Dec 29, 2006
We made it! Last night. After 24 hours of travel! & waiting in many, many lines.
So a little sleepy…..but there are some entries I didn’t get in at the end of the trip, so you can tune in next week if you’d like to hear more stories about the end of our stay in India. _(wistful sigh)_ ….. Though sad to leave, it’s really delightful to be home. Everything here seems like such a luxury. You can drink water right out of the tap. The air is mostly clean. The beds are soft and thicker than 3 inches (and maybe way bigger than they ever need to be?) Plumbing works and involves real pipes and not just plastic tubing. The shower is seperate from the bathroom floor. You can take a bath. There is this crazy crazy thing that allows your house to be at whatever temperature you feel like. Such pampered people we are!………
Okay, must not type too long with this foggy jet lag head.
Looking forward to seeing and hearing from you all.
Happy almost New Year!
lots of love,
Julie & Sean
Dec 24, 2006
many of the cities in the south have two names–really one is the old and original name, and i think the 2nd name is one the british gave them. many of them are in the process of changing back to the real name. so we are in arambol and also harmal. i am confused yet as to which is the old and which is the new and then also which is the old/new in most cases! but for most purposes, we are in arambol, a beach at the far north of Goa. it’s different from pallolem in that it is more spread out and has some rocky cliffs and grassy cliffs, whereas pallolem was pure palmtrees everywhere. i really like it here, though–the way it spreads out you can see so many types of terrain….we were staying before across a coconut grove from much of the action. the palms in the grove were well spread apart and you felt like you were in a sandy state park campground, except sometimes there were little piggies chasing each other across, having a fun time!
if you hike to the other end of the main beach (opposite the coco grove) there is a path around a really cool cliff-y stretch of rocks, which jagged rocks in the ocean, facing the sunset, and you get to a place with the ocean beach on your left and a small freshwater lake on your right! you can hike back around the lake and there is a lovely cool (unsalty!) stream and there is clay you can rub on yourself and then bake in the sun and supposedly it has ayurvedic properties! it’s very nice. it’s funny, though, because some of the europeans here go topless (or sometimes top and bottomless, i noticed, a 60-yr-old man this way….) and so there are young indian boys sneaking in the woods for a peek….
anyhow, for the most part arambol is a lovely giant summer camp for grown-ups and some families! i took a silversmith workshop and made a really cool pendant for myself, really fun, with a torch and everything….you can do yoga or help animals, or sit on the beach or in the lake, and eat delicious food if you go to the right places. lots of generic not good tourist food that is overpriced, but an amazing crepe place for breakfast with only 3 tables and lovely coffee, and a wonderful israeli place on the cliff to the lake that had amazing hummus with giant fava beans and pita bread that was divine and so far from any pita bread i’ve ever seen before!!—-puffy and warm, with a sunset, mmmmm….
the place were are now staying is in town, and they have a puppy named tuk-tuk (which is what an autorickshaw is called here) and she is so cute and sean is in love with her..
today sean is sick but hopefully he’ll recover and be more perky for chritmas day–we may motorcyle down to old goa, where all the oldest churches, etc. are….
Merry Christmas!! enjoy yourselves!
we fly to Delhi on Tuesday, and then HOME on Wed. evening, arriving home Thursday evening I think….crazy! i’m realy sad to leave, (esp. whenever people start discussing american politics–did you guys fix all those problems yet??) but i’m sure it will be nice to be home. plus, it’s like 96 degrees here! MUCH too warm! ;)
lots of love,
Dec 19, 2006
hey everyone! happy almost christmas!
we are in the state of “Goa”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goa now, after leaving the state of “Kerala”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala , which was perfect!
I meant to add to the last entry that you should have first remembered back to my 1st entry, where I think I wrote how excited I was to be in a place that is less-efficient…..(a nice opener to the airport, etc. story!) ;)
We are currently living at “Palolem beach”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palolem. There was an amazing sunset tonite, all pink and orange and the water glowed. It’s funny, though, because it’s beautiful, but at the same time it’s like every generic palm tree/ocean/sunset image you’ve ever seen or drawn on your 7th grade math notebook, so it’s hard to take too seriously! ;)
Our current spot is a bit noisy, as every restaurant hut plays their own loud music, and they are not very far apart! but maybe tomorrow we’ll shift to a quieter zone….I did walk to a beach south of here which was quiet with giant rocks on the edge of the ocean, where I sat and read for many hours (Anna Quindlen’s book _Blessings_), accompanied only by occasional fishermen and, late in the day, women collecting mussels.
Only limited typing time now, so remind me to tell you about:
* the hugging mama’s ashram (got an apple with my b-day hug!)–many giant sky-rise buildings and cell-block-like rooms…
* funny canadian girls with travel list we met while waiting for a boat that never came (due to:
* leaving the hugging mama’s ashram by motorcycle due to transit strike
* lovely and oddly-western, quiet, and calm fort cochin (“Cochin”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochin
(& more fun canadians), beautiful “Kashi Art Cafe & Gallery”:http://kashiartgallery.com/
Dec 9, 2006
Wednesday morning we woke up in the coconut grove, a bit back from the beach, but idyllic setting with very friendly staff. Which was good because Sean had a big headache and fevery-achishness and some swollen joints—and they helped us get him to a doctor. We went to this little clinic for diabetics and old people (that’s what Sean says the sign said) and he checked him out, said don’t worry, probly not malaria and prescribed an assortment of pills. Don’t worry, it’s Saturday now (I’m pretty sure) and Sean is pretty well recovered.
So as I said we are learning to be lazy. At first so strange, so confusing, what is this laziness? this almost being-bored-like-a-teenager-on-summer-vacation? But now I think maybe we are getting good at it. I’ve read 2 and a half books in 3 days (one was the _The Interpreter of Maladies_ by Jumpha Lampiri, one the neverending _Midnight’s Children_ by Salmon Rushdie, both great to read while in India) (or elsewhere). I’ve painted a little and wandered the beach, and been too warm, gone in the water to cool off, but the water is warm, been tossled by waves, and emerged all salty. The ocean is so different from a lake, very foreign territory. I think the ocean is more foreign to me than India….
But I think maybe tommorrow we will drag ourselves from here. We thought maybe we’d leave today but I think Kovalum has just lulled us into staying one more day. ;) Its really beautiful by the ocean. The next town is also on the ocean, so really we aren’t giving up much. People are warm and friendly here, the air clear and warm and soft. Most of the men get to walk around in lungiis, which is like a sarong-skirt type thing, they can wear long or short, and may or may not wear a shirt. They have it good, I think! And it’s beautiul and the ocean is amazing and just rolls in and in and in, eternally. The Indian women are still dressed in their many layers of fabric, which gracefully and mysteriously flap in the ocean breeze.. The Western women (some fly here directly from Europe as a beach destination, apprently) are in bikinis and, though I’ve only been in India a little over a month, it still looked sort of shocking to me after travelling in the North and being very aware of anything shorter than long pants or a short-sleeve t-shirt! THis area is one of the few places in India where you’ll see bikinis on the beach…. The European men, many middle-aged or older, with large large bellies, are wearing speedos, of course, which always look sort of shocking and ridiculous! ;)
I thought coming to this beachy part of the world might be boring or tiresome or pointless or something, but I think I’m gonna be okay. ;) Fresh pineapple and coconut at every turn……
We’ll go to Varkala tommorrow, also beachside/cliffside, then head into the backwaters to the ashram of “Amma”:www.amritapuri.org , the famous hugging-guru woman. We should be there for my 29th birthday, which you should all note is on Tuesday.
lots of love!
Well, we are on the beach now, so of course it all seems years away, but I took some notes in my journal and you should really hear about our hillarious day of getting from Delhi to Trivandrum! I think it will be at least partially as funny for you as it was for us!…..
so maybe I’ll just copy from my journal entry here, that may be easiest (though I won’t claim the least stream-of-consciousness!):
*Tuesday*, 12/5/06 8:55a.m. up verrrry early today…
“@ the Ridiculously expensive Welcomgroup Port Lounge @ the Delhi Domestic Airport, after having been taken to the International Airport by our very nice (but apparently misinformed) Sikh driver, supplied to us by Sanjay, co-hort of Deepak (travel agent in Mcleod-ganj), who somehow did not actually purchase airline tickets for us and who consequently paid for an extra night’s stay in Delhi and a driver for the day yesterday and to the airport today (but we still paid an extra 150R to get to the _correct_ airport).
The airport–we arrive there with only a tiny slip of paper with a confirmation nubmer on it, no flight info , and the Snacksbar is fully-loaded with breakfast food, but for some reason not actually _open_. Then we find out our flight is delayed 3.5 hrs, no they won’t help us get anything from the Snacks bar. go to the food service next door…..return to airport, use bathroom, toilet recently been splash-cleaned with water and actually has handsoap–exciting, i take some, but then realize there is in actual water coming out of the sink. oh well.
“don’t let fog interfere with your day” said teh billboard outside the airport….maybe “don’t let _India_ interfere with your day” i wondered….
so i am not most happy with india at the moment, but i think i am doing and okay attempt at the Sivananda “adapt-adjust-accomodate”, just in a really crabby manner!…the sort of manner that makes you want to say dramatic things like “i can’t even _begin_ to explain”….and “you _wouldn’t_ believe”….even though really, it’s not that big of a deal….
a little later—we tried to go the “retiring room” to rest or at least sit and read. but we are asked to leave, you are not allowed there without a 500R reservation…
so later finally in the airport waiting area by our gate, still delayed delayed. a man begins loudly angering at the next gate, complaining of the terrible delays. instantly a crowd gathers around him, everyone wants to see. we laughed and played gin. (no one ever seems to actually get violent, just occassionally loud. but even that not so often). then they finally call our flight. we get into line. immediately our line widens as people push up front, and then a splinter line forms of people coming from the side, making their own version of the line i guess. lots of pushing and posturing. sean reminds everyone to treat everyone else like their mother. some laugh, but still persist! it’s funny, cuz who wants to sit on a plane longer? but then actually when we get to the plane it’s free seating, so maybe they were somewhat justified (though still funny, i mean come on now!…)
on the plane, more waiting: “we are 25th in line for the runway. sorry”….”we are 6th in line, sorry”….the 3 bigger indian men across the aisle tell the flight attendant to tell the captain he should give us free snacks. she says she’ll let him know (no snacks provided) (instead the man on the end bought every item available in the Simplibid auction, their version of SkyMall)….and finally: “we are 1st in line….but now the prime minister is about to land. sorry!” we laughed and laughed and laughed with the indian kid in our row, and joked about needing to use the emergency exit before event taking off!….”
but we made it to Trivandrum, I think around 8pm, felt the warm fresh sea air through the auto-rickshaw to Kovalum and lighthouse beach. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……….
Dec 4, 2006
just the other day our friend Nuala from N. Ireland was commenting on American phrases such as *making lemons into lemonade* (or into champagne, as the British guy next to her came up with…) and today we had our chance. our *flight* from delhi to trivandrum for some reason was *cancelled*. luckily we were able to reach our travel agent from Dharamsala, and he worked it out for us to go tommorrow, and also gave us a driver for the day to get around Delhi. so we went to some places we wouldn’t normally have gone. it was fun afterall! we had a friendly Sikh driver.
we went to an American-style diner for *breakfast* (sort of silly but we thought hey, why not?) in this convention center type place called the Indian Habitat Center. There was a really cool photo exhibit in the main courtyard of Indians from all parts of India, each posed on the same folding chair in their everyday surroundings–farmers, lawyers, laborers, actors, etc. Reallly cool. There was a 19-year-old boy sitting by the exhibit and we talked and he told me how he’d run away from home at a young age, from Calcutta to Delhi, and lived on the streets for 8 years. Then someone from a NGO came to him and offered him a place to live and to teach him photography. So he did, and he plans to have his first *exhibition* at the gallery there next April, he is working on raising funds for it. He was able to be the assistant to the photographer who did the photos on display, as well as to a photographer from London. He told me the organization who helped him, so I plan to look into that more later. A very nice kid, though…..
We went to *Lodi Park*, which was pretty but for the thick pollution and dustiness of all the plant-life (including in the “national bonzai garden”)….there are 3 beatiful mosques and tombs from the Moghul era–really amazing domed structures that feel so massive and weighted and ancient. wow. According to the plaques they don’t know who is buried in them, just their general time period…
We also visited a glass *tile* producer Sean had been in touch with before. That was fun, too. He does not yet export anything to the U.S. but we’ll see what comes of our visit….
Later we went to a *fancy* part of town (there is even a Levi’s store and a TGI Friday’s of all things–I can’t believe they have exported that concept! how silly!…) And it was emptier of people there and no one hassled us, which felt strange. It’s …well, it doesn’t make you think differently necessarily, about the disparity in the world, because you/we/i knew it was there already, but it sure does make it all so clear, just to see what a bathroom looks like in the more Westernized hotel complex, how clean, with soap and water and some way to dry your hands, and then other bathrooms we’ve seen; and fancy salons where women are waxed and plucked and dyed and people buy expensive Levi’s, and just around the bends the kids hang out who go around with bags throughout the day and empty the garbage cans by hand and then take it over to their hangout to burn it. Just such a bizarre world. . . I understand more now how people who are living in India or China, from abroad, who are working for a company, get nice, somewhat isolated apartments and drivers–when we were in China I thought it was excessive, but I see more how being here for a long time is just draining–the pollution for one, so thick in Delhi, and also just being bombarded with people and solicitations and people trying to sell you things and haggle money out of you….You can see why people want (need???) to create a haven away for themselves, esp. when coming from a Western country that is less populated, more private, more spread out….but it’s a bit mind-boggling to see it all so close together here, all in one day, within one block….but that seems to be the way the world is going…….maybe?……
So if all goes well, tommorrow we fly away to the South and’ll see what that’s like.
lots of love,
Dec 3, 2006
alright, i’ve put up some photos–as much as flickr’d let me before i used up all the space, so i’ll add more later.
just click “here”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/juliekesti and you will see the first segment of our trip! :) i think the order may be a bit jumbled–i can’t connect to the part where you can rearrange them right now.
just to update, it sounds like the travel agent is going to get our ticket arranged…….
enjoy the pics!