man.  Seriously, Krishnan told me that people in southern India worship him.  Like literally.  "Robot" is his first movie in four years, and I read in the paper that for opening night on Oct. 1st, they brought the film-reels into town on a chariot, took them first to a temple, and then brought them to the theater to show the movie.  Seriously.
Rajinikanth in "Robot".  Did I mention he is 61 years old?  And not very handsome?

I've been trying to think of a comparable actor in the U.S. to Rajini (yeah, we're so tight I can him Rajini now), but I don't think we have one. Maybe Steven Seagal would come close... but I don't think they're quite on the same level.   Americans are just too cynical and jaded to believe in the power of the "Superstar".   Anyway, I just found this ridiculously great link to an overview of the movie.  It's really long, but here's an excerpt just to give you an idea:
The plot revolves around a scientist Dr. Vasigaran (Rajinikanth) who has toiled for 10 years and finally built an android-humanoid robot called Chitthi (Rajinikanth in a double role). 
The robot is a super-hero with retractable wheels on the soles of his feet.  
Chitti can leap, Chitthi can fight, Chitthi can speak in 30 languages, is a master-chef, a painter, a mine-sweeper, a surgeon delivering babies, a make-up artist, a henna artist and a super-fighting machine who can talk to mosquitoes and take on dengue.   
Do you see how awesome this is?  So anyway, yesterday I decided I had to go watch this movie to see if it lived up to the hype.  Nevermind that it's only in Tamil, Hindi and Telegu (I don't even know what that last one is).  I was told I didn't need to understand it to enjoy it.  So I went to the theater yesterday to buy a ticket... and the guy at the ticket counter laughed at me.  I couldn't exactly understand him, but I think he said something along the lines of "We're all sold out for this movie until the end of time, you stupid American idiot."  I guess I should have known that it would be sold out in the middle of the afternoon on a work day.  How foolish of me.

Because I had trekked my happy ass all the way to the movie theater, I was seeing a movie, dammit.  It didn't matter that none of them were in English.  I ended up seeing "Anjaana Anjaani", which was sort of a love story/comedy/depressing drama/musical.  Being a first-time Bollywood-er, I had a pretty decent experience. Except that A/A is three hours long.  It's about a man and woman who meet on the George Washington bridge when they're both trying to commit suicide.  Then they decide not to, and instead take a road trip to Las Vegas and San Francisco.  Lots of singing and dancing ensue, and then they part ways, only to rejoin on December 31st on the same bridge where they met.  Then they get married.  See how long that took me to describe?  There's no way it should be a three hour movie, and yet it is.  My favorite part was when the boys danced with their pants around their ankles.  Also there are some jokes that would not at all be considered PC in the States, but that is the beauty of developing countries.  They don't have to be PC.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

One of my favorite things about Baroda is the newspaper.  Or more specifically, I like the Baroda Times section of the Times of India newspaper.  In it, every day, you can find tantalizing tidbits of information that you never knew you always wanted to know!  Check out this little ditty from today's paper:

"This Diwali is going to be a photo finish between two Bollywood girls Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Kareena Kaoppr.  Both Bebo and Ash are clashing at the box office with their respective films Golmaal-3 and Action Replayy.  Also, while Bebo has done a Shakira style hip shake in G-3... Ash has dance movements that apparently resemble those of the international pop icon Beyonce Knowles.  Those who've seen the gaana say Aishwarya's look is also reminiscent of Beyonce.  Of course, Ash's fans say that she moves better than Beyonce!  But Ash doesn't believe in all these comparisons.  She's happy to just do her work and move on."  
Wow. If that isn't quality journalism, I don't know what is.  It would be a nightmare to be famous in India.  They'd hound you forever about even the most minute details of your life.  Fear not, they cover American celebrities (even not-so-famous ones) in the Baroda Times as well.  Here's a recent favorite of mine informatively titled "Vanessa finds Efron's beard itchy":
"Although Zac Efron's new beard look has become a hit with thousands of teenage girl fans, but his girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens finds it itching.   Screaming fans packed Parramatta in Sydney to catch a glimpse of Hollywood heartthrob as hairy and older looking Efron was at Westfield's Event Cinemas for the premiere of his film 'Charlie St Cloud'.  While the 2000 mostly teenage fans didn't mind the 22-year-old's new look, his girlfriend and former co-star Vanessa Hudgens is still warming to it.  'She's getting used to the beard but she says it itches," News quoted him as telling the Daily Telegraph." 
The only thing that funnier than the fact that this is a news story is the fact that it doesn't make sense.  How I love it.  The only thing better than these is the "Matrimonials" section that comes out every weekend.  It's a full four-page spread that lists all sorts of potential marriage candidates detailing everything from job description and yearly income to height and weight.  I don't have one at my disposal at the moment, but rest assured I'll find one this weekend and share a few with you.

As I'm sure you've guessed by now, I haven't done anything all day.  Actually, I sat outside for a while and read, and I currently have some unmentionables soaking in the sink.  How's that for something?  Five days to Thailand.