It's finally here. Last night I went to a posh restaurant with all of the people from the CIEE program for our welcome dinner. It was very nice. The food was good. Very good. The DJ was good. The drinks were unbelievably expensive! I ordered a whiskey and seltzer, thinking nothing of it, said "sure, make it a double" with a smile. 950 rupee!! That's around $25! I couldn't believe it.
The area surrounding the Hi-Tec City is ridiculously expensive. Hi-Tec City is the city that is growing up around several technology company campuses that house such household names as Microsoft, Oracle, and Dell. The influx of building and employment capital is fueling an affluent population in the middle of this sprawling city of 6 million people. We ate in the rich section of the city called Banjara Hills. As we came into this part of the city, the shops changed from the usual storefronts to the large glass faced urban facades of bright brand names and larger than life advertising photos. It was such a strange change. The only thing that didn't change was the look of the people on the streets and the chaos of driving.
Later, after dinner we returned to the Study in India Program guest house where I am living. We collected ourself and then went over to the men's hostel for a real college New Years rooftop party. It was wonderful. Not only are we as a group from all over, but we were joined by students from India, Iran, and Yemen.
Here in India, public affection between men and women is not considered appropriate. At midnight though, this translated into Indian men who drunkenly hugged each other screaming happy New Year. They also came over to me and hugged me. SOmetimes I thought they were going to weep with New Years joy. I was pretty happy about all of this, since being in the US and being a pretty touchy feely kind of person, I was always a little disappointed in the taboo of breaking the personal space of other men at a celebration. I have always hated the homophobic inference in both directions- hugging doesn't have to have a sexual component, in fact most of the time it really isn't about sex at all, regardless of the genders involved in this simplest act of connection.
I don't have a lot of pictures sorted out from that night yet. There are a few that deserve sharing, and I will most likely re-edit this post to show what kind of a group we were that night. It was all fun, and fireworks and party. On a roof. In India. I think I have more to say about last night, but right now, I just wanted to make a post that says 2008 really opened well as far a I am concerned, and I can't wait for February when this dreaded Year of the Pig ends in earnest.
Classes will begin soon, and I have to remember that I am here to get some schooling and make two shorts for my follow-on project. Both things are gelling rather quickly, and I am hoping to keep from getting caught off guard. Two shorts and 16 credits is a pretty heavy load for a semester, plus the fact that I am more and more fascinated by the city that surrounds the University.
The people that I meet from here are so very open. I cannot wait to spend more time getting to know as many of them as possible. Last night's party made me think that I may need to change my departure date so I could stay here a little longer without having to worry about this structured schedule. Also it would be nice to exercise the knowledge I will have of the area by the time it's time to leave.