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You Don’t Know What You Have Until It’s Gone by Joanne Skourletos

August 30, 2015

Jo 8

Garbage in front of our school during the strike.

Reading the book The White Tiger gave me a better understanding about the lifestyle of people in India that I would have never fully grasped without this book. When Balram was describing his school experience when he was a young boy I was shocked at how conditions in their school could be so chaotic, until I witnessed it first hand. In my school in India, I went out to the courtyard while my class was still in session. I realized it was so loud in the courtyard and that many young students were running around, instead of lbeing in their classroom. I looked into one classroom to see probably around fifty students, mostly ages 6-7, running around their classroom, climbing on desks and jumping through windows. When I looked around for the teacher I realized they were nowhere to be found. Within the midst of all of this chaos I noticed one young boy, standing by his desks using his tip-toes to help him to reach the desk so that he could write. This really made me reflect on how hard this little boy was working to continue his education, even without a teacher in a very chaotic classroom.

Later, I asked my fellow what might have been happening in that classroom and she explained that as a teacher you are a government employee. Government employees can never get fired, and will continue to get paid even if they don’t show up. WOW! It is no wonder that teachers don’t show up, when they know very well they will receive the same benefits for staying home.

Witnessing this and learning about its cause really brought the scene from The White Tiger alive. When reading it I thought that it was likely an over-exaggeration, or something that rarely occurs. But, after witnessing this unsupervised classroom, it really connected that little boy trying to do his work in a chaotic classroom to Balram’s school experience as a young boy.

Jo 9

Student in an unsupervised classroom trying to do his work, while his peers become out-of-control around him.

Different Place Different Space by Joanne Skourletos

August 30, 2015

On our trip we visited three different parts of India, and it was surprising how very different each part was. To start the trip off, we spent the first week in Hyderabad, located in southern India, in a neighborhood known as Banjara Hils. This area was interesting because it has such a variety of socioeconomic status. On the same street you could see an oversized mansion next to a small shack. In the US we are used to such separation by socioeconomic status, yet in India it appeared that those strict lines of differentiation are not as clear.  Outside of Banjara Hills, where our school was located in Film Nagar, the main roads were covered in posters advertising the newest Bollywood films recently recorded. Yet off the main road and through the small streets, one found a very different way of life. The bustling streets were filled with people, animals, and tiny shops. More noticeably, the foul scent of garbage wafted in the air, as piles of trash laid directly in front of our school.

When visiting Agra, near the Taj Mahal, I assumed it would be in a more urban area, since the Taj was such a major attraction. To my surprise, the areas that surrounded the Taj were much like the areas in Banjara Hills, busy streets filled with people, animals, and tiny shops. A big difference from Banjara Hills though was that Agra was free of unwanted trash on the ground. It surprised me that the Taj Mahal, such an iconic building, could be surrounded by an area very different from the upscale grounds.

Visiting Jaipur was one of the most beautiful places I went to in India. Like the other areas, Jaipur was bustling, however, the overall beauty was evident by the mountainous territory contrasted by bodies of water. When in Jaipur, we visited a fort that was built to overlook the city which gave amazing views of the area.

Jo 6

You’re in for a Ride by Joanne Skourletos

August 30, 2015

Before going to India, I didn’t know what a rickshaw even was. We were told that there are no addresses, and that taxis and rick shaw drivers get around based on known landmarks. This was pretty confusing to me and I couldn’t understand how no addresses could exist. Well, on our first day of school, Samina hailed a rickshaw and explained to the driver what area our school was located in. The three of us jumped into the back seat and he sped off! Traffic in India is nothing like in the US. Cars, bikes, and rickshaws are weaving in between each other with little to no regard to the lanes. A constant noise of honking horns is in the air as vehicles whizz past each other. After about 20 minutes our driver began pulling over and asking other pedestrians if they knew the direction of our school. He kept doing this until we got closer and closer, finally reaching a school (no wonder we were taken to the wrong one). The drive to the school should have taken about 15 minutes, and wound up to have taken us 40 minutes instead, because of all the times we had to stop to get help from others. This would become a common theme in the rest of the rickshaw rides we would take. After school that day we found another rickshaw driver to take us back to the hotel. The common landmark that we told him was that our hotel was located near the Pizza Hut (which was a well-known spot). After he drove us back, we asked if he could return the next morning to take us to school at 7:30, and he agreed. The next day, we ended up leaving the hotel later than planned, but we figured our rickshaw driver would realize we weren’t coming after ten minutes and leave. To our surprise when we walked out of the hotel, our driver was still sitting there waiting for us! He had waited 45 minutes for us to come out! I couldn’t believe this. This is definitely not something that would have happened in America, where instead they would have quickly left, not wanting to sit there unpaid. I think this is an example of how strongly workers stick to their word, something that doesn’t always occur to the same extent in the US.

On my last night in Hyderabad, I was going back to the hotel from a shopping mall. On the way to the hotel, I asked the driver to stop at a store on the way back, and he did. He pulled up on the opposite side of the street, and I got out, and looked at traffic, wondering how I was going to be able to cross all of these lanes of traffic safely. The rickshaw driver got out as well, and helped me to safely cross the lanes of traffic. This was such a small yet extremely kind gesture that also would not have been something that I would have experienced in the States.

Every rickshaw ride though noisy, and often a bit scary was unique and helped me to better understand the culture and the ways of people from India.

Jo 5

Tecahing while Learning by Joanne Skourletos

August 30, 2015

Walking into a fifth grade classroom with nearly 70 students all sitting on the floor it’s a bit intimidating, especially coming from a preschool classroom of 18 students and three teachers. Sitting back on the first day to observe helped to give me a better idea of the functions of the classroom as well as ways in which I could assist.

Students arrived at school around 7:45am, and began their day with an assembly or calisthenics in the courtyard. Their class began at 8:20 and ended at noon. During this time students were sitting in one classroom with little movement around the classroom itself. They had a twenty minute recess in the middle of the day, which helped to relive some of their excess energy. In addition, their teacher Jyoti, built in a few opportunities for movement through “energizers” which songs and chants which were paired with simple movements.

After observing for the first day, I had several ideas on how to assist in the classroom. Along with the two other Teach For America teachers in my classroom and our Teach For India fellow Jyoti, we all sat down to discuss our goals over the next two weeks, which we narrowed our focus down to:

  1. Smoother/quicker transitions
  2. Higher levels of rigor during read alouds
  3. Implementation of literacy centers
  4.  Increasing reading comprehension

The following day we began modeling ways to transition students between activities quickly by giving clear directions, such as “When I say go I want you to first turn to your group and then get out your notebooks. Ready,  set, go.” Giving these clear directions was not only important, but it was also crucial that students understood that the expectation was that they don’t start moving until the teacher gives the signal. We made this expectation clear and practiced several times with students so that transitions became much more quick and clear. In addition, we worked on ways to quickly transition the whole group out of the classroom in a way that keeps students engaged and efficiently moving. To do so, we demonstrated ways in which to engage the whole group through songs, chants, and literacy games and then dismiss by smaller groups. This way, students were still participating in meaningful ways while others were quickly moving out of the classroom.

To increase the rigor during read alouds, we introduced the three read model, using books that we had brought with us. We demonstrated each part of the reading as well as gave detailed notes on the purpose of each read. In addition, we used writing workshop and small group activities to check for comprehension after each read. It became evident that many students could fluently read a text, yet still had difficulty understanding its meaning. This drove us to push students to help them to better understand the texts we were reading.

Because the class size was so large, whole group instruction happened most of the time, but it made it difficult for Jyoti to individualize for the various levels in her classroom. The implementation of literacy centers through small groups made it more possible to make changes to student learning based on individual needs. First, we broke students up into 6 different groups and had students come up with their own group name. This made students identify with their group much more. For literacy centers, we created materials that would rotate between groups so that each group had a chance to work with all materials. For example, one day our centers included 3 different activities (2 sets of each activity). One activity was to create rhyming words using a word wheel. A second activity was to sort word cards into word family groups. The third activity was to using a clothespin that had an –ed suffix on it and attach it to verbs in the present tense. Students would then decide if that was the correct was to make the word past tense or if it was an irregular word that had a different way to become past tense. These were all hands on activities that students worked with their group to complete. It demonstrated a more involved way of learning instead of simply using whole group instruction. In addition, this was an ideal time for Jyoti to walk around the classroom to supplement individual learners during an activity.

Moreover, we demonstrated various techniques in whole group. Some of these techniques include Heggerty and Jolly Phonics, both of which students really enjoyed because it allowed them to participate through singing, chanting, repeating, and doing small movements which helps to retain their attention. We also introduced Suggestopedia as a way to re-inforce vocabulary words and TPRS to increase comprehension as well as tenses. In addition, we demonstrated Shared Writing and Message Time, which were both creative and simple ways to increase students’ writing abilities.

Jo 3

Students are listening while Jyoti teaches.

Jo 4

Students working in their literacy centers with their small group.

First Impressions Sometimes Get Second Chances by Joanne Skourletos

August 30, 2015

Going into this experience, I really wasn’t sure what to expect when in the classroom. When we pulled up in front of the school on our first day the rickshaw we were in was literally surrounded on all sides by students who were overjoyed to see us. As students tried to introduce themselves and ask our names I was overwhelmed by their eagerness to get to know us. We made our way into the center courtyard, where students continued to flood us with their friendly smiles, handshakes, and questions. When instructed, students formed straight lines and separated themselves by gender. The group of over 150 students took part in choral chants, songs and prayers, some of which were familiar to me, like Boom Chika Boom, one of my students’ favorites. Students even welcomed us by waving and saying “Hello teachers,” all together. The morning assembly was a great start to our first day. Once it ended, students were dismissed and began going to their own classrooms. Their interests in the new teachers remained and students continued to introduce themselves, shake our hands and ask our names. Some students even came up to us asking if we can come to their classroom. Another teacher arrived, and I was ready to be assigned to my classroom. She came up to us and we were informed that we were not at our assigned school. WOW!

This news was surprising to me. When I originally witnessed how welcoming the students were, I figured their teachers had primed them with the information that teachers from Teach For America were coming to assist in the classroom. After learning that that wasn’t our assigned school I couldn’t believe how welcoming the students had been even without knowing who we were or why we were there.

Jo 1

The students at the morning assembly.

Jo 2

Students at our first school we visited had swarmed the rickshaw and  surrounded us in the courtyard as they asked questioned and introduced themselves.

City Life with a Hint of Familiarity by Jasmin Valladares

August 30, 2015

Jasmin 6

In The Untold Charminar, there is a story titled, “All Our Day After Tomorrow” written by Meenakshi Mukherjee.   The story gives some insight to Hyderabad that once was, but also mentions how the city has changed.  She captures what I saw Hyderabad as a city that is growing, but still has managed to maintain parts of the Hyderabad that once was.  She states

“…We show them not only Charminar, Golconda, and the Salar Jung Museum, but also the futuristic architecture of the cyber city and the world –class residential complexes being built for the IT professionals in and around….We show off how the city is in step with the globalized world.  Yet once in a while I am relieved to find that beneath the glittering surface some of the earlier grace of an unglobalized ordinary life persists in the city.” (p.193)

If you walk down Road 12 you will see the two different cities that Mukherjee mentions.  You can find a small shack that is cramped with stationary supplies, you will find a neighborhood restaurant, a neighborhood liquor store, and yet down the street you will find the beginning of big chain restaurants and stores.  You will find auto rickshaw drivers stopping at the curb side to see if you need a ride.  They will try to overprice the ride because you are a foreigner, but also will negotiate.  Many of the rickshaw drivers you do come across are similar to the rickshaw drivers that Mukherjee described.  They are friendly and willing to start a conversation with you.  I recall a day we went to a Pearl store and our big group broke off into groups of 3/4 to ride the rickshaw to said Pearl store.  Our rickshaw driver negotiated on a set price and once we got in asked what country we came from, followed by a few questions of life in the country.  He stopped at a Pearl store that we found 3 of our group members.  The rickshaw driver stalled once he dropped us off.  I think he saw the look of confusion our group members had.  The other 3 members had stated they were not sure if that was the correct location.  Our rickshaw driver asked the name of the store we sought and asked another person that was standing in front of the next store.  The man had told our driver the store was up ahead about a block or two.  The drive told us to get in. And yes all 7 of us loaded up on his rickshaw to be taken to the store.  When we asked how much he said nothing.  Some of us were flattered with his kindness that we still decided to give him a “tip” for his generosity to give the 7 of us a ride.

The streets in Hyderabad are busy and congested with traffic.  Many people seem on a mission to get from one place to another, but the one thing that is noticeable is the friendliness of the people in the city.  The majority of people are willing to give you directions or at least help direct you in a certain direction.  In other big cities it is hard to find a friendly face that will give you directions when asked.  I then also thought about the main character in the White Tiger who was a rickshaw driver, but he had his own story to tell that you may’ve not known if you had not heard his account of the story.  On our ride to the school we had a rickshaw that showed up every morning to drop us off and pick us up.  Granted the price we negotiated was more that what it would have been if the meter on the rickshaw had been turned on, but if you think about it were else would you get picked up and dropped off at location sites for a minimal price.  The driver was friendly and informative.  He told us that he had a wife, 3 adult children, one whom was married, and two grandchildren.  He also told me that he had been driving for 17years.  His English was limited, but he attempted to still hold conversations with us.  I had asked his permission to ask a few questions so I can write about it in my blog and he agreed.  However the limited English and my limited Telegu language kept me from actually conducting a full interview.

I don’t know much about his life, but I do know that he was friendly and knew his way around the city.  He gave us information about the garbage strike, bits of information of Ramadan rituals, and a little insight to his life.  I know that the price of the ride was slightly inflated, but if you think about it through the rickshaw drivers’ eyes, it was a few days to make a little extra. At the end of our last week, I made sure to give him a tip and thank him for being punctual to take us to our school site.

Most rickshaw drivers were friendly, granted you may come across some who tell you yes when you agree to a price, but then aren’t familiar with the area you are going to, and try to increase the amount, but overall most will be friendly.   If you walked down the streets of Hyderabad you will find small mom and pop stores where locals are clustered talking to each other or sharing food.  However, you will also find the mall or larger food chains that display times of an emerging city.

Hyderabad can be said to have the best of both worlds.  You will find some big stores and signs of a city that is growing and expanding, but at the same time still hold some of the treasured sites and local traditions.  I would suggest that if you want to get some insight into the city and see both types of living to hop into an auto rickshaw or simply walk around.  The rickshaws are scary at first, but I must say that after a few rides you get accustomed to the honking, lack of lane usage, and the fitting into tight spaces.  Experiencing the view from the rickshaw gives you a chance to take in the scenery, but at the same time experience the ride in the traffic.  The other option is to walk.  You do have to be alert when you walk the streets because it is very busy.  Crossing the street can be scary, but possible if you get prepared to move with urgency at the first chance you get.  It was on a walk home that I was enjoying the view of the store fronts, trying not to get hit by a car or rickshaw that I looked down and noticed that at the curbside I had almost stepped on a squatter that was sleeping on the edge of the curb.  I think about that walk to the hotel that allowed me to get a sense of what Mukherjee talked about in her story.

In The Untold Charminar, there is a story titled, “All Our Day After Tomorrow” written by Meenakshi Mukherjee.   The story gives some insight to Hyderabad that once was, but also mentions how the city has changed.  She captures what I saw Hyderabad as a city that is growing, but still has managed to maintain parts of the Hyderabad that once was.  She states

“…We show them not only Charminar, Golconda, and the Salar Jung Museum, but also the futuristic architecture of the cyber city and the world –class residential complexes being built for the IT professionals in and around….We show off how the city is in step with the globalized world.  Yet once in a while I am relieved to find that beneath the glittering surface some of the earlier grace of an unglobalized ordinary life persists in the city.” (p.193)

If you walk down Road 12 you will see the two different cities that Mukherjee mentions.  You can find a small shack that is cramped with stationary supplies, you will find a neighborhood restaurant, a neighborhood liquor store, and yet down the street you will find the beginning of big chain restaurants and stores.  You will find auto rickshaw drivers stopping at the curb side to see if you need a ride.  They will try to overprice the ride because you are a foreigner, but also will negotiate.  Many of the rickshaw drivers you do come across are similar to the rickshaw drivers that Mukherjee described.  They are friendly and willing to start a conversation with you.  I recall a day we went to a Pearl store and our big group broke off into groups of 3/4 to ride the rickshaw to said Pearl store.  Our rickshaw driver negotiated on a set price and once we got in asked what country we came from, followed by a few questions of life in the country.  He stopped at a Pearl store that we found 3 of our group members.  The rickshaw driver stalled once he dropped us off.  I think he saw the look of confusion our group members had.  The other 3 members had stated they were not sure if that was the correct location.  Our rickshaw driver asked the name of the store we sought and asked another person that was standing in front of the next store.  The man had told our driver the store was up ahead about a block or two.  The drive told us to get in. And yes all 7 of us loaded up on his rickshaw to be taken to the store.  When we asked how much he said nothing.  Some of us were flattered with his kindness that we still decided to give him a “tip” for his generosity to give the 7 of us a ride.

The streets in Hyderabad are busy and congested with traffic.  Many people seem on a mission to get from one place to another, but the one thing that is noticeable is the friendliness of the people in the city.  The majority of people are willing to give you directions or at least help direct you in a certain direction.  In other big cities it is hard to find a friendly face that will give you directions when asked.  I then also thought about the main character in the White Tiger who was a rickshaw driver, but he had his own story to tell that you may’ve not known if you had not heard his account of the story.  On our ride to the school we had a rickshaw that showed up every morning to drop us off and pick us up.  Granted the price we negotiated was more that what it would have been if the meter on the rickshaw had been turned on, but if you think about it were else would you get picked up and dropped off at location sites for a minimal price.  The driver was friendly and informative.  He told us that he had a wife, 3 adult children, one whom was married, and two grandchildren.  He also told me that he had been driving for 17years.  His English was limited, but he attempted to still hold conversations with us.  I had asked his permission to ask a few questions so I can write about it in my blog and he agreed.  However the limited English and my limited Telegu language kept me from actually conducting a full interview.

I don’t know much about his life, but I do know that he was friendly and knew his way around the city.  He gave us information about the garbage strike, bits of information of Ramadan rituals, and a little insight to his life.  I know that the price of the ride was slightly inflated, but if you think about it through the rickshaw drivers’ eyes, it was a few days to make a little extra. At the end of our last week, I made sure to give him a tip and thank him for being punctual to take us to our school site.

Most rickshaw drivers were friendly, granted you may come across some who tell you yes when you agree to a price, but then aren’t familiar with the area you are going to, and try to increase the amount, but overall most will be friendly.   If you walked down the streets of Hyderabad you will find small mom and pop stores where locals are clustered talking to each other or sharing food.  However, you will also find the mall or larger food chains that display times of an emerging city.

Hyderabad can be said to have the best of both worlds.  You will find some big stores and signs of a city that is growing and expanding, but at the same time still hold some of the treasured sites and local traditions.  I would suggest that if you want to get some insight into the city and see both types of living to hop into an auto rickshaw or simply walk around.  The rickshaws are scary at first, but I must say that after a few rides you get accustomed to the honking, lack of lane usage, and the fitting into tight spaces.  Experiencing the view from the rickshaw gives you a chance to take in the scenery, but at the same time experience the ride in the traffic.  The other option is to walk.  You do have to be alert when you walk the streets because it is very busy.  Crossing the street can be scary, but possible if you get prepared to move with urgency at the first chance you get.  It was on a walk home that I was enjoying the view of the store fronts, trying not to get hit by a car or rickshaw that I looked down and noticed that at the curbside I had almost stepped on a squatter that was sleeping on the edge of the curb.  I think about that walk to the hotel that allowed me to get a sense of what Mukherjee talked about in her story.

Jasmin 5

Always Something to Do by Jasmin Valladares

August 30, 2015

Before we went on our trip, Samina, our amazing professor gave us a crash course on the history and what to expect in India.  She also stated that those two weeks were going to fly by quick!  I was feeling excited and nervous about the trip because this was my first overseas trip.  Plus I have always traveled with family.  I had accepted Samina’s challenge.  I have been away from home for a week and suffered from homesickness and the trips seemed to drag.  Now before my two weeks in India, I and my travel buddy decided to do a week in Dubai.  I must say that Dubai was a city of luxury and wealth.  When we traveled to India, I could begin to tell the difference.  On a connecting charter bus in Mumbai to get to Hyderabad, we were taken into the city streets were I got my first view of India. I could see “slums” on top of “slums.”  I immediately then recalled what one passport agent asked me when he was stamping my passport and asked my destination.  He had asked me “Are you mentally ready for it?”  I had nodded my head yes and replied with “I think so.”   When we got to our hotel in Hyderabad I realized this was not like the prior two hotels I had been in the prior nights.  However, I reminded myself that this was an experience I definitely wanted and I would make the best of it.

I can tell you that I agree with the comedian Gabriel Iglesias when he said you will see some depressing things, but you will also see some beautiful things.  I saw the glimpse of Mumbai and the poverty.  But when I got to Hyderabad, I saw spots of wealth and poverty mixed.  A perfect example was the luxurious house in the middle of other mid class homes, and yet you see some “squatters” a few blocks down.  But one thing that was true was that India has many beautiful wonders.  One thing was that every day we had something to do.  India has amazing food and different restaurants to try at decent prices.  It has many historical sites to go visit and learn some history about the country!  Now I must say that I am not much of a shopper, but India did make me want to shop.

Deciding where to go shop was an issue.  There are many places to go shop!  The Charminar was a very busy place with lots of shops to peruse and fulfill the shopper in you.  It also gives insight to the different foods available.  Another place we visited was a Night Bazaar; it was near Cyberbod that was a bit chiller than the Charminar.  Some places allow you to haggle with them on prices, but other places are strict about the fixed cost.  It was at this place we met a shop keeper that informed us on the process of Cashmere scarves, how you can distinguish a real cashmere from one that is not, described the different types of scarves, and even how to wear the scarves.    You will find friendly shop keepers who will be willing to inform you on history or simply chat up a conversation.

As a tourist be prepared to have prices inflated because after all it is a business and the shop keepers are out to make money.  I know that at times I had to remind myself 100 rupees does not equivalent to $100 U.S dollars.  I had to remind myself to get away from the US way of thinking when I hear a price to remember it was in rupees and not dollars.  You will find that a majority of the time the prices in India would be less than what you paid in the US.  The inflation of prices is something that I expected, but the one thing I found difficult was to ignore the beggars.  Our professor had warned not to give the beggars until the final day because it could cause a commotion or mob scene.  I saw a glimpse of what she meant when I saw a person on a motorcycle give a beggar some rupees and how immediately beggars that I had not noticed appeared by his motorcycle.

On a weekend we traveled from Hyderabad to New Delhi to Agra to see the amazingly beautiful Taj Mahal then traveled to Jaipur to see Amber Fort and experience the elephants!  Granted the elephant ride I took was amazing.  I loved that I was so close to an elephant, I was torn about the elephant ride for ethical reasons.  Not to mention I did feel a bit weird parading a local neighborhood on an elephant.  Can’t help but think that the ride could have been portrayed as a silly tourist activity.  The excitement for my ride ended when the man directing the elephant stated in a stern voice that we must tip him and make sure we tip him.  Not to mention a little boy who threw a rock at my elephant.  But as I always try to see the positive, I thought “When will I ever get a chance to say I rode an elephant?”  Also despite the little boy who threw a rock at us, there were a handful of other children who waived at us and giggled when we waive back!    I cannot forget to talk about our trip to Amber Fort.  This was an amazing fort that allowed us lots of walking and incite to a time that once was.  Might I add it was very tempting to want and play a game of hide and seek.  I almost was able to get in for a local price, but I had to be honest.  The attendant was not sure if I was a local or not and had to ask me if I was a local.  I couldn’t lie and paid the extra 100 rupees.   Over the entire trip was exhausting, but very worth it.  I got to see the scenery and a glimpse of different parts of India.

The food options in India seem endless.  There are many restaurants to go eat at.  Not to mention the various invitations to try home cook meals from the teachers we assisted.   Samina had stated we would lose weight, but I must say I don’t think I did eating all the scrumptious, spicy food.  Did I mention how we tended to order in groups and order four different platters that allowed us to try different types of food?  The best experience was at Barbeque Nation.  The service was friendly and attentive.  We got there during their start of the second shift and to our surprise received an early bird discount.  We were so impressed with the food and our waiter that we wanted to tip generously.  The waiter however directed us to his pin and stated that he does not accept tips.  As long as we were happy with the service, he was happy.  His manager immediately came over to explain that they do not accept tips, because they receive tips in the service fee.  I felt horrible because the waiter truly deserved a tip, but he refused to accept the money.  The food was amazing and much cheaper than we would pay in the US.  By no means do I also want to down play the other places we ate.  There were a few restaurants with friendly staff and delicious food, as well as some with excellent entertainment.

Samina was right; the two weeks flew by and still feel like there were parts of India that I could have explored more.  There was something to do every night that gave you some insight to life in India.  The two words of advice I would give is to accept the Vatican Tax to be inconsistent.  It was difficult to find a set Vatican tax and it differed from restaurant to restaurant.  Once you accept that there is no set value, you will be more at peace.  Also, remember that as a tourist prices may be higher, but overall the prices are still considerably less than in the U.S. and remember that 500 rupees is not the same as 500 dollars. Lastly be willing to be friendly. The openness to communicate can surprise you with new knowledge.  Many shop keepers and locals are willing to share their story and history if you are willing to listen!

Jasmin 3

One of the beautiful elephants in Jaipur.

Jasmin 4

On top of Golconda Fort. Hyderabad in the background. You can see the many things to see in Hyderabad.

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