Monthly Archives: September 2011

Just another Friday =)


“Your life is yours alone.  Rise up and live it.”  Richard Rahl, from Faith of the Fallen-Terry Goodkind

Fridays I’m always not quite sure what to do with myself.  I don’t have class but so far, I’ve gone to campus with Amanda anyways.  I figure walking to campus is good exercise and I probably wouldn’t be productive at the apartment by myself anyways, so I went to be unproductive in the USAC computer lab instead.  Amanda and Marielle both are in Population and Poverty, but neither were responding at one when their class was supposed to be over so I met up with Sandy and we went to the cafeteria to get food because both of us were extremely hungry.  I really enjoy eating on campus because the food is so cheap.  The Indian students think of it a lot like American students think of our campus food, but I still think it tastes delicious because its Indian =)

I swear there are four of us in the rickshaw

Amanda and Marielle joined about 10 min later and we all hung out talking until 2:00pm when Sandy had to go back to class.  Amanda and I headed back to NGV to drop off our school stuff and head to Commercial Street to meet Jessica, Lianne, and Keerthi at 4:00.  Keerthi found our group on Facebook before we arrived and Jessica and Lianne have met up with her a few times since.  They only have had nice things to say about her and rightly so because she is an absolute sweetheart!  From Commercial Street, the five of us took a rickshaw to her favorite ashram.  We went in and sat for a while and then went to buy insence from the little store inside.

Amanda and Lianne in front of the ashram

Keerthi and I at the Taj

The fancy bathroom!

After the Ashram, Keerthi took us to The Taj West End hotel for cheesecake! The hotel is way out of our price range but they have Rs 60 pieces of the best cheesecake I’ve ever had.  And the bathroom is really pretty!

When we got back to the apartment, we changed into Western clothes and Lianne, Jessica, Marielle, Amanda, and I took a rickshaw to a dance club called Ice.  Bangalore is a bit of an interesting city because they have laws that say bars and restaurants have to close by 11:30 and there can’t be dancing at places that serve alcohol unless it is a 5-star hotel.  Ice is, so we got to dance =)  It was also ladies night, so we got in free and had two free drink vouchers.  Because there were quite a few girls in our group and only three guys and one person had a connection, we all got in for free which meant the guys didn’t have to pay the Rs. 1000 cover charge.  Lianne had been there before and had made friends with the bartender, so we didn’t have to use our drink vouchers and could give them to the guys.  It’s all about who you know, I guess.  Ice is pretty cool because there are tables outside and it rained so a couple of us danced in the rain =) Overall, it was a fantastic night and a great start to Amanda’s 21st birthday weekend!

Dancing in the rain!



Candle-light studying


“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” –William James

This morning we started off the day with Service Learning where we talked about stigmas and discrimination towards people with HIV/AIDS in India.  While the class was fairly interesting (people in India are not well educated about how the virus is spread and therefore people with HIV/AIDS are viewed very negatively in society), the conversation I had with Jessica afterwards was fantastic.  We didn’t have yoga today, so our dance instructor wanted to add a class since we had a festival yesterday.  Well, yesterday we received an email telling us we had all incorrectly submitted our Indian Social Structure papers and our professor would be giving us a lesson on the online system (more on that later).  Jessica and I said we would run downstairs to tell our dance instructor so he wouldn’t be there and have no one show up.  While we were walking, we talked about how some of the students in class had said that people infected with HIV/AIDS in U.S. are never discriminated towards and laws protect their rights.  Yes, laws exist in the United States against discrimination, but Jessica and I discussed how there are still people who avoid others with the virus.  While everyone in our classroom is educated and knows HIV/AIDS is an STD, not everyone in America treats infected people fairly.  During our conversation, I also realized that my first interaction (that I’m aware of) with people infected with HIV/AIDS was our visit to Snehadaan.  Before coming to India, I knew America was/is not a perfect country.  I love America and love the freedom and rights we have, but since being here I have come to realize just how recent the freedoms I enjoy really are.  I am all for classroom learning, but I think some of the best education are discussions held outside of school about pertinent topics.

For our Social Structure papers, we had all emailed them to our professor instead of turning them in online because no one could find the drop box.  We were all a bit nervous we had missed it (the professor for this class is a Father and looks very important in his white robes), but luckily it turned out we had access to the wrong site and couldn’t have turned the paper in properly if we tried. *Big sigh of relief*

One surprise our professor did have for us, was the names of the people presenting their state reports tomorrow.  My name wasn’t on the list (not until Oct. 20), but Amanda’s was.  In the professor’s defense, the presentation dates were on the syllabus, he just hadn’t announced who was  which days.  Anyways, we decided not to volunteer after classes ended at 4:00 and instead walked straight home so Amanda could get started on hers.  Plus side to the report: all that he wanted is a poster with a drawing of the state and a 5-10 min presentation about the state.  Not too bad.  And a posterboard, pencil, and colored pencils only cost Amanda Rs 40 (less than $1) at the campus store.

We ended up having quite the adventurous night for just sitting around the kitchen table.  Lianne came over for moral and coloring support.  Everything was all fine and dandy until the power went out.  This has been happening quite frequently due to a coal shortage. I wish I had thought to take a picture of us during the next couple of hours.  You would think we would be more prepared for power outages at this point but Kelsey was the only one with a large candle.  My flashlight decided to stop working but Amanda’s still turned on and Jessica has two headlamps.  So I sat writing with Amanda’s flashlight, Jessica had one headlight, and Amanda the other.  The image of Amanda concentrating on drawing her state with the headlamp on will forever be engrained in my head, even if I don’t have a digital copy.  Overall, it was a really good flatmate + Lianne bonding evening by candle (and artificial) light.

Technically created yesterday, but you're never to old to make a living room fort =)


St. John’s Hospital and Saudi Arabia


“Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.”  –Evelyn Cunningham

Well, so far two USAC students have been (or are still) in the hospital.  Luckily nothing serious, mostly just stomach problems.  After class today, Amanda, Lianne, I and a few others took the bus to St. John’s hospital to visit Paulina.  Marielle had been with her all day, so while we were there, Jacob loaned Sandy his scooter and he took Marielle back to NGV to get stuff to stay overnight for her and Lianne.  Although the hospitals here I have seen have been good quality, none of us wants to stay in a hospital by ourselves in a foreign country.  Paulina said she would probably be discharged tomorrow which means only one night!  We went and bought some food for Lianne before heading back home ourselves. We walked back to Forum mall and splurged on waffles from the food court.

One interesting fact about the Indian healthcare system is you pay up front for the treatment.  At least that’s how it worked for the two girls that have been in the hospital here.  They will get reimbursed by the insurance company later.

Backtracking a bit to when we were at school…I was reading the Times of India and Saudi Arabian women were granted the right to vote today! Having lived in a culture where men are clearly superior to women for the last month, I was really happy to read this.  Unfortunately, it’s still just one small step towards women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.  Now the women just have to have a husband that will allow them to exercise their right to vote.  Regardless, this is still a positive step.  Here’s a good article about how it all came about:



“Children are one third of our population and all of our future.”  –Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

We went to another NGO this morning.  One of the reasons I chose the USAC program over other programs to India was the focus on volunteering.  I am glad we have had the opportunity to be exposed to so many different organizations.  Snehadaan and Snehacare are places where adults with HIV/AIDS can be treated (Snehadaan hospital) and children (mostly orphans) can live and attend school and/or vocational training (Snehacare).  The vision of Snehadaan is “to provide quality health care to the sick, that is comprehensive and holistic, with a preferential option for the people infected and affected with HIV/AIDS.”  If you are interested in learning more, the website is:

As with most NGO visits, we went to a conference room and a man spoke to us about what they do and what their objectives are.  Afterwards, he took us to the school and showed us around one of the classrooms.  Then we got to play with the kids! This is the first NGO we have been able to interact extensively with the kids on the first day!  A large group of us went to play football (soccer) with a bunch of the kids.  Initially, we were broken into even teams but then the kids decided it was going to be us vs. them.  It was so much fun! The teams were a bit uneven, so whenever one of us had the ball there would be five of the kids surrounding us.  It didn’t matter though because everyone was enjoying the experience.  We ended up tying 1-1 but just barely.  We didn’t score until the very end.  Those kids were pretty good. =)

The only bad thing that came out of the morning was a sunburn.  A fairly painful one at that.  I didn’t realize how burnt I was until later, but one side of my collar swelled up a bit and everytime I moved it hurt.  I guess that’s what lots of aloe vera is for…

Sandy and Marielle came over for the afternoon.  The three of us had to leave Amanda for a bit to go order the cake.  I felt bad about leaving her by herself but I think she figured it was something for her birthday.  We basically just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the afternoon.


A very friendly street cow while we were waiting for the bus

The Oberoi Hotel


“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” –Maya Angelou

Amanda’s uncle, Mike, frequently works in India as part of his job.  Most of the time he is up north in Delhi, but this trip he had one meeting in Bangalore! So after his meeting he came to our apartment, brought Amanda essentials from home (Twizzlers, cookies, Mac and Cheese), and took a group of us out to lunch at the Oberoi Hotel, one of the best hotel chains in India.

I had a brief moment of culture shock on the way to the hotel.  While Mike was talking to us from the front seat, he was turning around and using his hands expressively.  For about two seconds, my brain panicked, thinking he needed to face forward and put his hands on the wheel.  Then I remembered that he wasn’t driving.  Yes, he was sitting on the left side of the car, but the driver was on the right side where the wheel was.  I feel fairly used to the cars driving on the opposite side of the road now but whenever I actually look inside a car I am still shocked to see the driver on the right side.  I’ll probably just be getting used to that by the time we leave.  At least I’ll still have five days in London!

The lobby

Once again, we found an oasis in Bangalore.  Unfortunately for us, we’ll probably never come back to the Oberoi because even the juice was out of our budget (Rs 265 instead of Rs 20 on campus!).  Needless to say, the hotel was gorgeous.  Out back was a big lawn with a couple different fountains, lots of plants and a very nice pool.  We went to the Chinese restaurant (there were a couple restaurants there) where Mike had reservations.  Instead of all trying to figure out what to order, we opted for the predecided meal option at Rs 2500 per head (that’s about $55).  We also ordered a pitcher of Sangria which was absolutely delicious.  All

Kelsey, Lianne, and Marielle

of the food was fantastic, but I especially enjoyed the lotus stalk.  It was cooked (possibly fried?) with some kind of sauce on it and absolutely wonderful.  I can’t really describe the taste because I had never tried anything similar.

The whole meal was great, just sitting and talking with Mike about his various trips to India and little culture shock moments.

Mike had to leave for the airport but he was really nice and gave us money for rickshaws since the driver couldn’t take us back.  Amanda and I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing back at the flat.

All of us =)

Learning about cricket


“To me, it doesn’t matter how good you are. Sport is all about playing and competing. Whatever you do in cricket and in sport, enjoy it, be positive and try to win.” 
Ian Botham 

Today was a fantastic Indian day.  I have no other way to describe it.  In the morning, we visited an NGO called Bosco.  Basically, they help street children find their parents, get and education, and/or find a job.  Pretty cool

organization, but definitely a stark contrast from Infosys the day before.  We were shown a video about child prostitution at the Banaglore train station where they interviewed a few of the girls (most of them were young girls.  A few were older but had been a sex worker for many years).  When asked how much
she was paid for an encounter, one girl responded Rs 40-50.  That’s one US Dollar.  These girls don’t enter the trade by choice.  They support their families.  Some were sold into, drugged and brought to Bangalore. Before coming to India, I read a book called The Blue Notebook.  I picked it up by chance off the shelf at the library and it ended up being a novel about a child prostitute in Mumbai.  I knew child prostitution was a problem in India but watching that video about the train station here, brought the problem a little closer to home because I have been to that station and will return to that station.  Many of the girls also become addicted to drugs at a young age from clients.  Anyways, Bosco tries to help girls such as these and others.

The plan after Bosco was to eat lunch and then learn to play cricket! A lot of people didn’t have their cricket stuff so we planned on meeting back at the University at 3:00 so we could eat and get ready.  Since the time was later than originally planned, Jacob said he wasn’t going to be able to make it, but I said Ruskin and Sandy were going to join us also, so they would teach us.

Marielle, Amanda, Jessica and I all had our stuff so we decided just to take the bus back to Christ instead of NGV.  Jacob took the other students to the NGV bus and then came back to wait with us for our bus.  While we were waiting, he said we had to try what they call “Muslim Samosas” because they are flatter than regular samosas and filled with onion and cabbage.  He bought us all one (from a street vendor) and he was right, they were delicious.  He then asked if we had ever tried Badami milk.  We hadn’t so he treated us each to a glass of that as well.  Turns out it is an almond milk served warm and amazing.

The samosas tied us over until we got back to Christ and went to our new favorite street vendor with egg rolls.  Sandy was on campus from having class in the morning, so he joined us and the five of us just hung out until it was time to meet everyone else.

In the end, less than half of the people who said they would show up for cricket did and all the fields were being used, but Ruskin and Sandy explained the rules to us as we watched a group playing.  We did a get chance to bowl and bat a bit but never really ended up playing an actual game.  After a bit, Matt, Sandy, Ruskin and I decided to go to a place called The Chocolate Room for ice cream.  A bit pricey by Indian standards but so amazingly good!!!!!

New favorite quote =)

Sandy and I plus ice cream

From there, Matt and Ruskin headed to NGV and I rode with Sandy on his bike.  Sandy had been talking about a Punjabi restaurant he wanted to take us to, so Marielle, Ruskin, and I were going to go.  But not before making cookie dough! Sandy and Ruskin couldn’t understand why we all loved the unbaked dough so much, which I found very interesting since it’s such a common sweet in the States.  We don’t have an oven so we tried frying some of the dough and microwaving some of it.  In the microwave wasn’t bad, just very different.  I’m going to go on a baking spree when I get back to the States and have an oven.

After the cooking dough experiment, the four of us head out to dinner.  The place Sandy took us too was just a short walk from NGV and would have been worth a long walk.  The restaurant is literally in a hut, with loose rock walkways, stone tables and benches, silk menus, and lots of lights and colorful scarves hung everywhere.  Marielle and I let Sandy and Ruskin order because they seemed to know what they wanted and we figured anything would be good.  And it was.  Definitely one of the best dinners I’ve had.  Since Amanda opted to stay in and get some work done, the four of us decided we are going to take her there for her birthday dinner as a surprise, which is why this blog isn’t being posted until after Oct. 2 =)

Ruskin and Marielle with the silk menu!

Stone tables!

The four of us outside the hut =)

After the food, we decided the night wasn’t over yet and took a rickshaw to Forum mall to go to the arcade for a bit.  We had a blast.  I would count this night as one of my best in India so far.  Great time hanging out with great people.   We walked from Forum back to NGV and just enjoyed the time talking.



“Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight.” 
Henry R. Luce 

Today we had the opportunity to visit Infosys, an Indian based technology service company.  The trip was specifically for the students in the business

Stretch Limo Golf Carts?

classes here but anyone was welcome to go along =)  The Bangalore campus was absolutely gorgeous and a sort of fenced in oasis.  The campus is spread over 82 acres, has 50 buildings including a gym and food court, and employs 24,700 people in Bangalore alone.  The company was started in 1981 with just seven people and about $250.  Infosys is now a global company with a revenue of $6.35 billion and 133,560 employees as of June 2011.  Talk about expansion. I was slightly impressed.  Infosys was also the first Indian company to be on the NASDAQ (1999).  If you are interested in learning more about the company, you can go to their website:

Dubbed "the washing machine" by employees

Gorgeous campus

Louvre copycat?

We had a question and answer session with a few of the employees, a campus tour in a “stretch golf cart” and tea to finish off the day.

After the visit, Amanda and I went with Jacob to visit Natalie (one of the other USAC students) in the hospital.  She was doing much better and is being released tomorrow.  We left the hospital around dinner time so Jacob asked how we felt

Street food =)

eating some street food.  We were both fine with it and he took us to a place for onion dosas.  By far the best onion dosa I have had here.  They serve the dosas on banana leaves with a couple layers of newspaper underneath for the heat.  Well worth the risk of eating street food.  Although, it wasn’t the first time I had ventured to eat street food and I have yet to get sick.  Knock on wood.

That night after getting back to the apartment, Amanda and I bought plane tickets to Sri Lanka! We are going Oct. 5-9!  It was a slightly spur of the moment decision to go to Sri Lanka.  We were walking to University a couple days ago and talking about the five day weekend we have coming up.  Originally, we

Sri Lanka!

thought about going to an ashram, but then we thought of Sri Lanka and said Why not?  Round trip tickets cost about $265 and we are hiring a driver so that we can see everything we want to and do not have to worry about finding buses between towns.   As the time gets closer, I’ll post more of what our itinerary is going to be.  Neither of us really knew anything about Sri Lanka so we are going without many expectations.