It’s officially one month since I flew into India and it’s only now I’ve stopped to think. My last two posts were written manically, squeezed in between hikes, teatimes and classes (yes, classes!).
It was fantastic to leave campus and visit some of the incredible nature surrounding us. Being monsoon everything is green, the waterfalls are running and the cloud sinks heavy in the sky. Despite the occasional sun-shower (or raging torrential thunderstorm) the small hikes/walks we’ve done so far have been beautiful.
My initiation to Maharastra scenic life was through the overwhelming beauty of Mulshi Valley’s “Great Canyon”. The walk up was beautiful and the views, as cliché as it might be, were breathtaking.
We had our lunch of aaloo paratha (potato stuffed flatbread) near the top and then split. With multiple extremely elegant falls (of which I still proudly bear the cuts and bruises), we made our way down the waterhole dotted stream.
We stayed there for hours swimming and clambering over rocks. The fog slipped lower, speeding down the valley and soon we were engulfed. Despite the almost ensured rain we didn’t get wet; quite a relief as I didn’t have a rain jacket or umbrella…
Last weekend we left from campus walking up to the neighbouring, student named ‘Mt Wilco’. Though a tad more taxing than the Canyon, the views were of the same quality. We had panoramic views of the valley, I could see my home stay village far below, and after a condensed lecture of Danish history…we reached the top! After a lunch of, once again, aaloo paratha we wrote letters to our future selves, future UWC graduates (hopefully). I sat over the edge of the hill, surrounded by wildflowers and rocks as I wrote my hopes, impressions and random thoughts. The valley stretched out infinitely below as the rain and wind constantly pelted me in the face making me thankful (for perhaps the first time) for my glasses. I hope graduating Anna will appreciate the torn paper, the rain splotches and the crooked handwriting for it was a struggle in itself to keep the agitated page grounded.
This Sunday was UWC day! A time to “forge connections” and really “reflect on our values”. We went down into some of the villages, I went back to Kubavalli, and planted trees which, at times, felt rather self indulgent. In an attempt to counteract soil erosion we planted 5 trees, 5 trees (this was in a group of 20), made an offering and ate some rice. While this is not something I like to dwell on (as I feel the heart of the project was in the right place) I was uneasy with the general colouring of “we shall fix this, feel good and return to our bubble”. Lajji, from my homestay found me and we had multiple thumb war rematches. With Soumya (India), I was invited to one of the houses. They had table filled with offerings to Ganesh and his sisters. They gave us plates filled with traditional Maharastrain sweets -shankarpali, besan ladoo, and gujiya. After a couple more thumb wars we said our goodbyes and made our way back up the hill.
Who should be at the top but my parents and sister! Despite my gentle urging to visit a bit later than one month in (apparently the ‘dates wouldn’t work otherwise’) they had materialised on the MUWCI campus, bearing gifts of vegemite and timtams. It was wonderful to see them and I loved showing them around. I was able to catchup on all the goss from home without constant audio lag and see my parents without climbing to the roof of Room7.
They also got to witness the UWC Day Fair. We all tried to dress up in our ‘national costume’, which for me involved an Australian Flag tied as a skirt (thanks Richard Marles) and Blundstones – I’m open to ANY suggestions. Various nations had set up different culture stands – Belgian waffles, Carribean coconut shots, Indian mehndi, French crepes and Canadian apple bobbing. The food was incredible and they were musical acts throughout.
It was sad to say goodbye. It was such a short time and it almost makes the time between seeing them again longer. (N.B. Mama, I do miss you a lot!!)
Ganesh Chatuthri is Hindu festival celebrated throughout India. It marks the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is seen as the “embodiment of success, prosperity and peace.” In most parts of India colour throwing is reserved for Holi, yet Maharastra does things
a bit differently…On campus handfuls of pink dye were thrown and plasted over faces as music was blasted over speakers. Many students followed in procession down to the villages to join in with the celebrations and witness the immersion of the Ganesh idol. I have a few photos as
Jesse was brave (or foolhardy) enough to bring her camera (thanks, Jesse!!) – so enjoy!
Even after a couple of days many of us still look sunburnt and there are far more strawberry blonds around.
Hopefully I’ll update again soon – thank you for all your lovely comments, feel free to leave some more.
Masses of love,
*photo creds to Jesse (left), who keeps an awesome blog at: jessesindia.wordpress.com
6 thoughts on “River Deep Mountain High”
Loved the update Spanner and so good to see you. We enjoyed so much seeing over the beautiful campus, being warmly greeted by so many of your friends and meeting some of your inspiring teachers. I hope the dye is fading!
Just two words : sooooooo jealous !!! Love from France xx
I love how you have embraced the wonderful madness that is India! Enjoy the dancing, you look fabulous xxx
So happy to hear that you’re having such a great time!! xx
Anna this looks incredible! So jealous and so happy that you’re having the best time! xxx
Hi Anna, the waterfall looks a bit like Edith Falls where we took Ellie, Ellie and Will last year. Ganesh’s birthday looks like fun.