Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hey John Lennon, show me your kickflip

Damn I ate books up when I was sick. Usually I can't sit down and read in extensive installments but I read nearly two books while I was sick.
Wanna know what my mind's like right now?
Okay, eat this, a few things that I underlined, circled, demarcated (?) for whatever reason:
"She was liberating. She taught us to be impolite in conversation not only about sexual matters, but about American history and famous heroes, about the distribution of wealth, about school, about everything."
"The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.
I have no culture, no humane harmony in my brains. I can't live without a culture anymore."
"..Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
And all music is."
"He saw eleven moons in the sky over the new Mildred Barry Memorial Center for the Arts one night. The next morning he saw a huge duck directing traffic at the intersection of Arsenal Avenue and Old County Road"
"..He wished to arrive in Midland City the dirtiest of all old men...'I don't know who McLuhan is, but I know what it's like to spend the night with a lot of other dirty old men in a movie theater in New York City. Could we talk about that?'"
"'I can't tell if you're serious of not," said the driver.
'I won't know myself until I find out whether life is serious or not," said Trout. "It's dangerous, I know, and it can hurt a lot. That doesn't necessarily mean it's serious, too.'"
Yes; it's Kurt.
Now to the facts, people.
Last time I wrote was after I'd returned from my first trip. Well since then various ocurrences have ocurred, and if you were to have drilled a hole straight under your feet you could've come and joined the fun! No traveling since then (funny now how 'traveling' means going outside of Hyderabad, whereas prior it was just going outside of say LA, or STL), but some highlights of Hyderabadi life include my roommate, Olga, and other kids getting sitars, which I can look at and play and live vicariously through. I'm not playing because of the money issue. It's a $300 investment that I think I would rather spend on traveling. I've saved money my whole life to travel...not necessarily play the sitar. Don't give me too much crap when I get back. In other news, we spent a day at a Children's Camp run by an organization that "crash-educates" ex-child laborers in a short amount of time so that they can eventually and quickly enroll in classes with kids their own age. It basically helps them catch up. One girl sang a song, we heard some girls speak about their experiences, which were really personal stories. These girls were phenomenally brave. I can't beleive what they've gone through, like something out of a movie, and the thing is, that's what it felt like. The way that the day went, it was like the kids were putting on a presentation for us. It was really uncomfortable and odd for me. I think Catherine will immediately get what I'm talking about. One girl was crying while telling her story. Later, Sophie and I talked about this and we learned from other people that the girls that told the stories actually volunteered to share with us, which made us feel better about the whole situation. We taught the kids some games that we knew; they taught us theirs. Then we left and a large group of us spent the evening partying with Tollywood stars and bangin' around at a fancy night club in a ritzy hotel, where we were escorted in for free, had a reserved table ON THE DANCE FLOOR, and had free drinks all night. We danced a lot. Some people drank too much. I drank a lot but not too much. Taxis took us home. Pre and Post parties happened at various "party pads" (studio-like spaces owned for partying only), but I opted to duck out on the latter and head home. I passed out after drunkenly confessing my love for Jake. on the cellular.
Talk about black and white.
Talk about India.
Talk about the way CIEE runs their programs and thinks they can "show us India".
Talk about Life.
Other highlights include Freaks & Geeks marathons (holla), the purchase of a Cat Stevens collection, the savoring of miraculous sorbet, an art gallery, adorableness, THE FREAKIN PLANETARIUM (which 4 out of 5 of us fell asleep in, by the way), our first Indian movie theater experience (we saw Tar Zameen Par, which was great. And only in Hindi with no subtitles, but great), a lovely sunset atop a white marble temple overlooking the city, laughs, music, painting outside during another sunset, planning a good chunk of my young life: the rest of the trips during the school year, which include Goa, Kerala, and Mumbai (not including CIEE trips to Pondicherry and Chennai [which are this weekend] and Mysore) for Northern India and oozy European excursions. Davita and I also spent last night at Sophie's house (she's staying in a homestay) where her Amma made us dinner. Sophie's house is beautiful and they have this swing in the middle of their common room. Dream come true.
Also, the other night a few of us hung out with some Indian friends at his factory. Whateva'; we're sketchy. We know. It was really fun and there were exotic birds involved, and lambs, and peacocks, moonlit walks, rum, Indian techno-pop (aka year old US dance club remixes), danceparty car rides.
So now it's 2 days later. I have some time to kill before I meet with some people to chat about a trip to Goa, so here we are. I had a really frustrating class today which I would rather not talk about, but just so as not to keep you guessing, I will just say that I have a professor with an ENORMOUS stick UPP HIS ASS, who is intelligent, but can not TEACH, basically bullies the class by indimidation and shooting us down whenever we speak at all; And then he calls us all imbeciles when we don't respond to his questions (questions which are really confusing and really vague, but for which he expects a very pointed know...the one that HE thinks is correct which is usually a total shot in left field) but no one wants to speak in class because he will ALWAYS shoot you down in a really direct obvious respect-less way. It's total shit. Also, his lectures are unorganized; he jumps around; he uses terms in odd ways (language barrier? i dont think's not just the non-indians that are's the whole world). Any way, so class hits 4--actually 4:03 to be precise--, he brings his lecture to a close, stops talking and I get up to go head out to my other class which starts at 4 and he says "excuse me; sit down!"...but I have trouble understanding him because he is middle eastern with british-accented english, so i was like.."sorry?" And then he gets all mad and repeats it, and i say "i just have to go to class". i sat down. Then he proceeded to interrogate the SIP (american foreign exchange) students about where we were on Friday (an extra class that he just added for last week---class is actually wed/thur 2-4...NOT FRIDAY). Then he went through his SIP attendance sheet and asked us each what classes we've attended. He did not do this for the other students. He doesn't even take attendance for the other students. Isn't that great? Oh, and also he went around the class today and had each student sum up the philosopher we're currently studying in one sentence. Awesome.
Anyway, then my class afterwards never happened b/c the prof never showed up. SO I had an academically frustrating day. And also my Indian Philos class earlier was like eating mushed up baby peaches. it's the driest way philos has ever been presented to me. just straight up terms and definitions. and this guy is also crazy. an empiricist and such...says religion is bogus and hocus pocus and it's straight superstition, has no value, and is unsophisticated, etc etc etc.
little mallory is frustrated.
Positives are we're going out of town this weekend. Yay for paid trips!, even though I hear CIEE trips are stupid--like traveling with your 2nd grade class or something. Anyway, I'm stoked about possibly going to Goa soon, we have a 7-day plan for Kerala which I think will be utopic, and then Mumbai lays in the distance. Mr. Das (SIP Guest House Manager) says that it might be too hot to travel to agra and kolkata after the program's over (our original plan), but that the himilayas will be alright cuz their elevated. We're considering this situation. The Taj Mahal must be seen; the Himilayas must be conquered; I must reconnect with the Indian roots (Kolkata). So somehow, it will happen.
Pockets empty.
Hey, I finished the Hyd Times today..turned it in! That's pretty exciting. It should be out by friday, so I hope it is a hit.
You're a star.
I'll probably be in SF this summer.
I'm going to look @ internships now.
Holla at yo girl.
X, Mal
John Lennon's been in my head all day. Like literally, I think he's been trying to learn to skateboard....on my cerebral cortex.

Oh, and also a secret is this:
theivery. Jordan and Sophie's photo albums.....
I tend to roll with them and they have been documenting digitally, which I have not been doing. Curious? Click.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lost and Found

Hello again to all my friends. I’m glad you came to play. Our fun and learning never ends, here’s what we learned today!
Sup, yo? I’m in this place called India, still. I’ve recently returned from an extended weekend trip. Some friends and I took off Saturday morning and journeyed by bus and train to a little town called Warangal, and later Vijayawada. This weekend was a holiday and so all of the tickets to the really cool places in India were sold out by the time we decided we wanted to travel, so we ended up opting for semi-interesting places near by. The holiday was Sankrati, Festival of Color and the Kite Flying Holiday...this is where they have the kite flying competitions with the glass string that you try to cut. Kite Runner, anyone? Anyway, in Warangal we saw the Thousand Pillar temple, were ramasacked by a group of about 40-50 Indian children who all wanted to shake our hands, take our pictures, take pictures with us, gawk at us, etc. This wasn’t just children, mind you, EVERYONE, but most often it was the younger children that actually came up to us. Other people just gawk. (I think they are gawking at Difference. Also, in these little towns there aren’t many tourists and foreigners, so seeing white or different people is rare and fantastical for them, I think.) We enjoyed a nice sunset on a cool evening, we laughed, we went out to dinner at a "fancy" (fancy for India, but cheap when converted to the US dolla’ [holla]. ie $2 a person?!), hoteled it, etc. The elevator in the hotel liked to constantly ding the song "Mary Had a Little Lamb". We were not so happy about that little song situation. Because it went off about every 2 minutes. Exhausted from the strange energy that traveling seems to suck out of you, even if you don’t physically "do" a lot, we hit the hay/hit the bed bugs/didn’t sleep because we heard sounds of dry heaving, gagging, puking, either dying starving cats or rabid babies, loud conversations that sounded like they were taking place right outside of our door, and, of course, Mary and her Little Lamb whose fleece was white as snow. To add to that, one half of us were sleeping in a room with bloodstained walls (I noticed this earlier in the day, but didn’t mention it because I didn’t wanna freak them out if I didn’t have to). We had stories to share when we woke up, and the waking up ocurred at the wee hour of like 5:30 or something. We caught an early train...well, we accidently peeked into a train to see if it was ours and then it started moving, so yeah...we ended up taking a very very early train to Vijayawada. Sophie had a good time hanging out with a squishy bananna, and Jordan had an akward time sitting across from the boy who sat on his friends lap so that Jordan could have a seat (akward most likely because the boy gave up his seat to The American [Jordan is Canadian]). Yeah in Vijaya we did the hotel thing, had a bite to eat, ventured out to the cave temple (Arundavalli?..something like that). Haha our rickshaw ride was hilarious, because our drivers had NO CLUE where we were going (this is not infrequent) so they kept stopping and asking people along the way. They took us across the Krishna river and into the rural areas, through cotton, onion, flower fields, through palm trees, birdies, and prettiness. We were really happy to be getting an accidental tour of the rural area surrounding the city, but really concerned when our driver stopped in the middle of the road, conversed with some farmer in Hindi, proceeded to push our car (engine off), yes PUSH, not drive, BACKWARDS, and then scooted us on down a crazy dirt road. We did, however, end up at the cave temples...Miraculously. And they were phenomenal. The view from the top was gorgeous and far reaching. It was the perfect time of day (like 3 or so, when it had started to cool down, but there was still lots of sunlight) and a wave of peace seemed to have settled itself inside each and every one of us. We probably sat there for hours. We were also, attacked by natives in the same way as before. (Oh, and also, at this point I began to get into the touristy places by paying the Indian price as opposed to the foreigner price. Which was exciting and scandalous) We made a friend who really took to Jordan and they exchanged phone numbers. This dude, Sandeep, proceeded to basically write Jordan love notes for the next 2 days. Also, here a group of school children on a field trip did the usual shake hands take pics thing, but then invited us to ride on their bus with them, which we of course accepted, driving further into rural India, singing songs, laughing, and communicating with kids in a language beyond words. That we REALLY fun. The bus dropped us of at a public bus stop where we caught a bus back into the city (a cleaner air bus! Go India?!<–the question mark is for Jake) where we somehow, by the grace of Krishna, made our way back to our hotel, where we watched funny Indian shows, Animal Planet, some Spartacus thing (we had tv), went on a wild grocery store raid, to avoid the pattern of eating out and eating Indian food for every meal, stuffed, I showered, then went to bed. (Oh, exciting side note: This hotel had WESTERN TOILETS!! No squatters! I literally jumped for J-O-Y). We got up early (again, of course) the next day, hopped on a bus, (at the bus station we almost got killed by crazy close-flying birds), drove 2 hours to some middle-of-nowhere town expecting to find some ancient Buddhist temple, but all we found was no temple, and a museum. And Kai lost his wallet:(. We went to the museum, it was alright (the coolest things were the exbihitions that showed the branching off of the different sects of Buddhism and another showing the development of written Sanskrit?or was it Telugu?). We had lunch on the lawn (we were watched and harrassed, of course). Then we had nothing else to do in that little town and it was pretty hot, so we headed back to the city. When we got back to the bus station we decided to explore the ghats (these huge steps that go into the river where people hang out). Turns out the river was really really dry, so we walked out onto the sand where the river usually is. There was all this red clothing draped all over the stairs which was really wierd. Kai, Caitlin, Jordan, Hilary and I stayed and hung out in the ghats with some Indians fishermen and some kids; the other girls went back to the hotel room. Two little girls seemed to have adopted me as their big sis and held my hands as we walked back out of the ghats, said goodbye, and headed back to the hotel. In the hotel Sophie and I watched some of the New Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then we all went out to eat, went for icecream (but not me, THE LACKY!!), came back, shower powered, and then Sophie, Isabele, Davita and I wierdly got into A Few Good Men (with T. Cruise and D. Moore) and watched it in bed. We fell asleep thinking of Tom’s little flip in the front of his hair, boyfriends, the wierd bug bites I had gotten in bed the night before, and whatever beginning threads of dreams we happened to fallen into. I dreamt that I wanted to make Jake a present for something and I made him a tea cup and I personalized it and wrote his name on it. When I told Jake about this later, we decided this was the cutest thing I have ever dreamed. The next morning we woke up smokin’ early, hopped on an early train, ate only biscuits all day, made friends, read, were hot, listened to music, talked, some played cards, Kai almost got left behind while hopping off the train to get chai at a stop, listened to someone’s Telugu-pop, reflected silently, slept. A nice doctor woman helped us navigate the train hopping situation (since she was going to the same place), and spoke to us about alternative medicine, and cow maneur and urine, and the cosmos, and metaphysics, and the life force and such. It was an interesting ride. We made it back to campus, fitting all 8 of us in a teeny rickshaw (you have no idea how small this is...think a 3 person bench seat somehow fitting 8 people. It’s like smaller than a clown mobile. We were happy to be back and to see familiar, non-gawking faces. Kai’s wallet was returned, somehow. Phenomenal. That night we went to the auditorium and watched the epic Lagaan, which was, seriously, EPIC. It was maybe the most thrilling experience I’ve ever had watching a film. All of the students were SO into it. They were cheering and hooting and yelling. It was amazing.
The next day we went to the craft villiage, because it was the holiday. I bought my first indian clothing: 3 shirts or salwar camisas. I also picked up a sweet bracelet. We watched some cool dancing. At "home" we tried to fly kites up on the roof, but we were windless, ergo unsuccessful. It was cute to try, though. I tried to write some of my novel later in the evening and had a bit of trouble. I can’t write when I’m not inspired, but I feel like with a novel I have to churn every day or I’ll be at it for years. Literally, YEARS. Like 10. Or 15! Or forever!!!!! This morn I finally had yoga class again, which was nice. I’m pretty into it. And, yes, I’m getting up at 5:40am every morning and I’m still alive. Whatchu gonna do about it? Watch out certified yoga trainer typing!!! Ahh! My ass is asleep from sitting here for so long. So I think I’m gonna head out. I’m getting sick. Throat hurts. Today Sophie and I decided to be each others’ Valentines since someone brought up V-Day and we both said "I can’t talk about it!". We boy have boy toys back home, so instead of being sad on F14, we’re just going to have a really romantic night together. I think we’re going out for Italian. We’re also planning on asking Davita out too, but we’re kind of nervous about it.
So iz gotta go. I’m going to try to set up Skype soon. I tried tonight, but the signal wasn’t strong enough to DL. This is for YOU, Catherine, and anyone else who is interested in chatting with me for free. It sounds like fun.

I miss you
and oddly I miss California and lately, specifically northern California? Must have to do with Jake.

Still don’t know what I’m doing this summer. There’s talk of WOOLFing in Europe after India. It’s an organic farming working opportunity. I don’t know too much about it yet, but look it up if you’re interested. Also, there’s this apartment deal in Granada that is a possibility and Sophie is also really interested in that. Ademas, there’s Jake and his commitment to the bay with Palantir and all. That’s a consideration and an option. Oh yeah, and the whole rest of the world. I need a paid internship. I unfortunately must make money this summer. Whatchu gon’ do? I’m a prisioner!, I’m a slave!, I’m a whiner! Money sucks, guys. I feel like I’ll always be catching up financially. And I’ll never have a job that gets me anywhere near financially comfortable. Maybe I should care about that. Maybe not.

I’ll leave you with two excerpts of a story I’m working on, just so you’ll be hungry for more:

"It’s strange what has become foreign, contemplated Evelyn out loud on the telephone. She scrunched up her toes, picked the bumps on her socks. She could feel Jonh smoking long and hard on the other end. She could feel the elegant long sticks that he’d worked so diligently to procure. A cigarette conessiour; a collector. Like a professional, despite all of his carcinogenic habits, Jonh never coughed the way smokers do: not often, not heavy, not hazardously. His bad habits, like the rest of his demeanor, were graceful,......."


"...The way the hazy light of the day filtered in between the half-open curtains lit up only Evelyns’ shins and an isoceles triangle on the bed spread. The rest of the room was relatively dim and the air inside felt damp. Evelyn sat leaning on her hands, her legs hanging off the side of the bed, wearing a fitted pink tank top, the boxers of some long lost love, striped socks. Outside, Berlin was snowing. Germans were trudging through slush, birds kept their distance. The world was awake and moving and Evelyn kept her distance. She heard car horns down below. She saw lives being lived across the street in other buildings. She watched smoke rise into the sky..."
Enjoy your lives. My dreams have been so vivid lately and all of you are in them.

Kumbiya (no, it’s not’s just from that camp song)

Oh, and P.S. I’m sorry if I haven’t talked to you in awhile. I’ve been wierd emotionally this past year (in regards to friends), living very much in the present and the immediate and trying not to worry about this past, and now being away I realize now more than ever that you carry everything in that sack on your back. Love.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Like a Woman Like a Man

नमस्ते, all.
I've just recently returned from my 6am yoga certification course. Yes, I am waking up at 6am 6 days a week this whole semester. Can you believe it? The good thing, though, is that a lot of other people are doing it too, so we'll all be getting up and walking to class together. That's an encourager. Thus, not a lot of super late nights for me, but it's really kinda hard to stay out late here--we've gotta rely on publish transpo and it isn't safe to take to late at night. In fact, much in India isn't "safe" to do pretty much EVER. Speaking of, that leads me to a discussion about GENDER in Indian society. So yes, we all knew that gender culture in India is really uniquely different from what we're used to in the States, but I had no idea that I would feel the weight of this issue as heavily, as much as I'm feeling now. My gender restricts and determines EVERYTHING I DO in India. It determines how I interact and relate to each and every person, regardless of their sex, the freedoms I have and don't have, and ultimately, how I feel about myself (which is..dangerous?). I am not supposed to make eye contact with people, as it is understood as a suggestion of 'something more that just a friendly interaction'. I absolutely can not travel alone, and preferably not in a group without a male. I can't really go out late at night. I must dress very conservatively and cover my body. I really can not interact with males at all, because 'you never know what their intentions are' and 'friendliness may be construed as something more'. So basically I can make no male friends, and the females are SO reserved that in public spaces they are really turtle-like (in their shell), and don't freely interact with people in an open and friendly way. This is frustrating. Yes, I understand that these gender roles are not necessarily better or worse (that is not my argument; that's another issue) that in the States, but that you have no idea how much if effects a person...Scratch that: a WOMAN. The guys in our group have friends. They can talk to males freely and whenever they want, and I just "watch on" (because i can't really watch, because that's too much eye contact and displayed interest) and be sad that I can't make Indian friends). It's frustrating because males are allowed to be more social and open than women, so males seem to be easier to make friends with, but we are told that it is not a good idea for girls to get really friendly with males. I think the program is making us more paranoid than is necessary. But I could of course be wrong. Anyhow, and regardless, it is important that I am EXTREMELY effected by the gender culture here. I am frustrated socially, and most dramatically, I feel shitty. Shitty, almost, about myself. Being in my own skin. My skin, my feminineness feels poisonous. I've never felt that before. I've really never felt "discrimination". It's a totally different way of understanding that concept, because now I understand it. I am reading a book right now that has an element about blackness, and last night i read a part about the book that this black writer in the book is writing (meta-texto [shout out to span 363], a discussion of a text within a text), about his painful life as a discriminated minority. My experience of those 3 pages was surely different than it would have been 2 weeks ago. Wow.
Having nearly all of your freedoms taken away from you because you are a woman is astounding. We are used to SO MUCH freedom in the States. I didn't realize. and I guess I didn't realize how important and essential to me it was. I almost don't know who I am without it. Do I lose my identity?
How will I adjust to this, deal with this, is the challenge? I understand that what frustrates me is the cultural shock of a radically different gender culture, but I do not want to feel so frustrated and icky (about myself) the whole time I am here. I don't want to follow the restrictive social rules, but inside constantly be cursing patriarchy, be fucking pissed and fiery. It's not healthy and it's not a good way to feel. Conversely, I do not want to assimilate and internalize this patriarchal culture to the point where I accept it and am thus comfortable functioning as a pawn in this game. How do I fit in between? How do I respect a foreign culture, stay safe, but maintain my beliefs, self-worth, dignity, my spark?

Also, there are issues of my feeling like I'll never feel like I'm out of the role of 'tourist'. And I mean tourist not in the sense of how other people perceive me, but how I perceive myself.

Ademas, I'm different from most of the kids on the program. I play the Indian-American role. So people think I'm Indian, but I'm surrounded by these white kids. Or I'm walking around campus by myself and people think I'm and Indian student and so pass me by without a second glance. I don't stand out. But I'm not really Indian. I'm in between groups and worlds more than anyone else here is. Maybe this unique position will give me a really cool, unique experience. Or maybe it will prove really difficult. Didn't think about this beforehand.

Issues about 'intellectualisim', western ideas of 'academics' and how india is under its spell, stuffy , annoying intellectuals telling us what to do who value only western ideas of 'academia', statistics, awards, things taht don't really matter and the things that do they don't seem to be able to appreciate or understand anymore. There is still (i sense) a huge detachment from subject and student in the Indian education system. I guess I was hoping for a change in this area. How the fuck and I supposed to learn about Buddhism by reading books? This disregarded and sometimes invisible space between subject and knower/student/intellectual/etc has always frustrated be about academics. Maybe it is intellectualism's defense mechanism...distancing yourself so that you can KNOW. So that you can objectify, evalutate, 'other' (as a verb) anything for detached scrutiny and knowing. We'll see if any of my teachers overcome this; I haven't really started classes yet so there's still hope.
Looking forward to lots of historical sites. This kind of experience you can't get in the US. Our history is young.

Oh, you want to know what I've been doing? Well I've taken many a ride in an auto rickshaw, which is somewhere between riding in a taxi and a rollercoaster. The experience of nevigating through the CRAZY, no-law traffic, racingracingracing to the finish line is much like a sperm racing, through the woman's reproductive system, towards the egg. Sometimes the egg is Banjara Hills, sometimes it is Koti. Other times Shilparamam or Hi-Tech City.
We're still doing pretty boring orientation stuff. Yesterday at the Police Station for police registration we saw a prisoner with a black cloth bag over his head. I haven't felt so disturbed in years. eons.
Went to a hookah bar the other night. The hookah tasted different here. Less,...ummm.....thick...the smoke. The flavours are pointed but light. Smoke ring blowing is harder, cuz the smoke flows differently.
We played our homemade version of Pictionary last night and it was really fun. The highlight was when I drew "Foucault" and Matt guessed it! Or maybe when the other group's drawer picked the phrase "bump and grind" and had to draw it. The best part was the things people were shouting out. Yeah. Also, important to note, everyone had really smelly feet.

Well, breakfast is ready, so we'll chat soon. Feel free to send me emails or Fbook messages if wanna. I'm pretty free as of now, classes not having started and all, and I'll be able to get back to you. That is, at least for now.

Love you all.
Keep warm.
Use Mouthwash.
Dance Dandy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I am disappointed in the way that my blog has been going so far. It's not how I want what/how I want to communicate India to you. The next blog will be different. I will take my computer to a quiet place and write Mallory-reflections, now what I think a blog should be. I feel better.