Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Namaste from Mumbai!

Written October 30th

It’s been a while since my last update and man-oh-man has it been eventful since then!!  Last weekend was rather epic but in order for this not to be a novel of a blog entry I’ll link Rachel’s blog so you can read about there about our weekend together in Ashdod: (scroll to the one called One For the Books).

Now that we’re in India I can best sum up the 2 week orientation in Israel by explaining it as having been full of high highs and low lows. I’ve wavered between the what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here phase and the I’m-so-pumped-I’ll-be-here-for-9-months phase. It’s been challenging having such intense quantities of face time with the same 6 other people who I’m living with and I anticipate there will continue to be an adjustment phase next week while we get settled in our apartment in Hyderabad. At times it really feels like we might as well just have cameramen around shooting us for the next season of Real World. However, I also think these challenges are really to be expected when participating on an international 9-month intensive journey like this. And, you can tell by my prior blog entries that for as difficult as it’s been at times there have also been as many incredible once-in-a-lifetime adventures and thrills already. For right now I’m really just day-by-daying it. ;)

So 2 days ago we arrived in Mumbai. The second I stepped off the airplane onto the jetway I could feel the thick, hot air, and this potent stench of what I would describe as adolescent body odor meets urine meets Nag Champa incense.  Pretty gross, but, after a few minutes I really couldn’t even notice it anymore.  Mumbai is a beautiful city right on the coast of the Arabian Sea and our arrival here is rather timely because not only are Diwali celebrations beginning now (Indian New Year) but the city is also getting ready for Obama’s arrival in early November. The major streets are being thoroughly cleaned, everybody’s buzzing about his arrival, US security personnel can be spotted at touristy sites, and the locals are busy making plans to celebrate the holiday sans firecrackers since they’ll be forbidden while he’s here. In just the short time we’ve been here we’ve already done the following:
-          Walked through Gahndi’s home (now a historic site and museum)
-          Toured a Jain Temple (a sect of Hinduism)
-          Met with the President of the Indo-Israeli Federation and Chamber of Commerce
-          Attended a Diwali dinner party with Rotary International-Mumbai
-          Had breakfast at Leopold Café (a local famous/historic site)
-          Attended Shabbat services at an Iraqi Jewish synagogue in Mumbai
-          Visited the Jewish community in the small village of Alibag on an island in the Arabian Sea

Before we head off on Monday to Hyderabad we have plans to visit Elephanta Island, attend lunch at the home of a sweet women we met at the Rotary Diwali dinner, meet with the Israeli Ambassador to India, and last but not least attend a Jewish, Indian wedding!

So to say that we’ve been kept busy is just a bit of an understatement… it’s been such a thrill and I can hardly keep my eyes open wide enough to catch all that’s going on. The people we’ve met have been incredibly hospitable partly because it’s just in their sweet nature and also because I’ve learned that it’s an honor for them to host people from America (which I have to say actually makes me proud to be an American…). They’re also so eager to share their culture, which has been such a heartwarming beautiful, and genuine experience to witness.

So far this has been every challenge and every reward I’ve hoped for. While I admittedly end up tearing up when I read 90% of the letters I get from home I need you to know how recharging it is for me to hear from you all. Even if there’s “nothing new” at home I love keeping up with you all and staying connected. Please keep the letters coming!

Much much much much love,

Dock at Elephanta Island

Jewish Cemetery in Village of Alibag

Airport in Tel-Aviv before boarding the plane to Mumbai.  Think we have enough stuff to carry?

From Left to Right: Gabe, excited Natives taking pictures of White foreigners, Alex

Uhhh... it's possible I forgot his name - whoops! This is Itamar's friend who took me off-roading on his motorcycle

Jain Temple in Mumbai

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