India Video

There a great many things to do, see, and eat in India.  Check out the song/video I made about some of the things I did.

Follow this link or click the picture below to view the video.

 

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The Beach of Berries

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How fun it was to collect berries! Abijith (Abi) and Gotham told me they were poisonous. I thought they were lying, so I filled a cup with water, then put the berry inside. I let the berry soak in the water, then took it out. I offered them a drink, but they refused. Then Suneil, Abi’s father, told me that the berries were not poisonous, but too hard too eat. So my mom decided to make some kind of rattle with them. We used half a coconut shell, some of the red berries, and a plastic bag.

We also learned some Malayalam, the local language of Kerala. We learned the word for “hello”, “namaskaaram“, and the world for “plastic bag”, “sañci“. The sunset was beautiful, too.

One day we saw Saint Angelo’s Fort. It was small, and it looked like a walled cliff-side backyard with a cobblestone walkway and man-made caves. We also saw Theyyam. A man with a face painted so brilliantly danced using his feet, to bless a new home. We also had New Year’s at our hotel. We lit sparklers, had a cake, and did the countdown with our hosts, since we were the only guests there.

During our last day, we were lounging out on the hammocks, when a lot of leaves and a stick floated down. We looked up, and saw a wet branch. Then, the branch started to move. It was a snake! We were not in danger, because it was only a rat snake. It was nearly two yards long, though! We watched it crawl from branch to branch, then it used a couple of trees to climb down like an acrobat. Then it slithered away, never to be seen again.

Miles of Tea and an Orange Stream

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Guide
Our guide

We crossed over the orange stream, which was not dyed orange, but it was orange because it had orange mud. It smelled. Next we crossed a larger river. I jumped from one rock to the other. I almost missed! I found myself tottering above the small waterfall, saved only by the guide’s hand. He wasn’t there to show us the way, he was there to save our lives! Then I nearly fell again. Later, when we were crossing a rock with a trickle of water running down it, I tried to walk across, but slipped! I managed to cross by crawling sideways! Near the end of our hike, we crossed a river with a big gap between two rocks. I tried to jump, but missed! I fell in the water down to my waist! Quickly I scrambled onto the rock I had just been on. I jumped again, but this time my right side fell in the water! Then I just walked across a submerged rock. I have to admit, that was scary, almost dying four times in one hike!

Smelling Tea
Smelling the finished tea

The next day we saw some very pretty tea. Miles of tea, rolling up to the mountains with trees and bushes spotted here and there. It was also fun to see a machine make the tea leaves into the stuff you see in tea bags. They were cut four times, dried, and ground. The tea, though – that stuff was glorious! Good thing they actually made something, instead of turned into a tourist attraction!

Christmas in Kochi

Christmas in Kerala10

I was woken up. The mass was about to start. A little grumpy, I was surprised that the mass was in English. I was told that it was going to be in Malayalam. The Malayalam songs were cool. I liked them.

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I got gifts!

The next morning, I woke up, and unwrapped our presents from Santa. I got a book and some Uno cards. There was candy all over the table, and our socks with different sizes, which we were using as stockings, were all filled with the same amount of candy. I gave our extra candy to the people working at the hotel. I felt so good! It was an action that filled me with joy. I also felt relieved that I had been freed of longing for things.

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Ready for Star Wars!

Then we tried to get to the mall. It took a while to get there, but we did. We booked our seats for the Star Wars movie. We had a little time, so we went to Sparky’s family fun park upstairs. It was very interesting. One side was an indoor amusement park! The other was an arcade. I spent my time in the arcade. Then we had lunch at the KFC nearby. Afterwards, we spent time walking around the mall. I was bored to death. Then we went to the movie theater. We had to wait 45 minutes for the movie to start, but I’m glad we did. The movie was really good. So was the Christmas!

Gandhi the Great

James

Gandhi was a fascinating character in world history that used non-violence to give his country, India, independence from the British Empire. His struggles started in South Africa, in 1893. This happened when he was seated in the first class section of a train. The conductor ordered him to move to the third class section, because he wasn’t white. Gandhi refused, because he had bought a first class ticket. At the next stop, Gandhi was kicked off the train. Later, Gandhi led a protest to burn the Indian’s identity passes. His rich Muslim trader friend was sent to prison, and Gandhi was beaten. In a march in South Africa, Gandhi was met by men on horses. Gandhi told his marchers to lie down. The men tried to make their horses step on the marchers, but the horses wouldn’t do it. Gandhi did a lot of work in India, too. One of his biggest marches was the march to the sea to make salt, which the British had a monopoly on. Then he had some men try to take a salt mill. Police stood in front of the gate. The marchers came up to the police in rows. When the marchers came up to the police, the police caned them, some more than others. Then their wives or mothers carried them to safety, where they were treated. Gandhi eventually succeed in freeing India, but there was one thing that was uncalled for: the Partition. Gandhi was completely against the Partition, because he saw Hindus and Muslims as equal Indians. In Calcutta, it looked like a civil war. Gandhi nearly fasted to death. He only ate again when the chaos completely stopped. As he was making his way to Pakistan, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist, who believed that Gandhi was too sympathetic towards Muslims. Not long afterwards, Gandhi’s practices traveled to the U.S., when MLK started studying him. Gandhi fascinates me.

I love how he said “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”.

The Backwaters of Kerala

Backwaters - James

Can you get any fresher than live? The truth is no. So I guess you could say that on the backwaters of Kerala, we got fish, prawns, and crab as fresh as possible. The backwaters of Kerala are rivers and lakes stretching throughout the coastal region of Kerala. They are a large group of villages reached only by narrow passages, so narrow that the main mode of transportation is a canoe. It is in area where the land is rice as far as the eye can see. It is an area where you tour on a houseboat. It is an area where everything is fresh and local. It is an area where you look around for a while, then disappointingly turn back the next day. It is a place where I wrote a lot, because it is so quiet and an amazing place to be a writer. It is a place where nature meets man, and reality mixes with surrealism.

Ultimately Awesome Udaipur

Sitar Lesson
Sitar Lesson
One of the amazing dancers
One of the amazing dancers

We arrived in Udaipur. It was late at night. We ate, and went to bed. The next morning we got up, found a new hotel, packed up, and moved down the street. We didn’t like our first hotel because it was too loud. We just hung out at the second place all day, but the on next day, we went to to the City Palace. We learned lots of things, such as the fact that every Maharana, king of Mewar whose name meant ‘great warrior’, built his own lake in Udaipur, eventually creating the large lake that you see today. Chittorgarh was the capital of Mewar, but it was being attacked too frequently by the ever-expanding Moguls, so they moved the capital to Udaipur. Later we saw a dance show at Bagore Ki Haveli. My favorite part of that was the traditional Rajasthani puppets. Once, my new Italian friend, Francesco, was picked to pull some string out of a puppet. The puppet kept jumping at him, and he punched her away.

After Francesco was done, the ‘puppet whisperer’ said, “This time she has delivered a very weird message. She says he is so cute she wants to marry him.” That was hilarious.

Jammin' on the tablas!
Jammin’ on the tablas!

Our next active day was our last out of five. It was my mom’s birthday! We had lots of fun things planned. First we tried a sitar lesson. I eventually switched to the tablas, a kind of Indian hand drum, because the sitar was too frustrating. I picked up the tablas pretty quickly. We also did a sunset cruise of the lake. It was beautiful. Finally we had a snack and dinner. Udaipur was amazing. I love it.

Many Temples and One Taj

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“Service is prayer,” said the guide.

He had been telling us of the Sikh religion. It is a very pragmatic religion. They believe in equality of all people concerning gender, race, religion, culture, beliefs and more. They believe that everyone is equal. In every gurdwaras (*0), they serve food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free. They do this because they believe that even the rich and poor are equal, and that service is prayer. When you sit down to eat, you notice that everyone is sitting down like you, and it’s the most magical feeling ever.

After the gurdwaras, we saw what would be(*1) an amazing view of Old Delhi from a minaret above Jama Masjid, a big mosque in Old Delhi.

Afterwards we saw Hayuman’s tomb, which highly resembled the Taj Mahal. After all, Shah Jahan had gotten his inspiration for the Taj from this tomb. When we turned around to leave, there was a dog on top of the grand gate. He had probably got up there by grabbing a pigeon, who flew up there.

The next thing we did in Delhi was see the Lotus Temple. We learned about how widespread the Baha’í religion is. Queen Anne Marie of Romania and the king of Samoa became Baha’í. There are Baha’í temples all over the world, including Turkmenistan, Uganda, America, Australia, Panama, Samoa, and other countries. They even had a Baha’í conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

Before I knew it, I was staring at the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of my world (*2). I got a magnificent photo of the Taj with its reflection. The problem is that either it is very hazy or super crowded. Either way, it is still amazing. I had already read a Magic Treehouse book about it, so I knew that it had been built by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in dedication to his 14th wife. He took food out of the mouths of his people to do so, but it was built anyway. He was going to build a Black Taj across the river for himself, but then his son imprisoned him.

*0 = a sikh temple or holy place
*1 = without the pollution
*2 = which could change

Terrifying Tigers

Isn't she beautiful?!
Isn’t she beautiful?!

The tiger jumped below the hill and it just kept walking. We went somewhere we thought the tiger would go. We lost the tiger, so our jeep rushed over to another tiger that we had missed earlier. The tiger woke up and its tail flicked. Some female peacocks flew up and away loudly. The tiger had caught a peacock. We couldn’t track it down anymore, but our driver got news of another tiger not too far away on the bank of the lake. We rushed over there. Everyone soon followed us. The tiger had jeeps in front of it and to one side with the lake behind it. One side was a free escape. It looked like it felt trapped. Then it saw the escape. As it walked along, it looked at us with hunger in its eyes.

Rajasthan for Real

Jodhpur - My Art Teacher Vijay
Jodhpur – My Art Teacher Vijay

We arrived in Jodhpur. We were tired, so we didn’t do much. One day, we saw the clock tower, Umaid Bhawan Palace, and did an art class. We spent hours at the art class, which was a huge relief from the commotion of the clock tower area. I painted a part of a weapon to go along with one of my stories, while my mom painted a blue elephant.

Jodhpur - Music Teacher
Jodhpur – Music Teacher

Another day, we saw Mehrangarh Fort. We later learned that the fort was one of the most well preserved forts in all of India and that it had been built by Rao Jodha around 1460. We learned that it was never conquered. My dad zip lined a zip course. It took a lot of courage. There was a lot of musicians, one whose music I danced to, and another whose instrument I tried to learn to play. We also saw a performance of mellow music and toured the museum in the fort. It got boring for me. Afterward, we rested from the long day in their hotel. As we headed for the dunes (visit Down in the Dunes) with our new Australian friends, the honking and fumes of Jodhpur started to stray away from our ears and noses.

Jaipur - Elephant Painting!
Jaipur – Elephant Painting!

Jaipur was pretty cool for me. On the first day, we saw the monkey temple, which was full of pigs, cows, monkeys, and dogs. We also painted and fed elephants. I painted a couple of flags and a smiley face. We all fed the elephants bananas. The bananas were like a treat to the elephants. That was my favorite part. I really liked it. When I said goodbye and hugged the elephant, I noticed that the beasts had very wiry hair. The next day we saw the amber fort, which I liked because of all the passages. We also saw some other tourist attractions, such as the Water Palace and the Hawa Mahal.

Bad Kitty

Pushkar - Cat on bed

One day in Pushkar, I had to do math, but I could play Goat Simulator for 15 minutes first. When my timer rang, I was going to do math. Then I realized that our room had no internet connection. So I got all of my stuff together, then I opened the door. There was a cat sitting right outside the door. The cat ran in the room, then jumped up on my parents’ bed, and laid down. I picked her up and carried her out of the room. She followed me back in the room and crawled under the couch. I chased her out from under the couch, then she climbed under my parents’ bed. I chased her out from under there, then she laid on my bed. So I picked her up and carried her far away before I put her down. How stubborn she was! The process repeated, but she came back yet again. It took five times before I could finally get out without having to hassle with the cat. Then I couldn’t find the lock. I found the lock, packed up, locked the door, and then the cat followed me almost all the way to the steps. When I got up there I tried so hard to remember the Wi-fi passcode. After I got connected to the network, it was not strong enough for schoolwork.

Down in the Dunes

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When we arrived in the village, a couple of boys hit their ball toward the camel I was riding with my mom. The camel sped up, but when mom told the kids to stop, the camel slowed down. Soon we got off. We hung out for a bit, then I wanted to play with the kids. There was another group of three Australians with us, too, named Paul, Megan, and Glen.

Backyard Batting
Backyard Batting

Later we played Cricket. I played with the kids and my dad, and occasionally Glenn bowled. My dad and I played like champs (not really). Once one of boys bowled from on top of his camel. Then we went on camel rides.

Silly me getting sandy!
Silly me getting sandy!

Our Australian friends headed out, on their way back to Jodhpur in order to catch a bus to Jaipur. We went to a dune for sunset. I had so much fun getting sandy. We spent about 15 – 30 minutes there. Then we came back to our hosts’ house and slept on their roof very comfortably.

Indian breakfast...yum!
Indian breakfast…yum!

The next morning I woke up at the peak of dawn, wanting to write down another one of my crazy dreams. Our hosts gave us breakfast, while their kids caught the school bus, which was actually a little white pickup truck. Breakfast was delicious. It was chapati and something else that was sweet. Before breakfast, my mom and I gave the camels, cows, and buffalo breakfast. There was a newborn calf and buffalo that were both 20 days old. We didn’t do much else that day, but as we road out on camels, the village started to get smaller and smaller.

The village
The village

 

Amazing Amritsar

Amritsar - Making Friends

During our time in Amritsar, we saw many amazing things. I had three favorites.

Crazy Temple - coming out of the crocodile mouth...why not?
Crazy Temple – coming out of the crocodile mouth…why not?

My most favorite was the “Crazy Temple”, which is actually very convenient because it told about every Hindu temple in India. In one part you have to climb inside a lion’s mouth. Later you come out of a crocodile’s mouth. I also learned a lot about the religion. I was told many things by our guide and companions, whom we had met in McLeod Ganj. We learned about why Ganesh, the elephant god, has an elephant as a head and why Hanuman, the monkey god, has puffed out cheeks and why cows are holy.

Ganesh has an elephant head because he was very good at guarding his mother. He had been born while his father was gone, so they did not know their relationship. One day Ganesh’s father (Shiva, the most important Hindu god) came home while Ganesh’s mother (Parvati) was taking a bath. Ganesh didn’t let Shiva see Parvati, so Shiva cut off Ganesh’s head. When Shiva realized that Ganesh was his son, he grabbed an elephant head, which was the closest animal head around, and put it on Ganesh’s neck. Fortunately, Ganesh was alright.

The reason that Hanuman has puffed out cheeks is because one time when he was a kid, he thought the sun was a ripe fruit. He put the sun in his mouth. The sun couldn’t fully fit in Hanuman’s mouth, so eventually he spit it out.

The reason why cows are holy is because Shiva rode a cow as his special riding animal.

Wagah Border dance party. Can you spot me?
Wagah Border dance party. Can you spot me?

I also liked the Wagah Border Ceremony. It is a ceremony at the border town of Wagah to take down the flags and close the borders for the night.  It is the border between India and Pakistan. Before, there was a party, which I danced in. That was my favorite part.

We also went to the Golden Temple, which is a Sikh temple covered in gold leaf. It has a large complex all to itself. That was boring, except for the food. We ate there. The significance of eating there is that everyone was sitting down, completely equal. They feed tens of thousands of people a day for free!  The food was very intense…just like the city itself.

Himachal Pradesh

The view from Triund (outer Himalayas)
The view from Triund (outer Himalayas)
Lots of monkies!
Lots of monkies!

Shimla was nice. We walked through the mall, which is a big open plaza. We had delicious Indian street food. We saw crowds like never before and got honked at on the way there, which made me mad. We also experienced Diwali. It was full of fireworks. We saw a few things, too. My favorite was the Monkey Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god Hanuman, the monkey god. The statue was awesome. It was full monkeys, which are super cool. That was my favorite part.

Soccer with Monks
Soccer with Monks

After Shimla, we went to Rewalsar on the way to Mcleod Ganj. Relwasar is a cute tiny village surrounding a lake that is holy to Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs. We stayed in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. For two nights in a row, I would play soccer with the younger Tibetan Buddhists, then go play Minecraft with our new Dutch friends who live in Ahmedabad. That was so fun. Their names were Izerd, who was 12, Fanka, who was 10, and Freya, who was 8.

Hiking with friends near Rewalsar
Hiking with friends near Rewalsar

The second day was very different. We went to the caves and hiked up a steep hill. Then we walked into the forest and found a scary abandoned house. There was a big rock with sheets of metal near it. Inside the rock was the abandoned house, which was filthy. The door was broken down and in pieces, there were dirty sleeping bags all over the room, and bowls half submerged in dirt. Then we hiked back down to Rewalsar. The next day it was just me and my family. We fed the fish in the lake puffed rice. There were thousands of fish in that lake. Holy … fish? Yes, those fish were holy. Rewalsar was amazing. I recommend you to go there.

Playing Carrom
Playing Carrom

On our first day in McLeod Ganj, we saw a documentary about the modern Tibetans in China. The film used a small section to describe them being tortured, beaten, imprisoned, and executed because they deserved independence and knew it. That is not right. This made me mad. It was mainly about a small group of about 15 Tibetans’ adventure across Nepal into India to Delhi and finally to Dharmsala to meet the Dalai Lama. While we were waiting, I played a fun Indian board game called Carrom. It is a board game were there are some chips and one chip that was flatter and wider then the rest called the cue, which is white. The rest of the chips were black and white. One was red. I didn’t quite understand the goal of the game, so you can google it. Another day, we got a taxi and went to Norbulingka Institute, where they preserve Tibetan culture and crafts. We also went to Gyuto Monestary, which is known for the monks chanting. The sound was hypnotizing. Next we went to the cricket stadium, which is known for its mountain views, but the next day, we found even better mountain views at Triund. The views were awesome. You could see Paramount Mountain (which is actually called Mount Moon). We took a 4 1/2 hour hike to get there. The hike was tiring, but I liked it. McLeod Ganj was awesome.

 

 

Diwali 2015

Diwali Sparklers!

Recently was the Hindu holiday of Diwali. It is a holiday to celebrate the return of one of their gods after being in Sri Lanka for more than a decade. His brother left his shoes on the throne so that no one could take the throne. Our experience with Diwali went well. First the Hindus gave offerings to their gods, such as flowers, cashew pastries, and money. After that, they gave me some of the cashew pastries. They were good. Next we went out back to light fireworks. We lit sparklers, bottle rockets, and special firecrackers that our hosts called “The Bomb”, because it sounded like a bomb from far away. We had a great time. I liked Diwali.