Last Wednesday I flew to Washington D.C. where I first met all of the students–CLSers as we are called–who will be studying Indic languages this summer. One of the great things about this program is the sheer diversity of its participants. The students are from all over the US, at various stages in their academic careers and are studying a variety of majors from Art History to Electrical Engineering. I should also mention that during the D.C. orientation I saw two of my good friends from my study abroad experience last year in Geneva, Megan McAninch and Elliott Verreault. Awesome.
After two days in D.C. we all flew to Delhi where we had our first in-county orientation concerning the do's and don'ts of India. In Delhi we had our first few moments of free time, which of course I spent exploring. A small group of us went on the Metro to the Red Fort, which unfortunately was closed. However, it was a good introduction to the powerful smells, persistent car honking, and multitudes of people that we had been missing whilst at our hotel. We explored the nearby streets and I learned how to properly walk in a country where cars, rickshaws, auto rickshaws, cows, trucks, and bicycles cover every inch of the road.
On Tuesday we flew from Delhi to Lucknow. This was a great experience. We have been told countless times that in India having flexibility is a must: it is true. Multiple on and offs and in an outs at the airport, elevators, and the coach buses provided for an entertaining and fun journey to the correct airport check-in. Despite the confusion, we all made it safely to Lucknow and had a lot of fun in the process.
On Thursday our classes began. Because I am beginning Urdu I am of course in the beginning class, but after two days we have already learned the entire script and some vocabulary. On the first day we learned how to say Namaste, which means 'hello'; Aap ka naam kya hai?, which means 'what is your name?'; and Aap kaisay hai?, which means 'how are you?'.
Well if you made it this far in my blog I have only to say that in the future I will try to make my postings more story based to relay the more interesting experiences that occur. Additionally, I would like to share a few words or phrases as I learn them, as well as to introduce a person or a few people who are on this trip with me or who I encounter throughout my time here in India.
The first two people that I would like to introduce are my friend Levi and my host father Anub. Levi is a recent graduate from Washington State University. An electrical engineer, Levi literally taught me how computers work from transistors to binary number computations. I wanted to introduce Levi first because of his recent travels in Southeast Asia. Purchasing a two-way ticket from the US to Bangkok, Thailand, Levi backpacked throughout Asia by himself, with no guidebooks, no substantial contacts, and no set plans for two months. the stories that he has shared are some of the more hilarious and interesting travel stories that I have heard and make me even more excited to really get involved in the Indian culture.
The second person is my host father Anub. Anub is a single Indian who used to work in marketing in Mumbai but now lives in Lucknow. He is a writer and is extremely knowledgeable in a number of areas. Although I have only been here a short while, he has already explained to me the Indian caste system, the Great Uprising of 1857, the Indian government, aspects of Indian foreign policy, and different cultural, geographical, and cuisine aspects of the country.
Well that is all for my first post. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more pictures, stories, vocabulary, and interesting people. And let me know if you want to know anything in particular or have questions! :D