Thursday, February 7, 2013

Student Post: Kellie Carstensen on Home Stays!

Recently, students had a home stay, when they spend a weekend with a faculty or student from the college to get a taste of what their lives are like. Read about Kellie's experience which encompassed everything from herding goats to overwhelming amounts of food and hospitality.

Guests of Honor
by Kellie Carstensen

Kellie here! This weekend we did faculty home-stays, meaning that we went in groups of two (or 1 in Jason's case) to a professors house for Friday and Saturday to experience the real Indian life. I went with Abby to Sir Samuel Lovelyson's house, who is a professor of social work at the college. Jason actually didn't go to a professor's house, but he got to go home with his roommate Benzo.

Although these home-stays are intended to give us a taste of real Indian life, because of the way hospitality works here we felt more like spoiled guests than just another part of the family. We did get to witness some typical Indian living, but we were certainly fed above and beyond the normal.

Abby and I got to Sir Lovelyson's house and were immediately given tea, then "breakfast" a few hours later, then a huge lunch of fish and crab an hour after that, and then snacks a few hours later, and then dinner around 9 pm. I have never met more hospitality in my life, and my stomach probably has an extra pound or two to prove it.

In between all the eating Sir Lovelyson would tell us all about the social customs and concepts of Indian life in regards to marriage, family, and other issues. We also got to herd some goats roaming near his property, play shuttlecock, and visit some of his neighbors. One woman even gave us pure butter fresh made from her cow that morning... that was a new experience for sure.

Then in the evening he took us for a ride to the nearby "forest"(much drier foliage than how you would picture a forest) in this awesome Jeep:

His two kids came with us everywhere and loved having new friends to play with.

The sun set on the mountains around us and set an amazing landscape. We were right outside the limits of Coimbatore, I think, and the mountains gave us incredible views of the city below.

One of the mountains also has a Hindu temple on top of it, with a long set of stairs to climb to get there. We didn't actually go in the temple since it was almost dark, but we climbed the stairs to see the view.

That's me! And yes I got some weird looks because I had my scarf wrapped around my head, but it was mostly to protect my face against the ever persistent mosquitos.

By Friday night we were exhausted, so after dinner we conked out early in order to get a good nights rest. It was necessary too, because the next morning was Indian Republic Day so we had to get up by 7 am to have breakfast and go see the festivities. Republic Day is similar to Fourth of July in the U.S. since they are celebrating independence from British colonial rule, gained in 1947.

Sir Lovelyson's wife works at an elementary school nearby so we went there to watch the flag-raising ceremony and interact with the kids. It was fun to meet them all, but I will admit that for an introvert it got overwhelming very quickly. We were surrounded by the kids nonstop and they asked our names at least fifty times each, plus the constant attention is a lot for me to handle. We managed alright though and enjoyed their funny questions.

The rest of the day was followed by even more food. Once our host found out we loved fresh fruit we were lavished with every kind imaginable, including palm fruit which we had to squish out of the actual large nut with our fingers:

They also surprised us by taking us to get henna at a nearby shopping center. It happened rather quickly, but before I knew it I was plopped on a stool and had some guy piping beautiful designs onto my arms. I can't complain, but it was definitely a funny confusing moment. There again Indian hospitality beat us in any attempts to return the favor.

Overall it was a crazy two days, filled with more food than I could possibly ever eat and funny moments to last a lifetime. I am basically exhausted after all of that socialization, but that is an element of Indian culture I am still trying to adjust to. Thankfully, today we get some down time to do homework and relax. I am procrastinating a paper right now actually, so I am planning to go work on that next.


1 comment:

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