So I've been on vacation the past week and thank goodness! It's been such a nice break from school although I was a bit bored for the first half. Most of the planning was to take place nearing the end of vacation which really should only be reserved for homework. And unfortunately, I'm still trying to change my un-adventurous ways and go out during the day by myself more often. So most days were spent trying to do homework and going to one of the chain coffee stores in the afternoon for more work (trying to do homework being the key word). My host mom and sister did go out in the mornings but I was never invited along or else I would've gone. Let this be a lesson: if you're bored and someone is going out, ask to go out with them. Maybe they'll say yes.
I did go hang out with my counselor on Tuesday. She lives in Andheri, a neighborhood close to my own so I took a rickshaw to meet her. I guess now would be the time to explain these neighborhoods. Basically, Mumbai is broken up into sections and each are named, but they are basically like neighborhoods. Mine is called Powai, and is located in northern Mumbai, where two lakes are. Some kids at school like to joke that we live in a village but really, where I live is a huge complex designed by Hiranandani, whom my host dad works for. The best way to describe it is that it's like those suburbs where every house looks the same except here, they're all apartments. In a way, it feels like someone took 16th street mall, stuck beige plaster on the buildings, set it down in India, and let them run all over it. But that's a really blunt description. The area is really pretty though and we don't have any beggars around, just slums (but I think there are slums everywhere in Mumbai).
So anyway, I went to meet my counselor to hang out in her house in Andheri. When the rick dropped me off, I wasn't quite sure if it was the right place but thankfuly it was and my counselor came to meet me with her boyfriend. From there, we went back to her house which was really close by. Anaka, my counselor, is south Indian so the area of buildings that she lives in is a south Indian community. Birds of a feather flock together right? Her home is also an apartment but she lives on the first floor so she owns a garden too (which is kind of cool considering Mumbai's space issue). Her dog is so cute though! I'm not sure what type it is but he's small, black with curly hair and she can convince him that there's a rat around so he'll chase after it. It's been a while since I've been around a pet dog so I had a lot of fun.
Anaka is an actress (theater) and she had to go to practice for a new play she was going to be in. So after we dropped her off, her boyfriend, mom and I went shopping for groceries in a supermarket. There are quite a few of these and most people shop for food here. After that, her boyfriend helped me get a rick home and it was quite late so I was hoping nothing bad would happen. Which nothing did but you should always be on your guard. My area is much safer than most places in Mumbai and India because we have guards at every entrance to buildings. But that doesn't mean that they are everywhere so you still have to be careful.
I did get a chance to hang out with my school friends in Bandra and we had breakfast at McDonalds. I never go to McDonalds in the states but I ike it here because... well, the food is so much better. There's no beef so no room for disgusting burgers. Just aloo tikki burgers :] I don't know if it's necessarily more healthy but it feels healthier and the chicken nuggets are also okay. So we all caught up (even though me and another girl were an hour late because of traffic) and two of my friend's little siblings were there (so cute!).
When it was time to leave, we thought it was a great idea to buy some ice cream in cones. Of course, from there I had to go meet Juhi and we decided I would meet her at this store that was a bit far from Mickey D's. So, ice cream cones in hand, my friend, her brother and I caught a rick to take us towards her house and the store. I don't think western ice cream was ever meant for tropical weather because soon enough, ours were dripping all over the place, including my friend's little bro's lap! It must have been a pretty funny scene: two girls and a little boy in a rickshaw trying too eat ice cream out of cones. By the end of it, only the top parts of the cones were left and we had to toss them on the ground whle in the rick.
I'm not necessarily proud of littering but that was just food, so in my eyes it was okay. But I do hate littering and make a conscious effort not to despite how supremely common it is here. Even at home, my host mom will just throw trash like packaging on the ground for the maid to clean up or people will leave wrappers lying around. But I will only put things into the trash can; it seems degrading to leave it on the ground for the maid. I really like my maids and not because they help to keep the room clean. In fact, because they move stuff around, it can be annoying sometimes. But both of them are cute (even though sometimes I don't understand what they are saying) and our cook is nice.
Diwali was this weekend though starting with visiting family on Friday. I went to see some relatives on the more northern side of Mumbai, a very gujarati community, which was very pretty and didn't feel like the city at all. I hung out with my host cousins, playing Uno and cards (which I'm very bad at) and after having dinner, we went to see Blue, a new movie touted as the pricest Bollywood film ever made. It was completely horrible. There are barely any other words to describe it and I'm not talking funny horrible.
The next day we spent preparing for a diwali party in our apartment and I got to wear one of my new churidars. I got to make diyas which are like candles. Basically you take cotton, roll it into long pieces, put oil into the bowl with some water, dip the cotton into the oil and light it. They're really pretty! And we also put food coloring into glasses and put oil into the with little threads things that you burn candles with... if that makes sense (oh! wicks, that's what they're called). The whole house was lit up. The party went nicely, with our building friends and some relatives attending it. One of the best parts was seeing our fireworks go off. I know that fireworks cause so much pollution and I hate how noisy they are. But I got to light one off and it was the best so there. :p
The next night we went to another party, a "kiti party". Basically all of the people who live in our building who are apart of my host parents social circle get together. It was a bit boring but the uncles and aunties are so funny and amusing that it became fun. My host sister and I left after we ate dinner. I should have done homework when I got home (at 12:30) and I did try to finish but... I didn't. Then yesterday I was supposed to hang out with my friend which never happened and ended up going to my nana and nani's (maternal grandparents) home and my aunt's home. I got to see my little cousin again and received some unexpected money. You see, during diwali, elders give the younger children money but I didn't expect any as I'm not a relation. But my nani did give me money in an envelope that said "America". Cute right?
Which leads me to today in which I'm just starting to finish my work after coming back from one of the German girls homes. Oh for woe is I :[ I'm really not looking forward to the next few hours.