January 7, 2008

I’m right now in Newark airport, waiting for my flight to Charlotte. I’m catching a connecting flight to Orlando and should be back on campus around 6 o’clock. Phew.

Last time I wrote, I was packing my bags and headed to India for two weeks to celebrate various occasions with my extended family from practically all over the world. I left for India on  the 18th with my 82 year old grandma =] The rest of my family, because of college/work weren’t leaving until two days later. We flew for 9 hours, landed in Frankfurt and waited about a half hour for our flight and sat for another 8 hours to Bangalore. At the end of the 17 hours, I just wanted to walk around, maybe even run because my legs were so bored of sitting for so long. We flew economy with Lufthansa and since it was an international flight, the seats were actually decent, but there wasn’t enough leg room as always. Finally landing in Bangalore was such a relief but SUCH a mess at the same time. The airport was pretty tiny and there were only two international baggage claim carousels and so many flights had landed at the same time and wow was it crazy. It was only me and grandma and me with my big suitcase that I could barely lift and a few of grandmas smaller luggage was too much for me to handle, but I did, so I felt pretty accomplished. We stayed at my aunts house that night and the next. Bangalore was pretty rainy, which sucked =/ but my two younger cousins wanted to go for a walk with me really badly and I didn’t realize why until they ran outside and started jumping in all the puddles. It was real cute and reminded me of when my sis and I used to do that when we were much younger.

It’s great going back to Bangalore and seeing my younger cousins. It’s strange for me to have someone looking up to me. One of my cousins, she’s 11; she sat with me for a half hour and asked me to explain everything in my makeup bag. Kids grow up so fast these days. She had all these questions and it was such a different feeling for me to actually have someone that thinks of me as a kind of role model, because in my eyes, I’m hardly a role model yet. My parents and sis arrived the next day and off we were to Coimbatore (still in South India) for the reunion to begin!

We took a 20 minute flight to Coimbatore and almost missed it. I’m sure we aggravated more than a few passengers on board when the plane was delayed a half hour because of us. We were going to Coimbatore to celebrate my grandpa’s (mom’s side) eightieth birthday. Eighty is a big deal, especially in India. There are special rituals and such that go along with turning eighty and there’s always a big party too! I hadn’t seen some of my cousins on my Mom’s side in years, so it was great meeting everyone again, especially since we’re all close in age to each other. We stayed at a hotel in Coimbatore and in India room service is so cheap, it was amazing. When converted, you could get Iced coffee for a dollar (which was expensive according to Indian standards) and a whole decent gourmet meal for under 5 dollars. It was great! Sis and I ordered room service like crazy, just because if we did the same here, we would’ve spent at least two hundred bucks. Anyways, back to the main reason we were in Coimbatore was the party.

The first day, we got to dress up and be in the presence of a really long puja. Us kids got a little bored in the middle, so we went shopping. We definitely turned way too many heads when we walked on the streets with clothing way too grand for casual shopping. After the puja, the kids put on a show of sorts. A few of grandpa’s brothers spoke about life during the old days, the really old days. There was some singing and dancing and a lot of excitement. We went back to the room and got ready for day two! Day two was a shorter puja and more dancing. My sis and I wore sari’s today! I’ve only worn one, one other time, during my Grandma’s (dad’s side) 80th birthday. Mine was pink and sis’s was blue =] That day ended with a little more shopping and that’s it!

The next day all my mom’s brothers (she has three) families and us went to this place called TopSlip. It’s a hillside community with an elephant safari and other things. It was cool even though we went when most of the elephants were sleeping but we saw a million monkeys! They were practically following us because we had some food in a bag. It was really great watching them so close by. We left TopSlip and went back to the hotel to prepare for the next day!

The next day was Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I had an unusual one of sorts. There wasn’t a tree or holiday tv shows or lights everywhere, but there was a lot of family and a visit to a garment factory! So people in India don’t celebrate Christmas like they do here, so it wasn’t really a big deal. My aunt’s dad took us to this factory that manufactures clothes! I love shopping, so I thought it’d be fun. Dad wanted to show us how painstakingly hard it is just to make one t-shirt. We first went to this manufacturing plant called Jupiter. This factory was cleaner beyond anything I could’ve thought an Indian factory would be. The place was spotless! I felt like I was back home walking through that factory. They were an all inclusive factory so they did everything from making the cloth, printing the design and sewing a shirt up. They were mostly an underwear manufacturing plant, but it was cool to still see the overall process. Then we went to the plant called Prem Group Company (PGC). This visit was my favorite! They served us delicious coffee on bean bag chairs and it reminded me of being back home, which is always a good thing. This plant was the primary supplier to this Swiss brand called Switcher. They also did Calvin Klein and Ferrari among a few others. It was awesome! They showed us the start to finish of a t-shirt. There were assembly lines set up to put the shirts together after everything up to the cutting was done – that part is all automated. They said that there’s nowhere in the world that can automate the actual putting together of the shirt. They inspected each shirt made like it was gonna change the world if there was a mistake, which I thought was pretty good =] overall, the two factory visits were a real eye opener.

New Years was fast approaching and I was counting on my cousin to make sure sis and I had a good New Years. Unfortunately…we got sick =[ really badly sick. Two days before New Years, we went to a restaurant that didn’t suit my sis and I and we got possibly the worst stomach infection in history. I spent New Years hoping I wouldn’t throw up again while feeling sick to my stomach. It really sucked. The mixture of all this traveling coupled with uneasy food really got to us bad. My entire family got sick with colds and stomach viruses, it was terrible! I was leaving for home on the 2nd and, thankfully, by then I was feeling much much better. I was going back by myself which was going to be a bit lonely unfortunately =[ But in Bangalore, I got a free upgrade to Business class! It was awesome. A 9 hour flight in Business class is so much better than in economy. I only got it for half the way though because the flight was booked from Frankfurt to Newark. I had a few hours to spend in Frankfurt and I actually had access to the Business lounge so I called mom. My flight left Bangalore two hours late, so I missed my original connecting flight from Frankfurt to JFK, so when they rebooked my flight, I was landing in Newark! I enjoyed that plane ride a lot, with pretty decent food and everything. Once I finally landed in Newark, my journey wasn’t over yet. My parents didn’t want me staying at home alone so I was gonna go to my Uncles house in Pennsylvania and spend a few days there until dad came back that weekend. I was going to take a bus because everyone was at work, but my friend Kay was on his way to PA and was willing to go a bit out of his way to drop me off. I was so sick on the flight it wasn’t even funny. I had the worst cold imaginable (that’s now almost gone) and I just wanted to crash in bed. He dropped me off at my uncles, which I was incredibly grateful for being so sick and all.

I spent the next four days at my uncles. They’re opening a new tax service office and it was exciting being around a new business. Exciting stuff for sure. Dad came on Saturday to their house and we were going to leave that day, but knowing we would’ve have Indian food for a while, we stayed the extra day. We came back on Sunday and did four loads of laundry. My dad goes to Charlotte, NC for business every week, so he barely gets to be home too. After packing, we thought it would be a good idea to go out for dinner, so we went to that restaurant Ming I’ve mentioned during Thanksgiving. It’s a family favorite, a mix of Indian and Chinese food. He felt bad that I would eat pasta and pizza for the next three months, so we celebrated the both of us actually being home for once. I only got to spend a few hours at home, even though I would’ve loved just two days to wake up in my own bed and make my own coffee and take a shower in my bathroom. The benefits of home =] I didn’t see my mom or sis before I left for the airport today because they’re coming on Wednesday from india.

oh my. Classes are starting!!!!!! They’re starting on Wednesday. This semester is pretty challenging for me. Here’s my classes:

Calc II – Lombardo

Physics II –

EGR 115 – Intro to Computing -Lehr

Technical  Writing – Porter

Honors Seminar – French.

I’m nervous for classes to start. 😡 My flight’s almost here!

I’ve posted a TON of pictures from India, check them out and see how we celebrate an 80th birthday in India =]

I couldn’t upload all of them onto my virb, so I asked my cousin for the link to hers! Enjoy!

+ Enjoy your last few months of Senior Year everyone!

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About Spree

**Hometown:** Edison, New Jersey **Why I Chose Embry-Riddle:** Embry-Riddle is a one-of-a-kind school bent on making dreams come true. Since I was young, I would look no where but up and ERAU is filled with like-minded people who literally reach for the stars every day.

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