It has been two weeks since my last post, and time has flown! I did not have time last week to chronicle my latest adventures due to my research, midterms, and packing for Goa. This will probably be quite a long post, but I hope it is entertaining. So...
In the last two weeks, I have celbrated Eid, saw a famous Bharatanatyam dancer, visited Ullal, did field research, celebrated Smriti, Esha, and Emilie's birthdays, took a train in India, and visited Goa! In chronological order...
We celebrated Eid! Upon Tanzeela's request and suggestion, we had a party at Smriti's house to commemorate Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his only son to Allah (God). Because he did this, right before Allah was to kill Ibrahim's son, he replaced the son with a goat and killed it instead as a reward for Ibrahim's faith in God. Therefore, every Eid a goat, sheep, or cow are sacrificed and given to the poor to be eaten of eaten by the buyers themselves. Although we did not do any sacrificing, we did eat some common dishes eaten at Eid, such as chicken briyani, which was delicious. We also had Tandoori chicken, which, I assure you, will make it into my eating habits back in the United States because it is to die for.
The crew at Smriti's flat for Eid.
The day after Eid, the four of us in Bharatanatyam Dance class went to see a famous dancer at the Udupi temple. The dancer was a fantastic performer from Chennai and her and her musicians performed a solo show for over an hour! Not only was this impressive, but she was literally flawless in all of her moves. Her outfit and makeup were also on point.
Many people gathered to watch this incredible dancer and her musicians perform Bharatanatyam in the Udupi temple.
Two Saturdays ago, Smriti took us to a neighboring area called Ullal. In this place, there is a famous Durgah, or place of worship for Muslims. We had to cover our heads with scarves, and we were able to see the tomb of Saint Sayyid Mohammed Shareeful Madani through a glass window. For prayer, men and women are separated, thus the glass window. Saint Sayyid Mohammed is accredited to caring for the poor and having an abundance of love and caring for humanity. He is known for many miracles, and, thus, why he entered sainthood. The Durgah itself was architecturally stunning and a great place to visit in order to further understand the huge amount of religious diversity in India. (I have also attached a link to the Durgah's history in the "Useful Links" tab). Picture below.
On Tuesday, we decided to throw a surprise birthday party for Smriti to show our appreciation for her commitment to us and just because she is a really cool person. We bought fun party hats, streamers, and a sash that was re-invented to read "World's Best MOM" to prepare for the celebration. When she was out of her office, we decorated the place up and yelled "SURPRISE!" when she stepped into the room. She was genuinely startled by our secret plans, and ended up inviting us to her house afterward for pizza. It was a great day and a successful mission.
Smriti and Esha (she also was surprised!) blowing out the candles on their birthday cake! German chocolate, so yummy...
Tom preparing to blow the confetti cannon. What a brave soul.
The Wednesday after visiting Ullal, I was able to go into the field and conduct some interviews about malaria!!! I had an amazing experience talking with various professionals and community members about their perception of malaria, and am already identifying gaps in populations who need more understanding. Maybe I am on my way to becoming a true public health professional! In the morning, Dr. Aarthy, my awesome research professor, took me to see the District Malaria Officer (DMO) and Entomologist at the District Malaria Office. I was able to talk with the two of them for an hour, and my cramped fingers at the end of the interviews attests to the amount of notes I must now transcribe to my laptop. After a quick lunch, Priya and Prashanthi, two wonderful MPH students who speak Kannada, generously offered up their afternoon to help me interview stakeholders the Community Health Center (CHC) in Brahmavara. There, we interviewed Accredited Social Health Workers (ASHAs), an Anganwadi (pre-k teacher), the AYUSH (Ayurveda) Medical Officer, and two community members. Overall, the trip was a huge success and I am so grateful that Priya and Prashanthi have agreed to come with me to the other field visits I am going to in order to complete my research.
Because Gandhi Day was 2nd October, we had Friday off, and we did not not waste a second. Some of our friends here at Manipal University and us booked train tickets weeks prior to leaving for Goa, some of us wanting to go north, some wanting to go south. I ended up staying in the north at a place called Anjuna, which is near Baga and Calangute.
Burgeoning with shops, restaurants, nightlife, and many other indulgences, Goa is kind of like how I would imagine Las Vegas to be, only an Indian version and surrounded by gorgeous beaches. The first day, we decided to hang out around Anjuna and enjoy the pleasures of simply being on a beach. The next day, we went to Baga beach, which was even nicer than Anjuna, and I swam in the warmest ocean water ever! The nightlife in Goa, and especially at Baga, was lively, diverse, and actually never-ending. Our band left at around 2 a.m. or so and the music was still going strong.
Goa was a place I really enjoyed staying. Although I do not know much about the history of area except that the Portuguese were there until a secret military operation ousted them in the 1960s under the codename "Operation Vijay", I do know that Goa is a perfect escape for anyone looking to please all five senses. The food was delicious, the drinks plentiful (please, I only drank water and fruit juices), and the beaches beautiful. Pictures below.
Not a bad view at lunchtime! Anjuna Beach.
The ocean is so vast and beautiful.
Postcard-worthy sunset. Arjuna Beach.
Tanzy could run a Fanta ad with a picture as cute as this! #enjoyingthebeach
Baga Beach (and my legs).
Sarah-Anne and Ashlin enjoying Baga Beach! They are such great friends to travel with :)
I am so grateful and lucky to say I could enjoy the weekend in Goa, India.
All of my friends here at Manipal say that taking my taking the train this last weekend was essential to being in India; I would have to agree! Our train on the way there was not crowded, perfectly on time, and we booked a sleeper car. It is apparently a rare occasion for this to happen. On the way back, we got a real taste, as our train didn't arrive until at least 90 minutes after it was supposed to come, the loudspeakers were incoherently blaring, and the place was jammed. My friend showed me that the toilets on the train dump all the human waste onto the tracks because there are no tanks on the train.As soon as we boarded, numerous men walked up and down the aisles trying to sell us chai, sweets, and chips. I slept and studied most of the way back to Manipal, and I am excited for next journey on a train. Picture below.
The train station at South Goa; this is "hardly crowded" compared to Mumbai apparently!
Yesterday, we celebrated Emilie's 20th birthday by having cake and taking her out to dinner! I am so happy that I could help one of my best friends celebrate her birthday. I hope for many more years of friendship with her and am so glad to have her in my life :) Love you Emilie!
The birthday girl.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed reading about my latest adventures in India, and if you have questions, feel free to comment or email me.