Well, I'm back from a very nice weekend away! 10 of us went to Manikaran Friday morning, and came back on Sunday afternoon. Manikaran is a small town known for it's natural hot springs. It is in a beautiful valley (it was very nice to be back in the mountains) in the Himalayas, close to Manali where we were last week. I'm starting to get used to mountaind driving - and driving in general in India. The drivers that we hired through the travel agencies are incredibly talented - I am still in awe of them. Never did I feel in danger, even though they were driving quite fast on small roads with many hairpin turns on the sides of cliffs. I really like the system of honking that india has. At first it was quite irritating, but now that I understand it more, I quite like it. Drivers here use honking more as a safety warning - when they are going around blind turns on small mountain roads, they honk as they are coming up to it so as to warn anyone on the other side. In the city, they use horns as a way of letting people know you are close, and not to step out into the streets.
Anyways, back to Manikaran, both Hinduism and Sikhism have stories associated with the hot springs, so it has become a religious pilgrimage site. The temple and gudwara there are beautiful. Besides the hotsprings and places of worship, there really isn't much there. The market sells cheap crap, so I didn't spend any money (hurrah!!). I did find a nice little dhaba with good masala chai (what we call chai tea at home) to do some homework in. I ended up getting quite alot done. On Saturday lunch, we went to one (of the three)hotels in Manikaran for lunch because we heard they have great pizza. It was quite possibly the weirdest place I've been in India. It was full of white men, high on pot, either eating pasta or staring blankly at the TV. No one was speaking. the only noise was the TV - which was on the discovery chanel, showing a show on how mole rats are born. We ended up staying for lunch. The lady gave us a big menu and most people ordered pizza. She then said they didn't have pizza. We then tried 4 or 5 other items on the menu - macaroni, sandwiches, dal and roti - until she finally said that we could have either penne or spaghetti with tomatos and cheese. By this time we are all so hungry that we ordered enough penne for all of us. thank goodness it was good pasta. We left Manikaran on Sunday morning, so we could make it back to Chandigarh for a play at vivek school - the school where any of our homestay moms - including mine - teach. They are celebrating founders week this week. It was really well done! It was held outside in the fresh air, and was directed by some fancy-big-name director from Delhi.
Monday, we didn't have any school so we could get alot of homework done. I really didn't do much - Amber and I got up late, then had chai and breakfast, then did a bit of school work that then turned into a dance party until lunch. After lunch we were going to do some more homework, but then Anu reminded us that we were going to try on saris. That turned into a few hour affair, since we had to take pictures and all. It really is fun wearing a sari. I feel very elegant in one. Later that night, we went pack to vivek for the junior play which our homestay kid was in. They did the Emperor's new clothes. this play was by far the best I have seen a school put on. I'm going to get a copy of the video to bring back - it was that great!
And that brings up to today. This morning was, well, interesting? We visted the Canadian consulate and listened to pompos political white men talk about immigration and trade. It was all very interesting, just the men were - well - different. It was interesting going into the building. It was very much a canadian office building. I was definetally in culture shock. Even though I should feel comfortable in the Canadian consulate, I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. I felt like I was in home deptot. Everything was too clean and organized and setrile. It should be interesting coming home...
It's really interesting in Chandigarh right now. Diwali is this weekend. Aparantly, it is a holiday comparable to Christmas in Canada, based on what people here have been saying. We are going to be going to Naveen's village for Diwali. I'm sure I'll have lots to write about when I get back. Besides that, it's really crunch time for school projects, so that will be occupying my time for the next two weeks. I really don't know where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday we arrived in Chandigarh, and now we're almost done. I'm starting to make plans for after we're done the program. Nate was talking about doing a 6 day elephant safari, which I think would be so much fun!! I'm also going to try and make it to Kerala in the south, as well as Goa, and mumbai if I have time. I might also want to go to Rajastan or Darjeling, but we'll have to see how much time I have.
Well, I'm all done registering for school, so I can go to bed now (I got all the classes I wanted!!)
I hope you are all doing well