Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Following Ducks

I did a photo shoot of these 2 ducks that always hang out by the communications school at Ithaca College. They are adorable and incredibly friendly. I took the photos for the Ithacan paper and hopefully they'll run the story, because I love the pics. Here are a few I took:


Romman Nectarine

So I've been trying out Romman recently, and this is the second flavor I've tried from them. The first one Lemon Mint was good. However, I would not recommend the Nectarine. It was all around bad. My friend and I did a video review of it this time. It took us some time to figure out exactly how to put the flavor into words. Here's what we came up with: (The video quality is also terrible, by the way since we took footage in the dark)

Basically we thought it tasted like Orange Clorox. It was terrible and had a waxy taste to it. I would definitely not recommend the flavor. I was very disappointed since I hear so much positive feedback about Romman. I'll keep trying flavors though!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

School: Day Two

July 28, 2007

Day 2

My host father was running late the second day and so he just drove me to college and I couldn't meet up with Shivani which was disappointing, and a little scary since I had to manage to find my classroom and get through the college on my own. But I managed fine. I got to the classroom that I remembered being told to go to yesterday. For some reason the sections can't be A and B, instead they are Q and R. How strange is that? Anyway I'm in R, so I went to LR6, my classroom and immediately was stared down by everyone in the class, except Madhav my host brother who pretends not to know me in school. By this point, I'm really not phased by people staring at me. I walked right past everyone and sat down somewhat in the middle. Immediately the girl in front of me turned around. I smiled and introduced myself. A simple smile works awesome in situations like this, because everyone thinks you're friendly if you do that. Now, Khushboo and I are friends. She introduced me to a bunch of other curious girls around me. (The girls and boys are separated so I was around all girls) I met almost all the girls. A few minutes after that, a girl sat next to me whose name is Apurva (Ah-poor-va with a roll of the tongue between the r and v. It's pretty hard to say, but I practice while she laughs and tries to pronounce my name.) usually, I end up writing my name down for people and giving them my information. I don't know what they do with information afterward, they always put it in their bag. So I met more girls through Apurva. She doesn't speak too much English, which proves pretty beneficial because it forces me to speak some Hindi and she teaches me common phrases that the teachers use and stuff. I'm so glad that she happened to sit next to me. I can also ask her all sorts of random questions.

Everyone likes that I'm not too shy, and when they see this come over and talk. But the second day I didn't talk to too many people because i had to pay attention to the teachers.

So I'll describe a little bit of how the school part, besides meeting people, went. The first teacher came in a few minutes late. There are about 80 students in my class. The desks are wooden, with two to a bench. Girls on one side and boys are on the other, like I said earlier. Girls and boys do not interact in school, which is strange to me. The boys, of course, claimed the side of the room with the windows. Most of the time the fan isn't on so it gets hot. So the teacher came in and introduced himself. He was a funny guy, but hard to understand. He would start out talking in good English, but with a slight lisp. Eventually the lisp would get stronger, the accent heavier, and he would slip into full Hindi. Then back into English again. Basically he just gave us our time table. So the time table is: Science Science Science (fifteen minutes for breathing) math science hindi. Okay it isn't exactly like that, but basically. The fifteen minute recess thing isn't so nice.

The next teacher came in, with a nice appearance. He, I learned, is the biology teacher and started the lessons that very day. He asked the definition of biology first and randomly called on people to answer. If they got the answer incorrect, which everyone did, you had to stand until it was answered correctly. Luckily I wasn't called on. Apparently, despite popular belief, the definition of biology is not the study of living organisms. It is the 'range' of study dealing with living organisms, including the main two fields zoology and botany. We wrote in-depth notes after that. It was in that class that I noticed the bars on the windows...

Math followed and that was uneventful. The work is mostly writing and very repetitive. I have no problems understanding the lessons. They are somewhat in English, but if the teacher doesn't know how to explain something properly, they will say it in Hindi, and sometimes accidentally just start talking in Hindi. I can understand Hindi well enough and so I really have no problem. Plus, Apurva helps me by teaching me the phrases that the teachers commonly use like "write this" or "Do you understand?" Hindi is actually a pretty simple language. There isn't much embellishing the words, like English does. There aren't a million different ways to say something and words sound exactly how they are spelled.

School Day One

July 28, 2007

This is a description of my first experiences at school in India. I attened Brijal Biyani Science College for one year. It's located in Amravati, India.

Day One

I was anxious to start school since I had been here over a month and hadn't done too much out of the house. Now I had the chance to make some new friends outside of family and meet different types of people. I didn't know what to expect at all. The college I'm attending is called Brijal Biyani Science College. I've known the courses I would be taking are English, Hindi, Math/Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Very sciencey. So the first day I went, really not with a clue what to expect.

My host father drove me by moped to this girl Shivani's house. Her family is friends with mine and so they figured it would be good if I had someone to accompany me my first day. So Shivani became my first friend outside of family. I got on her moped and we headed out towards college and met up with some other girls, whose names I can't remember yet. There were tons of people when we got to the college and a parking lot jammed full of bikes/mopeds facing in all directions. They appeared not to think about how they would possibly get out of the mess after school. So I hopped off before we entered the parking lot and met up with Shivani after, and met a bunch more people whose names I can't remember either. :P We went into the lecture hall, where all the 11th standard students were told to meet. All the shoes were piled up outside the door. I had worn strap-on sandals which was a mistake because I couldn't take them off real quick so ended up hopping/avoiding the mob of people. When I entered the room I was astounded by how different it was already. The boys were on one side of the room sitting and the girls on the other. Also, everyone was organized and sitting perfectly cross-legged, even though no teacher or anyone had instructed them how to sit. I wondered why it was that they sat so perfectly organized here, but discarded their shoes and bikes in the most unorganized way. Well I sat, feeling quite pale among all these people, and tried to imitate their posture of perfection.

Everyone was talking and I was meeting everyone around me. Then the principal walked in and everyone stood up instantly and said "Good morning sir" I was just barely able to keep up without falling on the person in front of me. Then we sat and he began to talk about dress code, basic rules, how the college is open and not strict. What I found amusing was when he asked what people planned to do after Biyani. First he asked how many would like to be engineers, all but about ten raised their hands, and those remaining ten wanted to be doctors. Here, there are very few options but medical and engineering fields. I am not shy and ask tons of questions, like whether or not they actually want to become engineers, and typically the answer is no. Its sad to see these people work so hard and spend so much time studying to go into a field they don't like. The principal also made quite a few science jokes, which I couldn't help but laugh along with. I think I laughed most because the rest of the students were cracking up. "Wouldn't you like to preserve your brain in formaldahyde so that all the information stays in, or maybe keep a magnetic field around." This one got a bunch of laughs.

When that was finally over and I could move my cramped legs, I went back with Shivani to her house, ate food, filled in some of her Slambook. (it's a type of book for friends to fill out to get to know them better) and then she had her art class, and I was invited to go as well, so I did. A couple of her friends were in that too. She was practicing calligraphy, her friend using watercolor. I met the man who ran the class. The class is located on the side of the road, it's just a small room in the open with canvas, paints, newspapers, and brushes everywhere. I got to sketch, because I had said that I had an interest in art, so he gave me a test. He handed me a magazine cover featuring a Bollywood actress (Aishwarya Rai) and told me to sketch it. I did, and surprsingly it came out alright. He even approved, after checking it with a ruler (There lips were actually about 1cm off) So I then signed up for the class. Now I have that everyday after college.

After that nothing too eventful happened. I went to the market, which is always fun, and bought a schoolbag and pencil case that is suitable for college for $4 US. I'm actually getting really cheap. I felt like I spent too much after buying the bag. :)


Here is my very simple Hookah-Hookah review:

Gross. I have tried a gazillion flavors, like I've said before, and they are simply awful. Don't be tempted by their unique flavors. I am usually optimistic and figure hey, Lemonade sucked, maybe Blueberry will be better. Nope. They taste unnatural. You get flavor for all of three and a half minutes and absolutely no buzz. The stuff might be good to get acquainted with hookah when you're first learning, but compared to all the other shisha's out there, it's not worth it. Here are some of the flavors I've tried:

Double Apple
Fruit Punch

I kind of just gave up after a while. Not worth the money. Invest in some good stuff. My rating:


(yes that rating does exist)

Tangiers Guava

If you haven't tried Tangiers yet, try it. I love all of Tangier's flavors and I think it's great tobacco. What I was smoking today (and for the past two nights) was Tangiers Guava. If you don't know what a guava is, you're going to have to try it. In India it was one of my favorite fruits. I also tried Guava shisha for the first time in India. I had a Guava shisha/ Rum base mixture which was great. Don't do this unless you are of legal age! ;)

Tangiers in general is awesome once you get used to using it. It takes some practice and I also highly recommend using a Phunnel bowl. Your flavor will last much longer and you'll have great sessions. Also with Tangiers I recommend using natural coals, my faves are Coco Nara's. Once they're lit they are very low maintenance.

*Tangiers shisha looks much different from most tobaccos. It is very thick and dark. You also get great smoke and buzz.

Acclimating, or letting it sit out in the air, is necessary to use this flavor.
I recommend putting it in some Tupperware and letting it sit out anywhere between 3-6 hours before use. If not, it will be very harsh and too strong to smoke/enjoy. The only complaint with Tangiers is from people who don't set it right. I also suggest using a Phunnel bowl as opposed to an Egyptian.
Phunnel Bowl

So overall I would rate this Shisha a four and a half, leaving the half just in case something super amazing comes by. But this stuff is great and worth a try.


Romman Lemon Mint

I tested out my new flavor today--
Romman Lemon Mint

I smoked some hookah this afternoon with a couple friends between classes and I decided to test out the new Lemon Mint flavor. I bought it because it sounded so fresh. And it was. Overall I enjoyed it. It was my first experience with Romman, but I've heard lots of positive reviews. I used it in a phunnel bowl today, only because I was using Tangiers in it before that, and I found it took a LOT of heat to get it started. Once it got going it was nice. I felt like there wasn't a ton of smoke, but they may have been because I was lazy with the coals. I like to use Coco Nara's, but when I'm not near a kitchen it's difficult.

(I really like their new box design. It's fancy.)

Something interesting I did in addition to the Lemon Mint flavor was I put a green tea bag into the base with cold water. It had a faint flavor which I really liked and I want to try when I have some ice too.

Anyway, overall I would rate Romman Lemon Mint with three stars. Try it out :)


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Smoking Hookah

So, don't ask how, but I just discovered this song that came out in August called "Smoking Hookah" by Brewsky
Watch/Listen: (There's no actual video) The song is great though.

Acclimating Tangiers

Yes, while continuing my procrastination to read about the Flu Pandemic. I will eventually get to that. Just, after dinner.

So I thought I would let you know, if you haven't looked it up already, about the process of acclimating Shisha. Mostly you only do it for Tangiers because it's so strong. Read the labels it comes with if you do go and buy it because they will also tell you to let it sit in the air for a while. And that's what 'acclimating' it is, leaving it to air for a few hours before using it.

I'm currently doing this with my Tangiers Guava flavor. What I normally do is leave it out by a window (so the smell isn't overwhelming in the room) in Tupperware for about three hours. It is necessary to do this with Tangiers, but not really for any other brands of tobacco. It doesn't hurt though, and keeping it separate from the box is always a good idea. The tobacco constantly leaks in those cardboard boxes. You can also store it in the fridge if you've held onto it for a long time.

I'm very happy my roommate hasn't complained about the Guava yet, and that she's not an anti-smoking advocate or anything.

New Stuff!

My Hookah paraphenelia finally came. It turns out college doesn't accept packages Saturday, Sunday, and this week Monday. Great order planning on my part.
What I got:
Three packages of Romman tobacco
  • Lemon Mint
  • Nectarine
  • Good Times
I also got Tangiers Guava flavor, which I've tried before and I love. Guava is an old favorite. I first tried it at Mr. Beans in Nagpur. I've also had it with rum in the base which is delicious.
I got a couple mystery flavors too that were on clearance at Hookah-Shisha.com. They're Al Waha plum and "memories" Al Waha is usually okay, they're just my backup flavors.

I was happy to be able to throw out my Hookah Hookah brand CRAP today. If you appreciate hookah and smoking, don't smoke Hookah Hookah brand, their shisha is the worst on the market. Don't be tempted by the millions of enticing flavors. None of them are worthwhile. When I was new to shisha, I would try them because they're free, but they all are just awful. anyway.

I also got a Mya hose. Check it out:

And lastly,
I have a new bowl. A very large phunnel bowl that I'm dying to use. It holds 35-45 grams of Shisha. It'll be much better when using Tangiers. I used to just use my Egyptian bowl, but it holds so little, it's really a waste of tobacco. I'll review that as well later.

Clearly I have a red theme going on here....

I lied. I also bought some Coco Nara coals, but they're not too exciting.

So I'll be putting up all my reviews within the week, probably some tonight. (If I get to my homework. :)

Coffee and Hookah

So, I am new to the Ithaca region, and discovered Saturday the amazing grocery store: Wegman's. I've been hearing everyone talk about Wegman's for the past few months and I knew it was time to check it out for myself. I was expecting something similar to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but Wegman's is the Market Basket of people who care about their health. I was thrilled walking around this store, especially in the coffee section. I bought Chocolate Raspberry coffee, Orange, and some Las Lajas Medium coffee. The amount of coffee I drank prior to Wegman's doesn't compare to the amount I now drank. I also acquired a coffee maker on sale. I don't think it meets the dorm requirements for "safe" coffeemakers, but I don't really care. This leads me to my coffee and hookah post. While in town I also purchased some new Shisha. I hear lots of people talk about Starbuzz and I also know they use it in most Hookah Bars/Lounges, but until Saturday I hadn't tried it.

My friend and I bought some Starbuzz Code 69. I have to say the flavor was delicious. It has a very subtle fruit taste. You get hints of different fruits every time. The flavor also lasted a long time and once it was heated it kept going. I just used quicklights since my package with natural coals hasn't come yet. Overall I would say it was great, the only thing that would turn me away from it was the intense buzz I got. I have to admit I may have smoked a little TOO much in a short period of time, but it has been a long time since I've been that buzzed out. I nearly blacked out after going up a few flights of stairs. I was a little concerned, but it didn't ruin my hookah experience completely. I would just suggest taking it easy with Starbuzz.

So my combination recommendation: Starbuzz Code 69 with a hot cup of Wegman's Chocolate Raspberry coffee (with amaretto creamer) is absolutely delcious.

Something strange I also tried this weekend?
Starbuzz Pink with MILK in the base. I've heard of milk in the base before, but I never thought I'd try it. Certainly not in my hookah because I wouldn't feel like cleaning it up. My friend, however, happened to be smoking it outside his dorm so I tried it. Surprisingly it was pretty nice. Again with the Starbuzz Pink, I got a really strong buzz, but the milk made the smoke very smooth. I liked it, but I wouldn't say it was a huge change over water.

That's all for now. I have some more Hookah recipes I want to share, but maybe I'll add them when my package finally comes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thank You for Good Conversations

I thought I would share a couple of my favorite conversations from my time in Amravati. They are as follows:

August 29, 2007

Yesterday, sitting outside at college (definitely not skipping physics), I sat with my friend Rani and another girl. I will share how this went yesterday.

Rani, sitting beside me on a stone in the shade suddenly leaned over to me, with a real serious look on her face. It was the type of face I saw on Radha’s face when I told her what burgers in the U.S are made of. She leans close and says, “Kelsey, you know I want to tell you something.” She said this in a mixture of strange Indian accent and some Hindi/Marathi.
“Oh yeah?” I said, interested because by her look I knew it had to be good. “Kya?”
“You know Nupoor?” She asked. I did because Nupoor was the very bubbly, would-be-preppy if she lived in the U.S kind of girl who called me over just to say hi all the time. So I nodded. Actually, I didn’t nod. I did the typical Indian sideways bobbley head wobble nod thing that takes much practice.
Then she cupped her hands around my ear and whispered (rather too loudly so I squinted) “She did the kissing.”
I tried my hardest not to smile and burst out laughing, so I raised my eyebrows and said “Bopre!”
Rani went on, glad I shared her shock and disbelief. “Yeah, yeah. And you know (she says ‘you know’ a lot) I think she’s engaged. To Nathan.” I couldn’t help but laugh at this point. She gets frustrated when I laugh because this was serious business.
“Why do you think that?” I asked.
“Well, you know (there it is again), they’re always walking together outside of school and laughing. And she calls him a lot, and talks on Orkut. (Indian facebook). It’s unhealthy. It’s not good.” She shook her head, disapprovingly.
So we continued our little gossiping and then went and ate samosas.
But my, that Nupoor is really a slut. :)

Chemistry Class:

“V.N Patil.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Responded a girl shyly while standing.
I wasn’t really paying attention. There were a hundred students and my name was either on the bottom of the list or not there at all.
Going through the people she says at one point: “Gandhi.”
“Present.” Said a boy standing, then sat.
I thought that was extremely entertaining and still do in every class.


It is strange to encounter and old man on the street who speaks perfect English. I was walking into my host father’s office when a man says perfect and politely, “Excuse me, ma’am.”
I turned to see a very old man standing there. He asked my host aunt where the cooking class was because it apparently wasn’t in the office we were headed into. Then he went through the basics like everyone else, asking where I’m from. Once he had learned I was studying at Biyani Science College and I was an exchange student he was smiling and before leaving said, “I hope you bring honor to your family name.”
I don’t know why but that stuck with me. Never would someone say that in the U.S.

Hm, there was another but I can't remember...

Just some tidbits from people I encountered.

Oh Yeah I take Photos Too

That's right, I'm THAT cool. Not only can I write in my native language, I can take photos too.

This is a form of self advertising. For some reason people who take photos of themselves in a mirror, alternating between flash or no flash shots get more publicity than my AMAZING photos. I try taking pictures of Yoga masters, COOL rocks, men holding fish, pink (yes, pink) flowers, and still no one cares. I almost considered taking some angle shots of my face in front of a mirror to attract more visitors, but I figured I would save SOME dignity.


Interested yet?
Ah, well here is the link to my DeviantArt page. Tell your friends.

PS? Wanna know how many hits THIS GUY got?

35,615 and counting.

One of My Favorite Videos

Where the Hell is Matt?

I can never get enough of this video. I am not generally a sentimental person, but this video really inspires me. (Maybe just because I'm a travel bug anyway)
I truly admire this guy though, Matt Harding. (Whose blogs I love) Hey Stride Gum, wanna sponsor me too? (I can dance better) Jk, Mr. Matt.

Sorry for the minor cut off on the side. :(((((

A little taste of Experience

Okay, this is my test post of some of my India entries.

There were no monumental events in July, no tours or amazing sights (okay everything is still an amazing sight), but I started a lot of things and slipped into a routine. I also marked my one month period here in India, I'm up to forty something days now. At the beginning of the month I was still adjusting to the newness of this extremely different culture, but slowly it has all started to become normal for me. I have not really been active with the Rotary club here, actually I haven't really heard from them at all or attended Rotary meetings. I've had a couple brief introductions with an officer or two, but that's it. I have been fully immersed in this family, and really I'm not complaining that I haven't been with the Rotary. This family is always growing in size. It seems the chain of family expands all over India which is really interesting. I don't know how many times I have introduced myself, explained where I'm from, blah blah. What is also the same is how friendly and open everyone is with each other in the family. Nothing is personally yours, but everyone's. Your problem is everyone's problem. It is nice, but strange to me not to have so much independence. Where usually I would just go out with friends at home with no problem. Here, I have to ask the family, tell the friend's surname, status, etc. And then they can approve of them or not. I have actually not been to a friend's house and I doubt I will any time soon.

It's normal for me now to wake up at 6am, take a shower(with a pitcher and bucket), then change into a Salwar and go have some tea and biscuits before heading to school on a moped. And afterwards going to Bwaji's house just for some lunch and a nap then go to sketching and dance class, return for tea, then go home. Dinner at 8:30pm has also become normal. The dishes change according to what is available in the market. The season of mangoes has passed unfortunately. But now pomegranates and corn are really popular. A day doesn't go by when I don't eat about 4 pieces of corn. Pomegranate seeds are in everything cold, salads, anything. I'm excited that oranges will be available soon. We also have lemon a lot as well because there's a huge lemon tree next to the house, so we get fresh little lemons everyday. Manali eats them with salt on it. I have to admit that I tried it, and cried in the process. If there's anything more sour than eating a lemon straight, it's eating a lemon straight with a lot of salt. Now I just eat it with a little sugar unless I'm feeling really ambitious. But corn with salt and lemon is really good. If you can tell, I'm hungry at the moment. I'm going out for lunch with some extended relatives and some of my host family.

Hookah Time

As mentioned in my AboutMe. I love hookah. It's only natural that I am a fanatic for two reason. A) I attend Ithaca College. B) I lived in India.

Basically, there's no way I'm not going to love hookah.

Anyway, I recently just got a new hookah in Ithaca Commons, nothing super fancy. I got it downtown at Jabbawock, smoker heaven. There are shelves and shelves of bowls. They range from your little one-hitters, to normal size, head-shaped, dragon bowls. And at the back of the store is the hookah selection. I have to say, it's not the best, but they function well from what I've used so far.

My complaints? They seem to support ONLY "hookah hookah" brand shisha. It is probably the worst kind of shisha one can buy. I personally am a fan of Tangiers, though it takes a little more work. If you ever want some additional hookah tips, just let me know. Anyway, here is a picture of my new hookah. I will probably post another since this is an awful shot and I ordered some new parts for it.

What's going to change?
I ordered a Mya hose from www.hookah-shisha.com, one of my absolute favorite hookah sites.
I also ordered a Phunnel bowl. Don't get me wrong, Egyptian bowls are great, but it's time for a new and exciting flavor experience with this bowl. Plus, Tangiers is wasted less when used in a Phunnel bowl.

So, if you see me around campus, I'll probably be with my new (currently unnamed) hookah. Have any name ideas? let me know.


Hey everyone, welcome to my new abode.
I am just starting up this new blog, since my site is a pain to keep up, especially not that I have zero time in college. (That's not true, I just spend my time on better activities: like hookah and parties)

What am I going to be posting here, you ask?
Well, I have a shit ton of old (quasi-interesting) posts from my travels in India. I am hoping to start re-editing those and make them more readable. At the present moment they are between Ithaca, NY and Boston.
PS. I am from the Boston area, Wenham Mass. to be more specific.
I interested in writing and also in photography. I am a journalism major, and I will soon declare a photography minor as soon as I can figure out my first minor (which has to be outside the communications school, go figure) I currently take photos for The Ithacan, and I'm hoping to start writing some articles for the Buzzsaw magazine.

Well that was my exciting introduction. What do you know about me now? Pretty much nothing, but I'll change that soon. (depending on how many parties are this weekend)

Yes. So, I am Kelsey signing out for now. Keep posted!


My photo
Ithaca, New York
Hey! I'm eighteen. I love elephants. My personal movie collection consists of Slumdog Millionaire, Mulan, and the Illusionist. (not saying those are my favorite movies, I just own them) I am a hookah fanatic. I am NOT a socialist, even if my Bio teacher wishes I was. I'm a college kid, a freshman journalism major. Oh I also eat popcorn daily.