Monday, February 25, 2013

Riding the Knight Bus to Hyderabad.

The next several posts are intended to document the travels that the ISP group took during our two and a half week tour of India. Believe me, it was a bit of a whirlwind. Our first stop was Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh.

Oh, hey giant Buddha chilling like the Statue of Liberty... 
Most of our group made the first leg of the journey by way of train, but we couldn't get enough seats on the train for everyone, so Kelly, Karmen, the professors going with us, and I took a bus instead. Although it was a bummer to be separated from all of our friends on the first part of the journey, the bus was actually more direct and we spent about five hours fewer traveling that night. After putting them on the train, we went to get coffee and grab some dinner with the McClelland family. It was nice to have just a little more time with my little friends.

I got to take one final walk around the now empty apartment (which was honestly pretty strange) and then grabbed up all my stuff and headed to the bus station. It was an interesting adventure to get on the bus because we started in the school car which took us to the station, waited there for our teachers and anyone else that was catching the Hyderabad bus, and then took a sketchy little shuttle out of the city about forty minutes to the side of the road! Then we waited on an emergency pull off type road for our real bus to arrive and then switched over.

The bus itself was pretty awesome. The seats reclined pretty far back and even had a lever that made the foot part come up like a reclining chair. I loved that there were curtains drawn across the windows because it made me feel like I was riding the Knight Bus from Harry Potter (also contributing to this feeling was the wild rocking as the bus avoided other traffic and hit bumps in the road and all that craziness involved in being in a vehicle in India).

The minute we stepped off that bus in Hyderabad, it was pretty clear that we were in a much bigger city than Coimbatore was. Hyderabad is the capital and has a significantly higher population density. It was a little bit stressful, but not terrible.

I spent the first few hours there walking around with Kelly, Karmen, and our Indian professors while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive on the train.  There were so many beautiful things to see there, and I'm glad I got those few hours, because the vast majority of the time we spent in Hyderabad was inside of classrooms!

Birds and birds...
...and more birds.
Hyderabad is one of the biggest Muslim cities in India, and so it was during these few days that we had our entire unit on Islam for our religions class. We spent several hours learning about Islam and even visited a madrasa, which is the school where Muslim children learn all about the Qur'an and sing the beautiful verses. Another class session that we had was with a man whose entire career has been about studying syncretism and contextualization of Christianity in India. It was really fascinating and challenging (more on that in the next post).

Hyderabadi biryani is the most famous in all of India. Biryani is a rice dish cooked with spices and usually a meat. Everyone has their own recipe for it, and there are regional differences all over India. So on our last day in Hyderabad, we went to Paradise to get ourselves some of it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Number Ten.

As you may have read about in this post, I have a list of things that I'm trying to get done over the next few years. Over the summer I started another item, but it wasn't until I was in India that I finally finished number ten:

Knit a Sweater.

I got the yarn for it on Vinalhaven Island over the summer and it was, in fact, from Woolwich, Maine. Represent! It was labelled navy, but because it wasn't mass-produced in a factory it has pretty obvious variegation of color between blue and gray, especially between the different skeins.

I used the "Pert Classic Pullover" pattern from Lion Brand Yarn (It's on Ravelry.), which was a good beginner pattern, but it's kind of a lame sweater. It's almost painfully basic and doesn't really have much shape. I think that the pattern was for making 3/4 length sleeves, but I didn't realize that til after I'd made it and added several inches to the sleeves in order to make them (almost) long enough for my arms.
Knitting away on the trip to Ooty.

As I said, I started it over the summer, but I only finished the back piece before I left. I brought it with me as something to work on while I was there, and it turned out to be a really good choice. There were hours in cars, on trains, and during home stays where I had nothing to do and whiled away the time knitting. And as it turns out Northern India is COLD in December! That is what finally prompted me to finish it up during the last week there-- I was freezing! And it really came in handy for Nepal too!

Finished product in Dehradun.