Here is the final school Gauri and I visited. We were able to see the Pre-K, Elementary, and Secondary parts of the Saraswati school. The welcoming that we had at each place was amazing. They went above and beyond, but as the saying goes "Guest is God." Below are a few of the better pictures that point out some of the great things about this school and students.
Our purpose for visiting India was to find a school who we could work globally with. The events that took place while we were at Saraswati, showed the efforts not only by the staff, but the students too. Each one of the students were very grateful and excited that we visited their school. My last post doesn't represent the end, it only leaves room for more exploration and growth.
Pre-K working on eye and hand coordination. Students are using sand to make a picture that has been traced for them.
Every time we walked into a class room, they stopped and sang a welcome song to us. This was a very cute scene, especially when it was the Pre-K students.
Students practicing in the computer lab.
2nd grade students in a math class
A chart to help students eat healthy
My welcoming ceremony at the secondary school. They said a prayer, lit some incense and candles, and gave me a tila on my forehead.
Drummers during the welcome ceremony
The schedule of events that were performed for Gauri and I.
Every class that we went into, I spoke to the students about what our schools are like in Ithaca.
Desks used by students - 2 student for each desk.
Staff photo at Saraswati
This student made a card for me, and a formal picture needed to be taken.
During our last three days in India, Gauri and I visited some schools. The first school we visited, was more like an after school set up for children whose families are working during the day. In fact this particular group that we visited were "The Camel People." The parents give rides on their camels to make money. The day we arrived, students were singing prayer songs in a circle. This particular set up was in an area where Swadhar was renting space under this big tent, which is used for weddings. The children lived just down the road from this tent. The families currently are squatting in the area, but nothing is really done about it.
It is August 19th, 2012 and I am getting ready to leave Pune by myself with my driver Bharat. I was told that he would be an English speaking driver, and quite excited about this. Unfortunately, he was not able to speak any English. This was certainly going to make things interesting.
We headed to Aurangabad, another city in Maharashtra. There I would visit the Ellora and Ajanta Caves.
This was my first time being along in the past two weeks in India. The driver and I will be fist seeing Ajanta. Before leaving I spent a lot of time the night before researching what the best way would be to see the caves. I came across someone, but after emailing I found out he was not available. This would leave Bharat and I off to venture on our own.
We finally arrived at Ajanta around 1:30 pm, and the caves closed at 5:00 pm on Monday's. This would make the visit a fast one. We followed the line of cars to park, and were being redirected to turn around and park somewhere else. Well in India, this just means argue a little until they let you past, which is what happened. Our tiny little Tata, made its way through some of the tightest spaces I could ever imagine. We arrived at a section of the parking lot where everyone was selling maps of the caves. The driver mentioned something about looking for a tour guide (I gathered this by hearing the word American), and after having 2 cars move around a parking spot was available. Within a few moments, I was introduced to "Old Man," and we were walking quickly. Luckily he spoke English, and was telling me that he had a short cut for me. Bharat was following, and I kept turning around to make sure he was there. Bharat was not a fan of walking, so when he finally caught up, I made sure to let him know that I wanted him to come with me.
After I left "Old Man" I was then turned over to "Shop 98." These gentleman were family members I later found out, and I would assume they do this to make money. Find foreigners and take them to the caves. It was a really nice walk, and the lines to be transported to the caves was at least a 40 minute wait.
Let me try to break down what's happening. No one can drive to the caves directly. You need to take a shuttle there, or walk. I followed a couple locals through some shops "tourist traps" before we were walking along the road the buses would travel. We started hiking up a hill (Bharat was loving this), and came across a bunch of monkeys in the trees (pretty cool) and then back to the road. At this point, I was feeling special because I thought "Shop 98" was just helping me out. Then I decided to ask, how much for this? I gave him 250 rupes, about $5.00. When we reached the top, he told me that he would see me afterwards. I was very confused...(When I returned back to the car, "Shop 98" was waiting for me right at the entrance of the shops, and asked me to help out his family again because he helped me out. I made it easy, and bought a few things. Funny thing - as I was entering "Shop 98's" shop, an American couple was just leaving after going through the same thing).
Upon reaching the caves entrance to buy a ticket, I began to get a little nervous. This whole time, I have been use to so many people in such a small space. Even the parking, it was intense, and the walk here...interesting. Now, I am waiting in another line with more people paying no intention to who is where in line. The idea of easily getting a ticket (every foreigner has to pay a lot more than Indians) to see some caves, was soon turned into a tense cluster of vacationers. You see, this weekend that I decided to travel was the holiday weekend for Ramadan. Everyone had off on this Monday.
Below are some pictures from the caves at Ajanta and Ellora:
Ajanta caves, excavated between the 2nd century B.C. and the 6th century A.D. are renowned for Buddhist paintings and Ellora caves spanning the period between the 5th and 11th A.D. comprise of Buddhist monasteries, and temples of the Hindu and Jain faiths (Mittal Publications).
A view of the main part of Ajanta caves. There are a total of 27 separate caves to see.
A view of the outside of a cave.
Front view of Ellora
A hand carved elephant statue. Has definitely seen some better days. Amazing stone work!
A view of the inside of Ellora.
Everyone wanted to take pictures of me, so I decided to take some of my own with the families.
An old Buddhist temple, this was one of the first caves built at Ellora. The picture below gives some more detail.
We headed back to Jaipur and arrived at the Sarovar Portico. This was a very nice hotel in Jaipur, and because India's Independence Day is tomorrow the security and check in process was very secure. We needed to have a copy of our passports faxed over to the hotel, otherwise we would not be able to stay there. Luckily we got them faxed within the 2 hours they gave us. This could of been a huge error, but thankfully we diverted it.
I began to wonder how the religion's of India were divided. This is what I was able to find: Muslim 10% Hindu 75 - 80 %
A sect of Hindu - Jain 1%
Christian 3% Buddhist 2% Sikh 2%
The interesting thing about Sikh's is that they make up about 30% of the military. The oldest son is usually registered with the army - a very proud time for the family.
My favorite quote so far "There is always more room."
Over the next few days we would be celebrating India's Independence Day, travling to the Amber Fort and Nahargarh Fort, seeing a 250 ton cannon, taking elephant rides, and attending a tradition farming community dinner at Choki-Dani (like an American Renaissance Festival).
Below I have attached pictures and a few captions to share what they are about. Enjoy!
A view of Fort Amber from the road across the water reservoir.
Getting prepared to board my elephant.
The elephant trail up to the top of the Fort courtyard and back. During the summer, the elephants only work 6:30 am - 9:00 am. The elephants work just as a taxi system, each one has a separate owner. This is a family business - owning an driving the elephants are done by different families.
A view from the top of Fort Amber looking East.
A view across the water reservoir from the elephant trail.
Inside Fort Amber - The mosaics have been created by glass shipped from Hungary during the 16th century.
Some of the intricate designs that have been created by the extremely small pieces of glass.
Made my day!
(Choki - Dani) Sit down family style servings.
A tight rope performer. He was walking inside the old bicycle rim across the rope.
A view from Fort Nahargarh.
This cannon was built in the 17th century, and its the largest cannon on two wheels in the world. The cannon weighs 250 tons. It takes 100lbs of gun powder and a 50lb cannon ball. The barrel is 12ft long. This cannon was only shot once during a test fire, and the ball went 22 miles.
We left Pushkar Tuesday afternoon and made our way to Ajmer. It took about 45 minutes. Today we were going to get a tour of a very famous Muslim shrine called the Dargab. Getting there was easy, but once we left the car and we walked to meet the guide and hop in a rickshaw, this was a very overwhelming experience. The ride through the back alleys which intertwined us between homes and store fronts was not more than 6 feet wide. On either side of the walk way, which was shared by people and motor vehicles was a sewage draining system that took the water form the hills down somewhere. There was no grate or anything preventing a wheel to slip in there. Once we arrived at the gate of the Dargab, we needed to cover our legs and hair with he scarfs they provided, and we left behind our shoes (paid someone to watch them). No cameras were allowed, so capturing this chaos was not possible. Men and women needed to enter through different doors, still with our tour guide, we followed him through some beautiful art work and sculptures. The ground was marble, and very slippery from the rain. We made it to the shrine of Khwaja, and we were rushed to spot where a man was waiting with a green scarf. He threw it over our heads, said a prayer, and we then we rushed back out. This was not an easy task. Trying to make your way through the crowds of people was completed by a forceful push.
We made it back to our sandals, and headed back down to the car. Trying to beat the rain, as the clouds moved in quickly. We did not...the rain came quickly, and so did the water down the drainage paths. Rickshaw versus water - we made it to our car. Then right as Neil and I stepped out we were being told to not step over a bench or on the sand barrier that was built to protect a store front. Looking up the hill the water was pouring down the road, and soon right through our legs. This was not the cleanest of water, but the streets up the hill sure looked a lot cleaner.
Today is August 13th, and I have been in India for two full days. A lot has already been happening, and even more to come. The past few nights sleeping have been quite difficult, I have been waking up exatly at 4:00 am India time. The time difference is 9.5 hours ahead, and the jet lag has been intense. Nothing I cannot handle!
We met up with Gauri's friend Anuradha, and she will be traveling with us to Jaipur today, which is the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur is nicknamed "The Pink City." Downtown Jaipur's streets are lined with very deep pink color buildings. This is from the clay/stucco mixture that was used to build them, and the reason for the nickname.
We took an airline called "Spicejet" from Pune to Jaipur. Upon arrival, our driver met up with us, he would be responsible for taking us to Pushkar, Ajmer, and Jaipur during our visit. Our first night we will be going to Pushkar, which is about 2 hours, but will take us 3 hours because of the back roads. Before leaving Jairpur we managed to see a couple of Palaces.
First bicycle rickshaw
I had to take this picture!
The City Palace had a door for all four seasons. This one represented the Monsoon Season.
Inside of the city palace. The true color is captured really well in this picture.
We arrived in Pushkar around 9 pm. While in Pushkar we are staying at the Pushkar Palace (http://www.hotelpushkarpalace.com/pp.htm). I would highly recommend this to anyone who finds themselves here. It was a friendly/beautiful place. After we checked in they gave us all rose lei's, and showed us to our rooms. This 3 minute journey was the funniest thing - they insisted on carrying my bags, so it was the awkward reaching back and fourth many times until the doorman actually had my bag. We all followed our bags, each with another employee. After arriving to our rooms, they walk in with you and turn on the AC, and then adjust your sheets and pillows. It was amusing watching and wondering what was going to happen next. We spoke very little to each other, and he flipped a couple more switches, I gave him a tip (10 rupes - about 20 cents) and the friendship was over.
In the morning we woke, and walked around for a few hours. They had the most awesome patch work, quilts, and fabric in this area (Better than any other area we would go to).
While in Rajasthan (The Desert Region of India) it rained every day, this was to be expected as we were there during the Monsoon season. But the streets would turn into mini streams, just washing everything from the road down to the lowest point. Included in this stream was sandals, clothes, sticks, random plastic pieces, a lot of garbage, and some animal feces. They say in India to always make sure you to look down when you walk - This is so true!
Below are some pictures from the Pushkar Palace.
A view from the balcony of the hotel. The built up pool like structures are for bathing.
Travel anyway you can
The amount of water collects fast on the streets when it rains (Taken from the car).
Mumbai or Bombay ? - When traveling to Mumbai, I routinely heard the word Bombay. Not knowing a bit of Marathi or Hindi, which were the two main languages that I was around, I decided to look into this word. Here it is - Bombay was the name of Mumbai before it was Mumbai. Easy...well not really, there is a great deal of history that follows this. Bombay is made up of 7 islands, these islands were inhabited in the very early times, but they are not sure when exactly. Later in time the Mughal Empire took over Bombay, and then the Portuguese obtained the land through the Treaty of Bassein. The Portuguese helped in the growth of the Roman Catholic Churches, which later spread Catholicism through India. After a marriage between Charles the II of England and King John IV of Portugal, the territory was taken over by the British. The British held onto the 7 islands, and Bombay was turned into a large industrial area. During the British control, India slowly started to pursue independence, and during 1947 India was given its independence. Moving forward to 1960, the state of Bombay was broken into two states. The decision was based on the language spoken - Gujarati (Gujarat State) and Marathi (Maharashtra State, capital Bombay). The city was renamed Mumbai in 1996, and was renamed after the Koli (early inhabitants of the 7 islands, they were a fishing community) goddess Mumbadevi.
We arrived quite late in Mumbai, and we were scheduled to stay at Shashank's brothers house in the city of Mumbai. His brothers name was Yash, wife Jyoti, and son Jay. They also had a cocker spaniel named Sherry. After sleeping for 4 hours, we had to get up to be ready for the drive into Pune at 8am. Breakfast this morning was my first home cooked Indian meal. Poha was the name, and it was very tasty. It consisted of rice flakes, peanuts, coriander, and cumin. I made a promise to myself to try to account for all of the different foods that I will be eating...we'll see how that goes.
The first adventure I took was with Gauri and her sister to the Parvati Temple. This is a picture of one of the main temples for the Peshawa King. Peshawa is another name for Prime Minister. This temple was dedicated mainly to the Kings that ruled Pune.
This is the other main temple. The colors are brilliant!
The above two pictures are of the views walking to the Parvati Temple.
I took this picture at the top of the Parvarti Temple. It give a distant glimpse of the tent villages, apartment buildings, and the current construction for more buildings (top right).
My First Rickshaw Ride
Later during the day I went with Shashank and Neil to see Shashank's parents and sister. It was a quick visit, but very nice meeting them. Mom - Usha Dad - Chandrakant Sister - Manjusha
My name is Todd Noyes. I am a Math teacher at Ithaca High School in New York, and I work for Cornell's Upward Bound Program over the summer. I was fortunate enough to travel to India during August 2012, and meet with some schools. This is a blog that takes you through my time in India, and the global relationships that I am hoping to form.