Posts Tagged ‘ vacation ’

birthday, staying…

Last weekend was a birthday fun filled ball of Gayatri. It started with a lovely face painting party at home and we never really made it out. Manoj bought Gayatri face paints and it was her present to be able to paint everyone’s face. She matched each design to each person perfectly. It involved the elements of a party, music, some alcohol and a group of really fun loving people. It was so much fun. We talked and acted super silly as adults should and had a great time. Even new people from our group joined in and seemed to have a great time. We are now three Westerners – 2 Americans and 1 Canadian – all girls. It’s nice to have some folks from the West back in my life. The last time I had that was Maite and she’s been gone for a while now. They’ll both be here through most of the winter.
The party turned a little sour when we saw that the police were coming. Our music was off by 12:00, and although we were talking loud, I don’t think we were half as loud as the guys who used to live across the hall from us. They used to party until 2am with loud music. I used to store their beer in our fridge. Anyway, they barged into our home. I was told to go in the room and sleep while they were here. They came into my room and observed Gayatri and I sleeping for a while. One of them commented that, “you know how German girls are.” First of all, no, I don’t, second, I’m not German! It was awful and we didn’t appreciate them being here. Strangely enough they wanted to take all of us to the precinct for disturbing the peace but they were on a motorcycle and there were more than 8 of us here. I wonder how that would have happened. Anyway, after an hour and a half of negotiations, they left. It was a bit nuts to say the least. It made the party even more memorable.
The rest of the weekend went by slowly for a change and was perfect. It consisted of lazy days and long conversations with friends – silly, serious, politics, socially conscious, etc. It helped me come to the conclusion to stay a little bit longer. My two years is up on the 26th of October – contract up, time to come home. Only now I can say it’s just not time to go back to the States, at least not yet. I don’t want to write any more about that here. Some things I don’t write about, and that’s all I’m really going to say about this here.
There are exciting progressions happening at work. I’m making travel plans, making staying at home plans, it’s going to be an exciting couple of months coming up.
This Sunday we’re taking our kids, and some work kids are also going, to the Vipassana center to participate in a kids day.


Once again everything changed. Maite moved out on Tuesday. She’s going to do an aurvedic massage course in Kerala. Manoj moved back in. Gatyri isn’t moving in. It’s like there was a huge whirlwind for a while, just to put everything back to the way it was.
Tomorrow I’m going to begin my journey to Dharamshala in order to do my Vipassana. In case I haven’t explained yet, Vipassana is a 10 day “course” in meditation. You’re not allowed to speak, write, listen to music, make eye contact, do any physical activity; basically, you’re not allowed to do anything but be silent and meditate. I’ve heard the first few days are torture and then you really get into it. I’ve also heard that many people break the vipassana and speak. You’re allowed to leave if you want but obviously it’s not encouraged. It’s supposed to help you in many ways. I’m a mixed ball of emotions.
For the first time I’m putting an automated response to my emails. I won’t have any connection for 10 days. Dharamkot, the village where this takes place is also where the Dalai Lama stays. It’s like a mini Tibet – like Bailakuppe near Mysore. That was one of my most enjoyable and peaceful moments in a long time; I’m hoping to repeat that, but tenfold.
I woke up this morning to breakfast, no work, and a Manoj breakfast and coffee. It’s a good last breakfast. There are timings for meals there, and I heard the food is very bland. That might not be the most exciting part. They say the first four days are the most difficult. The first four days are also the most guided.
Happy birthday mom. Another year, another birthday I’m not there. It’s sad, and probably one of the most difficult things about being, not only away, but also really far away. I missed her phone call this morning. We spoke yesterday though. Here’s your public birthday wish.
So here I am, signing off for now. I’ll try to give as much detail when I get back. I’ll spend the day in Delhi; destination, old city. My bus departs at 8:16 so I’ll have plenty of time to kill. And then, next stop, greenery, mountains, peaceful people, silence and reflection. I’m excited. If anyone wants to read more up on it, check out the website:

Weekend Update

A Sunday! Wow. It’s been over a month since I had a “Sunday.” I reinstated the running on Sunday morning at the University. It’s still beautiful, not matter how dry Pune seems to be, the University space is green and seems a world away from the traffic, sounds, heat (especially at 6am), and noise of Pune. I even tried to copy the guy who does stretching by the statue and then culminates with a long set of meditation. I can’t put my feet in real meditation style, nor does my concentration last half as long as his, but I guess I can try.
Last week was busy, really, really busy. We’re having our end of school year events – school ends in April here because summer is mostly in April/May and the rains start somewhere in June. Every center had a mini event. I traveled so much; I was so tired. Even yesterday we worked. It’s been a lot. We’re getting ready for appraisals, which start on Tuesday. On Monday is our Annual event; dance, song, speech, and chatter of children has been ringing throughout the office for the past couple of weeks. It’s been a lot!
My watchman is leaving. He said it’s been too rough for him; I don’t think the building manager’s wife is too nice to him. Manoj and I didn’t like him too much at first (the guard). He asked Manoj for an advance on the car washing – this isn’t really done. We were a little worried. A couple times he would show us his doodling, which were actually really good. He would try to chat with us a bit; generally he’s pretty friendly. Recently, he got a new cell phone, his sister gave it to him as a present. I think maybe 3 times he’s asked me if I think his cell phone is nice. He’s really excited about it. I had a slight debacle with a delivery last week and he seemed generally concerned. When I walk up to Boscar (the beautiful golden lab with the vicious bark but sweetest disposition once you know him) he says, “bahut piyari.” The dog loves me so much. He assumes the position of petting as soon as I come close. I’ll be sad to see the watchman go. He’s a sweet older man who walks with a straight left leg who paints and eats on newspaper on the floor.
My house has been a bit of a hotel lately. After my parents left, the Brazilian girl Sophia was here, Jessica moved in almost 2 weeks ago, and while she’s off for the weekend, Susie and her husband are staying before they take off back to the US. It’s been kind of awesome but kind of overwhelming. Between home and work I have no home or self time. This week should be nice, still busy at work, but a little more relaxed on the home front. Jessica brough Clorox wipes. I’m not usually a fan of things that come in special fancy packaging that are basically the same as things that you can do yourself. I must say, they’re pretty awesome.
Another exciting thing is that I’ve finally gone back to making my own dahi – (yogurt). It turned out fantastic. It’s a small accomplishment, but it’s a good one. I’ll take the rest of my alone time on Sunday to read the paper, relax, and go to the park with my friends before a Sunday salsa gathering.

Baroda – a few weeks late

I didn’t write about Gujrat – to the dismay of one of my friends here who recently discovered my blog.

This was a great Baroda trip. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but Gayatri had to back out last minute to go somewhere else. We were supposed to stay in her house, with her, and her parents. Both her and her parents aren’t here. We stayed anyway; they insisted. We left Pune at 7:30, 15 minutes after we were supposed to, and only 10 minutes after the last group of folks arrived. They enjoy making me go slightly crazy when they’re late. They kept telling me to relax, but for some reason, the American in me won’t allow me to be late or accept lateness from others when it comes to things like bus times. The bus would have left them in the US. Good thing the bus was later than them here.
The rule was not to sleep on the bus, but of course, none of us abided. We all passed out and awoke at the first rest stop. After getting off the bus, the driver kicked everyone off, and quite bitterly at that. We spent around 45 minutes there. Sachin’s mom cooked us all parathas and we happily ate them with dahi and a really yummy peanut chutney. After sleeping, waking, eating carrots, and sleeping more, we woke up at 6am for another rest stop. It was pitch black out. The amazing part was sitting in a cold rest stop for 20 minutes and to see how the first break of sunlight creeps into the world. I’ve seen it before, but it was somehow different. We’re a great group of people so no moment is lost without a laugh or making fun of something or other, even while getting off a bus and waiting for the car to pick us up. It’s incredible really. We were hosted by Gayatri’s family’s driver and were taken around the city, cooked for, and assisted for three days. The itinerary is kind of as follows – as mapped out by Gayatri to her father who provided instructions for those who were supposed to take care of us. I reread that line and realized how I’ve been indoctrinated. I don’t feel strange that they had a driver, their driver take us around, that they have a maid and cook who cooked for us. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I’m still quite conscious of it, but more accepting of it as well.

Noticings about Gujrat: It’s much cleaner, hotter, spacious, greener, and drier than Pune. They have fancier tool booths. Both Manoj and I looked at each other with the ooooo face when we passed through. We abided by the itinerary, for the most part provided by Gayatri. When we got “home” Kajal put out this amazing breakfast and we set out for the days events. Her parents got us a mini van for the 9 (turned 8 of us). It was amazing.

Amazing artists, especially the Indian modern art. In each of the galleries there was random European art, mostly Italian and French by artists I’ve never heard of; it was kind of weird. There was great modern Indian art, but the section must of consisted of less than two dozen paintings. After the second museum, we set off for a temple on the top of one of the only peaks in Baroda. I had to face my fear of heights (which has slowly developed in the past few years along with a fear of elevators). Indro wasn’t ready to go either, but after he saw the technology of the tram, he decided it was ok. I took his cue and struggled on the way up. It was a spectacular view. Many places we went, including this temple, didn’t allow photos, hence, there will be none to show.

There are so many mosquitoes! I look like I got a rash. In between my dreams where monkeys were very prevalent, I was bitten up to no other on my legs and back. It’s awful! They itch. Usually Indian mosquitoes bites (for no particular reason) don’t itch for too long, maybe a day or two; these ones are brutal!

The next morning we were out by 6:30, a first deviation from the itinerary. We saw the sun temple and changed the plans to see Akshardam, a privately owned temple that is so well maintained. It also had a water park (closed) and a sea show (also closed). We found that a bit strange.

The rest of the trip is documented in the pictures below and through the album, which you should check out. I would love to write about the rest of it, but doubt I’d do it justice a few weeks later.

For all photos:

Brief Update with Too Much to Update

It’s been too long and too much has happened. My parents have gone; it was amazing to have them here – they did a good job in a completely different culture, different food, hot weather, really hot weather, meeting my friends, dealing with me. It was definitely an interesting experience for me as well. It was important for them to get a glimpse of my life, what I do on a day to day basis, but balance that with the fact that they can’t run around like I do, that they were probably still jet lagged, and are not in their 20s. I think they had a great time. They said they did. When we reached back home late they got to spend Thursday roaming around my neighborhood and the shopping/busy area while I went to work. Thursday was fun because they came to my capoeira class, met all my friends and had their first Indian thali. I think they had a lot of fun exploring some new tastes and ways to eat food. We tried to teach them to eat only with their hands, but it’s not an easy task to master in one sitting. It was super exciting because I got to take my mom on my bike. She seemed like she was freaking out for the first five minutes and then relaxed into it. My dad rode on the back of my friend Sachin’s bike.
We had off on Friday and dilly dallied around the house, went to breakfast at my favorite south Indian hidden restaurant and roamed around my old neighborhood. They liked it. I was happy. They met my old landlady and we spent entirely too much time at her house, but it’s a difficult place to leave, especially when food is stuffed in your face along with wedding books and a loud small woman.
On Saturday morning we hopped in a cab to Mumbai where there was a mini debacle with the hotel. They wanted my passport to register me so I could stay. The problem is that I never travel with my passport and it never occurred to me to take it. We met my friends who were kind of all over the place, had a small meal at my friend Nupur’s house and figured out that his mom’s mom was my mom’s age. I think that’s nuts; not bad, just crazy.
Sadly and kind of momentously we parted at the Taj Hotel where my parents went to lunch at one of their many fancy-dining areas. I came back home and into a whirlwind of work, work, and friends and work. In the midst I managed to loose my wallet. I got it back after cancelling everything, but the gesture of the man who gave it back was pretty amazing. He went to my old landlady’s house (who didn’t even have the courtesy to call me), one bank and then finally another one, who called me and asked if they could give him my phone number. I can’t believe someone went through such an effort to track me down. Some of my friends think that he might be the one who took all the money inside and then realized what a pain it is to get new papers like a license so he decided to return those things. I don’t care; it was still worth it. My American coins were still there for some mysterious reason. So strange!
Today also marked the departure of one of my favorite people in Pune. Our group of friends has shrunk a little bit this week; another friend left earlier last week.

If I don’t sleep now, I might just pass out while on the computer.

Leaving Nepal with a bang – and a flight

Part of me wishes that vacations ended on a bad note or with some grand conclusion so that you would be ready to go back to your day-to-day activities. Granted, getting a phone call so many times from an unknown number so that you actually pick up the phone, only to find out one of your kids has been trying to call you to speak with you for a few days, is a great way to go back to work; however, I’m not really to leave Nepal, to stop experiencing a new culture and having new experiences.
Today I had an amazing, fantastic, life-changing, dream fulfilling experience. Yes, it was that amazing. I went paragliding. It’s been one of my dreams for as long as I can remember; if I had any super power, flying is in my top 3. It was one of the scariest but most beautiful experiences ever. After Manoj mentioned that we should do it, got the idea stirring in my head, last night I finally decided to say we should just go for it. We went at 7:00 last night to book our spot. We did it on gut feeling. The first place we visited was cheaper, but the guy didn’t really sell it, he had tobacco teeth and was kind of blah. We went to Sunrise (I think that’s the name) and the guy, Sachin, was awesome and excited and a pilot himself. I was fine until I met my pilot and Manoj was already getting strapped in for his ride. My pilot was a Frenchman who had been living in Nepal for 5 years; he even speaks Nepalese (which I find completely impressive). He was older and has been flying for over 20 years. I was preparing myself and did a great job so that when we were finally flying I wasn’t shaking, but I didn’t have any feeling in my hands. They didn’t stop tingling until 10 minutes after we landed. I’ve never felt like that ever. There must have been at least 25 other Para gliders flying at the same time. At one point Erwin (I think that was his name) took me to almost the other side of the mountain where we were flying all by ourselves. He screamed trees as we came super close to them on the side of one part of the mountain; he freaked me out but in a good way. In the end we did some tricks that included gliding downwards from side to side; I might have been ridiculously freaked out at this point in time but in full knowledge that he was in complete control; he said that the birds will always be his teachers as we were flying with some eagles earlier. It was awesome! Apparently there’s a week or two long course to become certified in Pune. I might just jump on that bandwagon!
Some other differences between India and Nepal – to the best of my observations – people wear helmets while on motorcycles and don’t always take them off while they walk around sometimes; it rains when it’s not rainy season; the pollution and amount of visible destruction of nature is insane. While we’re on the topic of pollution, I wouldn’t be me unless I mentioned about how sad it is to see such a beautiful land being destroyed. Along the way to Pokhara from Kathmandu you see all of these construction areas where land is just in the progress of being dug up, the land is visibly ripped up and is being destroyed in front of everyone’s eyes. I think I might have counted 15 or so such sites. How can you not see the Himalayas? The fog is noticeably from pollution. I feel like in another 10 years, people won’t come anymore to see the mountains because they’ll all be completely invisible because of pollution. I can almost understand it in a bigger city like Kathmandu, but a good 4 hours outside of the city in the country air, I expected it to be different. I’m saddened for the people, for the earth.
The ride back was a test of my patience. I’m not a patient person at all. The driver, as my mom put it probably has some visual spatial perception issues. Every time an oncoming car came he would veer to the side and jam on the brakes a bit. When there were other cars around he would slow down (which was often) and he never went above 50km/hr. It was long, really long. It also tested my “foreigner” patience a little bit. At one rest stop the price of the chips and soda was rubbed off. I know in general how much it should cost and the coke was more than double the price and the chips, triple. I wanted to argue but I didn’t.
As soon as we reached we changed and headed directly to Thamel for food. We got a nice restaurant that is kind of doing us all a disservice at this moment in time (at the airport waiting to get back to Delhi). The waiter of course asked where we were from; everyone always asks and is interested in people’s native countries. When I said that I live in India he said, “Hindi ati hei kya?” (do you speak Hindi) and I of course said yes. It was the most awesome conversation ever because it was entirely in Hindi for the rest of the night. I was impressed with myself. He also said that we should go out later, that I should meet him and he’d show me Nepali culture but I stood him up. After being asked if your married or have a boyfriend it would make it an awkward night – or maybe that was just my assumption. Instead I wrote and slept.
Nepal is pretty awesome and I’d love to come back and spend more time here to explore the mountains and culture a bit more. I love it because everyone is also so nice. If I could, I’d do a PhD program researching why some countries just have nice people and how to maybe integrate some of their culture into some other cultures that don’t have innately nice or warm people; essentially, how to make the world a nicer place.

less about the kids…

I promise I’ll stop writing about the kids soon. Only one thing – yesterday at the park, Chapel was protective of me, more playful, closer. I can’t imagine what it’s like to befriend someone who’s older, looks different, doesn’t really speak your language, yet you get along well with. Anyway, that’s that. It’s special.
As a foreigner, as a person who knows people who are coming to this country, one takes on extra responsibility, or, that responsibility is given to that person whether they want it or not. Manoj got a phone call from a friend in a dire situation. His friend’s brother was traveling around India, 19 years old, and was going through a crisis. After 3 months in Nepal, and one month of traveling around India, he became off; off in the sense that he seems to be displaying symptoms of a paranoid schizophrenic. We didn’t really want to be responsible, but the kid and his friend who he was traveling with flew to Pune and we took a watch on them for a few days. It was weird to say the least. His friend was freaking out, crying, not knowing what to do; they’d known each other for 13 years. They informed his family and his sister came here to take him back home. Each time we thought we were not going to speak to them again, they would call. We finally said goodbye to the girl on Sunday and the brother and sister on Monday afternoon. It was intense and scary and would not wish anything like that upon everyone. I do think that it’s kind of important as a foreigner to look out for other foreigners. I’m not sure where this unifying with other foreigners came from, I barely know any other foreigners, but I wouldn’t want to travel and not have anyone help take care of me. We got word they reached home safely. That’s all we know. I’m not sure what to do now except hope for the best for them.
Moving to the race of next weekend, last week my friend gave me a facebook group for a running club in Pune. I embarked on a run with a bunch of strangers, who, upon appearance looked like hard core runners, on Sunday. It was an amazing run. I ran with a bunch of men (there were two women, one of whom konked out in the very beginning, and one who I didn’t meet until the very end) for 10K without stopping. I’m just beyond impressed with myself. I didn’t mean to, I just got a second wind. Along the way I met some cool folks who have been running for a while, who’ve run marathons. I told them about next weekend. They seemed enthused that I would return the following Sunday. I would like to return and run on the weekends with them, but Sunday is great when you get to sleep in too, so we’ll see.
Tomorrow is Holi. It’s exciting to be able to write about these holidays again, to know what’s going to happen, to not feel so new to something so different. We’re planning on playing with the kids in Sagar and Ritesh’s society and then head back to attend a Holi birthday party we were invited to. I’m ready to play. I’m also excited for the day off.