So it has been almost a week since Sarah and I arrived in India and I would say that we have conquered our jetlag. We arrived at the Mumbai International Airport at 9pm Standard Indian Time and foggily retrieved our bags, breached the security area and payed for a prepaid taxi. Finding our taxi outside was an adventure in itself, not to mention our first auto ride through the city to our hotel, the Royal Palace Hotel, where we stayed for one night.
The next day (Sept 11) we found breakfast, walked around in a bit of a daze and encountered loud festivities for the celebration of the elephant-headed god Ganesh. We also had our first experience of the monsoon rains which are warm and bountiful. They use umbrellas here for good reason. We then caught a three-wheeled rickshaw taxi to the airport again and had a long waiting time for our flight to South India where our internship is taking place. It was a short flight where all that could be seen were the monsoon clouds, beautiful like puffy white landscapes. We arrived in the small Hubli airport and were immediately met by a hired driver who took us on an unimaginably wild and hectic van ride through small villages and countryside late into the night. By the time we arrived at our destination at Huthina Betta (ant hill) it had been a 3.5 hour bumpy ride. WE MADE IT!
It is hard to describe all that has happened since we arrived at the farm where our internship takes place, but I can describe some aspects of what life has been like for us. Adjacent to the farm are rice paddy fields where one has to walk along narrow constructed mud paths, avoiding leeches and the possibility of slipping in the dampness. We take this route in order to reach a main road and bus stop which takes us to the small town (80,000) of Sirsi, where the office of the Vanastree collective is situated. This is also the way which leads to the households of several families in the area, one of which has invited us into their home several times and has kindly offered us food and hospitality.
At the farm there are neighbors who help out with various tasks such as taking care of and milking several cows, cleaning the house and washing laundry and grounds work in return for milk, vegetables, fruit and food. Sarah and I are going to be practicing our Kannada (the local language) with them and helping them out when it suits them. One of the helping families includes two young boys, Prajual and a younger son whose name escapes me at the moment, but I think Prajual who is about 4 years old has taken a liking to us. At the farm there also live two dogs, Chiti-a kind, sleek and charasmatic little dog of tropical looks who has taken a liking to Sarah and I, and Scrabble-a rottweiler mix who is blustery, uncontrollable and with a tendency to be aggressive. All in all this makes a wonderful and dynamic household which has served as our home base of operations.
We had the opportunity to attend a class at a school for 1-5 graders who were learning songs and playing games in order to gain skills in oral retention of both Kannada and English. We are learning one of the songs they were singing in Kannada, it is quite beautiful, with tone inflections that we are yet to replicate properly.
I am running out of time so I will say that all in all our experience has been rich in many ways, not to mention some amazing meals and cooking lessons right from the source!
I will close with the phrase "ho'ogbit bartini" (I am going and I will come again). I hope you all are well and there will be more to come.