Saturday, 2 March 2013

A Friendship That Will Never End :)

Me, Sneha, and my Shipmate Whitney
Prior to my Fulbright experience, I came here to India once before via the Semester at Sea program. If you do not recall--Semester at Sea is a study abroad program that circumnavigates the globe on a ship. During my voyage I traveled to nine different countries, including India. As a way to off-set the costs of my trip, I worked on the ship as a Student Ambassador.One of the responsibilities I held as a Student Ambassador was to be an Inter-port Liaison. In this role, I  coordinated and assigned students on the ship to engage with Inter-port visitors while at sea and in port. Inter-port guests (students and lecturers) were on the ship to give presentations about their culture, attend and contribute to classes, and participate in activities with the shipboard community. Fortunately for me, I became very good friends with the Inter-port student from India named Sneha. Sneha afforded to be on the ship because of Rotary International. This was amazing because Rotary International also provided me funds to pursue the Semester at Sea program. Since we met on the ship in 2010, Sneha and I have always kept in contact.
When I arrived to Sneha's house, her mom made us this South Indian dish!!
Despite my hectic schedule between school and volunteering, I knew I could not leave India without taking some time to visit Sneha and her family in Chennai (Southern India). On top of being at her house and having her family treat me like their second daughter, I went to Pondicherry (where Life of Pi was filmed) with Sneha and her two best friends.

Pictures from Pondicherry & Auroville:

During colonialism, Pondicherry was the only area in India that the French claimed.
Till this day, the area has kept its French influences (i.e. all the signs are in French) 
A Ganesh [Indian God] Temple
Our view from our hotel!!
Pondicherry is absolutely beautiful!!
Myself and Sneha's best friends--Hina(m) and Krithika (r)
Before heading back to Chennai, we stopped by a town near Pondicherry called Auroville. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (aka The Mother). Mother created Auroville to be a town where men and women worldwide can universally live in peace and harmony. In the middle of the town The Mother had the Matrimandir, a golden metallic sphere in the center of town. According to Mother, this is a "symbol of the Divine's answer to man's inspiration of perfection."

**FUN FACTAuroville is governed by the Auroville Foundation through an act of the Indian Parliament. Politics and religion are not supposed to be practiced in Auroville. Also, it is the Foundation, not the people living there, that owns the houses.
The surface of the dome has 56kg of Gold (the Gold is sandwiched between as thin sheets)
This is a display of what a piece of the dome looks like up close.

Sneha and I 
Krithika (l) and Hina (r)--my new friends!!
Back in Chennai--before returning back to Kolkata:

Sneha's mom and aunt had a farewell feast for me--I ate so much!! It was all good :)

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