Hi there, finally checking in for ACM India Fall 2017! We’ve been in Pune for almost one month now, and we have seen and experienced so much in that time. Due to lack of Wi-Fi, this first blog has been delayed, BUT I’ve figured it out so now it is time to update you on our first three weeks in Pune!
During our first week in India, we met and got to know our host families and also had orientation, located at a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Pune. During orientation, we talked more about our semester, discussed our Independent Study Projects (ISP), did various intercultural learning activities, and of course got to know one another. A highlight of orientation was our rain dance! We enjoyed dancing to music under “rain”, which was really coming from sprinklers hanging above.
Following orientation, we were able to celebrate our first festival, the Ganapati Festival. This is a ten-day celebration of Ganapati, also called Ganesh. We were able to celebrate the festival with our families at the beginning of the ten days, experiencing our family’s individual way of celebrating. We also have been fortunate to be able to experience public celebrations of the festival as well. During this ten-day festival, temporary temples are built, each one with its own unique Ganapati idol. Each of these temporary temples will be dismantled after the festival ends. We visited the Dagadusheth Ganapati, which is one of the most famous Ganapati idols in Pune. This temporary temple resembled that of a palace, dedicated of course to Ganapati. “Ganapati Bappa, Moorya!” is a phrase we heard constantly during this festival, it means “Ganapati God, Victory!”
We’ve also started our classes! I absolutely love starting my day off with Marathi, practicing our vowels and learning how to pronounce our vocabulary written in devanagari script. We also all take a Contemporary India course, as well as History and Culture of Maharashtra. Then, we each have chosen one elective course, one is India Through a Gendered Lens, the second is Indian Media and Society. And of course, we all are working on our Independent Study Projects!
At the beginning of our third week in Pune, we took a trip to Daulatabad Fort, and Ajanta and Ellora Caves. These sites are about six hours away from Pune, near the city of Aurangabad. Daulatabad Fort was built in the 12th century, and is one of the best preserved forts in the country due to its strategic and powerful construction. We climbed 200 meters all the way to the top of the fort, but the view was worth the climb! We also visited Ajanta and Ellora Caves, the top two world heritage sites in India. The caves are man-made, carved from basalt rock, between 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. Ajanta is carved from the outside in, and is famous for its paintings, and holds some of the finest surviving examples of Indian Art. The Ellora Caves are also carved in basalt rock, but differ from Ajanta in that they are carved from the top down, and is more renowned for its carvings rather than paintings. We had an incredible trip!
It’s crazy how quickly this month has flown by! I’m looking forward to writing more about our upcoming stories and experiences.