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Arrived in India safely - rumpled, body and soul, but safe. The air travel went remarkably well. Saying goodbye was hard, as expected, but traveling alone wasn't too bad. The strange thing was being one of very few white faces on the plane. It certainly gave me a better understanding of what it feels like to be a minority - it also gave me a good preview of life here. Walking around, our group is very conspicuous - and being a blonde, white girl increases that. Anyways, India Air was an interesting experience. Our first plane meal was curry - not a great idea before 30+ hours of traveling. I've learned that my body does not react so well to spicy food. Other than that, however, the flights were easy and I felt pretty confident until I reached the Bangalore airport at 2AM. Getting luggage on my own, fighting off eager baggage carriers who eventually tried to rip me off for ten bucks to help me, and finding my driver - these experiences opened up the small part of me that was terrified, and I ended up the confused, panicked white girl, crying at the airport. But it worked out - the driver took me through the dark streets of Bangalore, swerving and honking and nearly killing everyone in our path, to our temporary housing. I gave him the ten dollars a refused the airport bagman after her carried both my suitcase, one which weighed almost seventy pounds, up three flights of stairs ON HIS HEAD. I considered that more than deserving of a big tip. Then I couldn't get into my assigned room, but kind Anna let me into her room to sleep. 
Next day was spent exploring and meeting new people - the city is intense, very busy, very smoggy, very diverse. People in western clothes walk with people in traditional garb. Lots of greenery and also tons of trash. Wild dogs roam everywhere - sleeping, lining the streets during the day, ruling the city at night. So many birds - the first day I watched eagles circle the nearby luxury high-rise. 
Sunday we had our first trip to the grocery - an important activity to do in every new country. Many of the same brands but totally different products. Like Mint Masala Lays chips (disgusting). I stocked up on juice, almonds, and DIGESTIVE BISCUITS - the best, wheaty sweet crackers that contain the active ingredients in Tums. My stomach has been iffy the whole time - it either hurts from the spicy food or from hunger. I've mostly been reduced to a diet of white carbs (rice, naan) and unsweetened yogurt.
Our group has been very interesting. My relationships have either been in fast forward with the people I met first and had a connection with, or very slow growing, especially with the people who have been at friends world for a while and know each other. At 12ish people, it will be interesting to see how the groups settle out.
Monday was our first day of school. I felt my usual first day jitters - the excitement and the nervousness (what do i wear??). But it was a good day - we walked to the campus, which is a multi-level house on a cute street. The staff conducted a welcoming ritual with flowers, offerings and the lighting of candles. We all got bindis (?) I should know the different terms by now but I don't. The food is great at the center and i can actually stomach a lot of it (they've dumbed it down spice-wise which is so helpful). 
Tuesday was a very interesting day. We had an early start and drove outside of Bangalore, into a more rural area. It looked more like what I imagined of India. We visited a traditional healing center. Unlike in the U.S., these facilities are cheaper than "Western" medicine so many people use them, especially if they can't afford hospitals. We were treated to a fully body massage in the traditional style. Led into a room by two women (one with an almost full beard) I was promptly instructed to get undressed. They then wrapped me in the skimpiest of loincloths and began rubbing me down with oil. The initial uncomfortableness I had with being nude in front of two strangers dissipated slowly - although I do think, in their excitement to see such strangely huge, western breasts they did everything possible to make them jiggle. After the massage, in which i slipped and slid in the oil on the wood table, they stripped me down all the way, covered me in some kind of mud paste and bathed me. that part was pretty awesome, considering i hadn't had a hot shower since arriving in the country. we spent the rest of the day doing yoga and exploring the place. 
that afternoon we checked out some apartments in the city. we've settled on a cute two bedroom apartment, that had a common room, kitchen, bathroom (with squat toilets) and two balconies! we thought there was going to be drama over who got that apartment, but the other kids kindly informed us that they had found an even better place, so we could have that one.
today we had boring administrative stuff, but this afternoon we had a class with an ayurvedic doctor. she gave us some great information, and i am going to see her in a few weeks to work on my headaches. i'm excited about the opportunity to get an "Eastern" perspective on it. 

Alright, that is all for now! 

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