things have been slow on the travel front since mid-semester break, thanks to school, but the weather's improving and people's moods (mine included) with it, which has made auckland a more pleasant place to be. last weekend cody, kirstin and i did make a trip to ruapehu for skiing and boarding, but unfortunately, the weather wasn't in a friendly mood. saturday we had to quit after lunch because we could no longer see, and sunday the pouring rain meant all the lifts were closed. we had a good time at the uasc ski lodge with other uni students, though, and learned some excellent new circle of death rules, including:
2. the game card.
3. the forehead-on-the-table-if-you-swear rule.
5. a modification of "four floor."
additionally, there was a game involving dice and cups which was also choice.
my lingering illness has made the last week and a half not quite as excellent as it's had the potential to be, but i think i am finally kicking it in the proverbial balls.
the weekend prior to the ski trip (i'm jumping all over the place here, and you will just have to deal with it), i went to work with prayas, an indian theatre group, in mt. albert. i'd seen them perform in an original production jointly created with another local group, called our street, a few weeks ago; again, had the experience that i was learning far more about local culture and issues in that hour and a half of theatre than in almost all the rest of my time here put together. the piece was set on a particular street that most of the people in the cast live on or are very familiar with, and there were a lot of projections showing the street, characters based on people who live on the street, and so on. the big, boisterous audience clearly had a large contingent of non-regular theatregoers, family and friends of the big, boisterous cast, and it was absolutely charming to watch them get excited to recognize themselves and the place they call home up on the stage.
i sent one of the organizers an email afterwards, not expecting anything to come from it, but nearly a month after the show i got a call from sudeepta, prayas' secretary, asking if i wanted to come in and volunteer with them. so, that was my sunday september 28: five hours with prayas.
they are writing a new play, based on stories from a book by an indian man who moved to canada, to which they are adding their own experiences as immigrants to new zealand. this was their first meeting to start to collect some of those stories, and though it was more sparsely attended than they'd hoped, the stories were fascinating to listen to. makes you want to visit india -- someplace noisy, dirty, friendly; someplace full of family, where you squeeze twelve people into a tiny toyota and drive down the street blasting your horn. where the food and the smells and sounds are strong, rich, and bright. the antithesis of empty little new zealand: huge, jam-packed india, with a sour note of social and gender discrimination, beamed on by bollywood's shimmery lipsticked mouth. these people are homesick for india in a way that can never be cured, because they themselves will tell you that they can never really go back -- only as a visitor. and you feel their homesickness and even begin to internalize it, make it your own, want to share in it.
or maybe it is just how much i miss pittsburgh peeking through.
for the last two hours of the workshop, auckland playback theatre came in and performed. cool to see, because i've never gotten to experience playback in action before. i left with an invitation to come back to the next meeting (tomorrow), the suggestion that i might be able to help them with the writing of the play before i leave, and the promise that the next meeting would have many more people with "lots of interesting boys" (mainly a comment on how female-dominated the group was on the 28th).
other than that, my life's been mostly about german, writing essays, and trying to plan a trip back to the south island. by the bye, i discovered this wonderful website that's enabled kirstin, zack and i to grab a free car for a week to drive around the south island and back to auckland. it seems like it's legit. i'll report back on that once the trip's successfully over (scheduled for november 4-12).
oh, and last night, we had our farewell ies meeting and dinner. gael warned us all about reverse culture shock and showed us some pictures of our first days here. i'm not worried about reverse culture shock (which i am now choosing to hip-ly abbreviate "rcs"). i've been places much more unlike the states (mongolia, anyone?) and didn't experience it. in fact i don't think i've experienced regular culture shock here, either. i think you have to just expect the culture to be different, and then there's no real "shock" to have. i'm more concerned about what everyone's lives have become, how i fit back into that six and a half months later. many friends have been great about keeping in touch. but even with the ones who're good, i've missed more than half a year of day to day experiences, and that is the kind of thing you can't remedy, should it be something that seems to need remedy.
it's almost time for life in pittsburgh to end for me, anyway, so maybe it's fine if i don't really fit back in to things easily. maybe it will make me more ready to leave at the end of next summer. it's not a good thing to feel too settled.
dinner was incredible: denise and i split appetizer (or entrée, in weird nz terms) and dessert, which meant crumbed mushrooms and pavlova, a very nz dessert and delicious, made of egg white on top of cream -- a melt-in-your-mouth meringue. for my main i had kumara gnocchi, which was basically one of the best things i've ever eaten.
afterwards i let denise, charlie, dbo and laurie take my ih virginity with a game of mafia (including a pile of other ih people). then a night that looked like it might be going to fizzle disappointingly ended up panning out: we actually made it to a sake bar just off of customs, where we broke five glasses doing makeshift sake bombs. hilarious. the first couple of rounds we tried to do them the "real" way, by laying chopsticks over the beer glasses and balancing the sake shots on them, then chanting and banging the table to make the sake shots fall in (which is how the glasses kept breaking). this didn't work particularly well as the sake shots kept falling in of their own accord, before we were ready, and you would have to chug the thing without sufficient mental preparation. this was, i repeat, hilarious.
it was a good night that ended up with us laughing our asses off at this video, still one of my all-time favorites:
in dbo's room; i passed out on his bed and later was transferred to brian's extra bed. so i didn't go to german this morning, following my usual trend of not skipping classes until the final weeks of a given semester, and then skipping. a lot.
i'll bring it all back home with a quote from last night: this is what happens when you say you're going to lick a butt and you don't lick a butt.