Geleya means friend in Kannada and Mandahasa means smile.
It’s hard to believe that I have already been here for three weeks and am more than half way through the “study” part of my travels. I am feeling more and more settled in and am more comfortable branching out from the routine of walking back and forth from my apartment to school. Last Monday I went to the business part of Bangalore to talk to the office manager and HR manager at a company called Futures First. The company is a branch of a financial trading company started by my sister’s friend’s dad and I talked to them before coming so I could see how a non-American business is run. The people are so friendly and open to my questions. It is a very laid back atmosphere for a financial trading company and it is great for me (as a business major and person) to meet these people and find out more of the business side of the country.
This week we also performed our first dance performance at Christ University. A month long festival just began that celebrates different arts in general. The opening ceremony involved a choir performance (singing/rapping Eminem), a theater performance, a traditional Indian dance, a dance from a more modern/hip-hop group, and then our dance to finish it off. It was so much fun and we all can’t wait to learn a new dance and perform at the end of our stay in Bangalore.
This weekend Jacob had a group trip planned to Mysore, which is about a 3 hour bus ride south of Bangalore. We drove down Saturday morning, stopped for a breakfast buffet on the way, saw a Hindu temple, went to the Mysore dam that supplies Bangalore with about 80% of its water, and tried to do some shopping. During the drive to these different places, our van driver entertained us with a Britney Spears concert tour video from 2000. I would not have guessed that I would ever drive through India in a van singing “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” but I am learning that surprises like these come up more often than I could ever hope for. I think I got my Britney fill for the decade.
At night we went to the Mysore Palace to watch them turn on the lights. The palace is covered in light bulbs (it was the first city/palace to get electricity in either all of Asia or this region, I’m not too sure). That was beautiful and it was really interesting to tour the inside on Sunday.
Sunday was really great. We started the day at the zoo in Mysore, which is similar to most other zoos. The highlight was when Marissa and I walked around the second half of the zoo with a family of locals. There was a mom and grandma, four little girls under 11, and a little boy. They all spoke English pretty well and were really good at teaching us some Kannada as we showed off the words and short sentences we learned. They are such affectionate people in general. Grown men always hold hands and have their arms around each other and the little girls held our hands the entire time. The showed us the different animals, telling us the meaning in Kannada and were so much fun to hang out with. I think they were asking us to come have lunch at their house, but unfortunately Jacob had us on a tight schedule.
Jacob had been talking up a surprise he had for us starting a view days prior to the weekend and we found out that it was a super fancy lunch buffet at the Lady’s Palace. Although it was much less extravagant than Mysore Palace (the Gentleman’s Palace), it was still beautiful. The palace is now a hotel and the food was amazing as anyone could assume. There were also some shops for tapestries, rugs, scarves, jewelry, etc. I had been trying to spend some money the day before, so I was happy that I found things that I liked and weren’t too expensive. We then toured the inside of the main palace. It was so detailed and beautiful. It took fifteen years to build, but it was actually built in the early 1900’s (rebuilt after the whole thing burnt down), so it didn’t have an ancient feel, but was still very beautiful. While we waited for the whole group to reconvene, people tried to sell us stuff for probably half an hour before our tour and another hour after. These guys are persistent! At times it definitely gets annoying. How many times so I have to say no I do not want that wood box? But it is much more entertaining to make a game of it: offering extremely low prices, trying to sell them something (that was my favorite technique), or using my umbrella as a wall when it started to rain.
It was great to see another city, bond with the other USACers, and meet some locals. Time is flying by, but I can’t wait for all of the other adventures to come.