Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Week in Review

Salarjung Museum 
Last Sunday all of the ISEP and NCI(the Norwegians) went on a city tour. We had our own bus and the tour was led by our "student coordinator" Arpi. Arpi is a grad student here getting a degree in English or writing or something, but she's really great and helps us out a lot.
We started the day by going to the Salarjung Museum. We weren't allowed to bring cameras inside, which was really unfortunate, but it was still very interesting. They obviously had a lot of cool Indian art, but they also had a lot of European art that seemed like it could've been "castoffs" from all the fancy-schmancy Euro museums. Some of the Eurpopean sculptures and figures were my favorites. I mean, the Lourve is obviously too classy for small animal figurines of turtles and all the dwarves from Snow White, but not Salarjung! There were also incredible pieces of jewelry and the most intricate ivory carvings. Again, I was upset that I had to leave my camera.
For lunch we went to a nice, legit Indian restaurant that served everything on banana leaves and didn't hold back on the spices for our weak American/Norwegian palates. It was delicious, but also very spicy. However, the desert, ice cream with fruit, was fabulous.
Throne Room at Chowmahalla
Then we went to Chowmahalla Palace. I'm still not positive who built the palace or when it was built, probably by the Nizam of Hyderabad, but I really got a chance to play around with my camera. I took so many pictures, particularly close-ups of flowers. The palace had a lot of old artifacts and furniture from the Nizam's, kind of like a historical house you can take tours of in the states.
The big tower/structure at Charminar
Then we went to Charminar, which is the city's main bazaar with a big tower-thing and the city's largest Mosque. The day before, a few girls and I went to Charminar to shop, but it was raining pretty hard. It was fairly crowded, but not compared to how it was on Sunday. People and cars were everywhere. EVERYWHERE. There are only about 20 of us in the group, but it was so hard to stay together as we were walking to the big tower/structure. We got a great view of the city from on top, but since we were in such a concentrated space, completely surrounded by Indians, I felt like I was stared at a lot more than usual. This led me to feel uncomfortable, therefore I began to get irritated.
We braved our way back through the crowd to try and get into the Mosque, but women weren't allowed inside the gates without head coverings and not all of us brought scarves. I went in after someone with a scarf came out,  but it wasn't really that great. I was stared at a lot, no surprise, and as a general rule women aren't allowed inside of Mosques anyway, so a part from all the ethical wrongs I see in that, it wasn't all that exciting. Mostly I just felt very uncomfortable and I don't think that's how anyone should feel in a religious place.
We tried to end the day going to Golconda Fort, but we got there at 6pm and it closed at 5pm. However, me and some friends are going to go back today after lunch, so that will be fun!
For the rest of the week I really just went to classes, which I still don't have figured out, and hung around Tagore. We went out for drinks Wednesday night, but the bar/restaurant we went to was quite expensive so I didn't get very much. I did get a drink made with egg whites called "the perfect lady," which was very interesting.
Oh! I also got a roommate! Her name is Alana (which I learned last night after calling her Elana for 3 days). She's from Vermont and goes to some sort of military college, but she's very nice. She came with some friends and I yesterday when we went shirt shopping and I think she's going to come with us to Golconda today too.
We have a lot of down time during the week so I actually set up a Piccsy account haha. It's basically like Pintrest but less confusing (for me). I've been having a lot of weird dreams lately. Rollerskating and horse back riding has been prominent in a few. Next weekend we're (being me, Diana, and the Norwegians) going to Hompi, a very religious city for Hindus, to see the ruins of temples and stuff. I'm really looking forward to it, especially since we're taking a bus and not a train.
Now that I'm back in India I find that I'm appreciative of my experiences in the "economy class" of overnight trains, but this time around I'd much rather spend the extra rupees to bump up to second or first class. Maybe I'm high maintenance, but I prefer not to be touched by strange men while I'm sleeping...

Here are some pictures:

A henna seller at Charminar with big piles of henna powder!
Another building at Chowmahalla

Inside the Throne Room at Chowmahalla

lots and lots of people and cars from on top of the tower at Charminar

I was 100% being a huge creeper, but this is cute picture
Lei Flowers
Red Flowers
OMG!! Some more flowers!!!!

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