Thursday, March 31, 2011

annnnddd we're off!

It’s odd, the things you remember. One thing I remember is seven months ago, being picked up from the airport in New York and driven to Stony Point Conference Center for YAV Orientation. During that car ride, having just met my new best friends for the year (Maggie and Jim) for the first time a few minutes before, we talked about what we looked forward to in the upcoming year—our excitement, our hopes, and our fears—and something else that seemed like it was forever away: the ‘all-india’ trip.

My memory of that conversation is crystal clear, and here’s the crazy thing: that trip that was ‘forever away’ is actually here!

In about one hour, we’ll be heading to the Kochi airport, where we’ll catch our flight to Delhi. We’ll spend the next 3 and a half weeks traveling all over North India, including Dharamsala (where the Dalai Lama lives), Amritsar (home to the Golden Temple), Agra (Taj Mahal!!), Jaipur, and Bikaner (camel safari), and Mumbai. We’ll also be making a repeat stop in Goa.

This will be a LOT of train travel—the longest leg of the trip is Bikaner-Mumbai, which is about 25 hours.

We are so, so excited that this adventure that we never thought would come is finally here. Not at all a vacation, it is meant to be an educational experience that will expose us to other realities throughout India, and also give us a new appreciation for and lens through which to view life in Kerala.

In addition to excitement…we are nervous!! Well, I know that I am, at least. The last time I did any trip of this sort was when I went backpacking with Erik two summers ago through Central America (Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize, and Mexico). It was an all-around AMAZING trip but I also remember how exhausting it was. And the time that we got in a car accident and almost went to jail but instead were forced to bribe the police. But that’s another story…

As far as this trip is concerned, between late trains, foiled plans, unforeseen sickness, getting lost, getting swindled, getting lost (that deserves to be mentioned twice because if you know me you know I’m somewhat directionally challenged), and who knows what else, there’s a lot that could go wrong. But we’re prepared to face anything with a spirit of adventure—and that, along with each other, is all that we need :)

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. What a blast! I sat at the rehab place with Grammy last night and read blog after blog of your adventures to her. She's SO proud! We miss you!
    Love and prayers,
    Aunt Liz

  2. Be safe and have fun! I hope not to hear any 'almost went to jail' stories until you are safely returned...

  3. Madison,
    I hope you are in the midst of a wonderful time traveling around North India! I have just read a good portion of your blog--thanks to Essie for directing me to it--and I am flooded by memories of my own time at Mandiram (2001-2002) and so very happy to hear about your observations and adventures. It truly sounds as though you are doing a wonderful job in your ministry of presence there. Please feel supported and upheld in prayer by a former volunteer who also loves the place but knows that Mandiram life can be challenging! I laughed out loud at your post about a nursing student asking if you have a lover. One of my fellow South India volunteers was also my boyfriend (we are now married). Throughout the year our relationship provided many awkward and hilarious moments as folks tried to make sense of it. When Mathew Achen picked me up at Thomas Achen's house to go to Mandiram, Thomas Achen introduced us thusly: "This is Katharine and Brent. They are lovers." I wanted to sink through the floor... Well, I am thrilled that you are at Mandiram and have confidence that God is working through you as you develop relationships with all the various Mandiram folks. I will look forward to reading the rest of your blog and to seeing new posts. Thanks so much for taking the time to chronicle your experiences! Be blessed, Katharine