so i'm finally catching up on blogging about my 3 weeks of first big adventure was heading south to Chennai for my friends' (Cynthia and Sam) wedding at the end of December. i first met cynthia when she was studying in Louisiana over 2 years ago, and we quickly became friends. actually, she really became part of our family, so it was awesome to get to spend time with her and her family in india. i've missed quite a few weddings in the US during my time here, so it was really special to get to be there for their wedding.

it was definitely a fun couple of days. i really enjoyed seeing the city and spending time with cynthia and her family. the wedding was the 29th and was amazing and HUGE--well over 1000 people! the next day, i got to spend more time with the newlyweds and also attend a birthday party for cynthia's baby cousin, Debbie. then on sunday i went to church, spent some time relaxing, and then we went out to the beach for a little while before i met up with some other friends to head to thailand for our conference. it was a quick trip, but truly one of my favorite experiences so far here in india.

so it's about 2:24 am...why am i still up? and blogging at that? well, some stories are just too funny to wait for the morning. ok, well, you know what i mean...

so, tonight we decided to try out our new BBQ pit. ok, so i decided we should try it out. i've been traveling for 3 weeks and i just got home yesterday, so i've been a little hyper. i don't think i've ever been more excited to be back in Pune. i mean, i loved traveling and had a great time seeing friends and whatnot (future blogs to come with more details and pics), but i was just so ready to be back here and see my roommates and friends. last night, after we'd had dinner and shared some of our pictures with each other, Preeti said, wow, it sure has gotten a lot louder in the house since mandi got back...haha...oh, how true! but i love it--i love how excited i am to be here, because that can be more of a challenge than some of you can imagine. those that live here probably have some idea about what i mean.

but i digress...the BBQ. so, we had some serious fusion food tonight: American BBQ, Thai satay, and Indian Tandori (all chicken, of course, because, well, this is india). we started cutting and marinating, and then realized we should probably light the pit, and this is where the adventure began.

we did have anything fancy like the kingston self starting stuff you can get back in the States--just good old coal. so first we took rubbing alcohol and tried to use that to start the fire, but it did nothing. then we headed down to the petrol pump (that's gas station in american) to get some petrol. i didn't really know how much to put, so i just poured a generous amount of the stuff on the pit from the Coke bottle we'd filled up at the station.

i lit a piece of newspaper, tossed it in, and nothing happened. so i reached over, cautiously, moved the paper and BOOM, lots of flames. that was crazy enough, but then the flames jumped down to the petrol that had spilled below the little grill! fortunately, alisha was smart enough to have made a special little sand pit under the grill in case anything spilled out, so we managed to not catch the whole balcony on fire. we all freaked out, but the flames died down quickly, and, not so suprisingly, no one around us seemed to be concerned about the flames, smoke, or 4 girls shouting and shrieking.

i didn't get any good pictures of this part of the adventure, but we do have it all on video, so hopefully i'll be able to post some of it on myspace before too long. but for now, here are some pics of the rest of the evening.

here's the flame at a lower level--imagine it about 4 feet higher and engulfing the whole grill and you'll have an idea of what it looked like.

coke bottle of petrol + me = trouble...

roomies attempting to fan the flame and get the coal to light...

...which results in sparks flying everywhere...

after a LOT of work, we finally get the coal burning and put the meat on the fire (this is the thai satay on skewers and the BBQ chicken)

me hard at work, trying not to catch anything else on fire

the tandori chicken took a while to cook, so we finally decided to just eat outside on the balcony while it finished cooking.

after dinner, we tossed some packets of smores on the grill!

american girls feasting on every kid's favorite, smores! still taste good even though they're made with parle g's instead of graham crackers

we finished off the evening by roasting marshmellows and just cutting up and laughing. we had good music playing the background, and it honestly was this totally surreal moment, like on a tv show or movie, when the characters sit down for a meal and all you here is the music and see everyone laughing and loving being together. it was truly amazing.

it was a good evening, and just what i needed. i'm excited about being back, but also overwhelmed at the thought of all the next 6 months have in store. really, all 2007 has in store. 2006 was an incredible year--lots of ups, and lots of downs, but, in some ways, i think i grew more last year than in the previous 25 years combined. i truly have fallen in love with india, this mad, mad place, in the past year. and i have high hopes for 2007...good things are going happen, and, well, i'm ready! i can't really describe it all, but i just feel really good about being exactly where i am, and i have such joy in that, and also such joy in looking towards the next few months. 2007...i think this is going to be my best year yet, and i love it.