This was one of my favorite people I met on this trip.  She made sure we were all well fed and full of chai tea (the women of the college are pros at feeding guests).  Everything she made was fresh and made that day with local ingredients.  On the last day, I refilled my cup of chai tea about 7 times.  I was a frequent flyer at the snack table.  She did not speak any English but she had a memorable smile and laugh.

 

January 6 - Cultural Exchange Event

 Banana Leaf Eating Extravaganza

One of most memorable lunches hands down was this meal.  We ate at an upper class hotel in a private banquet hall. When we walked in we were immediately served freshly made watermelon juice.  We ate a four course meal in about 20 minutes... these Indian women could sweep any eating contest.

1st Course: Rice with yellowish sauce. Rolled rice into balls in hand. Eat/ throw rice ball into your mouth then follow with a swipe of curry.  We had ginger, pickled mango, beet, cucumber, and sweet pineapple/coconut curries to choose from. My favorite was the pineapple/ coconut curry. When the scoop of rice on our plates were all gone, the servers came around to give us another gigantic scoop for the 2nd course.

2nd Course: Sweet/ coconut and pineapple sauce.  Took a mini banana and mashed it up in sauce to create a mini banana ball to eat.  It was amazing and I could have eaten it all day if my stomach would have allowed it. It was sweet, milky, nutty, and banana favored all in one.

3rd Course: Sambar. We were given more rice which was covered in a spicy sambar.  I was bursting with rice at this point. The women next to me had cleaned her leaf entirely while I had almost half of my food still left.

4th Course: coconut juice which is supposed to cleanse the mouth.  It was refreshing but I think I missed by mouth a tad and a majority of the juice ended up on my cheeks/nose/ banana left instead of on my taste buds. The guy who scooped the juice into my hand seemed to get a kick out of my struggle. They came around once more with a hot/spicy drink that was supposed to be good for digestion.  Once again more of it ended up on my face then in my mouth.

Overall it was an incredible meal and experience.  Eating with your hands is a challenge and I think I love napkins even more after this meal.

 

 

 

I took some great videos of our host nurses performing traditional dances and some beautiful singing.   Their performances were so rich in culture and heritage.  We were in the presence of some very talented people. 

 This nursing student sang Heart Will Go On for us.  So beautiful!

 

 

These nursing students performed a traditional Indian dance.

 

 

Our talents were a little different.  We worked with what we had and I think we pulled out a very successful performance. We started our "program" by saying our names and giving our families heritage.  Then we gave a presentation about the WCU nursing department and campus, read a poem by Maya Angelou, hand games (rockin robin and ms. mary mac), and a contemporary jazz performance.  Hanna and I demonstrated how to make a PB&J and handed them out to the crowd (a video exists but I'm debating if I want to embarrass myself by posting it).  We ended our program by teaching a few volunteers the cupid shuffle. After 1:30 of the song we turned it off and the crowded boo'ed because they wanted to keep dancing.  Before it was over, we sang the national anthem.  Everyone in the room stood and followed our lead by putting their hands over their hearts while we sang.  The whole afternoon was unforgettable and made me feel even prouder of being an American.