i know it's been a few weeks since i've blogged and some of you are wondering what we've been up to lately. sometimes, i wonder myself! but fortunately, i have plenty of crazy pictures to jog my memory.

this picture pretty much defies explanation. i think of it as just a glimpse into the insanity that we experience often on a daily basis. one of our iranian friends invited us over this past weekend to eat dinner as a celebration of their new year (it was last tuesday night). so we go, and they feed us and there's music, but no one dancing...yet. at first the music was persian, and then it suddenly switched to Michael Jackson and this crazy character appears and proceeds to do his best imitation of Michael. all i could think was, thank goodness i have my camera, because no one would ever believe me if i didn't have a picture!

backing up a little bit...students are now entering exam time. well, some are at least. unlike the US, all colleges here are on different schedules as far as holidays, exams, etc, but basically, from mid February to early May, somebody's taking exams. it's a crazy schedule, so we decided to invite some of our friends over for lunch a few weeks before their exams actually got started. we had mexican food, which was a first for them, and then we played a few games. it started off tame, but by the end of the day we were dancing and playing leap frog and just laughing like crazy.

at one point, the girls decided we should build a pyramid, with one of them standing on top! it was a wild afternoon, but probably one of the most fun i've had in a while.

a few days later, after one of our discussion groups, we went out to eat at a persian restaurant and some dish called "dizzy," though that's probably not how you spell it. it have goat and potato, in some sort of stew, and you're supposed to mash it up with this plunger thing and then eat it. not bad, overall.

we've also has a ton of birthdays these past few weeks. one of the kids we know here turned 12 a few weeks ago and had a big party at the nice swimming pool in town. it was wonderful, perfectly hot and sunny for swimming.

we also have 2 friends from holland and one of them, suzanne, called us over for her birthday last week. it was fun, and a nice mix of cultures (dutch, american, indian, african, etc). but it also goes to show that wherever you are or wherever you're from, birthdays are still a great reason to get together and have fun.

then last week, we had the much awaited "Princess Party/Luau 2007." in December 2005, we had all the little girls over that we're friends with here and had a Princess Party--lots of dressing up, make up, games, pizza, movies, etc. well, ever since then, all the girls have been asking when the next party was going to be. since our schedule has been a lot more busy this past year, we had a hard time finding a good day to have it, but we finally pulled it off and it was a blast. everyone came dressed up for the beach, we had lots of good smelling flowers and good food, and we danced and played games and watched movies until well past midnight.

alisha had the brilliant idea of getting a pinata, and it was quite a hit, as you can see here. (and yes, that's a rolling pin she's using to hit it!)

even the big kids got to take a couple swings at it!

when it finally broke, everyone made a mad rush for the candy!

we also had a blast dancing. we had some fabulous hawaiian and steel drum music, as well as fun hits from movies like "High School Musical" and "Cars."

the four of us big kids dressed up for the party

finally, around 1 am or so, we got everybody to go to sleep. i hoped they'd crash, but they were up eating candy and chatting at about 6 am! it was quite a wild night, but a total blast! oh, and i almost forgot...one of my favorite moments of the party happened while we were watching Cinderella 3 (don't hate, it's cool). the bad cat, Lucifer, gets stopped by the mice and one of the girls, who's 4, says, "he got told!" (she has 4 older brothers). oh wow, it was priceless!

this is random, but i saw it on another friend's blog--it analyzes your blog and makes a "word cloud" with the words used the most...fun times. i think that's about all for now, but be on the lookout for more updates soon, because Preeti's birthday is today, so there should be some fun pics from that.

you may remember my post from a few weeks back about our crazy BBQ adventure...well, this is the video...enjoy!

the past few weeks have been busy (suprise, suprise!), but also full of (mostly) fun stuff, and, of course, lots of random adventures and even a few lessons along the way...

near the beginning of february, we headed off to a nearby town in the hills for a team retreat. it was a lot of fun and the weather was beautiful. we even got to see a bunch of people paragliding over the vallye near the camp where we stayed!

we had a really good group, and we managed to get a lot of work done while having a lot of fun :)

one of the high lights was having a bonfire saturday night and roasing marshmellows. marshmellows are not really common here, so several people had never tried roasted marshmellows before, but once they did, they were hooked.

group pic

Valentine's day was right after the retreat. the 4 of us went to breakfast at our favorite local coffee shop, The Coffee Jar. then several of our guy friends here went all out and got us flowers, chocolate, sparkling grape juice, and took the 4 of us out to dinner! i have to say, it was a lot of fun and i was highly impressed at all their hard work.

later that evening, just before dinner, we headed back to the coffee jar to pose for picture in the paper for an article another friend was writing. that's me all the way on the right.

we've had discussiong groups several times this month, and it's been a mix as far as participation, but really fun overall. exams are starting, though, so it could be an interesting few months...

near the end of February, the 4 of us girls headed to delhi for a conference and some meetings. we decided to be adventurous and take the train there, and we were not disappointed! it was quite a trip.

we had a berth to ourselves, which was nice, and we spent most of the 26 hours talking, reading and making up games to play since we forgot to bring cards!

there were some down sides to taking the train, though...we were a little too close to the bathroom and every now and then a wave of stinkyness would come through our area. there was also a serious roach problem and we spent a good bit of time smacking the nasty little things.

but overall it was fun and we saw some pretty cool sites, such as this stop along the way: raja ki mandi! (i think this mean's "king's market")

we were all really glad to finally arrive in delhi, even with all of it's quirkiness and crazy traffic.

the conference was friday, sat and sunday night, and it was really good. preeti and sophy got to share about what we've been doing in Pune, and we also had a lot of fun hanging out with their families.

sunday night, after the conference finished, we got together with a bunch of friends that were in town and had a girls night--it was great!

then monday our friend kyle came down to visit. we went out for lunch and on the way back got nailed by a water balloon! the festival of Holi was the following weekend and is celebrated by throwing water and colored powder on people. fortunately, we just got hit by water!

that evening, things got a little crazy when we found a mouse in the kitchen of the guest house where we were staying. after quite a bit of craziness, we finally managed to catch it under a trash can.

the guys were going to take him outside and dispose of him, but he managed to escape. however, they did get some bricks to block his way in, so hopefully he won't be back!

overall, it was a fun trip and especially nice to get to hang out with friends we don't see so often (Karen and i with the Wei Wei noodles we found at the market!)

alisha and i came back tuesday, but preeti and sophy stayed an extra week to spend time with their families. we had a lot of stuff to catch up on when we got back, and alisha wasn't feeling so good, so we went to the doctor, which turned into quite an adventure. this is a picture of her doctor, who also happens to be who part of the hospital is named after! he was nice and told her that she'd need to have this procedure done where they put a camera down your throat to look at your stomach. it sounds way crazier than it actually was, though the pics of the inside of her stomach were pretty wild. in the end, he prescribed some medicine and told her to drink carbonated beverages to help untwist her stomach...gotta love medical care overseas!

even after all the maddness at the hospital that morning, our crazy day was just beginning. we had our dicussion group in the afternoon, and then alisha and i hopped in an auto rickshaw to head downtown. however, on our way, 2 guys pulled up beside us on a motorcycle, reached into the rickshaw and grabbed alisha's purse. it happened so fast we hardly knew what was going on. our driver tried to catch them, but they disappeared. we headed back home, quite shaken, and alisha canceled her credit cards. then our friends went with us to the police station and we spent the next 3 hours trying to explain what happened (which included taking the police to the place where the bag was snatched and doing a lot of translating because they mostly spoke marathi). it was not the most fun way to spend an evening since things here take at least 2 or 3 times as long because of bureacracy and out dated facilities and systems (this is a picture of how files are stored at the station...).

but, the next day was holi, the festival of colors, and getting to spend time with friends made things a lot better. actually, it's all made me think a lot, because when the purse was snatched, i felt like more anything else, they stole our sense of security. i just wanted to cry because suddenly everything seemed so scary and crazy and wrong. but the more i thought about it all, the more i realized how blessed i really am because i have so many people here who care about me and my roommates. some of our friends stayed with us at the station and came with us the next day to get the report, and every other person we talked to said that if we needed anything at all, they'd do whatever they could. this really helped me to put things into perspective and realize that while bad things do happen, there's also a lot more good out there to outweigh them, if we'll choose to see things from a bigger perspective than our own.