Sunday, March 25, 2012

Indian beauties

While visiting India we got many stares, stolen photos taken of us and in general, a lot of attention. We figured this was in part due to the fact that we stuck out so much as Westerners and white girls. Though, as our time in India continued we noticed we were becoming more and more like the local Indian women.. (Sometimes with some help from others). 

It started out with a little henna:

And then of course some pashminas:

Next we were given bindis by a local village woman. Little did she know she had started an obsession that grew into us wearing very sparkly bindis everyday.

Soon our friend Riyaz decided it was time we wore proper eye makeup and (very painfully) helped us to apply it. 

We even bought saris! And the ladies in the store were so excited that they made Erin try hers on. When she came out to show everyone (the entire staff came to see the white girl in the sari), the ladies were so excited and kept praising Erin on how beautiful she looked.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, wrapping a ton of cloth around you is a lot harder than it looks. Ergo when we tried it ourselves the outcome was a little under par...

Sparkly bindis, Indian jewelry (way too many shiny bangles!), tunics and saris, henna and pashminas. We are dressed up to a T as Indian women.  No wonder we are still getting stares in Hong Kong. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Why don't we do it in the road?"

Since we're traveling all over Asia for 6 months, we've been trying to budget and keep our backpacks full of emptiness. Sadly, we have been badly bitten by the shopping bug... things are just so cheap and sparkly!

To fund this dangerous consumerist habit we've been discussing various solutions to make money while traveling
(it was suggested that we work as geishas in Japan. We may have tossed around the idea during a desperate moment of hard bargaining for way too many pashminas.... ). After discussing the many possible methods of gaining an income while abroad, we've decided the easiest solution is to open our own business in India. From our observations of the local markets, restaurants, and stalls, we've discovered that all you really need to do is stake out a small area on the side of the road, put up a table or blanket, and display all you've got!

Women selling flowers from bags or at a tiny pop-up table on the side of the road.

Beautiful pashminas, silk scarves, bed sheets, and hand made duvets are sold from a cart on the side of the road or in huge local stores piled high in every colour and material imaginable.

Towers of books line the streets of Mumbai.

There are stalls outside all the temples overflowing with kitchenware, colourful kids toys, and kitschy Hindu god and goddess pictures.

People selling small colourful windmills and beach balls along the boardwalk in Pondicherry.

There are the most beautiful, fresh, and juicy fruit and vegetable stands all over India! 

Fish stalls all along the beach full of fish, people, and flies.

Someone was even selling these sweet antique gramophones on the side of the road in Chennai!

A sugarcane juice stall in Kolkata. It's actually pure sugar, no added water!


My favorite stall with the best sweet milky chai ever.

My second favorite guy to visit... the watermelon guy! They even arranged the cut melon in beautiful towers of sweetness! 

Now onto the restaurant industry. Seriously, to open a restaurant you simply need a table and a tiny gas grill.

Here I am practicing my Indian cooking skills, making dal, aloo gobi, chapati, and suji for dessert.

There are also various services offered at stalls along the road, from shoe shining to ear cleaning and everything in between.

You can have a massage on the side of the gangas river.

Blessings from a sadhu or holy man are even for sale!

Stop by the local roadside barber for a nice close shave.

So far, we haven't decided what to sell from our roadside stall, but anything goes in India so it's "no problem"!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Right is "right" - The adventures of eating with one hand

One of my favourite experiences in India was.. the eating. Of course the food was delicious, so that in itself was enough, but the really great part was trying to eat like a local. In our earlier days we would draw  a lot of attention while at restaurants, as we clearly had no sweet clue what we were doing.

We eventually got the hang of it though (with the help of some sympathetic families and servers). Two examples in particular come to mind. The first being when we arrived in the South of India, where the food is served on a banana leaf. The South, we found, was also a little more strict or at least conscious of the only using your right hand to eat rule. So as we sat down to our first breakfast dosa on banana leaf, the waiter stood beside our table and watched as we struggled. He eventually spoke up, to our embarrassing coordination and informed us we were only to use our right hands.

A second example was when we met an amazing family in the small town in the South, Chidampuram. They insisted we come to their house, even though they spoke no English, so they could make us lunch (as well as breakfast the next morning). When they served us our lunch one of the women poured the daal over the rice and as we waiting for it to cool she leaned over our shoulders and just jumped right in there, mixing it all in for us. I felt like I was a child and my mother was getting my food ready for me. I was almost expecting her to put in on spoon and airplane it towards my mouth.. thankfully that part was not included.

By the end of our trip though we seemed to finally get the hang of things, it only took two months. We were having lunch one day and as it was rice Erin considered whipping out her portable cutlery, but we looked around this local restaurant and decided it would be rude. Afterwards a family came up to us and starting praising us for our great hand eating skills (Mum, you must be so proud). They were very impressed and said we had picked it up quickly. I guess we finally got this eating thing figured out!
Well, that was at least until we got here to Hong Kong and now we have no idea what we are doing. Chopsticks?! Can't I just use my hands?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sisters from another mister

After spending 24/7 together for the past 2 months, Laura and I have become very VERY close. Maybe too close... I think the longest we've been apart was for an hour to get ayurvedic massages. Even then I finished earlier and tried to wait right outside her door but the lady shooed me downstairs, assuring me she was almost done. I was just so excited to compare stories and experiences! 
Our nonstop interactions have had many effects including shared colds, the purchase of matching outfits (Laura's sari in green and mine in red), the ability to finish each others sentences, the skill of reading each others thoughts and moods, and a complete dependance on one another (mostly on Laura's part heheh). We've really just become an old married couple. Laura reading the newspaper in the morning with her coffee while I read the comics and entertainment section with my tea. No words need to be spoken and when they are Laura doesn't hear me due to her hard of hearing and I don't listen when she answers. But like all comfortable marriages, the broken conversations just work. 



The last effect of our never-ending time together (or maybe it was always there and we just didn't notice it until now), is showing itself in our looks. Many people have been asking us whether we are sisters, are related, or even twins. We always laugh and answer "Just friends", passing it off as the typical "all white people look the same." Then we looked through the pictures...