Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Home

Wow, I have already been home for two weeks. I have kept myself busy getting ready for Christmas which is fast approaching. It is the perfect time to come home. Driving into Waterloo felt like a "coming home for Christmas" movie with the lights and little bit of snow. All my best friends met me in the Vancouver airport. It was so exciting!
Last night was my first shift back at work. I've had many people ask how my trip was. I never know how to answer. There is no short way to explain it. It was huge and intense and awful and wonderful. I am struggling to figure out how to capture that in a way that people might understand. My next step is to get a slideshow of pictures to show people. I has been difficult to focus on finishing my course work from India. I feel so far removed from it and from the group. I did get a surprise visit from Devon! She was on her way to the Vancouver airport and stopped at my house! It was crazy to have someone who has heard so much about my life at home to actually come here. I talked a lot about my family and friends on the trip. Now I find myself wanting to talk about India every time I am reminded of something. I just find it weird to think about what my life was like two months ago and how it is so different now. I was living out of a backpack and never slept in a room by myself, travelling all over and missing home. I miss my India family terribly but I am so happy to be home with my family and boyfriend and friends and pony and dog and rabbits. I have had time to rest and enjoy the comforts of home and am now gearing up for the next semester. I am so thankful for Dr J and the opportunity she gave me to explore and grow. And thank you to the group for being amazing friends. Thanks to my loved ones who supported me the whole time and to everyone that read the blog! I hope to post more pictures soon. I'd love to personally tell everyone some stories about my adventures!
Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year!
Love Kirsti

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Last day in India

I can not believe that I am flying to Canada tonight! I will be in Ontario for the weekend then flying home. The while group has been anxious all day, packing and repacking all the treasures we have picked up along the way. We spent the last four nights at a resort in Malappuram.  We have spent time relaxing and reflecting on our experiences. There is a beach and a small market area near where we are staying. I walked around he beach once but it was very dirty and the salespeople seemed very aggressive. So I spent most of the past few days catching up on school work and taking long naps. It has been raining at least every other day for the past two weeks. It is very odd. In Madurai we stayed at Lady Doak Collage. They had a great guest house and unlimited free Internet access. It was such a treat. We visited a village that one of the professors at the collage has. Her family owns a granite quarry. We visited their village and the quarry. I loved walking around the village with all the children following us. I got some great pictures of their smiling faces and the vivid colors of the village. Canadian winter is going to seem so dull without the bright green fields and the women's colorful saris. I have lots more to write about but it is already dinner time and then we are off to the airport for our 1 am flight. My next post will be from Canada!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On The Road Again

Goa seems like a long time ago. Since then we have been hopping from place to place starting with an overnight train last Friday. We got to the station at 8pm. Then after waiting around for a while we were on the train from 10pm to 2pm the next day. It was a brutal ride. We were in third class AC which means there are three bunks on top of each other. I was content to just be in my own space with my ipod and books for the entire ride. We arrived in Cochin at a home stay. Cochin was really neat. It reminded me of a little European town with the buildings and the narrow streets. I went with Amberlee to a great little art cafe for chocolate cream and banana cream pie. After a great home-made meal of fish and fish curry, we retired to our rooms. All the girls were rather excited to know that Titanic was playing on HBO that night. It was nice to escape from India for a little while. The next day we had some lectures at one of the many universities in Chochin. They were interesting but I realized how difficult it will be to go back to learning in a classroom after all this amazing experiential learning. Before lunch we stopped by a Synagogue. There were a lot of rules as to where we could and could not go inside. I thought this inside was beautiful with all these colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling. In the evening we went to a Katakali dance show. They explained the traditional dances of India and particularly Kerala. It was very colorful. The dancers used eye move movements and particular hand gestures to tell stories from the Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
We had to leave already the next morning. We went to stay on houseboats for a night. It was so relaxing and beautiful to float around through canals and around a huge lake. We ate fish and juicy pineapples and drank out of coconuts. We had two boats with five people on each. It was really strange to be in a group with only five people for the afternoon. We all felt a bit lost without our huge group. It reminded me of how hard it will be to come home and not have my 'India family' around 24/7.
After the houseboats we went to Ammas ashram. The west calls her the hugging saint. She was not at the ashram but it was still an amazing experience. The first two encounters with people in the ashram were not great. They were rude. But as we got to know the people there it got much better. The ashram sits on a peninsula that was completely washed out in the tsunami. Amma did so much work to restore the city. the wave came as high as the palm trees there. She brought the people into the high rises of the ashram and her cows and elephants took refuge in the temple. I can not imagine what it would have been like. We experienced many amazing things there in only one night. It is one of the places that I would have to come back to in India. You will have to ask me more about it when I get home because there is just too much to be able to type it in here. One of the best parts for me was to see someone walking around in a Storm shirt from Tofino. I yelled across the room "hey I like your shirt!' and he came over to talk to us and ended up giving us a tour of the elephants and the beach. It felt great for someone staying in India to recognize my JRFM sticker that is on my notebook. He told me about where he can sometimes surf near the ashram. Interestingly enough, locals do not go into the water. They have been fishermen for generations but many can not swim. They are especially terrified of the sea after the tsunami.
We left the ashram and stayed in a hotel somewhere for a night. I do not remember what the city was. We got to go to a seminary and talk to a priest there. It was one of the most interesting discussions that we have had in India. He wanted us to just keep asking questions and it was so easy to ask about his life and Christianity in India.
The next day we had a very difficult bus ride up a mountain to Thekkady. I forgot to mention that most of the group was really sick at this point. We must have some in contact with a bacteria because we were sick to our stomaches and it was coming out of both ends. It was a very long and uncomfortable bus ride. The elevation did not help the situation. Luckily we were in Thekaddy for more than one night. We spent 5 nights there. It is the land of spices. We drove through tea plantations to get there. The whole city smelled like fresh spices. We had so much fun going in all the stores and trying to remember that we only have backpacks to carry all our stuff around in. I defiantly caught up on my shopping there and I am trying not to think about what I will do with all this extra stuff when I have to get on a plane. In Thekaddy we had some time to relax and recuperate. We did go to martial arts demonstration, another Katakali dance show and a spice pantation. I saw the biggest spiders I have ever seen. On our last night there we were out for dinner and it started raining. We thought we would wait out the rain. By the time we finished dinner it was still pouring so we finally got some auto-rickshaws to take us back to the home-stay. That was the most eventful five minute ride I have ever taken. First off, an auto-rickshaw is like a small dirt bike engine on 3 wheels. They go fast but they are very small. We were putting along and suddenly the road turned into a river. I now know how flash floods occur. There were three of us in the rickshaw and we were all screaming at the guy to drive faster up this hill while half a food of water was rushing down hill. It was crazy. We were all soaked when we got back. It was exciting and no one was hurt. India is having weird rains this year. It rains every two or three days in Thekaddy for the last ten months. This does not happen. Usually when monsoon is over, there is no more rain all year. It has definatly made this trip interesting because we were not expecting any rain at all.
So now we are in Maduri for 6 nights. We are staying at a women collage till Sunday. It is the last week of the actual course and next week we will have some time to relax before coming home. I can not believe how fast it is coming to an end.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beach days

We have been in Goa for 5 nights now and it has been amazing. We spend the days on the beach, swimming for hours in the sea and eating. We have also been continuing our yoga practice. I can not explain how awesome it is for the 12 of us to stand in a row facing the sea and doing our sun salutations together. We have come such a long way in the past 2 1/2 months. We are staying at Colva beach. The shopping looks great but the prices are outrageous. After being in India for a little while now we are all proud that we do not allow ourselves to be sucked into buying anything for triple the price it should be. I will describe what we did yesterday so you can imagine a typical day for us here. We wake up and do yoga around 9 am while it is not too hot yet. Then I eat a breakfast of fresh fruit, coffee and musili with yogurt. This morning I had fresh pineapple juice instead of coffee and it was heavenly. It was so sweet and creamy and full of flavor. I've also been drinking at least one coconut a day. They grab a big green one and chop off the top so I can drink the water out with a straw and use a spoon to dig out all the meat. For lunch we have anything from noodle dishes to waffles. I have a sweet spot for sugar pancakes. We also eat alot of seafood for lunch and dinner. Lots of calamari, king fish, red snapper, prawns and mackerel. Last night we were up till the wee hours of the morning playing cards and having a few beers. There is a massage center where we are staying. I have not had a massage yet but many of the group members have been going there almost everyday. It still blows my mind that we are having this tropical getaway in the middle of India. We are reminded of that when people still come up to us on the beach to take pictures or videos of us swimming. There was a funny incident when we were swimming but ran screaming through the water because a cow was rooting through our clothes on the beach. It was hilarious. The only thing that would make this week better is if the waves were big enough to surf on but I'm not complaining. I'm not even sure where we go from here. I am just spending time with the group. It is really difficult but rewarding to spend 24/7 with the same group of people for months. It has been an interesting experience and amazing to see all the love and support that we have for each other.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Finally on the BEACH!

Today is the first day that we are in Goa! We just came from Hampi where we stayed for 5 nights. Hampi was not my favorite place. We stayed in a clean hotel and it had a/c so that was good. The food was terrible though. Nothing was fresh, everything was friend and we all felt nasty. Especially since we did not have a space to practice yoga. We had 2 half day tours of the ruins. Hampi is ancient and there are many temples and remains of the city when it was ruled by emperors and kings. The landscape is very unique and beautiful. There are mountains of boulders and the city is built into them. We explored a temple that had stone pillars that made music. You can tap on them very lightly and each pillar has a different sound. No one knows how they did it because they are all the same size and they are solid, not hollow. There was a small market place in Hampi. I only went there for a few hours. I am pretty tired of having to bargain everywhere I shop though I am getting pretty good at it. I am tired of the shop keepers taking advantage of us. I bought some headbands that a guy wanted 60 rupees for. I just told him I was only paying 20, gave him the money and walked out. The main reason I did not go into the town often was the monkeys. They were MASSIVE with huge long tails. They would sit on the roofs and just wait to pounce on unsuspecting tourists and steal anything. They would run along the tin roofs and it sounded like thunder right over my head. Twice they ran and jumped near me so I ran into a random store screaming. It was terrifying. The best part about Hampi was a restaurant called The Mango Tree. We had to walk on a small dirt path though a banana tree grove to get there. The food was not the best but they had fresh vegttables and we sat overlooking a valley and a river. It was beautiful. We also got to go on a boat ride up the river. The boats were round and made of woven bamboo and tar. It was so relaxing.
From Hampi we had a 10 hour bus ride to Goa. We arrived in the dark and had a ten minute walk along the beach to our hotel. I woke up really early this morning and sat on the beach for an hour before the sun got too hot. It is so beautiful. White sand, the Arabian Sea and palm trees. We have all week to relax, read, swim and have drinks brought to us. I am very excited to have our yoga on the beach too. I could get used to this kind of school work :P As soon as I am done in this wonderfully air conditioned internet cafe I am going to pick up a sundress and head back to the hotel for a swim in the ocean. I did not realize how much I miss the ocean. As soon as I heard the waves last nice I had an explosion of homesickness. Unfortunately the waves are too small to do any surfing. I guess I will have to wait till I get home for that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hassan to Sirigiri

We are really enjoying South India. It is much slower paced and has a calmer energy than the north. We had alot of downtime too. It has been a great time to get school work done and just relax. We stayed in a super nice hotel for 3 nights and I will admit that I literally sat in bed and watched movies for 2 days straight. I just needed a break from India. The trip is two-thirds over but there is still a month to go. It feels like a really long time to be away from home. I know I will feel differently when we get to the beach in Goa. We are all excited about getting to the sand and the ocean. Yesterday we had a six hour bus ride from Hassan to Sirigiri. It was super bumpy. I swear I got half a foot of air at one point when I was lying down in the back. India is so weird with their roads. There will be random streches of pavement and I start thinking "this is nice" then a minute later it ubruptly turns to gravel and potholes again. At one point we drove through a washed out part of the road. We were in this huge bus and literally driving over a river. It was kind of crazy. Sirigiri is a very rural area. The place we are staying in is not even in a village, nevermind a city. I managaed to get a ride into the village today to check emails and get out of my room for a few hours. Our rooms are full of bugs and the power is out more often than not but the food is great and there's a really nice space to practice yoga. We are staying in the residence of the Swami of the Lingiate community. I'm not sure if I spelt that correctly but I will try and find a link sometime later. The coolest part is that the Swami has an elephant! And, yesterday evening we got to ride it! It was awesome! I had been thinking all day about how much I miss my pony and going riding but I guess riding an elephant is the next best thing. It was really warm and prickly and wrinkly. It was such a great experience to be hugged by an elephants trunk. She was huge and beautiful. We fed her little bananas and she just swallowed them whole. Then we gave her coconuts and ran back before she threw them to the ground, smashing them into pieces before expertly scraping the meat out of the shells. I hope I will be able to see her again while we are here. We will be on the road again on Sunday. In the South we are not staying in one place for as long as we did in the North. I think 5 days is the longest we stay anywhere from here on out so time is going to fly by.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

South India

We have passed the half way mark of the trip. We left the north and after two days of traveling we arrived in Bangalore. We took a two hour plane to get here. It was kind of nice to have a break form India while we were in the airport and on the plane. It was weird to be on a plane going somewhere new instead of home. I think most of the group members got homesick for a bit. I did. So far the south is much easier to be in than the north. I'm not sure if it is because we are over the culture shock or if there really are fewer people living on the streets, car horns, and less garbage. We are staying in a huge building but I am not exactly sure what it is usually used for. They serve great food though. It is taking us some time to get used to the fact that they serve rice last. It's like we get 2 meals. It's very different from the north but delicious. We have more time off in Bangalore to catch up on schoolwork and hopefully enjoy the shopping.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dharmsala

We have been busy in Dharmsala. On Thursday we visited 2 nunneries. At the first we met nuns from all over the world and got a teaching about the basics of Buddhism. It was a great overview. We also had pasta and cheese for lunch which was quite the treat. In the afternoon we had an audience with Jetsuma Tenzen Palmo. She is a British woman who was drawn to Buddhism when she was in her late teens. She came to India when she was 20 and became a nun. Nuns had very limited access to Buddhist teachings at the time and she has worked to make them available for women. She went into the Himalayas and meditated in a cave for 12 years alone. I cannot imagine what that was like. When we talked to her she did not want any questions about the cave. What stood out the most was when she talked about her mom. I asked how her family responded to her going to India at 20 years old. She said that her mom was basically the only family she had that mattered. She never held her back or complained because she was left in Britain. Her mother prayed that when she is reborn she comes back as Tenzen's mom again. She realized that Tenzen will need special parents to let her continue on her path. It was really beautiful and half of us including Tenzen, teared up. She is really down to earth. Not caught up in a celebrity whirlwind. I am so grateful for the chance to meet all these remarkable people in India.
We are now half way done the trip. We had an overnight train to Delhi and will fly to south India tonight. It is hard to believe it's been 6 weeks. It seems like it went by so fast yet so very slow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Himalayan Adventure... Fog and Goats and Chai oh my

I had an amazing experience in the Himalayas this week. First I'd like to mention that I REALLY dislike hiking. I've tried, it just is not my idea of fun. It look us 5 1/2 hours to climb up. It was really hard. At one point I was so grouchy that I forced myself to smile. It actually worked and I felt better afterwards. When we got to the top it was so cold and foggy. A few of us were all ready to turn around and go right back down. We were miserable and just huddled together in blankets for a while. The house we stayed in was a few rooms made of stone with 2 single beds pushed together in each. We turned on an iPod and danced around for a while to lift our spirits. The fog slowly lifted and we could finally see the mountains around us. It was amazing. We were so high up and isolated on this peak but closed in by the even taller mountains around us. We were in the clouds so the weather was constantly changing. You could look at one mountain then it would look completely different a minute later. Just before sundown a few of us went for a walk to the chai shop 10 min away from where we stayed. We ran into a flock of goats and sheep. There were some baby lambs and they were sooo cute. One ran over to me. He was black with a white ring around his body so he looked like an Oreo. I crouched down and he came and cuddled with me in my shawl. It was adorable. When we tried to leave he chased after so I let the others go ahead so carried him behind a rock. I put him down and ran but he still chased after. Then the Shepard came around the corner and started yelling so we took off. It got too dark to go to the shop but it was a really amazing sunset. It was a pretty rough night. I don't think anyone got enough sleep with 4 people in each bed. At one point there was a storm and the wind was so bad. We had to help take down 2 tents and I thought the wind would blow us right off the mountain. In the morning there were hardly any clouds. The sunrise and the view was beautiful again. After a glass of chai we started back down the mountain. Going down was alot faster but alot harder on my knees. At one point a hail storm came over us but we got down ok. We walked through another herd of sheep and goats. I found one baby goat with a jacket on! If you've ever seen the movie Cold Mountain you might remember at the end where a lamb dies and she makes the coat into a jacket for another lamb. So I found a white goat with a black coat on. I thought that was really cool. The whole experience was pretty unexplainable. We have some pictures that will probably be on facebook though they will not do the view justice. I am super proud that I did it but I think that's enough hiking for me for a while.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nothing tops today

So we have left the farm in Dheradune. one bus ride, followed by a train ride, and another OVERNIGHT bus ride, and 2 hour taxi up the mountains, we are in Dharmashala. It was a really long night on the trian. Another train had broken down so for a while there were double the amount of people on it and it was almost frightening. It was also really cold and I had no way to turn off the air-conditioning that was blasting in my face. But it was all so worth it. Dharmashala is by far my favorite place so far. The Dali Lama was actually just finishing up some teachings today. A small group of us dropped our bags in the hotel room and went out to see what was going on at the main temple. We got there about 20 minutes before he finished speaking. We were sitting with a couple hundred others, outside the main temple area and watched on a small tv screen. We couldn't understand what he was saying and did not have a radio to translate it. We consitered just going back. Then we were shuffled to the side because they were making a lane for a car to come through. So we were sitting at the edge of the empty space and the car comes in a backs to a set of stairs. We saw some monks coming down the stairs then we saw some other monks helping someone come down. It was the Dali Lama. I saw him. He paused on each step to look around at all of us. It was nothing like it would of been in North America. Everyone was respectful and just sat and was quiet. He cam around the car and we were right there... 10 feet away from him, and he saw us. It was unexplainable to have the darsan of the Dali Lama. I did start crying as soon as I saw him. After he got in the car and drove past, everyone started moving about and leaving but our group couldn't even moved. Half of us were crying and we all just stood and had a group hug... 2 of them. It was really a bonding moment.
We just relaxed and reflected for the rest of the afternoon. The whole group went for dinner at a chill little place near the hotel. It was really great to just have a beer together and dance around. I'm sure everyone else in the place thought we were crazy but it was really fun. overall, awesome day. But I am very tired.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dr. Vanadana Shiva's Organic Utopia

I am staying on a organic farm in Dehradun. No access to internet unless we drive an hour into town so I will update this on a later date. We have amazing fresh, wholesome vegetarian food. Here is the link... http://www.navdanya.org/

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rishikesh

I am now at the Swami Rama Sadhka Grama ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is beautiful and peaceful. I can see why westerners have been coming to Rishikesh since the Beatles came about 50 years ago. Our journey here from Amritsar was anything but peaceful. I'm sure everyone at home has heard about the devastating floods in Pakistan. This has been the longest and wettest monsoon season in many years for India. So the plan was to take the train to Hardiwar then a bus from there to Rishikesh. The train would not go to Hardiwar because of flooding so we were dropped off in some other city that I still do not know the name of. The vibe in this city was very different from Amritsar. We immediately caught the attention of the locals. One pick-pocket-er followed us for the entire hour that we were outside the train station. We had to stand and wait to figure out transportation and crowds started swarming. It was really frightening because the people we so hostile. One lady that was sending her children to beg from us just would not leave. They were mocking us when we said no. It felt like the crowd was just waiting for us to do something wrong so they could pounce. It was defiantly a test of patience. The worst part was watching the cart horses struggle with loads of 15 people. The ponies were about 13 hands high and some walked on tip toes because they were so overloaded and lame. It was really terrible. Most of the cows in India are sleek and fat but not the horses.
So we finally piled into overpriced taxis for the 3 hour drive to Rishikesh. We were squished and hot. It is so muggy here. The rain has made to many potholes in the road that it was really an uncomfortable drive. At one point on the highway our driver did not want to go over a pothole so he just swerved to the other side of the road and weaved his way through oncoming traffic for a while. It was quite the experience. We made it to the ashram for dinner. I have to talk about the food. It is all so fresh and delicious here. We get warm milk! It is the first place we've had milk in the past weeks. We find ourselves talking about food everyday, often more than once. The only downside to mealtimes is that we must eat in silence. We are all in different cabins and eat in silence so I really miss socializing with the group. We all feel disconnected. So yesterday we took a break from the intense yoga and meditation classes and went into Rishikesh. It was a rather touristy area but the markets were fabulous and the prices were good. Sometimes I realize that it is rather silly of me to be haggling over 50 cents off an item but we get caught up in the moment and really do not like the feeling of being ripped off. Over all I think Rishikesh has been good for me. I'm hoping to take some of the habits and disapline home with me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Golden Temple!

The other day we visited the Golden Temple! It was really amazing – like, a gold temple at the end of a bridge over a huge pool of water. We went with another group of Indian students from the tourism department of a collage in Amritsar. It turned out they weren’t the greatest tour guides but it was still neat to interact with people our own age. It was really difficult to be in a group that large in a busy place. It just took forever for us to just walk around because the professors would stop every ten steps and try to get us all to listen to something or another. It was a bit useless for me because none of the information sunk in. It was also super hot and being barefoot on hot marble all day was stressful in itself. One of the best parts of the day was Langa. It is the free lunch that is given to anyone that visits a Sikh temple. At the Golden Temple they feed 300000 people a day! That’s 1000 people every 15 minutes! It was quite the experience. We had to wait to get in then there was a mad rush to find a spot on the floor. We sat in long lines and had food dumped on our plates. It was way too much food for me. It was all over very fast so the next rush could come. I’ve really gotten better with the food here. It’s actually gotten more appitising as the trip goes on. I’m still craving north American food though.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Amritsar

We have moved on from Delhi to Amritsar and we're loving it. We're staying at the Guru Nannak Dev University in the guest house. The rooms are huge!! Everything has been going great. I'm even adjusting to the food. The campus is huge like a park. I walked from the on-campus internet cafe to the guest house (about 5 minutes) by myself and had no problems. The people everywhere here seem generally nicer. A few of us girls went to some convenience stores and didn't get pestered or swarmed or filmed. We had some free time in the evening after the 8 hour train ride. It gave me just a little too much time to think so I got quite homesick. I can't believe how fast the time is flying by. We have a ton of school work done in the next few days so I'd better get back to work.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taj Mahal!

Sunday was a very long day. We left the YMCA at 6 in the morning and had a 5 hour bus ride to Agra. We started the day at some old Mogul ruins. It was a terrifying experience. There were big tourist groups of young Indian men and they had nothing better to do but follow us around. We were constantly filmed and had pictures taken. If we stood in one place for more than a minute we were surrounded by at least 30 people and they just stood and stared. It was terrible. I don't even remember the name of the ruins because we were so stressed about not getting seperated and individualy swarmed.
We then went to the Taj Mahal! It was soo exciting! We got to go inside. The inside was really beautiful but alot smaller than I imagined. The outside was huge. All the marble has precious stones inlayed to make the patterns on the walls. It was great but we had the same problem again; everywhere we went there were men taking videos and just staring. We all got a little more aggresive by the end.Dealing with the vendors outside the gates was another problem. We were swarmed. If you make eye contact they just latch on and follow you down the street. It was really an unenjoyable experience. We were so tired by the time we got home. It was almost 2 am. We had the next morning off to sleep in. On monday afternoon we were at the Canadian Embassy! It was really neat. We met with Rick Westhead, a reporter from the Toronto Star who has been living in India for 2 years. It was really cool. We all wished we could of talked to him all evening because he had so many stories and has been places that I couldn't dream of going. We also had a presentation from the Canadian High Commissioner. They are making a facebook page and will be adding our group blog to it! In the evening we went to some shrines and a private Qawwal concert. Here is a link to the group we saw. http://www.merajnizami.com/ It was really magical to be in India, in a shrine, having a private concert from one of the most famous singers of Qawwal music. Then we went for beer and a pizza and that was amazing. I am really craving some american food.
This morning we caught an early train to Amritsar. We are staying at Guru Nannak Dev University. The rooms are huge and clean. It's great. We'll have alot more free time here to recover from our busy stay in Delhi.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Into the Jungle Book

This morning we went on a tour of some old Mogul ruins. There were tombs and mosques from the 12th century. Walking in was exactly like stepping into the Jungle Book. I half expected a bunch of monkeys to jump out and start singing. The stone carvings were amazing. At one of them, the emperor tore down Hindu and Jain temples and used the pillars to build his Mosque. The Hindu pillars are very plain looking while the Jain ones have so much detail carved in. It was so nice to be away from the hussle and bussel of Delhi. We were still in the city but could pretend that we were not. There were huge palm trees all over the grounds and parrots and thousands of dragon flies. It was nice to have a day to just be tourists. It gave my mind a bit of a break.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Old Delhi Adventure

On the first full day that we were in Delhi we relaxed and took time to settle in at the YMCA. It's really clean and nice with breakfast and dinner included. That night we took the subway to old Delhi to walk around. It was an unforgettable experience. We experienced the subway at rush hour. About 9 of us made it on the first train and 3 on the next. I have never been so squished in my life. I had all the breath squished out of me. We linked arms and my arms fell asleep. My feet were not even touching the ground at some points because there were so many people. Getting out of the subway was a miracle in itself.
Walking up the subway stairs to old Delhi at night was surreal. There was so much smog and so many people. People attach wire to power pole to steal electricity. I saw power poles that were literally bending over from the weight of hundreds of live wires. There were dogs and people all over the streets. There is no lanes for driving or "right-of-way." Crossing the street anywhere is an art. People are crazy drivers and always have their hand on the horn but there is no road rage. It's actually pretty neat. I have not seen a car accident yet either. We went to a famous restaurant that served the Mogul emperors since the 12th century and stayed in the family ever since. The food was great.
I must say i'm already sick of having indian food every day, every meal. It's really taking a toll on my body on top of the stress. For the first couple days I was really sick and throwing up because of the Malaria pills we have to take. Thankfully I've figured out a schedule that does not make me sick. Though I have not experienced bad jet-lag, my digestive system is defiantly out-of-wack. Hopefully once we get out of Delhi everything will settle and be less stressful. We've been soooo busy everyday. Up to this point we have visited an ancient mosque (which I forget the name of), the place where Gandhi was assassinated, a HUGE and new Hindu temple, gone to a few lectures at Delhi University, gone to a Jain temple and a a really cool interfaith ashram. I don't have time to explain my experiences at all these amazing places so you'll have to ask me after the trip :) Now i'm off to do some yoga and head to bed. Good night!

First Time Yoga

This morning we had our first yoga class while staying at the YMCA. It was my first time doing yoga. It was an amazing experience. I feel so relaxed. I did not realize how stressed and tense I was until I was told to relax certain areas of my body. I felt like I was letting go of so much and soaking in so much energy at the same time. When we closed our eyes to relax and focus on breathing, I could feel my eyes and cheekbones going crazy. It was like the stress I was holding in was shooting out those areas. It really reminding me of horseback riding. In riding the goal is to use the energy of the horse and rider together to create balance. I have to be relaxed and strong, guiding but not pushing. When everything balances together it is like a meditative state and my horse can feel every movement and change in my energy. I got the same feeling doing yoga. I can not wait to continue the sessions.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm here!

I've arrived in Delhi safe and sound. it's been intesting. I have very little time on the internet today so I will provide a full account of the adventure thus far ASAP
I already miss everyone so bad.
I'm finally here!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Almost Gone

I am finally leaving for India tomorrow. All the last minute packing is coming together and i'm not too stressed. I had a minor breakdown when I thought I forgot my wall charger for the ipod, but I found it under my piles of toiletries. It seems like I have more facewash and medication than clothes. Having a week in Ontario was a good chance to finalize packing, collect my thoughts and enjoy American food. Though it has been difficult to be away from home, I know it will be differnt in India. I will be so busy and overwhelmed that the time will fly by.
I bought a pair of cute shoes the other day. It feels wierd that I will not be able to wear them for 3 months.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Arriving in Ontario

Well on Sunday I said goodbye to family, friends and boyfriend and flew to Kitchener Ontario. It was very sad. The flight went well. It was alot shorter than I thought; only 4 hours. I've been hanging out at the Jakobsh house for the week. It is really nice to spend some time with them. But I feel a little useless here and guilty that I am not home to help out at the barn and stuff. But on Saturday I fly out to India. I have already met some of the group members that I am travelling with. They were all very nice and down to earth. I think I will get along with all of them just fine for 3 months. I think I have gotten almost everything I need for India. Now I have to fit it all in my backpack. It would be easy if not for the yoga mat I am bringing along. One of the students coming along is a yoga instructor so we will be practicing yoga every morning. I've never done any yoga besides a few times in high school gym class. I'm really looking forward to learning and hope that I will continue yoga when I come home. But first I have to find a way to pack the mat. That is what I will attempt now. Goodnight everyone :)