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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Sneak Peek

I still have a ways to go on the film, but in the meantime I've created a short version for a study abroad film contest BYU is holding.
Here it is:

This is extremely condensed, and only includes Jamyang's side of the story, but hopefully it will give you a good idea of what the finished film will be like.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taj Mahal

            I know it’s cliché, but I really just have to have to go with the Taj as the most amazing thing I saw in India. It really is that amazing.
            I’m glad it was one of the last things we did so that we were able to build up to it instead of seeing it first and then having nothing quite compare to it afterwards. We also picked a great day to see it because it rained the whole way there and then stopped as soon as we got there, so we didn’t get rained on at all, and as a result of the rain, the temperature cooled off, and was just right. If it had been a lot hotter or a lot rainier maybe it wouldn’t have ended up being the greatest thing I saw, but everything just worked out so well for us.
            In addition, as we were going in, a young Indian guy offered to be our guide. We told him we were sorry but we couldn’t afford to pay a guide, but he told us that he didn’t charge, but that he did it as sort of an internship for his schooling because it gave him a chance to practice his English. At first I worried that he might end up being pushy or controlling of our experience as has happened in some of our not-so-great experiences in India, but he turned out to be a very fun and very knowledgeable person. There was so much we would have missed if he hadn’t been with us. He also happened to be an amateur photographer and had been taking photos as the Taj for so long that he knew all the best angles and shots to get, and he took a lot of our group pictures.
            I know I just wrote about how amazed I was when we stepped through the gates to the Golden Temple, but now take whatever you imagined that to be and times it by 10.  I don’t think you can even help but gasp and get goosebumps when you first see it through the gate doorway. Then when you step through the gate and out into the open grounds, it happens all over again. It’s so big! And it’s so far away still, which makes you realize just how big it really is. Up above the main dome you could see lots of birds flying around and landing on top of the dome, and for some reason I just really liked that sight…


            I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know more about Gandhi before going to India.  For being one of the most influential people to have ever lived in India, I sure didn’t know that much.
            Nobody ever quizzed me about him or put me on the spot and made me tell them what I knew about him, but still, it seems like it should be a prerequisite to know about him before you go to India.
            Anyway, I learned little bits about him here and their while we were staying in McLeod. I knew he was considered the father of the nation, he’s on just about every piece of money, and he’s always referred to as Gandhi-ji (to add respect). At the hostel they put a picture of him right up there with a picture of a Hindu God, and another of the Dalai Lama. So he is practically considered a God for what he did.
            After we got back to Delhi though, and had a few days to kill before flying out, we were looking for things to do and found out about a Gandhi museum in the city. It actually turns out there are two museums, both pretty close to each other, but I’d say we chose the right one because it had air conditioning. We went to the other one too, but just briefly because we were already so overloaded with information from the first.
            It was a fairly little museum, but it was packed with information. Lots of photos and lots of written descriptions explaining the pictures or just talking about parts of his life, or his ideas or theories.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Indian Soaps


          Soap operas are pretty big in India, and even the Tibetans (or at least the ones that speak Hindi) get pretty into them. And instead of just being on during the daytime, they are on all day long and into the night. In fact several channels are dedicated to nothing but soap operas.
            It also happened to be a fairly common practice (or at least it was with the Tibetans we stayed with) to watch TV during dinner. So depending on who wore the pants, either the wife or the husband, you may end up watching soap operas or cricket. Or in the case of one Indian couple we knew, the husband would often pick cheesy scary movies, like Anaconda 3 or 7.
            At our first host home our host mother watched two shows fairly religiously during dinner. I don’t remember the real name of the first one we watched, but they always just called it “Baskar” because that was the name of the main character. He was a scruffy rude guy, and he and his mother were always being jerks to his wife.    
           The other show we watched, I believe must be a favorite of all, because we kept watching that one with our second host mom when we moved. That one was called “Pavitra Rishta” which means something like sacred or holy or good relationship. This one was about a couple who actually loved each other and were really sweet together, but sometimes would do dumb things like run away from home and get hit by a car. And when they weren’t getting into their own problems their family members usually were.

The Golden Temple

            For our mid-semester retreat, our whole group, plus a couple extra American friends traveled to Amritsar, Punjab, to see the Golden Temple.

            This temple belongs to the Sikh religion and is considered their holiest place on Earth. Many Sikhs make pilgrimages there to visit the temple and bath in its water.
            Before we even went to Amritsar I was lucky enough to get to talk to a Punjabi Sikh man who was visiting McLeod Ganj for a weekend. He told in general about the religion and about the Golden Temple.
            It is easy to spot a Sikh man in India because they wear turbans or cloth coverings on their heads. Sikh women are a little harder to spot, but I learned from this man, that they also usually wear special bracelets on each wrist.
            I asked the man a little about the religion and was very interested to hear his explanation. From what he told me Sikhism seemed to fall somewhere in between Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. He said that they believe in one God who is the creator of all things, and concerning the afterlife, that if you were good and did the right things you would go to heaven, but if you were not good or did not do the right things, then you would go to hell for a certain period of time, and then eventually be reborn on Earth and given another chance.

Hindi Comic

            In our second host family’s home I found a kid’s magazine next to my bed. It was all in Hindi, so I flipped through it looking for something I could understand. I wasn’t having much luck, but then on the back of the little magazine I found a comic strip. That might be cheating a little because there were pictures to help me, but I read carefully through each panel trying to understand as much as I could. I think I even did it without looking up any words. I didn’t know every single word that I saw, but I was able to figure out most of the statements based on the words I did know and whatever context I could figure out from those words or the pictures that went with them.
            From what I could tell, there was a businessman working in an office. Another man came into the office, but in an attempt to get rid of the intruder, the businessman pretended to be busy talking to someone on his telephone. He talked and talked, but the other guy wouldn’t leave the office, so finally he asked what they guy wanted and he answered that he was there to fix the businessman’s telephone.


            For one of my cultural proof credits I was allowed to study a language. (that’s why several of these have dealt with Hindi). Although Hindi was the mostly what I focused on, I did learn a little Tibetan as well. As one of my requirements I was supposed to keep a vocab dictionary to keep track of the words I was learning. For this blog post I am simply going to supply some of the vocabulary I learned from each of the languages 1) in case anyone is interested in learning a little themselves, and 2) as a way for myself to review.