30 September, 2011

It's a bit warmer here, in case you haven't heard...

A little fun comparison. I'm really glad I missed the super hot weather of the summer months. It's actually pretty nice here right now, but a little toasty at times.

I've gotten some queries from the States about what I'm up to design wise. I'm working on a branding project, it's nice to be designing for REAL things now!! And yes, I still use the Adobe programs, though I miss my mac at work. Most everything computer wise is the same as in the US, programs, internet usage (people have facebook here too), the only thing I've found that's different on the internet is that some sites aren't available in India that I use in the US (pandora, hulu, netflix for a few examples aren't available). If my coworkers read this, they're pretty nice people :)

Sometimes in conversations I have found that pronunciations of the same words are so different the other person and I are confused because we think we're talking about two different things. For instance,  one of my coworkers went out for lunch and she said she had "pizzah" (the 'i' pronounced like the i in 'fish') and then she asked if I had ever had it. I thought she was talking about some sort of Indian food and asked her what it was. She was then confused because she knew I had to have eaten it, and then we finally figured it out that our pronunciations of "pizza" were different. In the US we say it like "peetsah." So that was a funny moment today.

I'm finding that sometimes jokes are lost in accent translation. Since Indian and American English accents are so different, just understanding each other can be a challenge, let alone picking out humor. So, sometimes I will try to say a joke (probably cracking a "pj," "poor joke" if anyone remembers a former post....haha, anyway) and the other person won't understand that I'm joking so I have to tell them I'm joking. I forget sarcasm isn't easy to pick up if it's hard to understand what a person is saying, which I've experienced as well. And, like I said in a previous post, since people will switch between English and Hindi often in conversations (or English and another language), I really have to be paying attention to catch what people are saying, but I think I can tell that it's already gotten much easier for me to understand people's accents since I first arrived.

28 September, 2011

Street Pictures and Clothing Explained

The yellow three-wheeled vehicle is called an "auto rickshaw," or "auto" for short. It's like a small taxi.

I am often addressed in India as "Madam." I find this kind of interesting because generally in the US it would be "Miss" or "Ma'am," but here it is always Madam. It seems the Mercedes Benz is a popular car here, except it is pronounced more like "Benj," which confused me a little at first. I was asked if there are Mercedes Benj cars in the US, and yes, we have them too, but they're pricy.

I am finding that most people don't work until after they're out of college. Usually students' education in India is paid for by their parents, and then students will usually only get a job once they are out of college. In the US, most people get a part-time job by the time they are 17 or 18, and work through college and in the summer. It's common for students to get help to pay for their education, but most have to pay for a least some on their own, sometimes all.

A couple things I'm still adjusting to are the transportation system, and keeping enough small bills on hand. In the US, I didn't really ever have to worry about this, because you can get the right change at any store you go to. But in India, sometimes if you don't have small enough bills you can't get the right amount of change back, which just means you lose money. Auto drivers especially are known for not giving enough change back. I also got a tip to always negotiate price of the auto beforehand and never use the meter price system, because an auto driver will take the longest route possible and a foreigner I wouldn't know the difference thereby paying more than they should.

Thankfully my stomach seems to have adjusted now to the new environment and food after about 2  weeks, and I've been continually trying new Indians foods, though still only mildly spicy. An upset stomach and falling ill when first arriving in India is very common until adjusted to the new conditions.

Today there was a birthday celebration at work, and most of the way birthdays are celebrated are the same. The Happy Birthday song is sung the same way with birthday cake, but after this cake and frosting is then smeared all over the birthday person's face, this is one tradition I've never celebrated in America. People also usually celebrate with family and friends in small or large gatherings depending on preference.

Due to the Telangana strike on day 14, power outages are increasing because there is not enough coal, today in the office we worked without the lights on for about 5 hours instead of the usual 2 hours a day since last week (computers are on a back-up power system so we can still work when power is out).

And now I'll explain traditional women's Indian wear with visual imagery. I learned that "Chudidar" is a name for cloth leggings that comes from the Hindi word for bangles, because of the way the material bunches near the ankles to resemble bangles (I'm actually wearing leggings here but you get the point). "Chudi" is the Hindi word for one bangle, "Choodiyan" is the word used to describe lots of bangles.

Here I am wearing a kurtie and leggings, or salwar kameez. The kurtie/kameez (kurta for men) is the top, and the leggings/salwar/chudidar is the bottom (chudidar is tighter than salwar or pyjamas). The kurtie often is worn as a mid thigh to knee length. Most women also wear either sandals or ballet flats like what I'm wearing in the top picture, because, like I said before, it's impossible to wear heals on the streets, flats are much more comfortable and easy to get around in. Also, because of the climate, I think sandals can be worn year round in India (definitely not possible back home in Minnesota, US! From about December to April it's boots). One of the best parts about Indian clothing? It is so comfortable! (Although I have yet to try the sari, which I'm thinking will take a little skill to wear). This and western clothing is mainly what is worn in the office for women. Men really only wear western clothing in the office.

25 September, 2011

Telugu, Hindi, and Lady Gaga

While I am at work, I can expect a mix of music including Telugu, Hindi, and popular American pop and hard rock songs, I like hearing what kind of Telugu and Hindi music people listen to here even though I don't understand the lyrics. I've heard Lady Gaga a few times at work, and many people here seem to also really like Enrique Iglesias, Rihanna, and Eminem. May I venture to recommend a few of my favorite artists? Regina Spektor, MGMT, Simon and Garfunkle, seriously people of India, you won't regret it!

Many people from the US may have heard of Bollywood (Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai/Bombay), a play on word from Hollywood, but I found it interesting that the name of the Telugu film industry is called Tollywood. Yep, I thought it was kind of funny. Apparently Telugu movies are sometimes filmed in some of the mansions of Jubilee Hills. Indian movies are very dramatic, it seems they all need to have everything: action, suspense, romance, sentiment, mystery, music, etc...

I'm also finding it very easy to fit in as a vegetarian. A much larger percentage of the population is vegetarian in Indian than in America, so it's not difficult at all for me to find vegetarian food options. "Ek plate Aloo Paratha lana" is Hindi for "one plate of Aloo Paratha" which I learned to order my lunch at work.

A couple co-workers taught me more slang term's for "pj's." In a previous blog I wrote about pj's being "poor jokes," but I have since learned that "pj's" can also be "puranna jokes" and "paapi jokes," which all mean poor jokes.

I was speaking with a female co-worker who is engaged and I was asking about the wedding preparations. When I asked about a "Bachelorette Party," she said she hadn't heard the term, but she called it a "Spinster's Party." Someone else I asked had heard of it, but said it wasn't as common in India.

Right now the Telangana strike (for separate statehood) is going on in Hyderabad and the buses have been shut down since Tuesday and autos since Friday. There has also been a mandated power outage for 2 hours each day in the city for the last few days as well, because of the strike there has been a shortage in coal. The regular shutdowns of power is something I have never experienced until coming to India.

Americans on average speak one language, with some knowledge of a second language. Indians on average speak at least three, some of my co-workers speak more because there are so many languages spoken in India, each with their own separate alphabet as well. Many people here just pick up languages for fun, almost as a hobby. First people will have their mother tongue, then they will learn English and then probably Hindi, and then they will pick up other languages depending on if they travel to other parts of India or if they have family or friends in other areas, or just because. I am finding in Hyderabad many people mix in languages together, that they hold a conversation in bits and pieces of various languages. Generally people in the northern part of India will all speak Hindi, and people in the southern part will speak whatever the official state language is. But in the business world everyone needs to know English. I think that America and India are both diverse places but in different ways.

Friday night I went out for an evening with some of my colleagues to a place called News Cafe. The outdoor view was quite beautiful, and it was nice to relax out of the office. There was a mix of some Indian style dishes and American food. The Chili Paneer I had was excellent. I have been to a few mall areas now in Hyderabad, including Central, Big Bazaar, and Inorbit (Inorbit is located in Hi-tech city where all the major software companies are located in Hyderabad). Apparently Inorbit is one of the largest malls in Southern Asia. The large shopping malls are actually very similar to shopping malls in America, except I have noticed there is a lot more security in Hyderabad shopping stores. Before entering every mall I have to go through a metal detector where a security guard is monitoring, and I often see more security guards around. I have also had to check-in my shopping bags before I enter another store.

I got a tip to buy something called called "All-Out" which helps with bugs in my room, it is kind of like a Glade Plug-in in the outlet, except it helps keep the bugs away.

Okay, I know I keep mentioning driving here, but I wanted to comment about the honking again, because, as I told a few coworkers, I have been driving for six years in the US, and I don't ever recall honking while driving, because it's just not really a common thing. In India, people will keep honking while they are driving all the time, basically to let everyone around them know where they are. When asking people about it, I have been told that it is because there is no confidence in other drivers here like in other parts of the world. In the US, there is confidence that everyone will stop at a red light, or that you can go at a green light. But in India, there is no confidence in what the other drivers will do, so everyone honks all the time as a signal. The best comparison I have reached has to do with bats and "echolocation." When bats fly, they emit high pitched sounds as sound waves which bounce off objects the sound wave comes into contact with. When they emit this sound wave, they listen for the echos and process the returning information, thus they can then determine from that how far away objects are depending on how long it takes a noise to return. And so, when people drive in India, they honk at each other and listen for other cars honking to know where the other drivers are. Alright, well, maybe it's kind of silly, but I think it's a pretty good comparison anyway!

Additionally, there are no visible street names on the roads to find your way around. In the US, roads are clearly marked with street signs all over and this is by far the best method of giving directions. In India there are road names but no way to see what they are when you are driving because all the roads are unmarked. When people get around they mostly just go by landmarks and names of buildings instead unless they already know what the names of streets are.

Yes, Indians like Google, too! (Except it's google.co.in instead of google.com)

23 September, 2011

A Few Tidbits

I have been hearing at work that the word is spreading throughout the office that I am writing a blog of my experiences in Hyderabad, so the pressure's on to make it good (and accurate)!

Living in India, I've come to realize how fortunate Americans really are. We have such high expectations and standards, we forget how luxurious our lives generally are. Time is more relative in India, whereas in America time can be much stricter depending on the situation. In India, streets and buildings are not as clean, the air is more polluted, sidewalks are broken and uneven, and it's common to see trash on the side of the road in places. The tap water is not safe to drink or even brush your teeth with, and so these large water jugs (Kinley seems to be a popular brand) are used a lot for safe drinking water instead. I often see trucks driving around with a bunch of them piled in the back being transported around. America has poverty, but it is so much more visible in India, and to a higher degree, and it is common to see beggars in the streets.

Something that has caused me frustration this week is getting my Employment Visa registered at the foreigner's registration office. With all Indian Visas you must obtain them before entering the country, but then with certain visas a foreigner is required to register them once in the country as well to obtain a residency permit. After 5 visits to this office, getting different answers each time on certain documents, I am still dealing with an error made on this permit. But, I have been told by many people here that it does not surprise them, and that getting a passport is even worse, so many people don't get one unless they really have to because it is such a hassle. So, one of the not so fun things to deal with when traveling, not to deter others from traveling, because my experience so far has been rewarding, but just to be aware that things like this can and do happen.

Although, I did meet an interesting guy from Kenya the other day at the foreigner's office who came to India for his college education. In Kenya, he said, it would have cost him 3000 US dollars in tuition, but in India it only cost him 600 US dollars in tuition per year! And since Bachelors Degrees in India are obtained in 3 years instead of 4, he could also get both his Bachelors Degree and Masters in only 5 years, and then he was planning on heading back to Kenya to find a job once he completed his education. Both, however, are cheap compared to the US, where tuition at a University for a Bachelors degree varies from around 7000 to 25,000 US dollars per year depending on the public or private University (plus University room and boarding expenses it's about 14,000-45,000 US dollars per year total). I have also learned that BFA programs in India are not very common, and neither are specializations. So, my BFA in Art with a Concentration in Graphic Design is much more difficult to find in India (I guess concentrations don't really exist, and I don't think minors do either, such as my minor in Business, but please correct me if I'm wrong here!).

It is a new experience for me trying to communicate with people with whom we cannot speak any, or very little, of each other's language, but I am gradually learning. It makes it more difficult when nonverbal signals can also different sometimes as well (such as with the horizontal head shake I mentioned earlier). People in India I think may be more accustomed to having a language barrier, because so many different languages in India are spoken, whereas Americans are used to almost everyone being able to speak the common language of English (although Hindi and English are widely spoken, neither are completely universal throughout India). Another difference in lifestyle is that in India it is very common to hire other people to do things I would normally do myself in America. Laundry, driving, cleaning, and cooking are all very common to hire help here, at a low monetary cost, whereas in America I would do them all for myself (although this can also vary depending on situation).

I really like having the coffee at work, but usually the help at the office serve it with sugar and it is too sweet for me, so someone taught me "Coffee mein cheeni mat dalna," which means "Coffee without sugar," in case I need to say it in Hindi. Interestingly, people here drink much smaller doses of coffee, which is served in about 5 oz dixie cups at the office. Some of my coworkers were saying that 4 is way too much to have in the course of one day, and I mentioned that in America it is pretty standard for coffee shops to serve coffee in 12, 16, and 20 oz cups. Apparently, we like a caffeine overload in the US. Although, I've seen Red Bull around here as well. My coworkers have also been introducing me to many new Indian dishes each day, ones that aren't as spicy, and today I tried something I believe was called Aloo Paratha (Stuffed Potato Chapati) which was very good.

The other day one of my co-workers was talking about something called "P Language," and the closest thing I can equate it to that we have in America is "Pig Latin." I still don't understand all the particulars of P Language, but it has something to do with inserting p's into words, creating a made-up language without much purpose. Pig Latin is kind of similar, because it just takes the first letter of a word and brings it to the end with an "ay" sound (my name would be Ellikay in Pig Latin). I thought it was really funny.

Something else I wanted to mention was how cell phones are different in India (also normally called mobiles in India). When calling or texting someone on their mobile, it is only the sender that has to pay, and not the receiver (in America people have to pay for incoming and outgoing calls). So a person can receive as many calls as they want for free, even if they don't have any more minutes on their phone, they just wouldn't be able to call anyone themselves. The ringtone is also different, when you dial a number and are waiting for the person to pick up, it is more of a low beeping noise instead of a higher pitched ring which it sounds like on American phones.

Almost everything is much cheaper in India than America, but as relative salaries are also lower, it makes sense. At 48 rupees to the US dollar, often I will pay 40-60 rupees for a lunch, 50 rupees for a ride, and I just bought a loaf of bread for 20 rupees (particularly good deal). Clothes I have bought for a few hundred rupees for each article, and the most expensive thing I have bought so far was a new mobile that would work in India for 980 rupees (it was the cheapest one at the store).

A subject that could probably fill at least several posts is Hindu weddings. They are apparently very glamorous and lavish affairs, and very large celebrations. I learned that they usually last 3-4 days, with music, food (perhaps 65+ dishes), and dancing all throughout. In America, we only have weddings for one day or night, usually with a ceremony and reception following with music, food, and dancing. I guess how a marriage is celebrated depends on where the couple is from, as different Indian regions have their own traditions. The bride is adorned with layers upon layers of jewelry and fabric, around 13 kg in weight of garments, and if she goes even more traditional the weight could be in the 20s. Gold is very popular for jewelry. A bride's wedding garments can cost 50,000 rupees, a huge sum. Additionally, the bride is made-up in very ornate henna decoration, and I have learned women also use henna sometimes in their hair as a dye to give it a reddish color.

Cheers for now! Thanks for reading.

P.S. If there is anything particular you would like to know in a future post, please comment at the end of this blog and I'll try to answer it.

20 September, 2011

Pictures and More!

I am very pleased, and a little surprised, that there is so much interest from people to India to read my blog. I had started it initially to share with family and friendly and people from the states so they can see what I am up to, as well as to keep a journal of this journey, but Indians seem very interested in what I have to say about Hyderabad as well, which I was not expecting! I think it is interesting for people here to read about the city from a fresh perspective, a foreigner, and to see what is different from the US. Although I have generally found many from the US want to see photos, and many from India want to read what I write, so I will try to keep a balance of both. 

A little about the city: Hyderabad is the capital and most populated city of the state Andhra Pradesh, and sixth largest populated city and urban agglomeration in India. It covers an area of 621 square kilometers and has a population of over 4 million (Minnesota's entire state population is 5.2 million, Wisconsin's 5.6 million), with over 6.3 million in the metropolitan surrounding area. When I told people at work that my college town had a population of roughly 15,000 they were shocked. Hyderabad was founded about 400 years ago, but the region has been populated for much longer. Area about 1/3 the size of the US, it has 4 times the population.

Known as "The City of Pearls," I fully intend on investing this aspect of the city. Home to many software companies and technology services, it has developed a very large IT industry, which has modernized the city and brought many people here for work from all over India. I am told there are distinct Northern and Southern cultural differences in language, food, and various others in India, and Hyderabad is on the border creating a mixed culture, though generally adhering more to the Southern Culture. Telugu is the official language of Andhra Pradesh, Hindi and English are the official national languages (states can appoint their own official language). 

It made me feel better talking to people who have moved here from other parts of India and speak English and Hindi (among other languages), when I told them that I was having a hard time learning phrases in Telugu, and they said it was hard for them too, and couldn't imagine learning it as a foreigner. Many of them have only been able to pick up a few phrases in Telugu. 

In the workplace, both western and traditional Indian dress is widely acceptable, as long as it is conservative, and Hyderabad is a good city for women to work in. Daily wear is often a Salwar Kameez, for special occasions a Sari. Typical western wear for women would be jeans and a t-shirt/button up shirt, as well as either sandals or ballet flats. Don't even attempt to wear heels, stilettos would be a death trap in the streets. Men often wear typical western wear of jeans or dress pants and a button up or t-shirt to work. I have heard that the major cities of India are much more modern and have a very different culture than rural areas, but even in the rural areas everyone has a cell phone (or mobile as they say in India). 

I have neglected thus far to mention the company I am working as a Graphic Design Intern at is called Innopark, and has a niche providing services in the online gaming and entertainment industry.

As far as sports, Cricket seems to be the popular one here, people love playing and watching Cricket, a sport not really played in the US (Indians compare it to our baseball). Other popular sports include soccer and table tennis (ping pong). 

It also surprised me to learn that people have pets in India, such as cats, dogs, and birds/parrots and they name them, and that there are Veterinarians here as well. India has amusement parks with rides like carousels and roller coasters, which seems very similar to the US. I don't think that swimming pools are very common here.

I learned from someone is the hostel that "Bungalo" is a word used for a mansion. "PG" means "paying guest" and is another term used for a hostel, and people here usually call apartments "flats." 

Yesterday I experienced bowling, so now I can say I've been bowling in India. I was a little amazed it was exactly the same as in the US, maybe because so many other things are different. The malls sell a variety of Hindi and English music, movies, and books, and Indian people seem very well versed in American movies and shows. Amazingly, I saw copies of the Twilight saga in the bookstore, which has apparently made it to India, for better or for worse. 

Something that was quite amusing today at work was when one of my colleagues mentioned my post about how I was glad to find peanut butter in India. I asked if she had ever tried peanut butter, and she said no, and then she told me she had never heard of it! So, apparently, it's not really a staple in the Indian diet, haha...So, I am planning on bringing it to work this week. For my Indian friends, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are very common in the US, called PB & J, which you eat with sliced bread. 

Weather wise, this is a fairly good time to visit, temps have been in the 70s and 80s (F) since I've been here. I have been comfortable so far, as the hot summer (monsoon season) is on the tail end and the weather is getting nicer. Summer is very hot in India, commonly over 100 degrees F, but winters are a much better temperature. When I told people here that Minnesota and Wisconsin often have negative temperatures in the winter, with even colder wind chills, they just shivered at the thought. 

Another tidbit, is how dates are written. In the US it is month/day/year, in India it is day/month/year.

Vac's - a good bakery and pastry shop (excellent cakes)

Indians have moped riding down to an art. It is common practice for people to ride mopeds with the back person not holding on to anything. I have also seen many women riding side-saddle on the back if they are wearing a dress. Apparently it's not really technically legal, but still pretty common to see, 3 or even 4 riding on one bike. If you can tell from this photo, a man and woman are each holding a child. I can't imagine how this would fly in the US.

I have heard that some Indian celebrities and political figures live in this area, with all the huge mansions, not that I would be able to pick them out of a crowd if I saw them.

These panoramas don't quite show how truly large the city is. It just stretches on and on for miles and miles. I've heard it can take at least an hour to get to some parts of the city, maybe longer, especially with the transit system. When I flew in, it was dark, but I could still tell by the lights at night that this was by far the largest city I have ever seen in my entire life, not only in area, but density as well. 

From the Roof - (wearing a kurtie)

17 September, 2011

Can you say that for me again?

This is a question I've been asking a lot lately. I've told people I meet to keep correcting me if I mispronounce their names so I can improve. A few have given me shorter nicknames to try to learn instead, since Indian names have very different pronunciations that can be difficult to remember. I have also found it helps if people will write down the word for me so I can see the spelling, which makes it easier to learn how to pronounce. They and the woman who runs the hostel are also teaching me names of various food items I am trying. Dal, dosa, idli (a sort of compressed rice patty), butter milk (which tastes totally different than cow's milk in America, it is made from curd and has added salt which gives it a salty taste), and fatafat (aka churan) are all foods I have tried, and hopefully that I can remember how to pronounce. Fatafat is like a refreshment served after a meal at a restaurant, like how mints or chocolates are given in the States, it is very small spheres with a slightly spicy flavor.

"Chal bey" I have been taught to say in Hindi is a casual dismissal that means 'just go,' and I've been told to use it if I think someone is making fun of me. I was a little confused when I heard "cracking some pj's" which is a slang phrase meaning that someone is cracking some "poor jokes". I told them pj's in America are pajamas, and are sleepwear. Apparently pajamas in India are loose fitting pants, and women will sometimes have Pajama parties where they wear these to. Sometimes people will also refer to the Indian currency, Indian Rupee (INR), as "bucks." This confused me at first because I thought it was referring to prices in American dollars, and $100 is a lot more money than 100 rupees ($100 = 4732 INR), but it is just another slang term used.

Sometimes when people are speaking very rapidly, I have a hard time telling if they are speaking English or not because the English accent is so completely different, and the tonal undulations how people speak are also different. I think in the Midwest, we tend to end our sentences in a higher pitch. In India it seems the pitch varies more when people speak, and sentences don't necessarily end with a higher pitch. Many people switch between English and Hindi quite frequently at the office, and I can't always tell which they are speaking. Since many people come to Hyderabad for work, it is a mixed culture where the main languages are English, Hindi, and Telugu. I have heard that Diwali is a good festival coming up, the festival of lights. Indian people very much enjoy their festivals, and I heard of a recent one that stretched for 11 days.

Curious about the various signs to tell if an Indian woman is married, I have learned a few. In America, the only symbol is a ring on the left ring finger, but in Indian that is not really important. "Bindi" is a red dot on the forehead that married women wear. It is placed between the eyebrows, considered a major nerve point on the human body since ancient times. Vermillion is a red powder on the hairline. Married women also wear toe rings. Apparently some of the signs vary depending on location in India, and I guess they've become looser now, but these are some of the most common.

There is a mannerism that really confused me for a few days, and that is that I often see people respond here with a sort of horizontal side-to-side turn of the head, which I assumed meant "no" as it does in the States, but it seems to just be a habit when responding to a question, because usually people do not mean "no" by it.

For schooling, Indians go through 10th grade, then they can go to a junior college for two years, then a university for 3 years. The university is equivalent to our bachelors degree. Masters degree is another 2 years, and Phd can be completed in 3 years but most often takes people 5 if they are working simultaneously. It seems there is more leniency in choice of coursework for a degree in India, instead of having more set classes required to take for a program.

A happy discovery I made yesterday, which will greatly amuse my friends from back home, was that my female co-workers had read the Harry Potters books or seen the movies and are fans. It was an even greater discovery to learn that many are also Jane Austen fans (I mean how can you not be a Jane Austen fan, right?), and had read Pride and Prejudice. One said she liked Emma and Northanger Abbey as well, and asked me if I had read anything by Charlotte Bronte. Um, heck yes, Jane Eyre is also awesome!

P.S. In addition to what I wrote about driving earlier, I have been reminded again a few times to be careful of traffic, because I have been warned I could get run over if I don't watch out. When I mentioned to someone that traffic is much different in India, she said it's not different, it's horrible... Apparently buses are the worst because they need to complete their routes in a set time and are on a strict schedule, aka: they will stop for no one. In general, people just drive much closer to each other, in somewhat of a jumble. It is pretty common to only miss each other by a foot or two in stop and go traffic. Also, for those that don't know, an auto is a 3-wheel taxi. I have been asked if I drive back home, and if I drive a 2 wheeler or a 4 wheeler (instead of calling it a car). Since mopeds have 2 wheels, autos 3, and cars 4, it seems to be a pretty common way to differentiate. There also aren't really any traffic lights or stop signs, and if there are they aren't really given any notice. To be honest, I'm not really sure how traffic tickets would be given out here at all as they are in the states.

View from Stairs towards front of hostel

Stairs in the Hostel which connect the rooms from the levels

View from my window

Another view from my window (the roof has an even better view, will post more pictures from there)

15 September, 2011

Arrival in Hyderabad

Chicago O'Hare Airport - 1st Flight Connection

My first leg of my flight to India. Being my first time abroad, I was both nervous and excited for the flight. I thought this was a really pretty in this section of the airport.

Flying Over Frankfurt, Germany - 2nd Flight Connection
I noticed quite a few soccer (futbol) fields over Germany, as well as windmill power, which I thought was pretty cool.

I was really excited about landing in Germany initially, but I nearly missed my connection to Hyderabad at Frankfurt. I only had a 1 hour layover, and by the time I exited the plane and made it into the airport, plane was a huge 777, with 9 seats across, had only about 30 minutes to spare. So I checked the gate on the board right away, which had changed, then on my way to the gate, realized I had to go through security again. Along with several others in the long security line, I had little time to spare before my connection departure. At 10:55 am (my flight departure time as well) I finally frantically made it through security and ran to the gate, just barely making the connection.

Luggage Ticket

My Room in the Hostel - Hyderabad, India

In the hostel the language Telugu is mostly spoken, but the woman that runs the hostel speaks English. Even understanding English speakers will take time to adjust to the accent and different slang. My pronunciation of Indian words, names, and places with also take time to learn.

Window View From my Room

Driving in India is much different than in America. Many people hire drivers, take autos (mini cabs with open sides), or drive mopeds around. Don't freak out mom and dad, but I've ridden in all three. People drive on the left side of the road, and sit on the right side of the car. I took my first auto tonight, called a sharing auto because you pay per seat and it's cheaper. Sharing autos have a route they follow, and multiple passengers ride in them. Otherwise, with an auto, you must specify where you want to go and negotiate the price before you get into the car. Common practice is to bargain starting at half the given price of the ride. The horn is used as much as the gas pedal and the break while driving. I can see why transportation would pose a greater threat than malaria, as I haven't really had a lot of trouble with mosquitos so far.
My Shower (sometimes water pressure varies)

My Toilet (Indians don't use toilet paper, so that is something I will be purchasing myself)

My Sink

Indian Bread and Peanut Butter!

I know many people were concerned I wouldn't find peanut butter in India, but alas! There are many American products in stores with familiar brand names, but I'm finding many foods and drinks are prepared differently here. Such as milk, which I didn't realize would be served hot, and coffee and tea are a little different as well. Sliced bread in bags is not sold in the same way here as in the US. I'm also trying to learn more of the common food names here to know what to order. I know I like Chipoti (spelling?) a wheat flour rolled like a tortilla, with a potato mixture called Sprout. I also tried buttered corn from a stand which was very good. The staff in the hostel know to serve me non-spicy vegetarian foods, and only bottled water. I may eat more spicy foods and be a little more adventurous with what I eat once I am here a little longer and have time to acclimate.

I went Indian clothes shopping tonight, to buy salwar kameez (a knee length shirt is the kameez and salwar is the pants), also known as kurties (kurta are men's shirts). Women's clothes have very beautiful  patterns in various bright colors, all made out of lightweight fabrics. I also want to buy fabric to have a garment tailor made, which is very common practice here. Hyderabad is known for their pearls, so I am looking forward to pearl shopping.