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amyeberg in cmc08abroad

After being in this country for two and a half months, we finally made it to church. Um, kind of. We got a late start out of the apartment, and our rickshaw driver didn't know where it was (they always say they know, even if they don't, and then sometimes the mean ones will charge you extra if they get lost), so we were late. We did get to take Communion and sing one hymn, though, and we'll be back. The church was beautiful on the inside, even though it wasn't much to look at from the outside. I think it dates to the early 20th century. Afterwards we went to brunch at the India Habitat Center, which was very American (eggs and pancakes) and very delicious.
I killed a cockroach Monday in our kitchen...eww. That night, on an even more cheerful note, some of us went to a lecture at the India International Centre on sati, which is the practice of widow immolation on husbands' funeral pyres. It's been outlawed ever since the British Raj, but it still occurs, although rarely. Outlawing it is sort of problematic, though, because it was linked in the past to some interpretations of Hinduism, and because the British outlawed it because they viewed the Indians as mostly savages. This discussion was about a couple of books that looked at sati, and since the panel was made of historians, it was academic, but still compelling.
On Friday night, we went to a performance of classical Indian dance. A woman who is 19 and already a famous dancer (didn't this make me feel like a slacker) performed several odissi dances, which are very stylized stories and dances. Each hand and eye movement was absolutely precise, and her fingers were dyed red and eyes were heavily made up for emphasis. Then a man performed kathak, which is vaguely reminiscent of flamenco. In fact, he has also performed with flamenco dancers in Spain. There was a lot of spinning and foot stomping involved. The musicians for these dances were sitting on the stage playing, and so the kathak dancer would tell them a rhythym, they would play it, and he would dance. This went on for a little too long, maybe, but it was still neat.

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October 2006

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