Entry 02: My First 24 Hours In India

Location: Sai Palace Hotel Room

Time: Monday, 19 May 2014, 12:05am

Mark asked someone to make a post like this, so I figured I’d start! Just a precursor, I hope no one minds that my posts might tend to be long. Blogging/journaling is quite fun; I thought I might only do the minimum requirements of 2 blog posts a week but I may just post more often than that…

Anyway. Everything has been insane. As we were hanging out at a fancy eatery earlier this evening, we realized in shock: WE’VE ONLY BEEN IN INDIA FOR 24 HOURS. In-freaking-sane. We’re going to be here for 3 & ½ weeks?! Whaat. I’ll write out the stuffs in bullets because that’s how I roll.

 

May 16, Friday

-7~8ish hours via buses and shuttles from Syracuse to Newark Airport with fellow traveller Aaron. Was quite the journey.

– Newark Airport – miraculously, we all managed to make it on the plane. Several people had issues getting there on time because the weather was terrible and security was grumpy. Regardless, we all made it and had a relaxing time on our 15-hour flight.

-I watched 3 movies: That Awkward Moment, Goodfellas, and Chennai Express. Veronica and I watched Chennai Express together—she has seen more Bollywood films than I have, and apparently it wasn’t that great of a movie. However, I really enjoyed it (despite how commercial it was) and thought it was really entertaining and cheesy, in a good way. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I just need to see more films.

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May 18, Sunday

-We arrive at MUMBAI!!! We arrived at like 10pm on India time, and basically we lost an entire day on the plane.

-TG (aka Professor Goenka) led the way to the cars that drove us to our hotel, Sai Palace. The humidity hit us like a wave the second we stepped out into the Indian air. We’re not too far from the airport, so it’s pretty great.

-SAI PALACE IS FREAKING AMAZING. Mark said himself, this is the best hotel he’s ever stayed at in Mumbai. I almost feel a little over-pampered and spoiled being here, but I have no complaints at all. It’s beautiful and pretty luxurious. I still can’t get over the fact that we’ll be staying here for 3 & ½ weeks – rooms cleaned everyday, laundry, complimentary breakfast…the works. Thanks, SU Abroad. You really came through. 😉

-We got our things together and went down to the bar before it closed to eat some foods. Kept it simple and safe and ordered chicken masala and other things of which I forgot the names to…

-We finally go to sleep at like 2-3am ish.

-Breakfast is from 7am – 10am, so my roomie Whitney & I got food at around 9am and met up with our fellow travellers. Buffet style Indian food every morning…this is definitely better than any dining hall could ever be. I barely know the names of most of the foods, but I’m pretty adventurous and open with food so I just get a little bit of everything. I trust my stomach—if I can handle Filipino food, I can handle Indian food. 😉 (Hopefully!) Everything is delicious or very unique and interesting at best. Food adventures are real.

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-We head to Whistling Woods International Film School by car. This is the first time we finally get to see what Mumbai really looks like. The humid is real, the smells are real, the culture is real…I don’t know. Personally, I feel a sort of…sense of peace here in India. For some reason, India really reminds me of the Philippines. Traffic congested streets, honking, an ebb and flow, people selling things on the corners, everything. I love it. Things just fall into place. Now I just need to learn some Hindi.

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-Whistling Woods in Film City – my peers and I observed that it’s basically an Indian Newhouse. That’s how it felt, at least. We got to meet Som, who will be our instructor and guide to our itinerary during our stay here. He’s a really cool guy who has been to Syracuse and LA and all over, basically. He’s very accommodating and I look forward to getting to know him!

-We watched a documentary entitled “100 Years of Indian Cinema.” Though it was less informative and more visually pleasing than anything, I was awe-struck at the amount of incredible history and how important film is to Indian culture.

-Short Visual Picturisation workshop on how a Bollywood film is filmed and gets edited via multi-cam, live-editing software. Freaking awesome.

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-We at a delicious lunch (I had Chicken Kheem Pav, a sort of minced meat/sloppy joe looking type of food).

-Bollywood dance tutorial! We learned like 1 minute of dance in 1 hour. ‘Twas quite the workout but tons of fun.

-Go back to our hotel for a nap…

-8 of the 12 of us decide to go out to this fancy eatery/dance place that Mark knows!

-We withdrew Indian rupees from an ATM (conversion is like 60 rupees = $1 US dollar). We then ride rickshaws to the place.

-the rickshaw ride itself was a beautiful adventure. They remind me of tricycles in the Philippines!

-We eat, drink, and dance for the next few hours. Absolute fun ensues.

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-We meet Shanoo, a very important Casting Director in the Bollywood industry. Mark knows basically everyone at this place!

Shanoo Sharma is incredibly outgoing, strong-willed, and inspiring. She got where she is today because she goes after what she wants and works hard. Work hard play hard, is what I would say to describe her. Random people kept stopping to say hi to her. I hope we get to meet her again.

-Also, she called out to a friend who also happened to be from Pasadena, CA—what an amazing coincidence. She started naming places in Pasadena – Intelligensia, Huntington Gardens, Rose Bowl, etc. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

-Before we go home, we stop at a small side shop to get these little dessert snack things (gah, I forgot what they were called.) They were wrapped in a leaf, and had this very interesting…sweet taste. It was a bit of a challenge to finish, but the aftertaste is minty, clean, and refreshing. EDIT: It is called paan.

-We take rickshaws back to the hotel and miraculously make it back by saying what Mark told us to say. “Chakala, Anderi East” But hey, we made it.

-And that was just DAY 1 of India. Like how. All this time I am taking tons and tons of video footage of our daily travels and a few pictures. I plan on editing and cutting video of our experience. It’s going to be wonderful.

 

Here’s to the next 3 weeks!!!