Monday, April 25, 2011

annddd we're back!


It has certainly been a while. Happy Easter, friends.

I write to you from the home of my site coordinator, Thomas John Achen. It is good to be home!!

Maggie, Jim, and I arrived yesterday from our all-India trip. If you recall, my last post was written just as we were about to leave. Three and a half weeks later, here we are again!

When we arrived to Thomas John Achen’s house yesterday, he, Betty Kochamma, and Binu weren’t home. They knew we would arrive in their absence, however, so we had already been given instructions by Achen: “The key will be in the flowerpot; please hose yourselves off before going inside.”

The last part was said in jest, of course. Achen was referring to the fact that after traveling around North India for almost a month, who knows what dirt/microbes/etc one might have on oneself. Surprisingly, minus the fact that none of us had any clean clothes left, I really don’t feel that we were all that dirty upon our return. Nevertheless, our first order of business was to shower, and it felt amazing to be clean. To be home.

So how was the trip?!?!, you ask?

In a word: awesome. I have a lot to say about it, but I’ll start with a brief synopsis of our itinerary/what we did:

March 31-April 2: Delhi. Saw the Red Fort, Connaught Circle, Qutb Minar, Bahai Lotus Temple, Jama Masjid, Safdarjung’s Tomb, and the India Gate.
April 3-5: Srinagar, Kashmir. Saw Sri Shankracharya Temple, several Mughal Gardens, Tulip Gardens, and Gulmarg.
April 6: Jammu, Kashmir. This was more of just a stopover while in transit to Dharamsala.
April 7-9: Dharamsala (McLeod Gang). Home of the Tibetan Government in exile. Took a Tibetan cooking class, saw the Dalai Lama’s Temple, and went horseback riding.
April 10: Amritsar. Toured the Golden Temple and had langar.
April 11: Delhi. Had a ‘recovery day.’
April 12-13: Agra. Saw the Taj Mahal by sunrise, Agra Fort, Baby Taj, and the Taj Mahal by sunset.
April 14-16: Jaipur. Walked around the ‘Old City’ and saw the Monkey Temple, City Palace, and Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds).
April 17-18: Bikaner. Saw Junagarh (the Bikaner Fort) and went on an overnight camel safari into the Rajasthan desert.
April 19: 26 hour train ride from Bikaner to Mumbai.
April 20-23: Goa. Stayed at Palolem Beach; relaxed and played in the ocean.
April 24: Arrived home to KERALA! :)

I know that’s a really boring account and doesn’t really tell you much. But for photos of all of the corresponding adventures, click here, and here. The photos—especially the captions—will give you a better idea of what, exactly, we did, as well as the context.

In my next post, I’ll give more of a narrative account of some of the more noteworthy places/people/events. Stay tuned!

"The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends." -Shirley MacLaine

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