Saturday, August 22, 2009

A band of Bedouins delayed the post

So, it's been awhile since I've given an update on my expedition. At least it feels like awhile since everyday I have a new story to tell - so much happens here! Cliffnotes version (as far as I am capable):

Awhile ago we went to the Samachalam Temple with the chief physician and astrologer to the maharaja of Vizanagram. The maharaja is still the president of the temple so was able to make a nice little phone call and get us all the way inside to the deity and see all of the temple - something that would have been completely impossible or horrendously expensive for us Westerners otherwise. We were able to participate in a wonderful puja (ritual worship) service and experience a unique darshan (seeing the god as he sees you.) Questions arise here of worshiping false gods and not eating food offered to idols - both solid Old Testament rules, but I chalk it up under participant observation and respect for others' beliefs, and leave it at that.
We also got to embrace the Wishing Column and make a wish. Most couples come to ask for increased fertility. I did not.

The temple itself was built in the 14th century and I dare any European cathedral to compete with it for beauty or intricacy of detail. Pictures of same:

Indian Independence Day was on the 15th. We went to the school in the Jalaripet village for a short program and to watch some games. We got our hands henna'd for the occasion, too.

Monday-Wednesday we spent at JNTU - an engineering college about 4 hours from here. We toured classrooms, sang the only Telugu song we know 20 billion times, gave speeches, listened to speeches, and danced the Macarena and a cobbled-together EFY line dance in front of local dignitaries and the entire student body. And then to ice the cake as it were, yours truly was somehow wrangled to participate in an impromptu dance off on stage with another member of my group...okay, so it really wasn't that hard to convince me. I just kind of forgot that there was a news camera there as I jumped and jived and, yes, did the worm. I maybe got a little carried away...but does that surprise anyone? The next morning it was on the national news. 40 million+ people saw me. Dr. Nuckolls is still getting comments from people about it. I may be able to get away with saying a goddess possessed me and made me dance like that.

Tonight we were also privilaged to have the temple musicians come down from Samachalam and perform at the Krishna Temple just down the street. Dr. Nuckolls assures us that we have earned great merit in the next life for sponsoring this event. A video will be forthcoming.


  1. are you doing the worm in indian attire? awesome.

  2. Zanna, that is priceless. You are my cool, crowd-surfing sister. It was only a matter of time and arrangement of circumstance. Some things are just fated. You're adorable. I don't know how to say this so it doesn't sound frivolous or like a trite thing I say, but most fervently, I'm glad of you!