This week has been a fairly stressful week for many of us, as project deadlines are fast approaching and time seems to be running out. This familiar feeling of stressing about schoolwork would almost be comforting, if it wasn’t, you know, stressful. On Monday morning there was some palpable angst in the air, precipitated by our lack of enthusiasm for learning Hindi that day. I was able to slightly mitigate this feeling by taking a successful solo trip to the department store and only getting marginally ripped off by the rickshaw driver.
On Tuesday it was one of our classmate’s birthdays, so we went to a nice coffee shop after class to celebrate. The place we went to was a rooftop café across from Jaipur’s Central Park. While in India, I have come to love hanging out on rooftops. I have also come to enjoy coffee, which here contains very little caffeine and plenty of milk and sugar. Cold coffee and ice cream is a delicious creation and I don’t know why we don’t have it in the U.S.. It was lovely to be on the rooftop with my friends, watching the sun set behind the cityscape and taking a much-needed break from academics.
For the rest of the week we continued to work on our Independent Study Projects. As it is important to rejoice in the little things, I felt very accomplished that I finally found contact solution after going to four different chemists. On Thursday we rewarded ourselves with ice cream, and on Friday we went to another coffee shop. It was a very quaint shop that played French music and was filled with European décor. Until I glimpsed the palm trees outside, I felt like I was in a charming Parisian café. (I’ve been justifying how much coffee and ice cream I’ve been buying by remember how comparatively cheap everything is).
On Saturday I spent the entire day working on my ISP proposal, and was pretty wiped out by the end of the night. On Sunday most of us decided we needed a break, so we had a fun day traveling around Jaipur. I started off the day by meeting a Whitman grad at yet another fashionable coffee shop. We had a great Whittie reunion and I devoured some delicious Belgian waffles. (My first non-Indian breakfast in quite some time).
Then we took a rickshaw to the Old City to visit Jantar Mantar, an old astronomical site in Jaipur. The museum is home to the largest sundial in the world, (which can tell time to the minute), and most of it was constructed in the 1700s. There is also very detailed equipment regarding astronomical signs that measures the exact angle of the sun on the day and time you are born. I actually understood some of what the tour guide was saying thanks to the astronomy class I took last semester.
Later on I met up with some other friends who were also in the Old City to go shopping. There are multitudes of shops in the area, all vying for our attention and money, and it is easy to get lost in all the sights and sounds. I especially enjoy walking past all of the sari shops and peeking in at all the colorful fabrics. When we finally got hungry we stopped for lunch and ice cream (again). It’s been nice to get more familiar with the city, especially now that I’m realizing how little time we have left here. Once I figure out how to successfully bargain with rickshaw drivers, I will feel like I’ve truly made it in India.
Until next time,