By Maya Hertz
We have had a very exciting past week. Last Wednesday, the 19th, we took a railway train from Delhi (where we finished orientation), to Jaipur, the “Pink City,” where we stayed with our first homestay families. Rehka-ji, one of our contacts in Jaipur, was a host to Avery and Sarah and also let us use her home as a classroom for Hindi and Indian history lessons. Nearby, Tucker stayed in a house with two other students from a different program, and Hannah, Isabel, Lexie and I (Maya) stayed in two apartment buildings on the other side of the main road, right next to the Ganesh Temple.
On our second day in Jaipur, we had breakfast with our host families before taking a driving tour of the Old City and then visiting the Amber Fort, a beautiful old palace that once belonged to the royal family. After lunch, we toured a handmade paper factory where we got to try making the paper, a pottery studio, and a block printing studio where we saw the workers individually stamping each textile.
Across from Rehka-ji’s house was a yoga center, where we spent two mornings learning how to do traditional Indian yoga like sun salutations and laughter yoga!
On our fourth day we took a full day trip to a village called Tilonia Barefoot college, where they focus on improving village life and making it more appealing to families who may want to move into the cities, but then end up living in slums. It was very interesting and educational; we got to see the different skills that were taught like assembling circuit boards and building solar panels.
On the 23rd, our fifth and last day in Jaipur, we had our second yoga class and then visited a folk artist colony called Kalakar Basti, where we were taught some Indian dance, beading/embroidery, and puppeteering by the locals!
Finally, we got on our first overnight train to Udaipur which was a new experience for most of us, but very exciting! When we arrived we checked into a guest house and rested for a few hours before doing a walking city tour through the winding neighborhoods. We saw a busy street market and held baby goats! We also visited and took a guided tour of another amazing palace. After some free time to explore on our own, we took a boat ride around the harbor and then had dinner on a terrace with a view of the city and lake.
Today we are driving to a small village called Jhadol where we will be teaching English and sports, and staying with our second homestay families. Then on the 27th we will be taking our second overnight train to Agra to see the Taj Mahal!
That’s all for now!