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amyeberg in cmc08abroad

In an unexpected twist to my life in India, this week I became a model. So here's what happened: Brinda's cousin was looking for people to impersonate Madonna and Marilyn Monroe at the opening of some lounge, so Mary and I volunteered. Then when we met the cousin, it turned out he'd already filled the slots, but he's always looking for Western women to model, since there are so few in Delhi. So...all of a sudden I am going to become a big famous supermodel. This Sunday I went to Platinum Supermodels and made a portfolio. It was kind of fun, but somehow I don't think modeling is the life for me. Also, I probably can't swing it with my student visa, and I don't want to get involved in the Indian black market, which by most accounts makes up about thirty percent of the Indian economy. Still, it's a good story...remember that time I went to India and became a model?
Other big news: the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, came to LSR to speak yesterday morning. It's LSR's 50th anniversary, so this was the capstone to their Golden Jubilee. It was very nice. We had to wait in line a long time to go through two metal detectors and get frisked twice; there were Delhi police with bomb-sniffing dogs all over the place. Our Australian friends who stay in the college hostel (dorm) told us they had to be back to college by the afternoon yesterday, and they couldn't leave in the evening, because the grounds closed that early. Some dignitaries from the college spoke, and then the choir sang a song, and then Singh spoke. His talk was mostly about how LSR is helping and has helped to improve the quality of higher education for women in India, but he also made a few remarks on reservations (Indian affirmative action). Then some girls asked questions and the president of the Students' Union gave Singh some books, a painting, bookends, etc. When you are a prime minister, you get a lot of stuff. The book, I'm sure, frequently mentions LSR's most famous alumna, who happens to be none other than Aung San Suu Kyi. Then we all went out into the garden and drank nimbu pani (sweetsweetsweet lemonade) and had sandwiches. Yesterday, during assembly, the principal made a lot of speeches thanking everyone for her hard work, and she talked a lot about LSR's goals for moving ahead. I know it's a big deal when the PM visits, but I didn't realize LSR viewed it as such a turning point in the life of the college. It's so important, in fact, that they gave us Monday off of school. That's nice since we have Saturday class tomorrow to make up for all the classes we've missed in Indian Government and Politics. I guess having class canceled so much has consequences eventually.
Besides that, things have been pretty normal around here. I've joined a gym, which has been really nice. It's not like running in Corvallis, or even in Claremont, but the exercise feels good. The gym is pretty clean, I thought, but then I saw a mouse in the women's changing room today. Oh. Our Internet went out this weekend because we forgot to pay the bill (wooopsie giggles), so it is nice to have it back, but at the same time strange to read all the CMC emails without being at school. A couple of days ago, Lea, Lisa (from Stephens), and I went to the Indian Habitat Center, a posh convention center-type complex close to our apartment, to hear a presentation on homosexuality in India. There's this group called the Youth Parliament that organizes fora, movie showings, and so on for teenagers and twenty-somethings in Delhi. Their events are very professional, and a lot of the third-year political science girls at LSR work with YP. Anyway, this event was interesting. They showed a film made by an Indian man who graduated from Harvard in 1998 and then struggled with coming out to his family. He's dead now--I think from a car accident--and so his mother was there to present the film. Afterwards, a gay Indian man led the YP in a discussion. The thing is, homosexual activity between men is illegal in India, so the perspectives here are very different from in the US. The demographic that attends YP-type events is the same as the type of people you would expect in the US--young, wealthy, well-educated, socially progressive--but they have different ideas about what is and isn't acceptable. They said things people of this social class in the US would probably not say, like "If I found out my friend was gay it would totally change my opinion of him." It was interesting to see what such a contentious social issue was like in a different culture.
Besides that, the only other story I have recently is from Hindi class. We have to go to Hindi twice a week now that we're back in Delhi, which keeps us up on our language skills but isn't as demanding as Landour. The Delhi school is run by Christian missionaries (I think American). Our teacher there is named Rajni, and, although she's from a Hindu background, she's a Christian. Her mother and some siblings are as well, but her father and some other siblings are not. She lives in a house with 22 family members (nuclear and extended), but according to her they all get along well. But now it's time for her to get married, so her father is working on finding her a "good" (read: Hindu) husband. Her father respects her faith and doesn't object when she goes to church, but since he's in charge of finding her a husband, he naturally prefers Hindus. She wants a Christian husband, but she wants even more to do what her father wants so that he doesn't lose the community's respect. Also, she's worried that people at the language school won't want to work with her anymore if she marries someone who's not a Christian. I guess this kind of thing goes on all the time, but it's so difficult to imagine.
Also, a cow hit me with its horn today, and now I have a bruise on my thigh. Cows can be mean.

I like to write postcards, so send me your address if you want one!

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October 2006

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