Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dharavi Slum, Day 14

In the morning we all woke up at 8:30 AM had some room service and got ready for our adventure to the slum that Heather had setup for us. Reality Kids tour company came and picked us up. Our guide was Thomas, such a wonderful man. Reality kids is owned by a British man and has been open for 5 years. I learned so much while on the tour and made sure to take lots of notes. Here are the stats on Mumbai and the slum we toured:
--> Reality kids are one o the only agencies allowed in the slums. No photos can be taken of the slum. But I did get a post card of the slum and posted it. they are a non-profit agency that teaches children English in the slums. Here is their website: To volunteer:

First we drove through the streets learning about some famous spots.
--> Did you know that there are 60,000 prostitutes in the red light district... In Mumbai?? Prostitution is illegal. However, due to "trafficking" women looking for work (not prostitution) are taken to the red light district, put into cages and used for prostitution. They are sold off for as little as 500 rupee (around $10) Most of the girls are 9-years old, taken from their families, drugged, caged and worked to death. Many of them get STDs and HIV/AIDS. So sad and unbelievable. How could a government let this continue?
--> 30 people a day fall off trains and die.
--> over 6-7 million people a day use the central or church line trains for transportation.
--> 90 million people live in Mumbai
--> Over 10,000 people a day do laundry in Dhoby... basically a giant laundry mate. Not to mention they do laundry in unsanitary conditions, many get malaria, typhoid and other illness'.

There are two types of slums
1) Pavement dwellers: those that have shacks by the road. Indian government does not provid water or sewage lines. However, if they have been living as dwellers before 1995 and were issued an ID then Indian government provides them with water and sewage. So weird.
2) Dharavi Slum: largest slum in the world and has a population density 20 times that of mumbai making it the most densely populated 'city' in the world.
*When we arrive to Dharavi we were not allowed to take photos. If caught taking photos its a 7000 rupee fine. This is due privacy issues.

More stats on the slum:
* 55% of Mumbai people live in the slums
* There are over 2,000 slums including Dharavi in Mumbai
* 1 million people live in 432 acres... what!? That gnarly...
* 50% of the people are Hindu, 40% muslim, and 10% Christian.
* Very few people speak English and there are many Indian dialects
* The first slum was made in 1840. It was used as a marsh, then a contractor started trowing trash in it and people started making houses to work closer to the city. Basically, one slum house turned into many slum houses, forming a town, then a city within a city. Slums are made illegally by the people, but the government cannot take them away. Why? Because there are too many people living in the slums and where will all those slumdogs go?
* Employment in the slums are 90%
* Slum annual income is 655 million

What do people do in the slums... WORK!
They work hard. Jobs Entail:
* Bakers: what most people don't know in India is that most baked goods like cookies, biscuits and other baked goods are made right in the Dharavi Slum... Gross right?--- 4 tons of food is produced a day. The government doesn't want people to know it is mede in the slums so they write "made in Mumbai" on it. Currently, the government is looking into building apartments where the bottom floor would be only for slum people and the rest of the floors would be used for other people to rent.

The slum also contains:
* 2 hospitals: according to Thomas most people live until they are 50 years old, due to chemicals they inhale while working and safety issues.
* 1 mosque and 1 church
* numerous shops
* jobs entail: textile workers, plastic dweller (note: all PC monitors from the USA go to India to be crushed and recycled... weird), leather industry (made from goats, sheep and buffalo... talk about disease and grossness, yuck... It smelled racid as we passed by. I tried not to vomit in my mouth). Papads making: a type of Indian tortilla. Women were using a PCP pipe and river water. Note: not HACCP approved, probably full of bacteria and grossness. But delicious. Another note to self... NEVER ordering PAPADS in the Indian restaurants again. Clay pot making: 1200 families live in this community and make pots (10.5 acres).

Housing: there is water for 3-hours a day... Only in the morning. The slum has free, yes free wi-fi and most people have TVs.
* 40 people share one bathroom
* homes have 2 levels and there are about 12 people living in 900 square feet
* There is not clean air, no lights in the narrow ally ways. There are lights only inside the homes and lots of electricity lines that hang above. You must be careful of the lines so you don't get electrocuted.

The Indian women take care of the kids. Due to lack of education the people throw their trash in their yards. This causes water contamination and diseases such a typhoid and malaria. The river that we passed by was nasty. Normally rivers are blue or clear. This one was pure black... Yes, black with animal and human poo and trash floating on top... Oh not to mention there were people SWIMMING in the black poopie water. So refreshing. The smells were so memorizing. It smelt at times like raw eggs, sulfur, vomit and urine, yummy.

Religion: In 1993 there was a riot between the Hindus' and muslims. The two religions separated after the Hindus' burnt down the muslim mosque. Employers started to duscriminate. Now, after 7-years the two religions live more in harmony.

Marriage: Dowery is a law. All marriage is paid by the women. However, the women owns the man, hahaha.

Schooling: private schools cost 200 rupee a month. More then 80 people a day learn English in the non-profit reality kids!
* Male literacy rate in India is 73%
* Female literacy rate in India is 48%
* 9 million children do not attend school

Overall, the slum was such an adventure and eye-opener of how lucky and fortunate we are to live where we do. They people seem really happy and they're such hard workers. After the slum tour we drove back, ate some bananas and did some yoga. After yoga we went and got some lunch as an AC restaurant since Mumbai weather was well into the 90s with humidity. I went and got my last acupuncture treatment from Neveen. We got a note under the door from the others letting us know that they were going for a walk. Naveen and I went for a walk as well to explore the city. It was getting dark but we managed to walk an hour to a beautiful spot and a 7-star hotel that was all lite up. We decided to to get some prom portrait for $1.40. Neveen's phone needed more money on it so he could call Heather to see where the group walked to. He decided to use the STD phone. Heather and everyone were back at the hotel. We decided to walk back and grab dinner with them. It was our last dinner together as a group, cause Dani and I were headed to New Delhi to see the Taj Mahl in the morning.

When Naveen and I were walking earlier he asked me if I was still enjoying India. I told him that the people are so nice but the place is truly dirty and I wished the Indian people would take better care of their beautiful city. Mumbai has such beautiful museums and architecture. However, Indians live in a dirty world... A world that is familiar to them. They don't understand the concept of cleanliness because its the way their environment is now and has been for a long time.

Naveen said "thank you for your honesty, finally." Then asked why I wanted to come to India in the first place. I tried to explain to him that India has always been a place that I wanted to travel to because it gets me out of my routine and control. India has true and pure culture. It is a place of non-materialism. A place where I am completely out of my element. Western culture thrives on an 8-5 job, then gym time, multi-tasking, happy hour and friend time. Its about what you're doing in the future. A great quote that Tom pointed out: "You can't do anything about the past... but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future." In India none of our USA world matters. Seating and being dirty are in. Not the latest technology and materialistic gear. I think in the end Neveen understood a bit more of why I came to India... But was possibly still a bit confused.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Train ride from Kerela to Mumbai

Monday, May 24th
Ok, I actually slept on the train. Like I stated on my last post. Thank you I-pod and Melatonin for relaxing me and ear-plugs later for silencing the noise. I said to myself a quote that Tom told me earlier that Sunday morning: "Adapt, Improvise, Overcome." So what do you do on a 24 hour train ride. Here are some tid bits:

"keeping India beautiful, one train ride at a time" = a slogan born out of the lack of trash cans on the train. even well-educated Indians just throw their trash, biodegradable, plastic, aluminum, whatever - it all gets chucked out the door on to the tracks, whether it's a city or previously unspoiled countryside.

"squatting in style" - one has the choice of an 'Indian style toilet' or a 'western style toilet'. either way, you can't miss the fragrance of Indian eau de toilette.

Many chai-wallahs were there...the men who carry big canteens of chai and announce their arrival in a distinctive voice: 'chai, chai, chai, chai....

My favorite part was watching the scenery pass by from the seat between the trains. just a trip to watch the scapes pass by with the wind in your face. I have fabulous photos of the scenery above.

Julia and Dani were on cell phones at the same time - Julia to change her ticket to an earlier departure date, and Dani to extend. Julia's back (and throat among other ailments) have been giving her trouble, and india's not the kindest land at times. so last night she left around midnight, and hopefully by now or very soon she'll be in her comfy home with no more backpacking for a little while. dani, on the other hand, after hearing about how many things there are to do in dharamsala in the north (home of the dalai lama and tibetan refugees, and many chilled out travellers), decided to stay in the motherland for another week.

we landed in mumbai after a 1.5 local train from panvel to the city (after a 24-hour train ride from kerala to panvel), and found our hotel without relative incident, always a blessing. Went to the Dharavi Slum today. Slum stats to come in next post!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cochin is rockin Days 9-11

We are in another amazing home stay. A/C, fan and all. We are still dong 1-2 hours of yoga a day. Heather and Naveen woke up at 4:50 AM on Friday to go to the train station to wait for tickets for Mumbai. Luckily they got us all tickets so we can stay a few extra days in Cochin and relax a bit. The night we arrived we did some yoga and went to dinner. We found our German and Irish friends who joined us for dinner. Today (Friday, May 21th) we all got Indian massages, went shopping and explored the town. We will be doing yoga tonight and then taking a Indian cooking class. India is still amazing. Dirty, friendly, adventurous, chaotic at time and beautiful... What more could I ask for!

After yoga last night we all found out that Naveen's Uncle passed after an accident.He made an emergency trip back to Banglore, but will hopefully be meeting back with us for our train ride to Mumbi. We all feel so sorry for him and his family :(... However, the cooking class was fun and we ate more amazing food.

Saturday, May 22
We all at breakfast at the art cafe = amazing and we are going to see a Indian village! Looking forward to it. We will be taking an overnight train ride to Mumbai as of tomorrow night. The heat is not as intense do to rain and cyclones. It hasn't been raining which has been nice. The power in India goes out a lot. We are all pretty used to it now. Good thing I have a book lamp to see where I am going!

Sunday, May 23rd
We did some yoga then got all our gear into one room in order to check out. We went to Lynne, Tom and my favorite breakfast spot. Naveen got back after a long bus ride from Bangalore to do acupuncture treatments on us. Each of us scheduled an appointment. My treatment went really well since I have been having some back pain from caring my backpack. After our treatments we made our way to the ferry building, however, since it was Sunday there was a major crowd of people. Heather felt we should take rickshaws to the railroad station and have dinner before hand. We ended up taking the rickshaws and eating a fabulous dinner at an Indian restaurant. It was good to have eaten a good dinner before our 24 hour, over night train ride experience. Aboard the train we were treated with air conditioning and some chai tea. Lets just say the train ride worked my abs for a good 24 hours. No train sickness. Luckily I had the top bunk on the train. Thank the lord for ear plugs and serotonin or else I don't think I would have slept a wink. Our bunk was positioned right next to the door that open probably every 10 minutes. There were six people sleeping in our section. Bunk bed 1 was on the bottom, then went bed two on top of the bottom, then my bed on the very top and the other side was the same. I will post photos when I get home.

Alleppey aka Backwaters..Days 6-9

After we all did our last yoga session we made our way to Alleppey by rickshaw then a three hour train ride. It was my first real train experience... Towards the end of the ride Lynne, Neveen and I went to look off the train... We were taking photos and pretending like we were going to jump off when all the sudden the train came to a hult and the indian people began to yell that we must all get off in two minutes or else we stay on... Let me just say that I hulled ass back to get my bag when a rush of Indian people... Again, lack of personal space... came on. I was thinking "oh my god how am I ever going to get off?"... I had my huge backpack and a bag of bananas. Neveen was yelling at my "hurry carly." I decided to use my football skills an tackled the Indian people... Such a site to have been seen. I made it just in time, off the train, but without banannas. We were all laughing at that point.

We took rickshaws to our guest stay... But wait I forgot to mention that our guest stay was across the river. How did we get across? A canoe of course!! I thought we were going under a few times but we managed to make it to Thomas' amazing house. Backwaters are beautiful. Think rice fields submerged in water, surrounded by islands. Thomas' family knows how to take care of people on holiday. We had more orgasmic food. My favorites... Coconut rice, chicken, water buffalo and coconut cabbage... unreal! One of the days we relaxed and rested. Naveen who grow up in Bangelor, India told us stories about Indian life. I have learned so much from Neveen let me tell you...
I learned about the caste system.. 1) Bhramins 2) Priest 3) Warriors (Naveens family, he is also Hindu) 4) buisnessmen 5) Slaves. All must marry within their classes. Naveens family doesn't follow marriage within the caste system. He can marry whomever he pleases. Naveen also stated when he moved to London it was complete culture shock. Indian's lack the following:
1) personal space/mannerism
2) hygiene... oh yes
3) time

Our last day we all woke up early. We had chai tea, biscuits and bananas and then made our way with our incredible guide bento for a three hour hike around backwaters island. He showed us native fruits (there uses), buildings, and churches. We ended our tour of the island at someone elses home. They made us a feast of a breakfast! We then got back to Thomas'home rested and made our way back by canoe to the other side to travel to Cochin. We took a ferry to the bus station. Cyclones are starting to arise. On our ferry ride we encountered one, a major down pour. I made sure to wear my pancho but still managed to get soak.

We walked in the rain to the bus stop and did the usual get on the bus as fast as possible before your smacked by an Indian haha. We transferred buses and finally arrive in lovely Cochin... Buses are always such an adventure!

Just to let you all know we all washed our clothes in the river water. I never knew how much work it is to wash clothing by hand. At least I smell delicious now!! River washing is pretty awesome... Yet another adventure, right!?

Yoga Ashram Days 3-6

You're probably all wondering what an Ashram is right? Bascially a place where people who are trying to find their passion, a place of self-discovery, a place to learn more about yoga or relax from their choatic world. They want you to come to the Ashram strong because Ashram life is rigorous. Not just physically, with days beginning at 5:20AM and ending at 10:30 PM, but also psychologically. You're spending hours and hours a day silent meditation and contemplation, with little distraction or relief from the apparatus of your own mind. Plus, your living in close quarters with people from all around the world. Here was the schedule that each of us followed from Saturday to Tuesday:
5:20AM wake-up bell
6AM Satsang (group meditation, chanting...sing, talk)
7:30AM tea time! chai tea is amazing
8:00AM Asana class yoga (beginners and intermediate... 2 hours)
10AM Vegetarian meal... Eat in silence with right hand
11AM Karma yoga (each person gets a task/daily chore to do).
12:30PM coaching class (optional)
1:30 PM tea-time with snack
2PM lecture
3:30 Asana class yoga again... 2 hours
6PM Vegetarian meal
8PM Satsang (group meditation, chanting, talk).
10:30PM lights out

We were busy for four days straight... No cell phones and 1 hour of internet. The outside world was basically turned-off, thats why no one really heard from me, haha. What did I think about the Ashram? I was a bit critical at first. It is a different world. We do chanting (sing), mediating, cross legged with your back perfectly straight. For me the last eight months have been filled with being a dietetic intern. My world was normally filled with waking up early, materialism, multitaking, routine distractions, school assignments, stress, and technology. Whereas Ashram world... is one of no stress, mindful eating, sing, ego, no technology (limited), positivity, reincarnation, mind, body and spirit to finding ones self. The set-up seem crazy but that is because we are used to our routines and lifestyles... As much as I complatined at first I truely did enjoy the Ashram way of life to relax my mind and soul. Ashram = refreshing only for a few days! Mediation and breathing in general were the hardest things for me to do. I can't seem to get my mind to hold still. I always seem to be in a dream world of some sort. Meditation is the act of listening. However, when I ask my mind to rest in stillness, it quickly turns to boredom, emotions or anxious thoughts. You are after all what you think right? Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions. I quickly really had to focus and try to not get bored. I tried many times to go out of body like I did when I was getting chemotherapy needles in me years ago, but thoughts kept arising... Like... should I travel more after India?... Do I really have to get a job when I get back?... Aw, more studying for the RD exam, bummer... etc... I think if I continue to mediate and have a focus point of words it will hopefully get easier... We will see...
A few memories:
--> Feeling like I am in a sauna 24/7
--> The group I came with are awesome... So many different, unique personalities... I love them dearly :)
--> Watching Lynne eat her food with her right hand = hiliarious
--> Practicing my breathing skills and learning how to do yoga the right way.
--> Lectures were one of my favorite parts.
--> My pants falling off during intermediate yoga and the teacher later telling me that he noticed that I was having issues with my form and that it would be best to go back to the beginners class... haha
--> Laughing until my abs hurt
--> Bus-ride and rickshaw... I have the best videos EVER!!!
--> Doing mediation and trying to relax my mind.
--> Taking photos with random Indian boys
--> Hiking to the lake and not being able to go in due to not having the correct clothing... Lame but whatever...
"India is India... what can I say"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 1-3

Greetings From Kerala,
Lynne and I successfully made it to India! We had a 4 hour plane flight from SD to Dulles, Washington DC. Then a 13 hour plane flight from Washington DC to Dubai. A really nice man sat next to me. He had been in DC to visit his sister who found out she had Lymphoma. We were debating on chemotherapy vs. Holistic Nutrition. We also talked about all the places he has lived. Egypt, London, Cairo, Holland and Dubai. I learned that Dubai is a very rich country and was formed only 40 years ago. It is in Saudi Arabia Emirates. The gentleman told me that we can call him anytime if we need help and offer for us to stay with him and his wife for a couple days if time permitted. We plan on staying in contact. After reaching Dubai, Lynne and I had a two hour lay over and got on our plane to Kerala. It took us a good 3.5 hours to reach Kerala and we were the minorities on the flight for sure.

Looking out my window I saw clear sky's but lightening. Once landed everyone got up and raced to the bus. One thing about Indians they don't believe in personal space. They run, push, shove and hit you with their carts. The weather at 3:40 AM was 81 degree, talk about hot! Lynne and I got through customs and made our way to pick up my back pack. It took at least an hour and I finally found my back pack our course in the corner not even on the round about. Heather came and greeted us! She had gotten us a hotel room with AC so we could take showers and rest. Our hotel is really nice. India is very Ancient with lots of culture and customs. Julia and Dani meet up with us and we all went and got Thali meals which incorporate all five sense. Sweet, pungent, sour, salty, and spicy. The meal was amazing or as Paul Baily would say "orgasmic". Only problem you have to use your right hand. The spoons were wet and I am not about to get parasites. I will be using their customs. At least we have hand sanitizer. After our incredible lunch we walk to the clothing store to get our tailored clothes. India is very strict on apparel. Women MUST be covered.

We are planning on going to visit craft stores later and having dinner with Heather's friends. We will be leaving tomorrow for the yoga ashram and staying their for 3 nights, four days. I guess the ashram is supposed to be pretty cool. It has a lake by it and we will be practicing yoga for four hours a day and exploring more of Kerala. Right now we are staying in downtown. There are lots of different smells, the people are very friendly and it is HOT like 91 degrees and your in a sauna all day. Luckily, Heather had us bring Peppermint oil that helps us stay cool. It will be nice to get to the ashram where it is not as chaotic! The Indian people have never seen digital cameras. They love looking at their images on the screens and always ask where were from. There is a 12 hour difference between India and California. I will keep you all updated on my adventures!!! Much love to you all, Namaste, Car

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The start of my Adventure to Mother India!

I have always wanted to go to India. When I was at a wine tasting for 57 degrees back in April my old preceptor for my Community Rotation and friend Lynne Officer asked me if
I wanted to go to India with her and a group of other people. Lynne knows how much I love to travel and that I have been studying diligently for the Registered Dietitian Exam. I figured I might as well before I become employed! Enjoy the Blog :)
What will I be doing in India and who will I be traveling with?
WHAT I WILL BE DOING is listed down below. I will be traveling with 5 other people. Lynne, Danni, Julia, Tom and Heather (our guide).
*NOTE: here is my contact info since I will NOT have my CELL PHONE with me: e-mail: and SKYPE Account: carlyehill. I will be forwarding all my CELL PHONE calls to my SKYPE Account so you can still call or text me but I will receive them when I check my SKYPE. Also Facebook!

Here is my itinerary:
Day 1 travel day

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
United Airlines # 924

San Diego Lindberg Fld S.Diego (SAN) to Washington Dulles Intl (IAD)
Departure (SAN): May 12, 1:21 PM PDT (afternoon)
Arrival (IAD): May 12, 9:10 PM EDT (evening)
Class: Economy
Your flight is confirmed. The airline is assigning seats at check-in
choose seats
View the latest airport conditions at:
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
United Airlines # 976

Washington Dulles Intl (IAD) to Dubai (DXB)
Departure (IAD): May 12, 10:19 PM EDT (evening)
Arrival (DXB): May 13, 7:25 PM GST (evening)
Class: Economy
Your flight is confirmed. The airline is assigning seats at check-inchoose seats
View the latest airport conditions at: IAD
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Emirates # 522

Dubai (DXB) to Thiruvananthapuram International (TRV)
Departure (DXB): May 13, 9:45 PM GST (evening)
Arrival (TRV): May 14, 3:20 AM IST (morning)

This flight arrives two days later.

Class: Economy


Friday, May 28, 2010
Continental Airlines # 83

Delhi Indira Gandhi Intl (DEL) to Newark Liberty Int'l (EWR)
Departure (DEL): May 28, 10:50 PM IST (evening)
Arrival (EWR): May 29, 4:25 AM EDT (morning)
Class: Economy
Your flight is confirmed. The airline is assigning seats at check-in
choose seats
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Continental Airlines # 1626

Newark Liberty Int'l (EWR) to San Diego Lindberg Fld S.Diego (SAN)
Departure (EWR): May 29, 8:40 AM EDT (morning)
Arrival (SAN): May 29, 11:43 AM PDT (morning)

Day 2-6 will be at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram

Yoga and Meditation Hall

Neyyar Dam, Kerala practicing yoga for 4 hours a day. We will be waking up at 5:30 AM (meditation), 7 AM breakfast in Silence and will be doing Yoga from 8AM-10AM... then exploring from 10 AM to 4 PM, dinner in Silence at 5 PM and more yoga 6PM-8PM. We will see how this whole eating in silence goes, haha! I hear it is SUPER HOT in INDIA right now.... BY hot I mean over 100 degrees with humidity. I am bring electrolyte pills with me.

Days 7-10: We will be meeting up with an Ayurvedic Doctor learning about Holistic Medicine and will be getting Ayurvedic Massages. We will also be exploring Cochin, the backwaters and beach.

Day 11: We will be exploring an Indian Village

Day 12: Sightseeing and overnight train ride to Mumbi

Day 13: Tour of Dharvai Slum and shopping

Day 14: Extras in Bollywood video

Day 15-17: May 26th in the morning taking plane flight to New Dehli with Danni (she is on a different plane) and we will be exploring Taj Mahl together.

Day 18: Leave New Delhi at 10:50PM, Friday May 28th and Arrive back to San Diego at 11:35 AM

Annie and Emilio got me a Journal to write in so I will bring that along with me! I am only bring a small backpack and purse. Luckily my Indian Visa got to me Monday, May 10th or else I would have not been able to go. There was a lot of issues with the application process. It you don't have an Indian Visa you will be deported back to the U.S.A. The only electronics I will be bring is my i-pod. Looking forward to letting you all know about my traveling adventures. I will miss my friends and family tremendously.

Love you all > ~Car~
Ps. Don't be strangers e-mail me!